Bernadette Paolo is an attorney with a diverse professional background including 25 years of experience working on foreign policy, (a decade on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs); leading a national non-profit as the Co-Founder, President and CEO of The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa; engaging in academia as a Fellow at Harvard University and a Scholar-in-Residence at Duquesne University; and presently serving as an
international consultant for corporations on international relations and communications.
International Consulting Experience
Attorney and International Consultant -- (Retained presently by Chevron Middle East, Africa, and South America Division; other clients have included Mars-Wrigley and The Whitaker Group). Provide counsel on practices involving foreign governments and on negotiating problem areas. Assess trade regulations impacting the industry. Review social impact programs. Facilitate contacts between clients and those seeking to partner to promote business opportunities or contribute to various practices within the corporation. Conduct research on business practices in foreign governments and providing recommendations on improving them. Write speeches, reports and proposals for principals and review sensitive documents and those for broad distribution.
Scholar-in-Residence, Center for African Studies, Duquesne University-- Developed a speakers series for senior African and American change agents who impacted U.S.-Africa Relations to include two African Ambassadors, an African entrepreneur and philanthropist, and a global trade expert and former US Trade Representative for Africa. Initiated and worked with the Chair of the Center for African Studies, World Affairs Council and The Africa Society on the Teach Africa program which brought hundreds of area high school students to the University for a day-long Africa immersion program with Professors from Duquesne on two occasions. Invited as a guest lecturer by faculty from Duquesne’s Center for African Studies, Department of Political Science, Law School, Center for Environmental Research, and was the guest speaker for the International Relations Honor Society. Have served as a guest lecturer every semester since 2018 for the Center for African Studies. Delivered a policy address on Africa during Africa Day with the former Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA -- Selected as one of 46 global leaders, and a scholarship recipient, for a year-long intensive multi-disciplinary program geared toward addressing complex challenges to effectuate profound social impact worldwide. Participated in courses and engaged with faculty from the Harvard Business School, Law School, J.F. Kennedy School of Government, Graduate School of Education, and T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Consulted with faculty from many disciplines, corporate leaders and policymakers, representatives from the military, and faith-based and NGO communities on my project that sets forth a new paradigm for peacemaking that engages non-state actors and seeks to change the paradigm for addressing conflict globally. Lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics on “How Best to Secure a Position and Effectuate Change in the U.S. Congress.”
President and CEO, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Washington, DC -- Responsible for managing, developing, and sustaining The Africa Society, a premier
entity for educating Americans in the United States about the continent of Africa, as
recognized by the African Union. Developed innovative educational programming such as “Teach Africa” that trained hundreds of educators and engaged thousands of American students and educators. Worked with the Travel Channel on the negotiations and implementation of four
documentaries with African Heads of State and American journalists on a tour of African countries that reached millions of people worldwide. Created initiatives for engagement for policymakers and the public through policy forums, lecture series, and briefings on current affairs. Formed partnerships and convened programs with the Department of State, the World Bank, Library of Congress, African embassies, and major academic and regional institutions.
Formulated strategies and worked within coalitions on advancing key legislative initiatives impacting Africa to include the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Debt Relief and HIV-AIDS.Devised fundraising strategy resulting in diverse funding sources from USAID, the private sector, and individuals.
Vice President and In-House Counsel, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa -- Responsible for all legal issues to include contracts and government filings and regulations. Managed the budget and implementation of programs. Liaison to Capitol Hill on all matters pertaining to Africa, in collaboration with Members of Congress and the Africanist community. Worked with the President on establishing systems and protocols, hiring and supervision of staff, and in promoting The Africa Society in the United States and in Africa. Oversight over communications strategies, proposal writing and execution.
Director of Field Operations, National Summit on Africa, Washington, DC--Managed a staff of 18 for the convening of five regional summits in major hub areas throughout the United States. Responsible for all aspects of the summits including contracts, coalition building, budget, programming, and execution. Led the national mobilization for the National Summit on Africa and for insuring the
participation of delegations from every state and territory in the United States. The mobilization was the largest gathering of Africa-interested individuals in the history of
Committee on Foreign Affairs –US Congress 1983-1993 , Washington, DC -- During my tenure on three Subcommittees, I represented the Committee in 46 countries, within international organizations and in the role of investigator, negotiator, and election observer, in addition to briefing and accompanying Members of Congress on delegations to foreign countries.
