The 8th edition of Harvard’s African Development Conference (ADC) attracted policy makers, business leaders, academics, educators, entrepreneurs, and government officials from the US and Africa. The 2017 conference theme was Africa: Imagining New Frontiers for collaboration. Love of Africa was a common thread connecting the people at the ADC which was evident in the clothing worn and passion when speaking on matters that impact the continent.
Panels were held on subjects such as the African City, Bridging the Francophone-Anglophone Divide, the African Diaspora, Social Movements, Education, and more. As a panellist on Education, Liz Grossman displayed her love of Africa by wearing a custom TeKay Designs dress made of tie dye fabric from Liberia and combined with black satin. TeKay Designs is an international fashion label (founded by Designer Kimma Wreh in 1998) with operations in the US and West Africa (Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana). The fashion brand specializes in custom and ready made Bridal and Formal wear, Ethnic attire, and African accessories (necklaces, bracelets, earrings, purses, shoes). The company is an advocate for vocational fashion training to people with disabilities.
In her speech, Grossman encouraged youths to dress for success and stated ‘Attending conferences and networking events requires intention- what you want to learn, who you want to meet, and what reputation do you want to leave with and it is important that your attire reflects this. Wearing clothes that provoke meaningful conversation is rewarding. I received so many compliments on the dress from TeKay Designs, and every time it turned into deeper connection. With an Ethiopian architect, I shared that the designer had done a fashion show at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A woman from Uganda was also wearing an African dress, and we were able to discuss ways to collaborate on our ventures. A Liberian gentlemen approached me to ask about the dress, sensing it might have been from his country. My dress made me feel confident, approachable and ready to make progress.”
At the Harvard ADC, the Education panel highlighted the need for collective impact to improve education on the continent, a topic that Grossman is all too familiar with. She has managed education issues in Senegal, Uganda, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, and Mali, and consulted for UNESCO, UNICEF, UNHCR, and Ministry of higher education of Senegal. Panellists working in organizations in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and DRC provided advice on how governments, policy makers, entrepreneurs and donors might collaborate to solve the problem of low supply of quality education in Africa.
Liz is a communicator, educator and a relationship manager. She graduated from Harvard with M.Ed. in International Education Policy and from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Communications and International Studies. While addressing the conference held at her alma mater, Liz stated that,’ “As a graduate student at Harvard in 2013, I was co-chair for the Harvard African Development Conference. We had an amazing conference, featuring the President of Senegal Macky Sall, high level government officials, entrepreneurs and educators. I knew that this year, now that I am back in the United States, I wanted to participate, but this time as the Founding Manager of Baobab Consulting“.
Liz Grossman is the founder of Baobab Consulting, a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) with a mission to promote mutual understanding and equitable collaboration between the US and Africa .In Liz`s own words, “Baobab Consulting is a start-up consulting firm based in New York City and St Louis, Senegal. The firm promotes mutual understanding and equitable collaboration between the US and Africa through strategic facilitation, communications, business development and speaking/teaching. For the Harvard African Development Conference, we provided pro-bono communications preparation and day-of support in order to showcase the successes of the event.”
The event featured keynote speeches from the 4th President of Ghana J.D. Mahama, Africa’s richest woman Folorunso Alakija, South African Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, and internationally acclaimed human rights layer from Zimbabwe – Beatrice Mtetwa.
View pictures of Liz Grossman, Panellists, Keynote Speakers and Attendees at the event: