DeShawn Dominique Jenkins, who previously headed up a yearlong series of Africa-focused programming in Atlanta, has been tapped as the new executive director of the Alliance Francaise in Atlanta, the organization has announced.
After managing Africa Atlanta 2014 with Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Ms. Jenkins worked to develop the college’s Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. She then in 2015 moved over to the Business Analytics Center at Tech’s Scheller College of Business.
Ms. Jenkins has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, including a four-year stint in the West African (and French-speaking) nation of Senegal, where she worked for Oxfam International on projects with USAID and other multilateral orgnaizations.
West Africa is still a stronghold for the French language thanks to its colonial connections. Many countries like Cote D’Ivoire, Niger, Guinea and Burkina Faso have French as an official language, used in government and education alongside tribal languages.
Much of the growth for the French language in the coming decades will come from Africa, which is still set to see substantial population growth. Of the top 15 countries by population where French is an official language, two are in Europe and the rest are in Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has 77 million alone.
In addition to a wide variety of French language programs, the Alliance Francaise each year hosts Africa Belle, a festival celebrating Francophone Africa through food, art, entertainment and dance.
Ms. Jenkins has volunteered with the organization for years. She replaces Hélène Touré, whose role was filled on an interim basis by Marc Girardot.
Daniel Wolff, president of the Alliance’s board of directors, had this to say about Ms. Jenkins’ appointment:
DeShawn’s experience includes working with non-profit organizations in the areas of international development, health, education, trade, and foreign aid. Combined with her understanding of the non-profit world including fundraising, project management and with her connections in the Atlanta community, DeShawn is uniquely qualified to successfully lead our Alliance into the future.
Ms. Jenkins is set to start June 1, according to Mr. Wolff’s email notice.