Vanguard Africa represents the unique synthesis of best practices in campaign management with the mission-driven focus of a pro-democracy organization. We have convened previously isolated networks -- including campaign consultants, government and public relations experts, business leaders and human rights advocates -- to provide unparalleled access and solutions for pro-democracy leaders.

To date, our cutting edge work and high-profile successes have been featured in a range of international publications, including Newsweek, Le Monde, World Politics ReviewDelayed Gratification Magazine, Ozy.comand the Huffington Post

“Africa's important need to own the century must start with deepening a participatory democratic culture, instituting electoral integrity, and respecting the rights of our people.” -Dapo Olorunyomi, Advisory Council

"The corrupt networks that currently comprise the core of many states are deadly. They kill with impunity to accumulate. Occasionally they will threaten someone like me who can make noise that'll be heard. Mostly, it's the poor who disappear into a broken criminal justice system, or disappear literally into thin air, like ghosts leaving families unable to mourn." 
-John Githongo, Advisory Council


Amadou Janneh is a former Minister of Information and Communication in The Gambia. In 2011 he was sentenced to life in prison for treason after distributing t-shirts with the slogan "End Dictatorship Now." After worldwide protests, including from Amnesty International, Janneh was pardoned and later settled in the United States. As coordinator of Coalition for Change-Gambia (CCG), he continues to be a leading advocate for democracy and human rights in West Africa.

Dr. Aref Ali Nayed is the former ambassador of Libya to the United Arab Emirates and is the Founder and Director of Kalam Research and Media (KRM), and Chairman of the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS). During the Libyan revolution, Dr. Nayed was the chief operations manager of the Libya Stabilization Team. He has taught and lectured Islamic Theology, Logic, and Spirituality at the restored Uthman Pasha Madrasa in Tripoli, Libya. He is Senior Advisor to the Cambridge Inter-Faith Program; Fellow of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute in Jordan; Visiting Professor at Fatih Sultan Mehmet University in Istanbul; and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Templeton Foundation. He was Professor at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (Rome), and the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization (Malaysia). He received his BSc in Engineering, MA in the Philosophy of Science, and a PhD in Hermeneutics from the University of Guelph (Canada). He also studied at the University of Toronto and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He has been involved in various Inter-Faith initiatives since 1987, including the seminal “A CommonWord” process, which was one of the most important inter-faith initiated by Muslims. His impressive list of published works include Vatican Engagements: A Muslim Theologian’s Journey in Muslim-Catholic Dialogue (KRM, 2016); ISIS in Libya: Winning the Propaganda War (KRM, 2015); Libya: From Revolutionary Legitimacy to Constitutional Legitimacy (KRM, 2014); Beyond Fascism (KRM, 2013); and Growing Ecologies of Peace, Compassion and Blessing: A Muslim Response to ‘A Muscat Manifesto’ (KRM, 2010). 

David A. Rice is an economist who consults, writes and teaches about economic development, governance, and policy, specializing in Africa. He was most recently the founding director of the Africapitalism Institute, a pan-African think tank based in Lagos, Nigeria, which he ran through the end of 2015. The Institute, supported by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, conducts rigorous, applied research on the critical role that the private sector must play in driving broader economic growth and social development across the continent. David is currently based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where he is teaching development economics and entrepreneurship at Central Asia University, and working with a local new business start-up incubator called the Prosperity Accelerator. Prior to his position in Lagos, David was a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs where he also served as executive director of the university's Development Research Institute, working alongside economist William Easterly. David has also been the Africa advisor to the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan global financial innovation think tank. David obtained his M.A. in International Development from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and previously served as a Fellow in the Advanced Leadership Program at the Snelling Center for Government at the University of Vermont and was an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Frannie Léautier is a globally respected development expert with over 25 years of distinguished professional experience. She is currently the Senior Vice President of the African Development Bank Group based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. A citizen of Tanzania, Dr. Léautier is also the chairperson and co-founding partner of Mkopa Private Equity Fund, which is focused on private equity investments in small and media size enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has worked extensively in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, as well as in 49 different countries throughout Africa. From 2009-2013, Dr. Léautier served as the Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) based in Harare, Zimbabwe. During her tenure at the ACBF, Dr. Léautier was widely credited with raising and revamping the profile, governance, accountability, efficiency and delivery of the institution. 

John Githongo is the CEO of Inuka, a Kenyan NGO that promotes good governance and anti-corruption. He is a past Chairman of the Africa Institute for Governing with Integrity, the Africa Center for Open Governance (AFRICOG), and served as a Commissioner of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). Previously, he was Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of governance and ethics. He remains a weekly columnist for the Star newspaper and occasionally writes for international press outlets such as the Guardian. In 2011, Mr. Githongo was selected as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine and one of the world’s top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy. In October 2013 he was awarded the OXI! Award by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation that marks heroism and the defense of freedom. In 2015, he was appointed the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor at Stanford University and was awarded the prestigious University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law Prize for international Integrity. Mr. Githongo is also a Senior Advisor to the Office of the President of South Sudan.


