BRIDGE TEAM

The U.S. Africa Bridge Team is designed to reflect and maintain a diverse, expert and multi-stakeholder representation.

Joan Wadelton

Joan Wadelton

PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER | US-AFRICA BUSINESS BRIDGE

Joan Wadelton is the President and Founder of the US-Africa Business Bridge.  She was previously in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State.  One of her significant achievements while at State was the creation of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) which has brought hundreds of leading African businesswomen to the United States for business training and matchmaking.

Amb. Sheila Siwela

Amb. Sheila Siwela

VP FOR AFRICA

Ambassador (ret.) Sheila Siwela has been a dynamic leader for decades – in Zambia, the United States and on the international stage.  She was Zambia’s Ambassador to the United States from 2010-2012 and has a longstanding commitment to enhancing business ties between the United States and Zambia – first in her diplomatic career, and now as a private consultant.

Timi Olagunju

Timi Olagunju

Africa’s representative on the Advisory Board IRI-GD

Timi Olagunju was Africa’s representative on the Advisory Board at the International Republican Institute’s Generation Democracy (IRI-GD) and 2020 Most Influential Young Nigerian in Policy Influencing (YNaija 2020).

Karen Eure Wilson

Karen Eure Wilson

Communications Director of the US-Africa Business Bridge

Karen Eure Wilson is the Communications Director of the US-Africa Business Bridge. She has extensive experience in community relations and capacity building. She is a public affairs specialist and founder of Eureka Communications, a cross functional communications agency that provides strategic messaging, public relations, crisis communications, brand elevation and propulsion of purpose. She is a Christian evangelist, an author and a public speaker. She holds a variety of leadership positions with the National Association of Black Journalists.

Amb. Sheila Siwela

VP FOR AFRICA

Ambassador (ret.) Sheila Siwela has been a dynamic leader for decades – in Zambia, the United States and on the international stage.  She was Zambia’s Ambassador to the United States from 2010-2012 and has a longstanding commitment to enhancing business ties between the United States and Zambia – first in her diplomatic career, and now as a private consultant.

As Ambassador, she worked with US business groups including the Corporate Council on Africa and the US Chamber of Commerce, helping to engineer multiple trade deals.  And, she provided advice and logistical support for delegations of US investors to Zambia – resulting in successful outcomes for both sides. 

 In addition, while in Washington, Ambassador Siwela launched important agreements that enhanced US-Zambian trade, including launching the Zambian-American Chamber of Commerce.  

She also worked with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to secure funding for the Lusaka Drainage project and other important programs.  And she partnered with the highest levels of the American government to advance two programs that facilitate trade from Africa to the United States – the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP).   Ambassador Siwela’s range of contacts across Zambia’s political spectrum – including at the highest levels — is unmatched.  As is her knowledge of every facet of the Zambian economy – from the agricultural sector to new technologies to the mining industry.

During her years at the Zambian Embassy in Washington, Ambassador Siwela traveled across the United States, meeting with companies in every corner and every sector of the country.  Since then, she has maintained close ties to the American business community in her years as Advisor to the former Vice President of Zambia, traveling on trade missions and arranging a Sister Cities agreement between Lusaka and Los Angeles.  All of these experiences have given her a deep understanding of the needs and aspirations of American companies and how they might best partner with Zambian counterparts.

Finally, Ambassador Siwela has a wealth of business knowledge and contacts across Africa, and throughout the world.  She is ideally placed to advise American companies on how to take advantage of the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which will allow them to expand into every country across Africa. 

Timi Olagunju

Africa’s representative on the Advisory Board IRI-GD

Timi Olagunju was Africa’s representative on the Advisory Board at the International Republican Institute’s Generation Democracy (IRI-GD) and 2020 Most Influential Young Nigerian in Policy Influencing (YNaija 2020).

Timi is a recipient of several awards for his distinction in policy influencing and leadership, including an award from the Ooni of Ife and President Barack Obama. He is a tech lawyer and policy consultant, with core capacity in open governance, policy leadership, and youth engagement. He litigated and defended the rights of communities in a number of high profile cases, some of which involved the Nigerian President and others involving public utilities such as Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

Timi was a Research Fellow at the Global Integrity in Washington DC, working on the ‘Africa Integrity Report’ sponsored by the ‘Mo Ibrahim Foundation’.

There he worked on proposing how stakeholders can be more engaged in achieving a more open Africa. He is the co-founder, Youths in Motion (YIM), which operates actively in Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, and New York, as a movement focused on promoting institutional opportunities for young people across Africa and in the Diaspora. One of YIM’s signature programs is Democracy in Action, which promotes democracy by providing the platform for young leaders to closely interact with parliamentarians at a local level.

He has made several presentations on the subject of open governance, open policy, and open elections, on different local and international forums, including at the Department of State’s Educational Affairs Division, National Democratic Institute (NDI) Washington, and Association of Public and Land Grants Universities (APLGU) in Washington DC.

Timi sits on several boards including Feed To Grow Africa, Slum and Rural Health Initiative, and International Republican Institute’s Generation Democracy (IRI-GD).  He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a member of the International Association of Information Technology Lawyers (IAITL), a fellow of the Presidential Precinct, a founding member of Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAYE) – West Africa.

He has authored and co-authored books namely: ‘The Hustlers’ Mentality’, and ‘Yes Africa Can’, as well as contributed to policy conversations around tech and innovation policy.

Twitter.com/timithelaw