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Obiageli Ezekwesili

Co-Founder, Transparency International

Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili is a leading chartered accountant and co-founder of the global anti-corruption group, Transparency International. She is also one of the co-conveners of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign to find the 300 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014. She has held several key positions within the Nigerian government including senior special assistant to the President of Nigeria on budget monitoring and price intelligence, Minister of Mineral Resources and Minister for Education.


During her time as education minister, she led an extensive and comprehensive reform program, and her blueprint for overhauling the sector is a reference document from which other countries in Africa have borrowed ideas. A former vice-president of the World Bank’s Africa Region, Ezekwesili was recently, a senior advisor on Africa Economic Development Policy at the Open Society Foundations in New York, assisting the Mano River governments with economic policy reforms.

María Fernanda Cañas

Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Embassy of Argentina  

María Fernanda Cañas is an Argentinean diplomat and professor. She is currently ambassador to the United Kingdom. As part of the 1971 Communication Accords between Argentina and The United Kingdom, Cañás worked as an English teacher in Falkland Islands.


Until 2013, she worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Culture as an assistant director of the secretary of Falkland Islands Affairs.

Michael Franken

Vice Admiral, Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations, U.S. Africa Command

Vice Adm. Michael T. Franken graduated from the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska and from the College of Physics at the Naval Postgraduate School. He attended the Brookings Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI program, the Darden School, and various other executive education courses.


Franken’s previous flag assignments include service as the initial director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), special assistant to the director of the Navy Staff, the Joint Staff J5 interim chief of staff, the Department of the Navy chief of legislative affairs, command of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HoA) in Djibouti, Africa, and nearly three years as vice director, Strategy, Plans and Policy (J5) at U.S. Central Command. Franken is the U.S. Africa Command’s deputy for military operations.

Nabila Freidji

CEO, Cash One

Nabila Freijdi is the chief executive officer of Cash One, a Central Bank-regulated financial organization that distributes financial products and services (e.g., money transfer, currency exchange, consumer credit, ATMs). She is the founder and chief executive officer of MediaRep, a media representative firm that specializes in selling advertising time and space. She is also the president of the Money Transfer Section at the APSF (Association Professionnelle des Societes de Financement).


Freijdi is a former member of the Global Agenda Council on both Migration and the Future of the Middle East at the World Economic Forum. She is an expert on the Future of the Mediterranean Region at the World Economic Forum. She is also a board member of the Women’s Tribune, a founding member of Sister Cities Africa, and so on.

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio

President, Institut PanAfrican de Strategies

Before assuming the post of minister of state for foreign affairs of Senegal from 2000 to 2009, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio was the director for Africa at SIT in Vermont (International Training School) and coordinator for West Africa of the World Links for Development program (WordLD) at the World Bank in Washington.


In 2012, he was among the candidates for the Senegalese presidential election. After he received his master’s degree in sociology and communication at the University Paris VII, Gadio received his DEA in sociology of mass communications at the University René Descartes Sorbonne. He taught for four years at the University of Dakar, during which he obtained his certificate of practical training in communication and program development technologies for audiovisual education in Montreal. He received his Ph.D. in communication and international development at The Ohio State University.

Geraldine Gardner

Director, Urban and Regional Policy Program, The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Geraldine Gardner is the director of GMF’s Urban and Regional Policy (URP) program, where she leads the program’s transatlantic initiatives to convene policymakers and practitioners from U.S. and European cities to explore key issues in the transatlantic urban agenda. Gardner’s expertise lies in the integrated policies and cross-sector partnerships needed to build sustainable and inclusive cities, while increasing the economic competitiveness of city-regions in the global arena.


Under her leadership, the five-member URP team actively stewards a transatlantic network of urban leaders in over 25 cities and manages signature initiatives including BUILD, Dialogues for Change, Transatlantic Cities Network, and the URP Policy Fellowship. Prior to joining GMF in 2012, Gardner served in key leadership positions under three different mayors of the District of Columbia. Most notably, she served for five years as the associate director for neighborhood planning in the Washington, DC Office of Planning.

Roberto Gianetti da Fonseca

CEO, Kaduna Consulting Group

Roberto Gianetti da Fonseca is president at the Brasilis Comércio Exterior S.A., Brex Group Ltd., Kaduna Consultoria e Participações, and Mineração São Francisco de Assis. He is also board member of Multigrain S.A. and Search Minerals Inc. (Canada), chairman of LIDE Infrastructure, and president of CEAL — Latin America Business Council — Brazil. He was director and president at the Cotia Trading S.A. (1977-88), former executive secretary of Foreign Trade Council (CAMEX), from 2000-02, council attached to the Presidency of Republic.


He was executive director of the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs (DEREX) at the Federation of Industries of State of Sao Paulo (FIESP) for the period of 2004-13. He was also president at FUNCEX — Fundação Centro de Estudos de Comércio Exterior (2004-09) and president at the Brazilian Export Beef Association (ABIEC) (2008-10). He is author of the book Memórias de um Trader (2002).

Paulo Gomes

President, Paulo Gomes & Partners

After eight years as executive director on the board of the World Bank Group representing 25 African nations, Mr. Gomes launched Constelor Resources in 2006. Constelor is committed to executing a broad range of transactions across Africa, with a special focus on the mining sector. Gomes started his career at the World Bank when he became alternate executive director in 1998.


In 2002, he was promoted to the executive directorship and became one of 24 members of the World Bank board tasked with leading strategic and investment activities. In that role, Mr. Gomes has sought to serve the African nations with passion and innovation. He introduced among other ideas, “World Bank Board Africa Day,” the “Action Plan for Africa,” and the “Fund for Competitiveness and Growth.” For 4 years, he also served as Vice President of the Governance Committee tasked with reforming the Bank’s decision making processes. Gomes obtained a Masters degree with Honors in Economic Policy and Management from the Kennedy School of Government.

Jessica Gottsleben

#ILookLikeAPolitician Ambassador, Running Start 

Jessica Gottsleben is the first-ever elected ambassador of Running Start, a nonprofit organization that trains young women to run for elected office. In 2016, Gottsleben was honored at the 10th annual Young Women to Watch Awards in Washington, DC as the national Political Rising Star award recipient.


Gottsleben is a 2016 graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, and a 2014 inductee to the Order of Pegasus, the most prestigious and significant award attainable at the University of Central Florida, from which she holds two bachelor’s degrees with honors in radio and television broadcast journalism and political science, and a leadership studies certificate. She previously served as a UNESCO delegate on climate change, as a multimedia journalist and director, as a fellow on global peace and security, and most recently as a U.S. Congressional fellow on interdisciplinary policy and constitutional law.

Nik Gowing

International Presenter

Nik Gowing was a main presenter for the BBC’s international 24-hour news channel BBC World News from 1996 to 2014. He has presented on “The Hub with Nik Gowing,” “BBC World Debates,” “Dateline London,” plus provided location coverage of major global stories. For 18 years, Gowing worked at ITN where he was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and diplomatic editor for Channel Four News.


He has been a member of the councils of Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute, the Overseas Development Institute, the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and the advisory council at Wilton Park.