Dapo Olorunyomi is currently publisher and editor-in-chief of the Nigerian multimedia platform, Premium Times. Prior to this, he served as policy director and chief of staff at Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). His work as editor during the years of military dictatorship in Nigeria earned him the 1995 International Editor of the Year Award, presented by World Press Review, the 1996 PEN Center (West) Freedom to Write Award, the 1996 Press Freedom Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) New York and a Hellman Hemmett grant from Human Rights Watch.

Oby Ezekwesili is a Senior Economic Advisor with Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI) where she advises reform-committed African heads of state on economic and policy issues. Mrs. Ezekwesili is also a co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls citizens’ movement, advocating for the safe rescue of the abducted 219 school girls in northern Nigeria. She has also served in leadership roles at the Open Society Foundation and the World Bank, where she managed an extensive African portfolio. From 2002 to 2007, Mrs. Ezekwesili served in the Nigerian Cabinet as Minister of Education and headed several transparency initiatives. She is a founding director of Transparency International and has extensive international development experience. In 2015, she was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and 50 Most Powerful Africans by New Africa Magazine. Ezekwesili was also named as one of the New York Times’ 2015 Women of Impact.

OUR Washington, DC TEAM

Jeffrey Smith (Executive Director) has over a decade of experience working and consulting on international human rights and democracy promotion campaigns, including prior positions at the Robert F. Kennedy Center, Freedom House, National Endowment for Democracy, Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA), and UNESCO. He has been cited as one of the most influential pro-democracy advocates on social media today, and has been honored multiple times for his work, most recently in 2017 by the Government of the Gambia as a "Champion for Democracy" due to his efforts in that country's pro-democracy struggle.  He has led, planned and conducted assessment missions to a number of African countries, including the Gambia, Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He has organized and led high-profile African delegations to the White House, U.S. State Department, the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations Human Rights Council. He frequently provides expert briefings to U.S. government institutions, presents on public panels, and has written extensively on issues related to democracy and US-Africa policy for premier international publications, including The Atlantic, Foreign PolicyWorld Politics Review, Foreign Affairs, and the Washington Post. In March 2018, he was a featured speaker at Harvard University's annual Africa Business Conference and presented on academic panels at Grand Valley State University, University of Connecticut, and Arcardia University. He is also a noted expert in media engagement and outreach. He is routinely quoted by major media outlets and has provided on-air analysis for Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC and NPR programs.

Joe Trippi (Co-Founder) is heralded on the cover of The New Republic as the man who “reinvented campaigning" and has been at the forefront of movement politics for three decades. Trippi began his political career working on Edward M. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1980 and has worked on numerous presidential, gubernatorial, senate, and congressional campaigns in the United State and around the world since. In 2008,Trippi helped Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change receive the most votes, and helped garner international media attention to Robert Mugabe’s democratic subversion and violence which led to a ‘unity’ government and Tsvangarai becoming Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. In 2010, Trippi was a senior strategist and media consultant in Jerry Brown’s successful run for California Governor. Most recently, Trippi helped manage the senate campaign of Doug Jones in Alabama, who became the first democrat to win statewide office in over a decade. He is the author of "The Revolution will not be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything," which chronicles his revolutionary use of the internet in political campaigning.

Christopher Harvin (Co-Founder) is a founding Partner at Sanitas International, a global strategic communication, public affairs, digital media and political advisory firm based in Washington DC. He was recognized as one of the top public relations practitioners under 40 by PRWeek in 2013, has served the White House and has held senior communications and public affairs positions with U.S. Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Having worked in almost 70 countries and on 6 continents, Mr. Harvin has provided political and communications counsel and support around the world to include U.S. Presidential, Senate and Congressional campaigns, international corporations, opposition candidates and their parties, and dozens foreign heads of state and sovereign governments.

Albert Wynn (Senior Government Relations Advisor) is currently a senior director at Greenberg Traurig, LLP and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. While in the House, Albert served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, most recently as Chairman of its Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, and as a member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. In addition, Albert was a member of the Financial Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. During his distinguished career in the United States Congress, Albert held numerous prominent positions, including Senior Democratic Whip, Regional Whip, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, member of the Democrats’ message team, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on Small Business, and Co-Chair of the Hydrogen and Wireless Caucuses. While there, he was selected to serve as delegate to numerous inter-parliamentary meetings, involving both the Caribbean and European Union organizations.