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Message from the Executive Director

semharDAWN recently held a series of exciting events, focused on our members and the importance of mentorship for professional young women of the African diaspora. In mid-April, I had the chance to sit with a bright group of young and dynamic women from Rutgers University's Africana Studies Association. After an intense question and answer session, we discussed the importance of early investment, preparation and mentorship for Africa-focused careers. Coordinated by their advisor, Ms. Adryan Wallace, I was extremely impressed by their curiosity and enthusiasm and appreciated the warm welcome. In Washington, DAWN also hosted a Cocktail Hour for our newest applicants and officially launched its DAWN Meet Our Mentors series, also known as DAWN MOMs.

As the founder of DAWN, it is always incredibly encouraging to meet new faces interested in our mission. We know there are many more women from the African diaspora whose bright minds are ready to contribute to Africa. And that's where DAWN wants to help. DAWN is here for our members to ask questions, to learn from each other and to learn from those who can guide us on how to make a difference in African affairs. Mentorship, professional development and personal growth are key and we look forward to more opportunities to grow with you!


Semhar Araia
Executive Director and Founder of DAWN

Launch of DAWN MOMs Series
 E.BaniOn April 30, we held our first DAWN Meet Our Mentors (MOMs) series with Dr. Gloria White-Hammond, reverend and co-founder of My Sisters Keeper. Held at the private residence of a second DAWN Mentor, Ms. Nicole Peacock, our members held a lively discussion with our DAWN Moms on their daily professional experiences in Washington.

Dr. White-Hammond shared her experiences with My Sister's Keeper in Sudan and in Boston followed by a lengthy question and answer session. DAWN is hugely appreciative of Dr. Gloria and Nicole's time, support and advice. We look forward to meeting our next DAWN Mom, Ms. Lauri Fitz-Pegado, on June 25. Stay tuned for more details!

DAWN SEEDS Opportunities
Ways to serve

SAVE-THE-DATE: Rise of DAWN- 2010 DAWN Annual Dinner
The Diaspora African Women's Network is pleased to announce that the 3rd Annual Dinner will be held on Friday, July 30, 2010 in Washington, DC. Join your fellow DAWNers and friends of DAWN as we commemorate the organization's third birthday. 

Early Bird tickets will be sold starting June 1, 2010.

We are looking for a group of dedicated DAWN members to join our planning committee and to be an integral part in the dinner planning process. Serving in the Dinner Planning Committee will be a rewarding experience, you will be using your existing talents while developing new ones.
To join this annual dinner planning committee or to find out more details about this opportunity please contact DAWN's Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives, Esraa Bani, at

Volunteer Photographer Needed for 2010 DAWN Annual Dinner

The Annual Dinner Planning Committee (ADPC) is seeking two volunteer Photographers willing to donate their time and talent with working knowledge of DAWN's mission to capture the mood of our third annual dinner on July 30, 2010. 

Volunteer photographers must possess their own camera equipment. ADPC is not seeking professional photographers, but volunteer photographers must be able to manipulate their equipment so finished images are clear. They also need to have the ability to think strategically and creatively, be artistically talented and technically skilled to produce professional photographs. In addition, they must be versed in the use of cameras, lenses, and lights. 

If you are interested in volunteering, please email our Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives at by C.O.B June 1, 2010.

DAWNer of the Month
Rafi Crockett

Omonigho Ufomata Rafi Crockett has worked for the US Department of Treasury since 2006 in various capacities.  She currently is in their Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as their Regional Liaison for Sub-Saharan Africa.  In this role, Rafi works with African governments to strengthen anti-money laundering regulations and practices in the region.  However, starting this summer, she will be working directly with the Central Bank of Ghana on improving their regulatory procedures. 
Rafi's commitment to Africa extends beyond her professional bona fides.  From youth, Rafi was taught the importance of being civically engaged in her DC as well as in her global community.  She has lived and studied in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.  As a human rights educator in South Africa, she worked with young people to understand their rights under the new South African constitution.  During her graduate career, she worked with young Afro-Brazilian girls in Salvador do Bahia, Brazil, teaching them dance in an afterschool program.

