Chiney Ogwumike has always been passionate about her Nigerian heritage.
Now she’s getting a chance to help all of Africa as a member of the inaugural President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States, the White House announced Tuesday.
“Best way to describe it, it feels like its a calling of a lifetime,” Ogwumike told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s something so authentic to who I am and what I stand for and what I want to do for service. You can be exponentially impactful — calling of a lifetime for me.”
The 31-year-old Stanford graduate and WNBA player started her public advocacy for African women when she and her sister Nneka launched a UNICEF fundraiser in 2014 following the kidnapping of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram.
“It creates opportunities for kids and young people that look like m so that they can transform their lives the same way I experienced it,” Ogwumike said. “I had the best of both worlds, with Nigerian determination and American opportunities that are endless. It’s a pathway for youth to change their lives to empower themselves.”
The council, which was first announced by Vice President Kamala Harris at the 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, will be chaired by Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Other council members, who will serve until 2025, include Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis.
Ogwumike, who is an NBA analyst for ESPN, is the youngest female on the council.
They will provide invaluable guidance to reinforce cultural, social, political, and economic ties between the U.S. and Africa, and promote trade, investment, and educational exchanges between the United States and Africa.
Ogwumike spoke at the UN General Assembly last year and heard about the council and wanted to be part of it.
“I talked about the power of sports and how it could transform the world,” she said. “I submitted my resume and had my fingers crossed.”