Africare News Release
Julius E. Coles to Retire from Africare
Washington, DC June 1, 2009— True to his promise to himself and his family, Julius E. Coles has announced his retirement as President of Africare effective December 31, 2009. Taking the reins in 2002, Coles is only the third president of the oldest African-American led organization working exclusively on development assistance to Africa. He is fond of saying that “the best time to leave an organization is at the pinnacle of its success, and I believe that is where Africare is today.”
Speaking of his predecessor, Coles stated, “It has been a privilege to build on the legacy of C. Payne Lucas, one of the founders and second president of Africare, who took Africare in 1971 from its modest beginnings in the basement of his home and a budget of $39,500 to becoming a well-known, highly respected and successful organization.” Between 1970 and 2002, Africare provided almost $450 million through development projects across the continent of Africa.
Coles has taken Africare to a new level, bringing in more than $400 million in new commitments in just seven years, almost doubling the total amount of development dollars generated by Africare over its 39-year history. As many of the original members of the Africare staff retired, Coles brought in experienced and highly-trained professionals to update management practices and systems. Financial stability has been achieved through introducing new controls and financial software, instituting and standardizing an innovative accounting system across headquarters and 25 Africa field offices, and streamlining budgeting and reporting systems. As a result, Africare today spends a full 93 cents of every dollar on programs, with only 7 cents spent on administrative and fund raising costs, earning top ratings from Charity Navigator, the American Institute of Philanthropy, and the Better Business Bureau.
Coles has opened new doors for private donors, foundations and corporations. In addition to expanding the Africare funds development horizon, Coles has spearheaded the opening of Africare offices in Paris and Ottawa. The current Africare Board of Directors was strengthened with the election to the chairmanship of W. Frank Fountain, Chairman, Walter P. Chrysler Museum Foundation and Advisor to Chrysler LLC; and the elections of Ambassador Howard Jeter, former President and CEO of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation; Barbara McKinzie, National President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; former Senator William H. Frist, M.D.; Alexander B. Cummings, Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President, The Coca Cola Company; and Gail Koff, Esq., Founding and Managing Partner, Jacoby & Meyers, LLC.
On the program side, Coles added water and sanitation as one of the key program areas, along with food security and agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS, and emergency and humanitarian response. With steadfast commitment to Africare’s mission “to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,” Coles has opened new programs across the continent, partnering with the U.S. Government, African national governments, private foundations, and non-governmental organizations. Coles’ initiatives have strengthened Africare’s reputation as a trustworthy grassroots organization that works hand in hand with local communities, using integrated strategies and innovative techniques.
Africare Board Chairman W. Frank Fountain says Coles has “performed tremendously.” “When Julius Coles took over the reins of Africare, he had very big shoes to fill. C. Payne Lucas had led Africare for over 30 years and was a legend in his time. Julius has taken the organization to new heights in terms of management efficiency and expansion of resources devoted to Africa that few other private organizations have achieved in the U.S. and around the world. Millions of people across Africa are far better off today than they were when Julius came on board. Julius’ contribution to Africare will be remembered as one of the most successful in Africare’s history. He and the Africare team have developed the organization to a point where it is now poised to move into a new era of more growth. After a long career in public service, most of it devoted to Africa, Julius has earned the right to retire, rest, relax and enjoy some of the hard-earned fruits of his labor on behalf of the betterment of humankind. Julius will be truly missed.”
Looking back over his tenure at Africare Coles observed, “The past seven years have been some of the most challenging of my professional career. Not only have I gained experience and exposure as the head of one of the premier NGOs working on the continent of Africa, but I have learned a great deal managing a complex organization with 25 field offices and over 1,000 employees. My belief in the people of Africa and my respect for their cultures has only grown since my first experience as an Operation Crossroads Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa, after my junior year at Morehouse College 46 years ago. It is time for new leadership at Africare and a new generation of committed and energetic professionals who will carry on the important mission of the organization. For my part, I look forward to helping in any way I can to further the values and goals of Africare and the Africare family.”
A graduate of Morehouse College, Coles also earned a Masters of Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He then spent 28 years in the Foreign Service, retiring with the rank of Career Minister, and later served as Director of Howard University’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center and Morehouse College’s Andrew Young Center for International Affairs. The recipient of several prestigious awards including the James Madison Medal from Princeton University and the Morehouse College National Alumnus of the Year, Coles has also been a member or served on the board of numerous well-known organizations including the National Academy of Public Administration, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the UNESCO International Commission on the Gorée Memorial (Senegal). Mr. Coles looks forward to retiring to his home town of Atlanta, Georgia, where he will remain active in international affairs through his local Rotary Club, the university community, and through the completion of his term on the Board of the African Development Foundation, to which he was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The Africare Board of Directors has retained the international search firm Heidrick & Struggles to fill the upcoming vacancy. Heidrick & Struggles has been in operation for more than 50 years, providing senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services, including talent management, board building, executive on-boarding and M&A effectiveness. Heidrick & Struggles leadership experts operate from principal business centers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
A new Africare president is expected to be named in the fall.
Africare is a leading non-profit organization specializing in African development aid. It is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in that field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $760 million in assistance and support — over 2,500 projects and millions of beneficiaries —to 36 countries Africa-wide. Africare has its international headquarters in Washington, DC, with field offices currently in some 23 African countries.