CCA Staff

President and Chief Executive Officer

Stephen Hayes is president and CEO of The Corporate Council on Africa. In his 13-year tenure as president, he has led CCA to become fully engaged in the most political and economic issues affecting commerce between the U.S. and Africa. These complex issues range from intricate trade legislation and small business development to workplace AIDS concerns. He promotes CCA’s mandate “to increase and support U.S.-Africa economic engagement,” while creating an organization that recognizes a “one world” concept through ongoing international forums. For his work at CCA, Hayes was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce its highest award in 2008, The Ron Brown Award for International Leadership.

The international leadership qualifications of Hayes are lifelong, beginning with a 1968 volunteer stint in a Middle East refugee camp. Before coming to CCA, he was engaged in the international non-profit sector, including key positions in some of the world’s largest international non-profit organizations, including the World Alliance of YMCAs in Geneva, Switzerland, and the world’s largest student exchange organization, AFS International. Hayes founded in 1985 the American Center for International Leadership, which was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, Ford Foundation and others.

A tireless advocate of U.S.-Africa trade, he has assembled a stellar multi-cultural, multinational staff at CCA. Hayes has traveled to more than 120 nations, underscoring his innate respect for peoples and cultures around the world. He has received other numerous awards for his international work and leadership ability. In 2008, the Africa Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. honored Hayes with its award for outstanding contribution to U.S.-Africa relations, following then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama as the previous recipient. In 2004, the Transnet Foundation, South Africa’s largest foundation, chaired by Bishop Tutu, presented him the coveted Phelophepa Humanitarian Award for his organization’s contributions to economic development in South Africa. Hayes was a principal founder of the Infant Formula Campaign, often popularly known as the “Nestle’s Boycott” the only successful global citizens’ campaign.


Vice President for International Programs

Ambassador Perry is vice president at The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) where he manages CCA’s conferences and programs to foster understanding of business opportunities in Africa and to build relationships for future partnerships. He also served as managing editor of CCA’s March 2009 report The United States and Africa – Policy Recommendations from the American Private Sector for the Obama Administration. Ambassador Perry joined CCA in 2003 after a career in the U.S. Foreign Service at the Department of State, where he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs (July 2001 – December 2002) following an assignment as U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic. Ambassador Perry is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Foreign Service Association, and has served on several NGO boards. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Wittenberg University and a M.A. in International Relations from American University.

Kelly Burton

Assistant to the CFO

Kelly serves as the assistant to the CFO and has provided CCA with accounting support services since April 2011. She has a proven track record of managing special accounting systems, including CCA's current USAID grant system and chart of accounts. She has managed the financial and regulatory compliance aspects and helped the program achieve successful monitoring of costs and financial progress. Kelly also assists with daily accounting tasks and helps interprets financial reports for the CFO. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2010 from Virginia Commonwealth University and is well-versed in USAID cost accounting guidelines and financial and cash management.


Director, Health

Ashleigh Cooper serves as CCA’s Director of Health. In addition, she manages the Liberia Working Group which was launched in December 2012. Ashleigh holds a Master of Science in Social Work degree from Columbia University, where she studied Social Enterprise Administration and International Social Welfare. She completed field placement assignments at both Harlem Hospital and The New York State Health Foundation. She has also worked both internationally and domestically at nonprofits providing social planning and entrepreneurship/enterprise development. Ashleigh is a member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and Women Advancing Microfinance.

Michaela Ehimika

Membership Assistant

Michaela serves as the Membership Assistant at CCA. She graduated Cum Laude from Loyola University Chicago with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism and Political Science, and a minor in French Language. She also studied in Beijing, China at the University of International Business and Economics. Before joining CCA, Michaela worked in Marketing and Public Relations in Washington D.C., and as a journalist in Nigeria, West Africa.


Director, Finance

Biova Kabine leads CCA's Finance Program. A graduate of Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in Paris, France with a B.A. in Foreign Languages and International Business, Biova also holds a Masters in International Affairs from Penn State University with a focus on economic development policies, South-South cooperation, and Africa as a regional specialization. He has conducted in-depth research into the role of African security forces in economic development and democracy building, Chinese oil policy in Africa, and how the Asian Tigers’ economies can serve as a blueprint for African nations. He is fluent in French, Spanish, Ewe and Fon.


Senior Advisor to the President

Katrin Kuhlmann is a Senior Advisor at The Corporate Council on Africa and the Director of the U.S.- Africa Business Center. She is also President of TransFarm Africa, a fellow with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs at the Aspen Institute and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Harvard Law and International Development Society and is a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School. She also serves on the boards of the Washington International Trade Association and the Malaika Foundation. From 1999 to 2005 she was a trade negotiator with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and she has also practiced law in Washington, DC and New York. Ms. Kuhlmann holds degrees from Harvard Law School and Creighton University, and she was the recipient of a Fulbright grant in 1992. 


Director, Human Resources & Executive Assistant to the President

Hillary Lucas serves as the Director of Human Resources and Executive Assistant to the CCA president. These positions showcase her wide-ranging experience from Senior Sales Manager for Kimpton hotels to Protocol Officer for the Clinton White House Administration. At the White House, she gained a seasoned ability to work with diverse people, coordinate complex activities, plan, develop and execute sensitive programs. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Hillary brings a proven track record of managerial leadership and a commitment to the CCA cooperative U.S.-Africa bi-lateral efforts. Hillary's cross-cultural sensitivity uniquely qualifies her to work with CCA's African membership and support its president as a management team member.


