Executive Team

Dana M. Reed, Interim CEO

Dana M. Reed is the Interim CEO of The Africa Center. Most recently, Dana was the CEO of PanAfrican Investment Co., a private investment company that made impact investments in SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa. Dana continues to advise and invest in SMEs on the continent. Prior to joining PIC, Dana was a Managing Director at Semper Capital, a structured credit asset management company with $1.5 billion AUM. Her responsibilities included marketing, product development, and strategic growth of the firm. Before Semper, she was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. Dana began her career as a Fellow at the Export-Import Bank of the United States. She received a BBA in International Business from Howard University and a MBA from Howard University. She is a Trustee of Harlem Tech Fund, BrightPoint Health and Randall’s Island Park Alliance. Dana was appointed by New York Governor Paterson to serve as a Director of the Harlem Community Development Corp. and continues to serve in that capacity today. Dana is on the Advisory Board of Uncharted Play, a renewable energy company based in Harlem that provides energy solutions on the continent. She is an active member of the African Leadership Network, International Women’s Forum, and the Vice President of the Metropolitan Chapter of Jack & Jill. She has received numerous awards for her work both on the continent and in the U.S. Dana lives in Harlem with her 10-year-old twin boys who enjoy traveling to the continent with her.

Philip Conte, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Prior to joining The Africa Center, Mr. Conte was Deputy Director for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, for the Museum of the Moving Image.  He served as a member of the senior staff and leadership team that designed, built and opened the newly renovated and expanded $67 million dollar museum facility. Before joining Moving Image, Mr. Conte was Vice President, Business & Guest Services, for the world’s largest aquarium, the $300 million dollar Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA.   He served as a member of the senior start-up team that designed, built and opened the 550,000 square foot facility with an annual operating budget of more than $55 million dollars. Prior to the Georgia Aquarium, Mr. Conte was Director, Planning & Administration for the Wildlife Conservation Society, the largest urban zoological system in the United States, with an annual operating budget of over $150 million dollars. Mr. Conte is also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University’s Center for Non-Profit Leadership.  He teaches in both the Graduate School, and in the Center’s Executive Education Programs. Mr. Conte earned his Masters of Business Administration in Transnational Management from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business; and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. He additionally holds professional certificates and credentials from the Harvard Business School, The Disney Institute and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, Institute for Non-Profit Management.

Bridget W Foley, Vice President, Administration

Bridget Foley is an experienced non-profit professional versed in administration, operations, facilities management, marketing, event planning, and strategic planning. She is currently the Vice President, Administration at The Africa Center, where she is responsible for the organization’s human resources and benefits management, facilities and operations, operational consultants as well as aspects of strategic planning. Prior to her current role at The Africa Center, she has worked in a variety of administrative and project management positions, as well as a Museum Educator facilitating teaching residencies, workshops, tours and lectures. She has held posts at the National Museum of Ghana and Renee Fotouhi Fine Art, New York. She graduated magna cum laude with a BA from New York University in Fine Arts and Anthropology with a minor in Africana Studies. She holds an MA from New York University in Visual Arts Administration with a focus on non-profit administration, and her graduate thesis, “Dynasty and Divinity: A Way Forward for African Art in U.S. Museums,” focused on international collaboration as a model for presenting dynamic exhibitions of traditional African art. She is also a certified human resources professional with the national Society for Human Resources Management, and holds professional certificates and credentials from Pace University in Professional Human Resources Management, and from Columbia Business School’s Senior Leadership Program for Nonprofit Professionals.

Lawrence Ekechi, Community Outreach Liaison

Lawrence has been with the institution for 18 years, spearheading the Center’s outreach efforts, and has organized campaigns to reach African Missions and Ambassadors, churches, schools and senior centers. To date Mr. Ekechi has successfully met with 47 African Permanent Missions to the United Nations, governmental agencies, civic leaders, enlisting support for the Center and its work.  Within the Education Department, his responsibilities have also included working with school groups, and organizing aspects of public and educational programs. Prior to joining the Center’s staff, Mr. Ekechi held positions at JFK International Airport and at Holman Nigeria, where he was the company’s Shipping Controller. He holds a diploma in Industrial Relations Management from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a diploma from the Royal Society of Arts, London. He has also studied Business Management at The Cardiff Institute of Shipping Management, Lagos, Nigeria, an affiliate of Cardiff Institute, London. He is currently undergoing a one-year course in Professional Development with The Northern Manhattan Fellowship-Center For Community Leadership at the JCRC-NY.

Carol Braide, Publications Manager

Carol Braide has worked at the institution since 1989. Ms. Braide is responsible for all of the in-house graphic design, including work on marketing, education and development materials, as well as design production for brochures and website outreach. She also manages the Museum’s archives including exhibition and publication files and images, registrar records, contracts and copyrights, in addition to managing image rights and permissions with external individuals. For many years she lived and worked in Nigeria, holding design and photographic positions at institutes such as the University of Port Harcourt and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan. Ms. Braide holds a BFA in Visual Design from the University of Hawaii and has studied at the School of Visual Art, NY.

Evelyn Owen, Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow

Evelyn Owen is a curator and writer. At The Africa Center, she holds the position of Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow. She co-curated “Emeka Ogboh: Lagos State of Mind II’ (The Africa Center), and “The Aftermath of Conflict: Jo Ractliffe’s Photographs of South Africa and Namibia” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). An alumna of Independent Curators International’s Curatorial Intensive program, she completed her PhD in Cultural Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, with a thesis titled “The Geographies of Contemporary African Art.” She is also the manager of the Center’s social media channels.

Velky Valentin, Controller

Velky Valentin is the Center’s Controller, and she manages key aspects of the financial and accounting functions for the capital campaign and the annual operating budget. She has over seventeen years of experience in book-keeping, non-profit management and finance from Dance Theater Workshop, where she worked as the Finance Associate, Associate Director of Finance and as the Controller, as well as a position as the Controller of the David Lynch Foundation. Ms. Valentin holds her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Baruch College.

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