Staff Director, Subcommittee on Africa Provided for oversight of the budget to include all funds allocated to the continent of Africa – foreign assistance, military assistance, and disaster relief. Supervised five professional staff members and administrative staff. Determined the subject, content, and witnesses for all hearings in consultation with the Chairman. Wrote speeches, drafted legislation, and liaised with the diplomatic community and various constituencies.
Deputy Staff Director and Counsel, Subcommittee on International Operations -- Conducted oversight of the Department of State and all its functions, to include the budget, hiring practices, and diplomatic security. Performed investigations into the security of U.S. embassies in countries selected by Subcommittee members. Monitored the treatment of Americans abroad and made site visits to assess their accessibility to US Embassy services. Reviewed all legal issues pertaining to the operations of the State Department and the internal operations of the Subcommittee.
Professional Staff Member, Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations. Worked with major human rights organizations in bringing violations to the Subcommittee and in investigating grievances and corresponding methodologies to address them. Served as the Congressional staff representative to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and as one of two official delegates the UN Women’s Conference in Nairobi. Conducted investigations into UNESCO and other UN agencies on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Other Work Experience
Private law practice.
Legislative Assistant for Congressman Tom Lantos
High school English teacher,
J.D., Antioch School of Law, Washington, DC.
M.A., Communications Education, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.
B.A., English and Language Arts, West Liberty University, West Liberty, WV.
Honors and Affiliations
Member of the DC Bar
Appointed to the Presidential Trade Advisory Board on Africa under Presidents George W. Bush
and Barack Obama (2007-2012)
2014 Awardee of the African Diaspora Award by Applause Africa
Board of Trustees –Donald M. Payne Global Foundation
Advisory Board Member– Borderline Pictures
Paolo, B., Peter I. Osuji, “Towards A Sustainable and Ethical E-Waste Management in West
Africa Agbogbloshie, Ghana,” The Global Sustainability Challenge, Cambridge Scholars
Publishing, 2020, James Benedict, Gerald Magill, eds, Chapter 10, 125-154 (reprinted by
Harvard ALI Newsletter).
Paolo, B., “Immigration Bill Targets Africans Who Benefit United States,” AllAfrica.com, August
23, 2017 (reprinted by Harvard ALI Newsletter).
Paolo, B., “Obama Goes to Kenya A Champion for Africa,” DC, AllAfrica.com, Washington,
DC, July 14, 2015.
Paolo, B., “U.S. National Security Tied to Africa’s Economic Empowerment,” Washington, DC,
AllAfrica.com, April 8, 2015.
Paolo, B., “Journalists Must Avoid Mass Hysteria Over Ebola,” Washington, DC, AllAfrica.com,
October 8, 2014.
Paolo, B., “Obama Visits Africa–an End to Paternalism,” Washington, DC, AllAfrica.com, July 4,
Paolo, B., “Congo-Kinshasa: International Outcry Must Be Louder,” Washington, DC,
AllAfrica.com, November 30, 2012.
Paolo, B., Vivian Lowery Derryck: “France’s Decision to Intervene in Mali,” The New York
Times, January 15, 2013.
Paolo, B., Vivian Lowery Derryck, “Test of Will in Mali Conflict,” AllAfrica.com, Washington,
DC, January 15, 2013.
Paolo, B., Vivian Lowery Derryck, “Two Successful Elections: Democracy Grows in Mali,” The
New York Times, August 10, 2013.
Paolo, B., Vivian Lowery Derryck, “Mali: After Inauguration a Chance to Change Military
Paradigm,” Washington, DC, AllAfrica.com, September 19, 2013.
Paolo, B., Whitney Schneidman, “U.S. Congressional Inaction Threatens Jobs, Consumers,”
Washington, DC, AllAfrica.com, May 31, 2012.
Current Scholarly Project
I began doing research for a book I am writing during my tenure as Scholar-in-Residence
at Duquesne University in 2018. The topic is U.S. Engagement with Africa: Perspectives of
American and African Change Agents on U.S.-Africa Policy. Though the book examines the US-
Africa relationship since its inception, it focuses primarily on Africa policy beginning with
President William Clinton and concluding with the Trump administration. Interviews have been
conducted with leaders from African countries as well as those in the United States across sectors from government to business to academia. I hope to conclude this project in 2021,
International Human Rights Attorney & Foreign Policy Expert, Bernadette B. Paolo, Esq.