Ambassador Johanna Odonkor Svanikier is the Founder, President and CEO of the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa an NGO, non-profit, social enterprise with the mission to preserve, advocate for and promote the use of African heritage and culture for social and economic progress and development. In 2017 she organised the hugely successful African Diaspora Homecoming Conference to celebrate Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary in a memorable and meaningful way. She is Ghana’s recent past Ambassador to France & Portugal and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and La Francophonie. During her tour of duty in Paris she led a successful campaign to win a seat for Ghana on the Executive Board of UNESCO and chaired the ECOWAS group at UNESCO from 2014 to 2015. She also initiated Ghana’s membership of the OECD Development Centre where she represented Ghana on the Governing Board.
Ambassador Svanikier has been a non-executive director of Fidelity Bank Ghana and Fidelity Asia Bank from 2008 to the present. In 2012 she was appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). From 2010 to 2014, she served on the Petroleum Revenue Advisory Commitee of the Ministry of Finance. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, which she has done under two different administrations, as well as on the National Commission for Culture. In 2018 she also served as co-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award/ Head of State Award Scheme and assisted with the visit of Prince Edward to Ghana to attend their International Forum. She is also a member of the Board of the Economic Club of Ghana.
Ambassador Svanikier is a barrister by profession. She was called to the Bar in England and Wales at the Inner Temple. She is also Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ghana. She has previously been a university lecturer and legal and development consultant. She is the founder and first Director of the Human Rights Study Centre at the University of Ghana, Legon. She holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in law from the London School of Economics, UK, a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, U.S.A. and a Masters in Political Science from the University of Oxford, U.K. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University. She is the author of several publications including “Womens’ Rights and the Law in Ghana.”
Ambassador Svanikier is a regular speaker at conferences and events on the value and socioeconomic benefits of investing in heritage and culture.