Wellesley presents The African Women’s Leadership Conference, a first-of-its-kind gathering in the United States of some of the most influential voices in African women’s leadership—from education and politics to health and technology, entertainment, and the law. With more than 200 individuals in attendance, the conference presents a transformative opportunity for the next generation of African women leaders in the United States to meet and exchange the ideas that will move their countries and the world forward.

Keynote speakers include Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia (2006–2018) and Nobel laureate; Kenyan educator and social activist, Kakenya Ntaiya; Kansiime Anne, Ugandan comedian and actress who has been dubbed “Africa’s Queen of Comedy”; and Agnes Binagwaho, vice chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, who led the way in addressing chronic disease in Rwanda as the nation’s former health minister. Joey Cole ’99, senior producer for MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson, will emcee.

Organized in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, this timely and important conference will expand our understanding of the many ways African women leaders are transforming their communities and their countries. The event aims to advance thought leadership and provide opportunities to learn from the women who are making a difference across Africa and around the world. In lectures, breakout sessions, and informal discussions, attendees will explore what women’s leadership looks like through the lens of four key leadership competencies—confidence, creativity, courage, and resilience—leading to a deeper appreciation of the challenges African women leaders face and offering productive strategies for addressing them.

Paula A. Johnson, President of Wellesley College, said that in envisioning the conference, Wellesley was guided by “a deep belief in the women of Africa and all that they have accomplished—and how they are inspiring the next generation.”

“By presenting the African Women’s Leadership Conference on International Women’s Day, Wellesley honors the limitless potential of women to change and shape our world —from the unsung women who safeguard and strengthen families and communities, to the more public leaders who span every field, to all the women who create, communicate and organize—women who seek a new world in ways large and small,” said President Johnson. “To me, this is what International Women’s Day—and every day—should recognize, along, of course, with the essential rights and dignity of all women, everywhere.”

Photo: Students from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program were instrumental in the preparation that made Wellesley’s African Women’s Leadership Conference, the first of its kind, a success.