Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Our people

Angélique Kidjo

West African singer, songwriter and UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador

Four-time Grammy nominee Angélique Kidjo is not only one of the spunkiest, most electrifying performers in the pop world today, but she’s also one of its most forward and creative thinkers, an artist whose mission has been to explore the relationships of diverse musical cultures. While she has steeped her music in the tribal and pop rhythms of her West African heritage, the Benin-born, Brooklyn-based Kidjo has crossed musical boundaries by blending a variety of styles, including funk, salsa, jazz, rumba, souk and makossa.

The explosive growth in the popularity of world music during the past several decades has broadened the boundaries of our world, reminding listeners of the vast cultural wealth and diversity on offer in this wired age. The music of African-born songstress Angélique Kidjo offers another perspective: that the world is also much smaller than we think, and that no matter how far flung its peoples may be, subtle lines of interconnection span the globe, uniting its people.

Angélique continues to travel the world as a UNICEF goodwill Ambassador and symbol of Africa. While on the fields in Tanzania, Benin, Ethiopia, Brazil and many other places, she has also been helping to raise awareness of a new UNICEF Program, Girls Education, which has been designed to help eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education

Mary Louise Cohen

Partner, Phillips & Cohen LLP and Director, Opportunity Fund

Mary Louise Cohen is a founding partner of Phillips & Cohen LLP, and has represented whistleblowers for more than 25 years in lawsuits brought to remedy fraud against the United States. Her firm has recovered more than $11 billion for state and federal governments in cases filed under the False Claims Act. In 2007, Mary Louise joined with Angelique Kidjo to create the Batonga Foundation to promote and support secondary education for girls in Africa. In 2010, together with Dr. Aziza Shad of Georgetown University, she founded the Aslan Project to improve survival rates for children with cancer in the developing world. Mary Louise graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Jean Hebrail

Songwriter, arranger and composer

Jean Hebrail has been Angelique Kidjo’s life partner and composer since her breakthrough album Logozo. After finishing a Masters degree in Philosophy at the Sorbonne University in France, Jean met Angelique in a Paris Jazz School where he was studying bass. He served as Angelique’s musical director and bass player for many years before focusing on arranging and composing most of her albums.

Jean has also written many songs used in movies, commercials and video games.

Since 2002, he has been coordinating Angelique’s charitable work with UNICEF, OXFAM and other organizations.

Aleta Williams

Director, Business Development and Diversification, FHI 360

Aleta J. Williams is currently Director of Partnerships for FHI 360 and in this role leads efforts to maintain and initiate external partnerships, which are key to achieving the organization’s goals in human development. Williams has held several leadership roles in both the private and nonprofit sectors.

In London, she launched GRM International’s (now Palladium Consulting) new education practice and served as its first director for global education. For the U.S. Agency for International Development, Williams provided policy recommendations and managed country-level activities under President George W. Bush’s US$600 million Africa Education Initiative, as well as a US$200 million investment in 21 bilateral education partnerships.

For President Bill Clinton’s Education for Development and Democracy Initiative, Williams managed a portfolio that included projects on information and communications technologies, democracy and governance, and economic development.

Williams began her career at McKinsey & Company, where she was an information associate and researcher covering general practices and the energy sector. Her diverse professional experience includes producing an award-winning documentary series, Readers are Leaders, and working under the tutelage of civil rights leader, Dr. Dorothy I. Height.

Williams has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a Master in Public Administration from George Washington University.  She is the proud mother of a daughter, Denver and a fierce advocate for women, girls and youth domestically and internationally.

Monica Winsor

Partner, The Inspired Philanthropy Group

Joel H. Samuels

Professor of Law, Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative, University of South Carolina

Joel H. Samuels is Professor of Law and Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina. With more than 20 years of experience working on development issues across Sub-Saharan Africa, Joel joined the Batonga Foundation Board of Directors in January 2017.

As Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative, Joel oversees programming focused on rule of law development across the globe. In addition, he regularly lectures to U.S. Government officials from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense on rule of law development abroad.

Joel has also worked at the World Bank in both Washington (in the Office of the Vice President for Africa) and in Zimbabwe (at the African Capacity Building Foundation) focusing on capacity building in economic policy analysis and development management. During that time, he was a member of the World Bank team that drafted the Initiative for Capacity Building in Africa, a cornerstone document in the World Bank’s initial efforts in that arena. During his time in private law practice at Covington & Burling, Joel was involved in the ad hoc arbitration of the Eritrea-Ethiopia boundary dispute and led the team that drafted a new Civil Service Code for Eritrea.

