Danielle Buchanan came to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) in August 2001 after working as a government civilian employee at the United States European Command (EUCOM) in Stuttgart, Germany for more than 20 years. She will be retiring as ACSS’s Chief of Staff at the end of December 2012. In this interview with staff writer Serge Yondou, Ms. Buchanan shares some thoughts about the Center and how it has evolved.
Q: What brought you to the Africa Center?
Ms. BUCHANAN: I had been at the European Command for 24 years and felt it was time for me to return to the United States. At the suggestion of General Carlton W. Fulford, Jr. – Retired [then Deputy Commander of EUCOM], I applied for the position of ACSS Deputy Chief of Staff and was accepted.
Q: What do you consider to be the most important aspects about the Africa Center?
Ms. BUCHANAN: Obviously its multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-talented, and extremely dedicated staff. As a member of that staff, I also like and admire our willingness to listen to our African audience and offer programs they need. Thanks to our professional team and through a rigorous non-attribution policy, we have been able to earn the trust of our participants and their leaders over the years, which allowed us to build long-term relationships with our community members.
Q: How has the Africa Center evolved since you started working here?
Ms. BUCHANAN: When I started working at the Africa Center in 2001, ACSS was 2 years old and we offered seven programs annually. In FY13, we are currently planning up to 40 programs. Also, there are many requests from agencies and various organizations asking to partner with ACSS in developing programs.
Q: What will be the legacy of the first decade of the Africa Center?
Ms. BUCHANAN: Without any doubt, the great reputation of the Center not only in Africa but also in Europe as well. That reputation was earned through excellent academic programs and other events that give opportunity for African voices to be heard.
Q: What is the next step for you?
Ms. BUCHANAN: My husband, Jerry, and I are retiring at the same time. We’ve already put our belongings in storage and sold our Maryland house so we can be free to travel together. We start our travels soon, first to visit friends and family from Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, Kansas, Arizona, to California. We’ll then spend a few months traveling in Europe, Asia, and Africa. We plan to reinvest in a home after we find the ideal location for a peaceful retirement.