Board of Trustees, led by Hadeel Ibrahim and Chelsea Clinton, selects diplomat and policy expert as new leader of multidisciplinary civic institution

March 19, 2015 (NEW YORK, NY) — The Africa Center today announced that former United States Ambassador Michelle Gavin has been appointed as Managing Director, an executive role responsible for The Africa Center’s development, strategic expansion and everyday operations. The Africa Center, once known as the Museum for African Art, aims to provide a gateway for American engagement with the African continent, headquartered in New York City.

In accordance with the vision of the Board of Trustees, Gavin will oversee the development of infrastructure and programming in support of a mission that spans culture, business and policy. Gavin’s team will develop and curate a wide range of artistic exhibitions and events, foster a transformational and international enterprise network and develop a Policy Center that will serve as a new Africa-focused think tank. Altogether, The Africa Center aims to transform the international understanding of Africa, the world’s oldest continent with its youngest population, and to promote direct engagement between African artists, business leaders and civil society and their counterparts from the United States and beyond.

Gavin will also oversee the close-out of the capital fundraising campaign and the completion of The Africa Center’s permanent home at 1280 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, at the intersection of 110th Street. The stunning, purpose-built Robert A.M. Stern-designed complex is located less than 20 minutes from the United Nations at the beginning of “Museum Mile” on the northeast corner of Central Park.

Hadeel Ibrahim, Co-Chair of The Africa Center’s Board of Trustees, said, “We are delighted to announce Michelle Gavin’s appointment. After such a distinguished career in public service dedicated to US-Africa relations, we look forward to her leadership as we build a world-class public institution, The Africa Center, here in Harlem, New York City.”

“We’re thrilled Ambassador Gavin has agreed to become Managing Director of The Africa Center. Her management experience and deep understanding of Africa will enable The Africa Center to move from vision to reality,” said Chelsea Clinton, Co-Chair of The Africa Center’s Board of Trustees.

Before joining The Africa Center, Gavin served as United States Ambassador to Botswana from June 2011 to March 2013, where she led a team of eight United States government agencies and over 375 people. During her tenure in Botswana, she led the mission through major milestones including the establishment of Botswana’s first American Chamber of Commerce, the commencement of one of the largest HIV/AIDS research initiatives in the world, and the 1200-person strong joint military exercise Southern Accord 12. She served concurrently as the United States Representative to the Southern African Development Community.

Before being asked to be President Obama’s personal representative to Botswana, Gavin served for two years as a Special Assistant to the President and the Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council. Previously, Gavin worked with the Council on Foreign Relations as Adjunct Fellow for Africa and an International Affairs Fellow, and as a foreign policy adviser and legislative director in the United States Senate from 1999 to 2006. Gavin received an M.Phil. in International Relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and earned a B.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she was a Truman Scholar.

Michelle Gavin, Managing Director of The Africa Center, said, “I am captivated by the potential of The Africa Center to build new bridges between the United States and Africa. This institution will be good for Africa, good for America, and good for New York City, providing a real center of gravity for Africa-related activity.”

For more information, visit The Africa Center online at