Akunna Cook

Founder and CEO, Next Narrative Africa

Akunna Cook is an accomplished diplomat, strategist, and visionary creator and executive producer. In 2022, Akunna founded Next Narrative Africa, a media production company telling African stories for global impact. She is also the Principal Consultant at Drake Road Strategies, a strategy consultancy she founded in 2019 to advise individuals and organizations on public policy strategy and advocacy. Akunna served in the Biden-Harris Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In that role, she oversaw the U.S. bilateral relationships with the countries of Southern Africa. Additionally, she led a global State Department team responsible for economic, multilateral engagement, and democracy and governance policy for sub-Saharan Africa. Earlier in her career, Akunna was the founding executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, a non-partisan organization focused on driving economic progress in the black community through policy development, advocacy, and supporting candidates for office. Akunna also practiced law at Covington & Burling LLP, where she advised a variety of clients on public policy, government affairs, and corporate governance.

Before practicing law, Ms. Cook served for almost ten years as a career diplomat with the State Department focused on economic and political development. Akunna is a graduate of the Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is also a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University where she earned a bachelor’s degree

in economics and business administration. Akunna serves on the Board of the Alliance for Justice, and on the Advisory Boards of Keseb and the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance.

Akunna is first and foremost a mom of two teenaged children. She is proud of her Abia State, Nigerian heritage and her Somerset, New Jersey roots.