March 22, 2021

Earlier this month, the Biden administration named Akunna E. Cook to its State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs team.

Cook, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and oversees the development of U.S. foreign policy for Southern Africa as well as economic and regional issues, including trade, investment, climate, health, multilateral engagement, democracy and human rights, has already hit the ground running.

“[I am] excited to join the Biden-Harris administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. This daughter of Nigerian immigrants is proud to work towards creating a more prosperous and democratic future for the U.S. and Africa. Onward!,” Cook wrote announcing her new job with the U.S. government on social media.

On March 19, she held a productive bilateral meeting with Angola Ambassador to the U.S. Joaquim do Espirito Santos to discuss mutual U.S.-Angola interests, including trade and investment, democracy, good governance and economic reforms.

The bilateral meeting comes on the heels a major renewable investment in Angola from a U.S.-based renewable energy company, Sun Africa, which broke ground on March 11 to build in Angola the largest solar project in sub Saharan Africa. 

“This proud development reflects Angola’s commitment to economic reform and modernization and our growing partnership with America,” the Angola Embassy in D.C. twitted.

Before joining the Biden administration, Cook, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, was the Principal at Drake Road Strategies—a consulting agency that she founded to offer public policy strategy as well advocacy to individuals and firms.

A Yale-trained international law attorney and former career foreign officer with the department of state, Cook advised former Attorney General Eric Holder on political and legal strategy related to redistricting around the country as well as other clients on public policy, government affairs, and corporate governance.She also served as a legal fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Chris Coons.

She received her JD from Yale Law School and a Master’s Degree from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


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