Bernadette B. Paolo has more than 25 years of experience in international affairs that includes an extensive career of 12 years in the U.S. Congress. She was named President and CEO of The Africa Society in 2006. Prior to assuming this position, she served as Vice President of The Africa Society and Vice President of The National Summit on Africa and in-house Legal Counsel.
During her tenure as President of The Africa Society, Ms. Paolo has developed innovative educational programs that have reached thousands of American students and educators, in addition to creating initiatives for policymakers and the public-at-large, resulting in positive press coverage on Africa that has reached over 100 million people worldwide. The Africa Society, under Ms. Paolo’s leadership, has partnered with the Department of State, USAID, The World Bank, the Library of Congress, and many regional and academic institutions throughout the country in insuring that bridges are being built between American students and their counterparts on the continent of Africa. She has also been responsible for the negotiations and orchestration of four documentaries, done in partnership with the Travel Channel, with African Heads of State leading tours of their countries that have reached over 600 million viewers around the globe.
A strategist for key legislation to strengthen U.S.-Africa policy and an advocate for increased trade and investment with African nations, Ms. Paolo was appointed to the Presidential Trade Advisory Committee for Africa under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007 through 2012.
For more than a decade, she was a professional staff member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, now the House International Relations Committee. Her positions included Staff Director and Counsel for the House Subcommittee on Africa, Deputy Staff Director for the Subcommittee on International Operations, and Staff Consultant and Deputy Staff Director of the House Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations. While on Capitol Hill. Ms. Paolo represented Congress in 43 countries in the roles of negotiator, investigator, election observer and arbitrator.
Her other work experience includes being an educator – teaching English on the secondary and university levels, as well as a professional writer. A native of West Virginia, Ms. Paolo received her B.A. from West Liberty University, her M.A. from West Virginia University and her J.D. from Antioch School of Law. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the West Virginia Bar.
In 2014, Ms. Paolo was awarded the Friend of Africa Award by Applause Africa in New York as part of the African Diaspora Awards which celebrates the accomplishments of exemplary individuals working towards the advancement of Africans in the Diaspora and Africa, as a whole.