Administrative Assistant/Office Coordinator

Bezawit Mane serves as CCA’s administrative assistant/front office coordinator. As one of the first members of staff that visitors to CCA encounter, Bezawit serves as the front line presenting a professional image of the organization to the public. Born in Ethiopia, Bezawit moved to Toronto, Ontario, at the age of 13. After she moved to Washington, D.C. in 2003, Bezawit completed her undergraduate studies in International Business Management and a Masters degree in Health Science Administration at Strayer University. In addition to living in Africa, Canada, and the U.S., Bezawit has been fortunate to travel and experience cultures of Europe, the Middle East, South America, and the Caribbean. She is fluent in French, English and Amharic.


Senior Advisor to the President

Gary S. Messina recently joined CCA senior staff to assist member companies in formulating security and strategy initiatives to enable them to target and obtain the best investment opportunities in a myriad of sectors in Africa. Gary’s focus is on understanding how up-to-the-minute changes in policy can directly impact security and how their economic outcomes can translate into lucrative projects and business best-practices for CCA members. Gary was educated at the University of Maryland, the Rutgers Graduate School of Business and Thunderbird University. He holds several advanced Federal Aviation Administration licenses and is a member of MENSA, the Explorers Club. Gary is also a Fellow at the Washington Academy of Sciences, a former member of the CCA Board of Directors and a current Board Member of the Mongolian-American Investment Consortium.


Project Manager, SME Business Linkages

Sonia Mfasoni serves as small/ medium business linkages program manager for CCA’s USAID-funded U.S.-Africa Business Center. She first joined CCA as an intern in 2008, working closely with the human resources director. In her current role with the USABC, she works closely with American small and medium size enterprises eager to explore business opportunities in Africa. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in psychology, with an international relations minor, from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. After a temporary stint working in human resources at Erickson Living, she received a dual graduate degree Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior from the University of Maryland.


Chief Financial Officer

Ray joined CCA in January 2013 and represents the organization on financial matters.  He serves on the senior management team and provides financial support to the Board of Directors and related committees. He also provides leadership and technical guidance to staff on accounting, budgetary and treasury functions. His background includes more than thirty years of solid experience working with governmental and non-profit organizations as well as major corporations in the private sector. He graduated from University of New Haven, Connecticut receiving a BS degree in Accounting and a MBA in Finance. He also has a certificate in Academy for Excellence in Local Governance from the University of Maryland Institute for Governmental Service. 


Director, Infrastructure

Vivienne Sequeira serves as Director of CCA's Infrastructure Program and Working Group. She also manages the Democratic Republic of the Congo working group started in 2009. Vivienne’s expertise includes infrastructure and security in the Great Lakes region and she has more than 10 years' experience in African related issues. Vivienne's expertise also includes Francophone prose and poetry from the Caribbean, Quebec and Africa. She holds Master’s degrees from Auburn and Princeton Universities and a Bachelor’s from Rollins College.

Lara Vancans

Coordinator, Special Events and Marketing

Lara Vancans joined CCA in July of 2012 as the Special Events and Marketing Coordinator. A graduate of Tufts University in Boston, MA, Lara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthroplogy with a minor in Drama. After traveling, studying and volunteering in Southern Africa, her sustained interest in African affairs and social development led her to pursue a Master’s degree. In June of 2011, she graduated with her Master of Science in African Studies from The University of Oxford, where her ethnographic thesis research on South African informal settlement housing policy earned highest honors. Lara has an established background in the events and hospitality industry, working for two hotel properties in Southern California as a Senior Front Desk Agent and Events Manager, and for Micato Safaris where she worked as a Sales and Marketing Assistant. 


Director, Energy and Power

Mia Warner serves CCA as the Director of Energy and Power, overseeing the range of CCA’s energy programs, to include facilitating dialogues on electrical power and the expanding role of renewable energy resources in Africa. She also leads CCA's new Power Africa Working Group. Mia came to CCA from General Electric, where she worked in the Global Government Affairs and Policy division, focusing on commercial engagement in Africa and government relations issues, such as energy policy, trade, market access, and rule of law promotion. Previously, Mia served as an Intelligence Analyst for several years at a crisis management consulting group, where she managed the day-to-day operations of the company's risk advisory service. Mia has also worked with the OECD in Paris on trade and labor policy, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, USAID in Rwanda, and the U.S. Senate.  Mia holds an MA in International Economics and International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a BA in Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.


Director, Membership

Daniel serves as CCA's Director of Membership, providing member services to the organization's more than 150 member companies. Before taking on the membership role, Daniel served as the market linkages and investment specialist for the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security in Southern Africa. Previously, he worked as a trade analyst and financial manager for the USAID-sponsored South African International Business Linkages (SAIBL) project, which facilitated business linkages between competitive black enterprises and corporations in South Africa. Daniel earned a bachelor’s degree in 2001 from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in South African history in 2006.


Director, Special Events

Jennifer Wright serves as CCA’s Director of Special Events and Marketing, managing the biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit and other major CCA events and conferences, and serving as a member of the senior management team. Jennifer is a nonprofit event specialist with more than ten years of experience in event planning, production, marketing and communications. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Memphis and is driven by a long-standing passion for helping nonprofit organizations bring community members and business leaders together to create positive change.