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A Team Event at The White House

DU alum Ellie Sue Schafer poses outside the MFJS Building in October 2013Ellie Sue Schafer (BA '90) serves as Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Director of the Visitors Office.

Ellie was integral to the event coordination for the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Dinner, held on August 5, 2014 at The White House.

A three-day event, held August 4-6 at the nation’s capital, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit was the first such event of its kind, and the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government. President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent.

The Theme of the Summit was “Investing in the Next Generation,” and the aim was to discuss opportunities to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions, creating an enabling environment for the next generation.

According to, “Specifically, the Summit advanced the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlighted America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. At the same time, it highlighted the depth and breadth of the United States’ commitment to the African continent, advanced our shared priorities, and enabled discussion of concrete ideas to deepen the partnership. At its core, the Summit was about fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa.”

Expected guests for the dinner included:

  • The President and Ms. Obama
  • Her Excellency Amina Ali, Ambassador of the African Union Mission
  • His Excellency Abdalla Alteni, Prime Minister of the State of Libya
  • The Honorable Caroline Atkinson, Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, National Security Council
  • The Honorable Sheila Nix, Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden
  • GRAMMY award-winning songwriter, producer, and artist Lionel Richie

Representatives from the State of Libya, Republic of Seychelles, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, People’s Democratic Public of Algeria, Republic of Benin, Republic of Niger, Republic of The Gambia, Federal Republic of Somalia, Republic of Mozambique, Republic of Liberia, Gabonese Republic, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Cameroon, Republic of Malawi, as well as several other African, U.S.-based and world leaders, were also present at the summit.

Ellie said it was a true team effort. "We all just pitched in to get it done. When you have that many countries coming and that many moving pieces, you are just part of a team that does whatever you need to do to get the job done," Schafer said.

To read more about Schafer and her work, visit University of Denver Magazine.