Content Block Preview: Speaker Bios: Power Panel African American Trailblazers

Speaker Bios:


Deniece Laurent-Mantey (moderator), Foreign Affairs Officer, Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning

Deniece Laurent-Mantey is a career Foreign Affairs Officer. She currently serves as a member of the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff. In that role, she is a source of policy analysis, undertaking strategic recommendations of U.S.-Africa policy planning and formulation. Prior to that, she was the Acting Deputy Director in the Bureau of African Affairs, Office of West Africa, managing and shaping the U.S. government’s relationship with 10 coastal countries in West Africa. She has also served as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Executive Secretariat, where she was responsible for staffing, advancing, and traveling with the Secretary on official trips — domestic and international. Additional assignments also include working in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science as well as the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Deniece, a native of the Bronx, New York, earned her B.A. degree in International Relations from Syracuse University-Maxwell School and her M.A. in African Studies and Public Policy from Howard University. She is married to Henry Laurent-Mantey and they have two sons. 


Ambassador Teddy Taylor (ret.) U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Teddy B. Taylor (ret.) lectures and consults on leadership, organizational development and foreign affairs. In a diplomatic career spanning four decades, Teddy served tours in Central America, Europe, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and Africa. In 2009, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to concurrently serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Republics of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island and Vanuatu. During his tenure, Teddy transformed U.S. relations with these island nations through his proactive engagement with all aspects of society. Other assignments of note include: Consul General, Cape Town, South Africa, Diplomat in Residence at Howard University and principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Resources. In the latter assignment, Teddy directed the activities of a global human capital footprint of 70,000 personnel and a budget in excess of three billion dollars. Specializing in consular affairs, Teddy is a recipient of the Department of State’s prestigious Barbara Watson Award for Consular Excellence for his leadership of the consular section in Budapest, Hungary; and he was a member of the 46th Senior Seminar, the Department of State’s premiere senior leadership training program. Teddy speaks Spanish, Turkish, and Hungarian. A native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of its public schools, Teddy obtained his B.S. in Political Science from Florida A&M University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Allen University. He is a former President of the Department of State’s Thursday Luncheon Group, an affinity group to promote diversity in foreign affairs. He received its Pioneer Award upon his retirement. He is a life member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and received its “Century Award of Excellence” at the Centennial Grand Conclave. Teddy is also a life member of the Florida A&M University Alumni Association and recipient of its Distinguished Alumni Award. His other community activities include service as President of Boy Scout Troop 1294 in Largo, Maryland, Chairman of Eagle Scout promotion boards (Hungary) and work with the March of Dimes of Prince George’s County. Teddy is married to Antoinette Corbin-Taylor, a retired member of the U.S. Foreign Service. They have one adult daughter, Blair. An avid lover of jazz and fine cigars, Teddy enjoys sharing his experiences with student groups, especially those on HBCU campuses.


Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal (ret.) U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Aurelia (Rea) Brazeal retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2008 with the rank of Career Minister after a distinguished 40-year career. She is an expert in leadership, management, strategic planning, crisis management, economic and trade negotiations and is adept at engaging constructively with disparate audiences and resolving complex problems. She was a pioneer in being the first to serve in newly created positions and is the first African American female career Foreign Service officer to be promoted into the Senior Foreign Service and the first to be nominated as an Ambassador. She served as Ambassador to Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Federated States of Micronesia. She also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific with policy responsibility for 22 countries. This position included policy responsibility for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an organization and the ASEAN Regional Forum, the premier security/political body for the region. She was also the first Dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute as well as Dean of the Senior Seminar, Minister-Counselor for Economics at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the first Deputy Director for Economics in the Department of State’s Japan office, a detail to the U.S. Treasury Department, tours in the Economic Bureau and the State Department Secretariat. During her career, Aurelia received several awards including Presidential Performance and Superior Honor awards. Aurelia is from Atlanta and received her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and her master’s degree from Columbia University. She undertook additional postgraduate study at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She served five terms on the Spelman College Board of Trustees. She works with the Charles B. Rangel fellowship program, which brings diversity to the Foreign Service. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, the Far East Luncheon Group, the American Foreign Service Association, and the Senior Seminar Alumni Association. She is the immediate past President of the Association of Black American Ambassadors. She serves on the Advisory Boards of the Morehouse College Andrew Young Center for International Affairs and the Encampment for Citizenship.


Senior Foreign Service Officer Hugh Williams (ret.), U.S. Department of State

Hugh Williams retired in 2015 from the Department of State as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of Minister Counselor. He held numerous assignments overseas and domestically during 38 years of distinguished service and was the recipient of several Meritorious Honor performance awards and the Department’s Superior Honor award. His wealth of experience at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad were developed during assignments in Hong Kong, Canada, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Belgium, and Jamaica. Additionally, he held a variety of positions domestically in the bureaus of Human Resources, Consular Affairs, and African Affairs. Most satisfying for him professionally was his tenure as Diplomat in Residence at Florida A&M University, Spelman College and at Morehouse College, where he designed and taught a course titled “Pathways to Diplomacy and Global Leadership.” He also served on several Foreign Service promotion boards and selection panels for the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering and the Charles B. Rangel international fellowship programs. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, a husband of 42 years, a dad and a proud grandfather. He is an active member of New Bethel AME Church and an advisory board member of the Oglethorpe University Museum Association. He serves as Executive Director for a nonprofit organization he helped to establish to raise funds to build a new school for children with disabilities in Chennai, India, and he is the national president of the Williams and Locke family reunion organization, which has been celebrating this annual tradition for the past 108 years. Hugh makes his home in Stone Mountain, Georgia.