Tonija Hope Navas brings over 19 years of experience in the international exchange, international education, and management fields to the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University. After completing her BA in Latin American Studies & Latin American/Spanish Literature from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, Ms. Navas moved to South Africa where she worked with a professor at the University of Cape Town to develop mechanisms to encourage exchange among international and South African students. Ms. Navas returned to the US to earn her Master’s degree in Tourism Administration with a focus on International Education from George Washington University in Washington, DC. After completing her Master’s, Ms. Navas joined the DC-based international non-profit, Phelps Stokes Fund, where she worked on the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and became involved with other initiatives of the organization, like the Ralph Bunche Societies, and the creation of the Collaborative for Diversity in Education Abroad. Ms. Navas was later promoted to Director of Programs for Latin America and the Caribbean, where she oversaw a variety of projects focusing on youth leadership development in Afro-descendant communities, primarily in Colombia, with thematic lenses such as comparative legal frameworks and workforce development in the health sector.
Ms. Navas has a keen interest in and passion for facilitating relationships between and among people of different cultures, and particularly for exposing young people from underserved communities, domestically and internationally, to opportunities for travel and education abroad. Prior to joining Howard University, Ms. Navas served as the founding Executive Director of the Baoba Fund for Racial Equity-North America, a Brazil-based non-profit, focused on supporting Afro-Brazilian civil society organizations through a $25 million challenge grant offered by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She also serves as the Chair of the US Civil Society Committee of the US-Colombia Action Plan for Racial and Ethnic Equality (CAPREE), an initiative of the Colombian and US governments to address issues of racial discrimination and social inclusion in both countries. Ms. Navas was born and raised in Washington, DC, to a Liberian mother and an African-American father.