Board of Directors

James Ihedigbo

President and Co-founder James is the Founder and President of HOPE Africa. James is a Safety for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. Prior to the Lions James with with the Baltimore Ravens and a 2013 Super Bowl Champion. Prior to the Ravens, James played one season for the New England Patriots. He originally entered the league in 2007 as an un-drafted free agent and signed with the New York Jets where he played for four seasons. James received his Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Ikenna Ezeh

Ikenna is the Vice President of strategic Partnerships for Roc Nation, an entertainment management company founded by Jay Z in 2008, where he works on business development initiatives across the company’s roster of musicians, athletes, events and digital platforms. Prior to joining Roc Nation, he served as Vice President of Business Development at Authentic Brands Group as well as spending time in the Sports Sponsorships and Sports Endorsements groups at Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Ikenna received his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst before earning his JD from Roger Williams University School of Law. He is a member of the New York State Bar and resides in New York, NY.

Tony Small – Treasurer
Tony is a Fixed Income Portfolio Manager for an asset management firm based in Boston, MA where he has worked since 2003. In this role Tony invests client portfolios in the sovereign bonds and currencies of both developed and developing markets. Tony received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a Masters in Finance from The Carroll School of Management (Boston College).

Michael Ononibaku – Secretary

Michael is a Vice President in Citi’s Global Markets Strategy and Planning group, supporting the Commodities and Foreign Exchange / Local Markets businesses. Prior to joining Global Markets, Michael held various strategic and financial roles across several businesses within Citi. He joined the company in 2006 as an Analyst in the Institutional Clients Group as a member of the Treasury group. In 2010, Michael was promoted into the CFO-sponsored Financial Management Associate (FMA) program, wherein he worked in three 6-month rotations across Capital Markets, Transaction Services, and Investment Banking. Michael has helped advise Citi senior management on various strategic and franchise initiatives, and has served as a liaison with regulators and rating’s agencies including: the Federal Reserve, FINRA, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s. