ABOUT THE AFRICAN CENTER

We are a non-profit organization registered under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
 Founded in November 2014 and officially active since 2018, the African Center emerged from the African Association of Madison, Inc. (AAM), recognizing the growing African population in Dane County and the need for comprehensive social and educational services. Recognizing the growing African population in Dane County and the need for comprehensive social and educational services. 

Our journey began over half a century ago, coinciding with the gradual influx of Africans into Dane County for reasons such as education, employment, immigration, and family reunification. As Our Community Has Expanded, So Has Our Commitment To Integrating African Immigrants And Facilitating Cultural Exchanges To Enhance Their Success To Foster Understanding And Enhance Their Success.

OUR MISSION + VISION + VALUES


Our mission

To promote the well-being of African immigrants and preserve the vibrancy of African cultures in Madison and Dane County through education, service, entrepreneurship, empowerment, and dialogue.


OUR vision

To facilitate the inclusion of African immigrants into the Madison and Dane County communities while maintaining knowledge and appreciation of their cultures of origin.


Our Values

We value the strengthening of family bonds and the development of sustainable social and business networks that will enable the African community to thrive in Madison and Dane County.

OUR focus areas

         Economic Development 

  • Financial Literacy
  • Business Mentoring
  • Women Empowerment

           Community Support

  • Housing Case Management
  • Immigration Assistance
  • Language Services

           Community Building 

  • Youth Programming
  • African Historical Library
  • Conferences and Events

Board of directors

Tunji Lesi

Tunji Lesi, Cpa - President

Tunji is originally from Nigeria and has been living in Madison with his family since the 1990s. He is currently the Principal of Tunji-Lesi CPA, LLC. He served as the Lead Financial Analyst at Alliant Energy Corporation from 2006-2015. He is a former member of the board of directors and treasurer of the Neighborhood House Community Center, a former president of Union of Nigerians in Madison (UNIMA), and a former financial secretary of the African Association of Madison (AAM).

Abdul Abdi

Abdul Abdi - Vice President

Abdul is originally from Kenya. He is the Manager of Customer Operations at Alliant Energy Corporation. Abdul received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MBA from University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Aaron Abraha​ - Secretary

Aaron is originally from Eritrea.Aaron is originally from Eritrea. He is an Administrative Supervisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, exemplifying leadership, dedication and commitment to operational excellence and team. He is a spirited adventurer, with a love for travel, the great outdoors, and the universal language of soccer, which he not only plays but also uses as a means to connect and contribute to the community. What truly anchors Aaron's dynamic life is his family. Aaron is a devoted husband and a proud father to three beautiful girls. Aaron's girls are not only the center of his universe but also his inspiration to make the world a better place for their generation and those to follow.

Vanessa Ineza

Vanessa Ineza, MBA - TREASURER

Vanessa is originally from Rwanda and Belgium. She is a Regional Director for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Vanessa holds a bachelor and an MBA in International Business Management from Hogeschool Universiteit Brussel. She holds a certification from the National Development Council (Economic Development Finance Professional) and a Certification for Global Business Professional from NASBITE.

Evelyn Hammond

EVELYN HAMMOND, PHD - Member

Evelyn is originally from Ghana and has been living in Madison for more than 10 years. She is an Evaluation Specialist at the Evaluation Unit of the Natural Resources Institute. She has been active in the African community - serving as an Executive of the Ghana Association of Madison (GhAMa), a volunteer for the African Association of Madison (AAM), a member of African Women Association (AWA), and a volunteer chaperone and program coordinator for the African Center.

Ray Kumapayi

RAY KUMAPAYI, ENG.​ - Member

Ray is originally from Nigeria. He is the current President of the African Association of Madison, Inc. and a former Chief Engineer of the Surveying and Mapping Section of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation. Ray received his Civil Engineering degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Godwin Amegashie

Godwin Amegashie​ - Member

Godwin is originally from Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria. He is the principal of SEED Consulting, LLC. He was formally the Director of Supplier Diversity for the State of Wisconsin for more than 18 years. He created the Small Business Banking Center at BMO Harris Bank. He has served on many boards - Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), Minority Development Loan Fund, City of Madison Development Corp. Commissions and the African Association of Madison (AAM). Godwin is a recipient of DOT's 2020 Secretary's “Golden Shovel Award”. and a member of the 100 Black Men of Madison.

John Tembei

John Tembei, PHD - Member

John is originally from Cameroon. He is a professor of Animal and Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He received his Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, Master of Science from Auburn University, and Ph.D. from South Dakota State University. John is a founding member of the Cameroonian Association of Madison (ASCAM) and also serves on the board of African Association of Madison (AAM).

Aliko Songolo

Prof. Aliko Songolo - Member

Aliko is originally from the Congo. He is the president and consultant of Songolo Group, LLC, and is a professor-emeritus of French, Francophone and African cultures. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for over 26 years. He is a consultant in policy and governance. Aliko is a former president of the African Center and a member of the African Association of Madison (AAM). He was a volunteer for the Jewish Social Services (JSS) in Madison.​

Nimo Mohamed - Member

Nimo is originally from Somalia. She is the Chief Operations Officer of Total Care, LLC.

Nyima Sanyang

Nyima Sanyang - Member

Nyima is originally from the Gambia. She is the founder of Barako Home Care Services. She serves on the board of the SeneGambia Women Association of Madison.

Jean Rene Watchou

Jean Rene Watchou - Member

Jean-Rene is originally from Cameroun. He is the Executive Director of Madison International Partners, Director of International Outreach at the Christ Presbyterian Church and a board member of Community Immigration Law Clinic (CILC). He also serves on the board of the Cameroonian Association of Madison.​

Our team

Our team is made up of passionate and dedicated individuals who are committed to supporting and empowering the African community in Madison and Dane County. We work to build strong partnerships and create opportunities for our community members to thrive.

Esther Ama Ptak (nee Ama Mohammed

Esther Ama S. Ptak

Community Outreach Coordinator​

Sarriang Ceesay

Sarriang Ceesay

Community Programs Manager

Henry Obeng

Henry Obeng

Outreach Officer​

Lydia Juma

Lydia Juma

Outreach Officer

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