Leila Ndiaye serves as the Executive Vice-President of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD), where she is responsible for driving the strategic direction for IGD’s programming and policy engagements and advancing organizational priorities.
With 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist, Ndiaye has a proven track record in policy design and implementation at the highest level of African governments and the private sector. She is also an Advisor to McLarty Associates on trade and investment in West Africa.
She previously served as Senior Director of Policy for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In that position, she developed and executed the US-Africa Business Center, managed the US-ECOWAS Business Initiative, and spearheaded the Chamber’s program in Western and Central Sub-Saharan Africa.
A native of Côte d’Ivoire and dual citizen of Senegal, she worked with the government of Côte d’Ivoire as special adviser to the former Head of State, where she advised on a range of policy, national security and economic issues to ensure that all duties were carried out in the best interest of the country as a whole.
Earlier in her career, Ndiaye held positions in the lobbying arena with Bayh, Connaughton, Fernsteinhem and Malone, law firm of former Senator Birch Bayh, in Washington, D.C. where she developed and managed the Africa portfolio and at the World Bank as a consultant.
She is a recipient of numerous awards of distinction for her work, including The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “US-Africa Business Center Outstanding Leaders’ Award 2018”; the 2016 Excellence Award by the Women Ambassadors Foundation; and the 2008 Women’s Private Sector Initiative Award in Côte d’Ivoire. Ndiaye earned a certificate from the Thayer Leaders Development Group (TLDG) at West Point for the “Women Leading from the Front Lines” Leadership Academy in August 2017.
Ndiaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS), at The American University in Washington DC; Master of Arts in Diplomacy with merit from the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster; and a PhD in International Relations and Diplomacy, from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques (CEDS), in Paris.
As the Vice President of Communications & External Affairs, Shanta helps to set organizational strategy and oversees all of IGD’s communications and efforts. Shanta works closely with IGD leadership to design and execute dynamic communications and media strategies to enhance the IGD brand and heighten awareness of IGD’s work. She has more than fifteen years of experience in media outreach and editorial work in the fields of international finance, advocacy and humanitarian and development with a focus on Africa. Launching her career as a reporter for the All Africa News Service, a Nairobi-based continental African newswire service, Shanta served as the Director of Communications and Media Relations at InterAction.
Shanta has been principal of SBG Communications where she has worked with leading international organizations to bolster communications and media outreach efforts to increase coverage and help shape the media’s reporting on the developing world, particularly Africa.
Shanta received a B.S. in journalism from Boston University and pursued graduate studies in International Communications at The American University in Washington, D.C.
Austin R. Cooper, Jr. | Director, Government Relations
Austin R. Cooper, Jr. serves as the Director of Government Relations for the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). With extensive legislative, political and communications background, including holding senior level positions at the federal, state and local levels of government, his employment history includes working for four Members of Congress: Congressman Charles Rangel, Congressman William H. Gray III, Congressman Louis Stokes and Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Austin has also worked on public affairs accounts for Hill and Knowlton Strategies and Edelman Worldwide.
He served as a State Lobbyist (pension, education and labor) to former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins and Vice President of Government Affairs for the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. He has also provided communications and government affairs counsel to the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation. Prior to establishing Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc., Austin served as the Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications for GoodWorks International, LLC. In this capacity, he served as the media representative for former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and represented the Governments of Nigeria, Rwanda, Benin and Tanzania in Washington, D.C.
Austin received a Bachelor or Arts (BA) in History & Government from Saint Augustine’s University and Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.