Former diplomat and lawyer Akunna Cook serves as the founding executive director of the Black Economic Alliance. The Black Economic Alliance is a non-partisan organization focused on driving economic progress in the black community through policy development, advocacy, and supporting candidates for office who are aligned with its mission. Akunna practiced law at Covington & Burling LLP, where she advised former Attorney General Eric Holder on all aspects of his role as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Akunna managed a team of attorneys researching political and legal strategy on redistricting around the country. She also advised corporate clients on public policy and government affairs and corporate governance.
Before practicing law, Ms. Cook served for almost ten years as a career diplomat with the Department of State where she advised foreign governments, senior U.S. government officials, and U.S. companies on economic and political development, trade, investment, and geo-political risk. Akunna served overseas in China, South Africa, and Iraq. In Washington, Akunna served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State responsible for African affairs, multilateral engagement, management, and legal issues. She also served as Special Assistant in the Bureau of African Affairs and as the Desk Officer for Ghana, Togo, and Benin, during which she coordinated President Obama’s first presidential visit to Africa. Akunna was a legal fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and taught commercial diplomacy at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Akunna is the recipient of a Department of State Superior Honor Award and several Meritorious Honor Awards, including for the key role she played in reporting on Ghana’s historic 2008 elections.
Akunna received her law degree from the Yale Law School and a master’s degree in public policy from 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 is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Washington D.C. bar.