Benin’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Omar Arouna?
Omar Arouna presented his credentials as Benin’s ambassador to the United States to President Barack Obama on May 21, 2014. It’s the first ambassadorial post for Arouna, who has lived and worked in the United States for about 20 years. In addition to the United States, Arouna is also Benin’s representative to Mexico and the Organization of American States.
Arouna is the son of a former interior minister of what was then called Dahomey, and his brother was minister of labor and administrative services. Arouna graduated from Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1990.
Arouna’s background isn’t in diplomacy at all, but information technology. He was an IT officer for the World Bank beginning in 1994. Three years later, Arouna was named IT manager for Africare, a nonprofit organization that provides development aid in Africa. In 2001, he was named managing director for Global Specialty, a Washington IT consulting firm.
Arouna moved to Goodworks International Consulting, a firm partly founded by former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, in January 2007. Goodworks is a lobbying firm, many of whose clients have interests in the oil industry. Arouna represented the nation of Cameroon. He was promoted to executive vice president in January 2013. From October 2009 to November 2011, he was also a consultant with Opportunities Industrialization Center International (OIC), which promotes health, sanitation and food self-reliance in developing countries.
Arouna, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is married to Yolonda Richardson, who is executive vice president of global programs for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. They have two children.
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