Former Ambassador Michelle Gavin named Africa Center director

NEW YORK – The Africa Center today announced that former U.S. Ambassador Michelle Gavin has been appointed as managing director, an executive role responsible for the Africa Center’s development, strategic expansion and everyday operations. The Africa Center, once known as the Museum for African Art, aims to provide a gateway for American engagement with the African continent, headquartered in New York City.

Gavin will oversee the development of infrastructure and programming in support of a mission that spans culture, business and policy. Gavin’s team will develop and curate a wide range of artistic exhibitions and events, foster a transformational and international enterprise network and develop a policy center that will serve as a new Africa-focused think tank. Altogether, the Africa Center aims to transform the international understanding of Africa, with its youngest population, and to promote direct engagement between African artists, business leaders and civil society and their counterparts from the United States and beyond.

Gavin will also oversee the closeout of the capital fundraising campaign and the completion of the Africa Center’s permanent home at 1280 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, at the intersection of 110th Street. The purpose-built Robert A.M. Stern-designed complex is located less than 20 minutes from the United Nations at the beginning of “Museum Mile” on the northeast corner of Central Park.

Hadeel Ibrahim, co-chair of the Africa Center’s board of trustees, said, “We are delighted to announce Michelle Gavin’s appointment. After such a distinguished career in public service dedicated to US-Africa relations, we look forward to her leadership as we build a world-class public institution, the Africa Center, here in Harlem, New York City.”

Before joining the Africa Center, Gavin served as U.S. Ambassador to Botswana from June 2011 to March 2013.

Before being asked to be President Obama’s personal representative to Botswana, Gavin served for two years as a special assistant to the president and the senior director for Africa at the National Security Council.

Gavin received an M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and earned a B.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she was a Truman Scholar.

“I am captivated by the potential of The Africa Center to build new bridges between the United States and Africa. This institution will be good for Africa, good for America, and good for New York City, providing a real center of gravity for Africa-related activity,” said Gavin.

For more information, visit The Africa Center online at