The Team

Imani Countess

Founder and Project Director

In 1979 Imani met with a U.S. representative of Zimbabwe’s leading liberation movement, who was also a professor on her campus, the University of Maryland at College Park to ask, what could Black students do to help their struggle against settler colonialism.  His response?  “Change your government’s policy.”  That meeting, that comment, in the midst of a whirlwind of campus politics helped shape a career of transnational solidarity activism.  From participation in community-based anti-apartheid movements, to protests against U.S. policy toward Central America and support for global peace initiatives as a member of the Paul Robeson Friendship Society, Imani has worked for people-centered policies that support the democratic right of all people to human rights and  self-determination. For more than four decades she has championed efforts by oppressed communities to secure full and equal access to health care, education and employment regardless of race,  gender or sexual orientation.

She has held leadership positions with the Solidarity Center, the National Democratic Institute, the TransAfrica Forum, the American Friends Service Committee, Shared Interest, Africa Action, the African Development Foundation, the Africa Policy Information Center and the Washington Office on Africa.  In addition to her leadership positions, she is an Economic Inequality Fellow with the Open Society Foundations.

William “Bill” Minter

Research Consultant

William Minter is the editor of AfricaFocus Bulletin. He has been a writer, researcher, and activist since the mid-1960s, focusing particularly on southern Africa and international issues. He studied at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 1961-62 and taught in Tanzania and Mozambique at the secondary school of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1966-68 and 1974-76. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology and a certificate in African studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Minter worked as a writer, editor, and researcher at Africa News Service (now in Durham, N.C. in 1973 and 1976-82. Based in Washington since 1982, he has combined personal research and writing with contract work for a number of organizations. This has included work for Africa Action and its predecessor organization, the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), from 1992 through fall 2003, and for the affiliated Washington Office on Africa (WOA), from 1992 to 1997.

J. Jioni Palmer

Communications Consultant

As a seventh-grader at Willard Jr. High School, Jioni got his start in the media business by founding the school paper. His first story was about the only kid in school who could dunk a basketball. In high school and college, Jioni wrote for and edited campus publications. At UCLA, his professional career in media began writing news and entertainment for Rap Pages Magazine.

From there, he would go on to cover sewers in Los Angeles, landfills on Long Island, the devastation and rebuilding of New Orleans, power politics on Capitol Hill, and the presidential campaign trail. In the past decade, Jioni has worked for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration as a communications strategist and coalition builder. Jioni is the author of numerous Op-Ed’s, personal essays, short stories, an unpublished novella, and he is currently working on a novel and children’s book. Jioni is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and the Howard University School of Divinity.

He lives in Washington DC with his wife, two sons, two cats, and an English Shepard puppy.

Mary Lundy Semela

Development Advisor

Special Thanks to:

The GO! Creative, LLC creative team for website design.

Mike Fleshman, Photographer, Writer and Editor.  His photos of the Occupy Wall Street movement and Black Lives Matter have appeared in publications around the world. His images can be seen at


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