Y. Obenewa Amponsah

Executive Director, Harvard University CAS, Africa Office

Ms. Y. Obenewa Amponsah is the Executive Director of the Harvard University Center for African Studies’ (CAS) continental office.  Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Obenewa provides strategic and operational leadership for CAS’ work throughout Africa, developing public programming and promoting collaborative initiatives with a variety of institutions and universities.

Prior to joining CAS, Obenewa served as the CEO of the Steve Biko Foundation (SBF) – a community development organization inspired by the legacy of the late anti-apartheid activist Bantu Stephen Biko. During her decade long tenure with SBF, Obenewa undertook a number of roles within the institution, from overseeing international programing to fundraising.  She was also an integral member of the leadership team that conceptualized and established the Steve Biko Center, a national legacy project located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Beyond the community development sector, Obenewa also has extensive experience in governance and development. This experience was attainted during her service as a Senior Consultant with GoodWorks International, a business development and government relations firm; as well as her time as the Administrator of the African Presidential Archives & Research Center, an entity dedicated to chronicling democratic transitions in Africa and the leadership of African Heads of State.

Of Ghanaian descent, Obenewa was born and raised in the Washington DC area.  She holds an undergraduate degree from Boston University, with a major in international relations and a minor in history.  Obenewa also holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Inspired by her own upbringing, Obenewa’s personal and professional interests focus on fostering Pan African solutions to advance development in Africa and the Diaspora.  A life coach and public speaker, Obenewa mentors young women and has served as an advisor to several non-profit initiatives.