Board of Directors
The Board of the ABIC is governed by a diverse group of Eminent personalities from different countries, backgrounds, and experiences. Click on each member to learn more about them.
Olubanke King-AkereleChairperson of the Board
Yvette CHESSON-GIBSON, Esq.Establishment Coordinator
Samuel M. Lohman, Esq.Member
Lalla Aicha Ben BarkaMember
Olubanke King-Akerele, or Banke, as she is known generally, is a Liberian and former Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as former Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Government of Liberia, over the period 2006-2010. She studied at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria; at Brandeis University; Columbia University and completed first year of Law School at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia.
Prior to her period of public service, she was engaged for some 24 years (1982 – March 2006) in international development at senior levels with the United Nations System, notably, UNIFEM (today’s UN Women), UNDP, UNIDO and UNESCO. She served as United Nations Resident Coordinator, representing the UN Secretary General for development activities in the Field and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programmes in Mauritius and Seychelles as well as in Zambia. She was also Managing Director for UNIDO’s regional programmes (Africa; Asia and Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; the CIS; Eastern Europe and the Middle East). At that time, she was the most senior African at UNIDO-the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
Before joining the United Nations in 1982, she worked as a technical staff at the Liberia’s then Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs under the late Secretary Cyril Bright and subsequently late Secretary D. Franklin Neal, both of whom were her professional mentors. During that period, she was seconded for 5 years (1975-1980) to the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) as Deputy Director General and Counterpart to the ILO Advisor as they cleared the prerequisites that laid the foundations for today’s NASSCORP.
Retired from Government public service in November 2010, she is currently Chair of the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, as well as Executive Director of the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism – an Action-oriented Development Initiative. The Institute has, in turn, produced educational and Patriotic Games.
She is passionate about the “Growing” (development and promotion) of a new generation of African Leadership, noteworthy amongst which, the Joint UNDP-UNESCO initiative at UNECO’s Regional Bureau for Africa for Africa’s Future Leadership; (in Dakar, Senegal), the “Growing” of Liberia’s Future Entrepreneurs; (Ministry of Commerce and Industry); and the “Development” Diplomats Training Programme (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Publications by Banke include Women’s Leadership in Post Conflict Liberia: My Journey; Another that she co-authored with Kojo Boafo Asiedu, Accelerating Africa’s Integration through Micro-regionalism: The case of the Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique Growth Triangle and its Impact; and The “Growing” of Africa’s Emergent Leadership, launched in February 2014 in Lusaka, Zambia, with a foreword by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, First President of Zambia. That book has been transformed into a bilingual Educational development Board Game. First released at the Alliance Francaise in Accra Ghana in November 2016 and subsequently released in Swahili in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2017; in French at the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire in November 2017 and in Washington DC, U.S.A.
Her most recent publication The “Liberian” Way: Breaking the Cycle, and subtitled The “Growing” of Liberia’s Emergent Leadership, with foreword by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was released in November 2017 in Liberia at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law by Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and critiqued by Dr. Herman Browne, President of Cuttington University.
Proceeds of the sales of her Books and Games, go to support internships opportunities for Africa’s Young Professionals; education of orphans of Ebola Virus in Liberia or programmes resulting from the impact of Ebola (DRASA Trust in Nigeria) in the Sub-region through the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism and the Stella Maris Polytechnic.
Her areas of expertise are industrial development; mainstreaming of women in development; leadership development; regional integration; and South-south Cooperation, having undertaken a 4 months UNDP sponsored sabbatical in the South-East Asia’s Tiger economies of Malaysia; – Singapore; Indonesia; Thailand and the Philippines in 1998. She has successfully transferred the South–East Asian development experiences in her assignments in Africa generally.
Yvette CHESSON-GIBSON, Esq.
Counsellor Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh of Liberia obtained a Juris doctorate law degree with honours from the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law where she was also featured in “Who is Who in American Law Schools” 1988 Edition. She is a recipient of several awards and certifications including a certificate in Mediation/Arbitration from Bowie State University. A member of several professional associations both in the United States and Liberia, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh is a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar, The U.S. Federal District Bar, The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) where she serves on the Board. She is also one of the 18 Global Commissioners of the United States Academy of Science and Medicine. Cllr. Chesson-Wureh is a member of the Liberian Joint Presidential Transitional Team (JPTT) that was tasked with transitioning the incoming government (January 2018) into office and the Johnson Sirleaf government out. She was further appointed by the President of Liberia to be on the strategic Secretariat of the JPTT that had oversight on the entire Liberian transition process.
An advocate and a champion of women’s rights and gender equality, she was the Manager in 2009 of the International Women’s Colloquium for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, which was Co-convened by H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and H.E. President Tarja Halonen of Finland that brought together over two thousand women from around the world including four sitting Presidents (Liberia, Finland, Rwanda and Senegal). She was a member of the first Board of Tax Appeals of Liberia (2012-2017).
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh is presently the Establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, which was the concrete outcome of the International Colloquium. In a coalition with over 30 other women and youth groups, she initiated a non-violent elections campaign entitled “The Peace is in our Hand” which she successfully established as the “Women’s Situation Room” (WSR) for the Liberian elections in 2011. The Women’s Situation Room has been successfully replicated in Senegal 2012, in Sierra Leone 2012, in Kenya 2013, Nigeria 2015, Uganda and Ghana in 2016, Liberia 2014 & 2017 and Sierra Leone again in 2018. Cllr. Chesson-Wureh Chairs the Eminent Women’s Room of the award-winning Women’s Situation Room and provides the technical expertise for its implementation. The WSR has been hailed by the President of the UN Security Council as…” playing an important role in exerting influence over parties to armed conflict”…; and “…which have helped to prevent or mitigate the eruption and escalation of violence, inter alia through observing and monitoring and by engaging stakeholders in constructive dialogue and peace advocacy”. President Obasanjo of Nigeria has found the WSR to be “…a valuable mechanism to monitor potential hotspots, incidents of violence, harassment and intimidation.”
In her capacity as Establishment Coordinator of ABIC, Cllr. Chesson-Wureh played critical roles in: chairing the logistics and secretariat of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s inauguration of 2015; chairing the logistics and event planning committee for the United Nations High Level Panel (HLP) on the post Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), held in Liberia in 2015 and co-chaired by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of Indonesia.
As a member of the Liberian President’s Ebola Advisory Group on the Ebola Epidemic, she galvanised the youth of Liberia under ABIC’s leadership to engage in training and sensitization on the Ebola scourge. She also provided legal advice to the Government of Liberia regarding the epidemic.
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh also oversees many of the diverse programs of the Angie Brooks International Centre such as: The Chief Suah Koko Center and its Adult Literacy Program; The Pink Panthers Project; Mentorship and Internship of young Liberians; The Talking Bus; and various training programs.
Trade Development Consultancy horizon2030; Former Chief, Business Advisory Services, International Trade Centre (ITC), Switzerland
Senior Gender Advisor, United Nations Assistance Mission in Somali
Samuel M. Lohman, Esq.
International Lawyer, Law Firm Lohman (Geneva); Chairman, Hermitage & Co SA (Geneva); Chairman, GMT Business Consultants DMCC (Dubai)
Lalla Aicha Ben Barka
Former Deputy Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa; and Former Assistant Director for Africa at UNESCO – Headquartered in Paris
Liberian Ambassador to Germany and with prior service at European Union and to Japan