Vanguard Africa is a nonprofit organization comprised of experienced campaign advisors and strategists, as well as government relations and human rights experts who are fully committed to aiding pro-reform leaders to both get elected and advance their visions of change.

“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 member

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

Our Principles

Vanguard Africa will support leaders who meet the following criteria:

  • A clear path, and unwavering personal commitment, to electoral victory
  • A distinguished record of public service, accountability and ethical leadership
  • A strong commitment to transparency, good governance, and importantly, free, fair and credible election processes
  • A realistic plan to improve the country’s economy, education system, access to basic services and democratic development


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.

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.

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.

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 on international human rights and democracy promotion, including prior positions at the Robert F. Kennedy Center, Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy, Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA), and UNESCO. He has led, planned and conducted human rights assessment missions to a number of African countries, including Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He has organized high-profile delegations to the United States Congress, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and United Nations Human Rights Council. He frequently provides expert briefings to U.S. government institutions, including the State Department and White House, and has written extensively on issues related to democracy, and US-Africa policy in particular, for premier international publications, including Foreign PolicyForeign Affairs, and the Washington Post. He is often quoted by major international media outlets and has provided on-air analysis as a commentator for Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC and a range of NPR programs.

Joe Trippi, Senior Advisor - heralded on the cover of The New Republic as the man who “reinvented campaigning,” Joe Trippi has been at the forefront of movement politics for nearly 30 years. 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. 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, Senior Advisor -  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, 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.