On the 24th September 2023, President Joe Biden introduced the first members of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States. During the 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the Biden-Harris administration announced the formation of this Council, aiming to enhance Africa’s prosperity and strengthen the U.S.-Africa relationship.
Deniece Laurent-Mantey, a Ghanaian American, was appointed as the inaugural Executive Director of the Council. As a Bronx, New York native and former Director of Africa at the White House, she will guide Council members in reinforcing cultural, social, political, and economic ties between the U.S. and Africa. This involves promoting trade, investment, and educational exchanges between the two regions.
The African Diaspora in the United States comprises African Americans, including descendants of enslaved Africans, and nearly two million African immigrants with close connections to the continent. This community has significantly contributed to America’s growth and prosperity. Vice President Kamala Harris had previously announced the Council’s creation during the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, followed by an executive order from Biden directing the Secretary of State to establish the Council.
Laurent-Mantey played a pivotal role in crafting the Council’s policies. Presently serving as the Executive Director of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States and the senior State Department representative for the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit, she previously led various U.S. government agencies as the Director for Africa at the White House National Security Council.
Her contributions before the 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit led to significant commitments, including $15 billion to support trade and investment across Africa, along with a $55 billion commitment for U.S.-Africa shared priorities over the next three years.
Laurent-Mantey began her career at the U.S. Department of State in 2008, providing U.S.-Africa policy recommendations to the Secretary of State. She held several roles, including Acting Deputy Director and Desk Officer in the Bureau of African Affairs, and served as a Special Assistant to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
Recognized with Department of State awards and named among the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) in 2018, Laurent-Mantey holds an MA in African Studies and Public Policy from Howard University and a BA in International Relations from Syracuse University.
At the recent Unstoppable Africa Summit during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Laurent-Mantey highlighted the significance of Africa’s innovation and the need to protect its cultural heritage and diversity.
”“The currency of our generation is Africa’s innovation. People are now beginning to embrace Africa’s culture, its diversity, and its heritage. But the key thing is that we have to protect that ownership. We have to do what we can to tell our story.”
Recognized as a 30 BlackStars Honoree for 2023, Laurent-Mantey has also been honored at the BlackStars Summit & Awards in NYC.