She received her Bachelor's degree at George Washington University. She also attended Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and received her Master's degree in Anthropology with a Graduate Certificate in African Studies.

Rafi once stated that she wanted to become a member of DAWN to be part of a 'strong coalition of positive, dynamic women committed to excellence and service'.  Rafi has exemplified this since a young age and continues to be a wonderful example of this in and out of DAWN.

Congratulations Rafi. We are proud to have you as a DAWNer!!!

African News

Internet promotes African freedom
Two African organizations are among the three winners of the inaugural Breaking Borders awards, given by Google and alternative media group Global Voices to those fighting for free expression via the internet and other technology platforms.  Read More

AfDB President Announces Senior Women Appointments
The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has appointed women to three senior positions, including the first ever female Secretary General.  Read More

Upcoming Events
MAY 26
What:Passport to Africa Fashion Trunk Show: A Toast to African Fashion
Time: 6:00PM EST
About this event: In partnership with IDOA Entertainment, DAWN will host this African Fashion Show as part of Passport to Africa.

MAY 28
What:DAWN Monthly Dinner
Time:7:00PM EST
About this event: This month's dinner will also be used to welcome the Spring 2010 Membership Class into DAWN!

This is an exclusive DAWN event. You must be a registered DAWNer to attend. If you would like to take part to this or other exclusive monthly events, click here.


What: Meet Our Mentors Series featuring DAWN Mentor Lauri Fitz-Pegado
Time: 7:00PM EST
About this event: DAWNers will welcome our special guest and mentor Lauri Fitz Pegado

Lauri Fitz PegadoDr. Lauri Fitz-Pegado is a partner at The Livingston Group, LLC,which provides public affairs, government relations and strategic communications counsel to governments, corporations, educational institutions and non-profit organizations. She contributes to the development of new business strategies, proposals and presentations and is the Director of the International Relations/Business Development Practice Group.

Appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994, she served under the late Secretary Ronald H. Brown, Secretaries Mickey Kantor and William Daley, she served as Assistant Secretary and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. At the Department of Commerce she promoted U.S. exports and assisted U.S. companies expand market share and compete for contracts around the world, managing 130 export promotion offices overseas, 90 offices in the United States and organizing and leading scores of trade and investment missions to countries throughout the world.

Fitz-Pegado served on the Obama for President campaign's foreign policy experts teams for Latin America, the Caribbean  and Africa. She was Director for Public Liaison of the Clinton-Gore Inaugural and advisor on international issues to Democratic Committee Chairman Ronald H. Brown. In 1997 she joined Iridium LLC, the world's first global satellite and paging company,as VP for Global Gateway Mgt. and VP for Corporate Affairs and Communications. A former Foreign Service officer who served in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, Ms. Fitz-Pegado also provided domestic and international clients strategic communications counsel, public and government relations services at Gray and Company and Hill and Knowlton.
Ms. Fitz-Pegado is Board Chair of the National Education Association Foundation. She is on the board of CHF International, the Ron Brown Scholar Program, and is an advisor and mentor to professionals in the University of Denver's International Career Advancement Program (ICAP). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Washington Government Relations Group. Ms. Fitz-Pegado is a graduate of Vassar College and has a Masters degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Economics and Latin American Studies.

N.B. This is an exclusive DAWN event. You must be a registered DAWNer to attend. If you would like to take part to this or other exclusive monthly events,click here.
What:DAWNista Social Hour
About this event: A get together of DAWNistas to have fun, get to know each other, and make connections

For a listing of events in the Washington, DC area, please visit DAWN's Calendar of Events at
DAWN's Monthly Inspiration

"Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It's important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It's the way in which we ourselves grow and develop."

-Dr. Dorothy I. Height, (R.I.P.,) social activist, Chair and President Emerita, National Council of Negro Women
In This Issue
Launch of DAWN MOMs Series
DAWN SEEDS Opportunities
DAWNer of the Month: Rafi Crockett
African News
Upcoming Events
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List!
Our Mission
The Diaspora African Women's Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and support talented women and girls of the African diaspora focused on African affairs.

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