June 2011 newsletter header

Message from the Executive Director

semharAs I conclude another trip to East Africa, hints of a busy and exciting DAWN summer back in the States are starting to appear and the DAWN Executive Committee is busy getting ready for it all.  This is the time of the year when DAWN celebrates its birthday, its growth, and its partnerships.  It's the butterflies-in-your-stomach, how-are-we-this-lucky, oh-boy-what-are-we-thinking sort of excitement that we love to gear up for!

DAWN has such a great lineup for the summer. Our Executive Committee has worked incredibly hard to create worthwhile opportunities and events for our members and the larger community, including our Annual Dinner, the DC Africa Festival, a Career Development Panel and an DAWN Mentorship event.  

DAWN will also be recruiting for new Executive Committee positions, including select Director vacancies and social media and mentorship officer posts.  If you or someone you know is interested, please contact us at admin@dawners.org.  Job descriptions are on our website and more will be added soon. 

While we are well into summer, take a look below at some of the things we've been up to! Thank you again for your support. 

Semhar Araia

Executive Director and Founder of DAWN  
Join DAWN in the 2nd Annual DC Africa Festival! 

DC African Festival


For the second year in a row, DAWN is partnering with the the Mayor's Office on African Affairs (OAA) to host the 2nd Annual D.C. Africa Festival. The Festival will showcase and highlight African culture and communities in the District of Columbia.


This year's theme will be "One City, Many Voices", showcasing Africa's cultural and economic contributions to the District of Columbia.


If interested in volunteering for the event, send your name, phone number, and email address to OAA@dc.gov, with subject line "DC AFRICA FEST 2011 VOLUNTEER"

SAVE THE DATE: DAWN's 4th Annual Dinner -July 30, 2011!
2011 Anuunal Dinner 

In honor of Pan-African Women's Day and DAWN's 4th Birthday, we invite DAWNers, DAWNistas and DAWN MOMs to join us for DAWN's 4th Annual Reception & Dinner on Saturday July 30th 2011. 


This year's dinner will be a chance to celebrate DAWN's growth and accomplishments over the past year as well look ahead to our upcoming priorities and goals as an organization. 

To purchase your tickets, go to http://www.dawnanniversary.eventbrite.com/  and make it a night to remember! If you have any questions, email events@dawners.org


DAWNer of the Month

     Shani Cooke  


Shani Cooke is a Conflict Mitigation and
Management Specialist with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Africa Bureau. She previously served as a former Associate Political Affairs Officer in the United Nations Department of Political Affairs Africa II Division.  She served as a Desk Officer for several countries in West, Central and North Africa, monitoring and advising on political, humanitarian and economic development, as well as supporting the senior leadership of the Department of Political Affairs and the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in the areas of preventive diplomacy, peace-making and post-conflict peace-building efforts.


Shani has experience in supporting and monitoring elections, including Gambia (2006), Nigeria (2007), Sierra Leone (2007) and Ghana (2008). After leaving the United Nations,  she established an international management and development consulting practice, offering expertise in project management, business development, strategic partnerships and international affairs. 


Shani received her Bachelors Degree from Wellesley College and obtained Masters of Science Degrees in Middle East Politics and African Politics from the School of Oriental

and African Studies in London, England. 

Congratulations Shani! We are so proud you are a DAWNer!
DAWNista of the Month

     Zoe Parkinson    



Zoe Parkinson was born in Sierra Leone but is also of Sao Tome and Principe descent. At the age of five her family moved to Washington DC. She graduated with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Sociology from University of Maryland Baltimore County. In her junior year of college she interned for Free the Slaves. During the internship she met women from different countries who shared their stories on how they were deceived into becoming slaves in the United States. Due to the internship she participated in fundraising for the organization and hosted events to bring awareness about the existence of modern day slavery at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore Community College and Arundel Community College.  


Zoe is currently volunteering, fundraising, and obtaining a grant for the organization A Brighter Africa. This nonprofit organization supports local institutes in Sierra Leone by providing food, clothing, medical attention and education to women and children. In continuation to extend the growth with this organization she will be traveling to Ghana beginning in October for six months to teach in a peace education program. The program focuses on non violent conflict resolution training for children. In working with this program in Ghana, A Brighter Africa hopes to extend its assistance in supporting local institutes that focus on educating and decreasing poverty.


She also works with the Literacy Council in Prince Georges County educating immigrant adults in reading and writing. Once she returns from Ghana plans on continuing her education by obtaining her Masters degree in International Development. 

Congratulations Zoe! We are so proud you are a DAWNista!

African News

Dialing up development (By DAWNer Dayo Olopade)

The The global explosion of mobile phone technology has spawned a host of applications, products and services facilitating development outcomes from financial inclusion to improved maternal health. While these innovations have proven an essential lifeline for the world's most vulnerable, most ignore the basic function of a mobile phone - its voice capacity. Read More  


Training women leaders in Southern Sudan  

Of all the registered voters in Southern Sudan referendum elections, 52 percent [of all registered voters]were women. The United Nations is now training women to be leaders and advance their causes in the legislative agenda.Read More  


Upcoming Events


JULY 16    

What: 2nd Annual DC Africa Festival  -Showcasing Africa's Cultural and Economic Contributions to the District of Columbia
Time: 12PM - 6PM EST

Where: Takoma Recreation Center

DAWN's Monthly Inspiration 

"You don't become what you want; you become what you believe. "

 -Oprah Winfrey
In This Issue
2nd Annual DC Africa Festival
SAVE THE DATE: DAWN 2011 Annual Dinner
African News
DAWN May Birthdays 

6- Gladys Kamau

15- Umra Omar   

19- Joy Mbajah 

20 -Nadine Kwizera

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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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