Constance Newman, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was guest speaker for the February luncheon meeting of the Flagler County Tiger Bay Club at the Hammock Beach Resort.
Constance Newman, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, started her presentation as guest speaker for the Flagler County Tiger Bay Club with humor.
Challenging the 150 guests in the room with true-or-false statements, in the end it was the knowledge that Africa is home to 90% of the world’s poor while also home to some of the world’s most precious resources that gave audience members a deeper insight into a continent far removed from the living rooms of most Americans.
Newman’s firsthand experience in Africa shined a spotlight on key hurdles facing the African people in distressed areas, including ineffective governance, lack of education, poverty and hunger.
Questions from members of the Flagler Tiger Bay Club focused on education, refugee camps and how to protect the African people in a setting where less government accountability can lead to the exploitation of resources by industrialized nations such as China, which has become the biggest stakeholder in Africa’s largest bank and is investing billions in the continent’s infrastructure.
Still involved today, in addition to serving as assistant administrator for African Affairs for the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, and assistant secretary of state for African Affairs in the early 2000s, Newman is special counsel for African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based Carmen Group, and advisor to the U.S. African Development Foundation on Somalia.
She believes it is the entrepreneurial spirit of the African people and the determination of the younger generations to demand change and accountability, supported by developed nations across the globe, that will ultimately result in positive changes throughout the continent.
“It has to be led by the African people. They have to decide what they want and how they want it, but then the rest of the world has to be engaged,” said Newman. “The parts of the world that have made it, have done so with the investment of the other parts of the world.”
Spending time with students from Bethune-Cookman University and Flagler Palm Coast High School FPC after the luncheon, Newman answered questions from students like Kenneth Boyd, a second semester senior at BCU who’s set to graduate in May 2020.
As part of the Flagler Tiger Bay Club Young Tiger program, Boyd said he appreciates the opportunity to interact with high-profile speakers and business leaders as he prepares for the future.
“I feel like this is impactful for us as the next generation, because we need to know these things and learn everything we can about the situations, in order to fix it,” said Boyd.
It was the thoughtful questions posed by the students that gives Newman hope for the future, as well.
“I was very encouraged by the questions because it sounded to me like they were paying attention and their questions were related to the things I presented. They seemed knowledgeable. Some are working on projects that involve Africa, and that was impressive to me,” said Newman.
The Flagler Tiger Bay Club will host Scott Sobel, senior VP of crisis and litigation communications for kglobal, as its March speaker. For more information, visit flaglertigerbayclub.com.