Originally from Zambia, Maleele Choongo is a passionate member of the African Diaspora. She is interested in contextualized, gender and climate sensitive approaches to socioeconomic development. For the past six years, she has worked on communications and research projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, with organizations such as the World Bank, Roosevelt Institute, and Hendrix College. She is also a trained classical opera singer, and an avid poetry consumer.

In Her Own Words

Why AiD? Why Africa?

Before I’d ever cracked open an index or development report, I saw (and continue to see) African communities identify their own priorities for development and take swift action to meet their own needs. This is the type of work AiD seeks and leverages—making sure that Africans remain the frontier contributors of our continent’s growth, and supporting where needed.

What or who do you call home?

I definitely left my heart in Zambia, but wouldn’t contest that the universe has availed me contentment elsewhere.

Where did you dirty your hands and/or mint your knowledge?

Attending college outside of Africa, in history and development courses, I asked myself more often than I would have liked, “Where are the Africans? Where are the women?” I would later on work in international development agencies and organizations that left me asking the same questions. I then sought to place myself in spaces that credited the work of Africans, namely women, and promoted their visibility.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about women and girls (especially those of color) reserving the right to exploit their own brilliance.

What keeps you sane?

Singing, poetry, and my family. I’ve also come to understand the interconnectedness of the human experience, knowing that I owe much of my energy to people—strangers even—who have taken the time out to see me as themselves.

What quote do you live by?

Listen to her, she’ll inspire you.
— Anonymous