USADF Announces New President and CEO Travis Adkins
WASHINGTON, November 22, 2021 — Travis Adkins, currently the Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Africa Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been selected as the new President and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), USADF Board Chairman Jack Leslie announced today. Mr. Adkins will succeed C.D. Glin who joined Pepsi Co. in May 2021 after serving as USADF’s President and CEO for five years. Adkins will be sworn in at the start of 2022.
USADF is an independent Federal agency working directly with Africa’s most vulnerable and underserved communities to secure economic development and growth at the grassroots level. The agency prides itself on being a community-level connector, awarding grants and technical assistance of up to $250,000 to African-owned small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), agribusinesses, and promising youth and women entrepreneurs. USADF had a record breaking 2021 fiscal year, awarding $42.94 million in 329 development grants, the number of which represents a 23 percent increase from the 2020 fiscal year.
At the helm, Mr. Adkins will lead the agency’s efforts to combat some of Africa’s most difficult development and foreign policy challenges in the hardest to reach and often most impoverished communities. As an international development leader, he comes to USADF with two decades of experience working in governance, civil society, and refugee and migration affairs in over 50 nations throughout Africa and the Middle East. This includes serving as Staff Director of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa, working with leading international NGOs and think tanks, as well as within several branches of the United Nations system.
“Travis is a champion for Africa and has a deep and lasting appreciation for USADF’s work at the grassroots level. He understands the importance of USADF’s participatory development model, and USADF will benefit greatly from his experience, deep network, and passion for Africa.” Mr. Leslie said. “We are pleased that he has decided to head the organization and build on its 40-year legacy of creating pathways to prosperity for underserved communities.”
Mr. Leslie also expressed the organization’s gratitude for USADF Chief Program Officer Ms. Elisabeth (Liz) Feleke who has led USADF as Acting President and CEO while the selection process took place: “Liz’s steadfast and calm leadership over the past six months took USADF to new heights.”
Previously, Mr. Adkins was a Lecturer of African and Security Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He also taught in the Georgetown Prison Scholars Program as part of the university’s Prisons & Justice Initiative. He is an alumnus of the International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations and a recipient of academic appointments from Carnegie Mellon and New York Universities.
“I am overjoyed to take on the role of President and CEO at USADF and join stellar colleagues — in Washington and across the continent — to support the livelihoods, innovation, and aspirations of African people,” said Mr. Adkins.
Mr. Adkins has served in numerous international election observation missions in Africa and the Middle East with the National Democratic Institute, has been a regular contributor to national and international media outlets on African affairs, and is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a graduate of Fisk University, one of our nation’s illustrious Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Adkins concluded, “In a moment where localized development, respect for African agency, and high-level engagement between the U.S. and African nations comes into focus, USADF is well placed to lead.”