Honored by the USC School of Law student body in 2007 and 2016 as the Outstanding Faculty Member for teaching excellence, Joel received his A.B., magna cum laude, in politics from Princeton University in 1994. He received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1999, where he was a Clarence Darrow Scholar. While at Michigan, he also earned a master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies.

Romuald Hazoumè

Contemporary visual artist, Benin

Romuald Hazoumè is one of Africa’s foremost contemporary artists and a master of diverse forms of media. Hazoumè creates masks, photographs, paintings, sculptures and multi-media installations that include sound and video components. Using the ubiquitous plastic petrol-can as his unmistakable iconic signature, Hazoumè, during his artistic career, has created a series of monumental installations that act as metaphors of African place, history, and identity. Whether taking aim at endemic political corruption in Africa or addressing the global indifference compounding environmental disasters, Hazoumè creates visually striking works capable of compressing bewildering details into complex, yet nuanced metaphors that contain many powerful ideas. Hazoumè was the Arnold Bode prize-winner at documenta 12, and his work has been shown in major international galleries and museums, including the British Museum, London, the Metropolitan, New York, GOMA, Brisbane, NMAfA, Washington DC and most recently the Kunsthaus Graz, Austria.

Annie Ohayon

Cultural events producer and manager

Annie Ohayon, “Annie O.”, is an experienced and trusted figure in the arts producing cultural events and managing artists, with a New York base and a global sensibility. She built her foundation of relationships while working as a Public Relations strategist for musicians. She currently curates and produces the concert series at The Standard, East Village Hotel in NYC and works closely with brands on sponsored events.

The Annie O. Music Series at The Standard, East Village is a showcase for both local and international musicians, and has featured some of the best emerging talents in the New York music scene. Past performers include Laurie Anderson, DJ Spooky, The Two, ZAZ, Moby, Angelique Kidjo, Amadou & Mariam, Martha Wainwright, Rodriguez, Delta Rae, Deva Mahal, Clare and The Reasons, Jovanotti, Ben Taylor, Lulu Gainsbourg, Kishi Bashi, Tegan and Sara, Teddy Thompson, Terakaft from Mali, Arto Lindsay, Au Revoir Simone, Valerie June, Diane Birch, David Lynch presents Chrysta Bell, John Forte, formerly of The Fugees, Jesse Harris, Steve Nieve, Alec Benjamin, The Silver Palms, Coeur de Pirate, Mallu, Sebastian Blanck, Spires, Yasmine Hamdan, Lo-Fang, and Suzanne Vega.

Annie O. is the former publicist for Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Pearl Jam, Angelique Kidjo, Philip Glass, Smashing Pumpkins, Caetano Veloso , Laurie Anderson, Annie Lennox, Bebel Gilberto, among other notable musicians. She has leveraged her extensive network of international artists, and her experience in management and event planning, to energize fundraising events like the Batonga Foundation with Angélique Kidjo, Witness Program with Peter Gabriel, and the Tibet House Benefit Concert with Philip Glass at Carnegie Hall.  She has provided consultancy services for international organizations including Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, American Center Paris, MUDAM Luxembourg Art Production Fund, and The Watermill foundation.

From 1994 to 2006 Annie O. established Annie O. Media, where she developed a diverse client base in PR and media campaign management for international musicians including Laurie Anderson, Ornette Coleman, Cesaria Evora, Neil Finn, Peter Gabriel and Real World Records, GilbertoGil, BebelGilberto, PhilipGlass, PearlJam, NusratFatehAliKhan, Angélique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, The Smashing Pumpkins, Lou Reed, Pete Townshend, and Caetano Veloso. She has collaborated on film soundtracks for movies including Dead Man Walking and Michèle Ohayon documentaries.

From 1989 to 1993, Annie O. worked as a publicist at Kathy Schenker Associates. In 1993, she was hired as VP of Publicity at Arista Records with Clive Davis, where she headed the press department and managed the media campaigns of high-profile musicians including Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton and Sarah McLachlan.

From 1983 to 1989, Annie O. took a position at The Garth Group consultants, where she acted as researcher and media coordinator on several Democratic Party election campaigns.



Angelique visits Batonga’s Girls Clubs in Benin!

Check out these videos of our founder, Angelique Kidjo visiting …

Happy Birthday Angelique: A Message from Our Founder

Angelique Kidjo, Founder of the Batonga Foundation 
Angelique Kidjo with the …

Batonga is looking for a Program and Outreach Associate in Washington, D.C.