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Longtime Africanist and President and CEO of The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Bernadette Paolo, formally announced her resignation today from the Africa-focused organization effective January 8, 2016. She is leaving The Africa Society to do a Fellowship at Harvard University. “While it is difficult to leave a place you know, and a community and the people in it you have spent so many years with, they and Africa will always be with me, as will the many young people who have been a part of The Africa Society through the years,” she stated. Ms. Paolo has led the organization since the passing of Leonard H. Robinson, Jr. in 2006. Prior to assuming this role, she served as the Vice President and Director of Field Operations and In-house Legal Counsel for the National Summit on Africa beginning in 1997. Before signing on to the National Summit, Paolo ended her twelve-year career on Capitol Hill, ten years of which were on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as Staff Director of the House Subcommittee on Africa. Paolo is credited for creating educational programs such as Teach Africa and advancing key initiatives such as the Presidential Tours of Africa…

By Bernadette Paolo A new National Security Strategy (NSS) for the United States released in February of 2015 includes many references to trade being vital to U.S. security interests. That is why Congress must renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) without further delay. “The United States is safer and stronger when fewer people face destitution, when our trading partners are flourishing and when societies are free,” reads one reference in the NSS. Given this truth, it is incumbent that the U.S. Congress act swiftly to insure that trade facilitation is a priority, particularly as it pertains to the continent of Africa. The African continent is fast evolving and widely considered to be the next frontier for economic growth. In many sub-Saharan countries, GDP is expected to rise above five percent in 2015. As Africa flexes its muscle in the global market and demands more equitable business deals, as its population exceeds well over a billion people, and as the oil flows and untapped resources remain, its trading partners are becoming more diverse than ever in its history. But old and new challenges remain in the face of progress. High levels of poverty combined with a burgeoning youth population,…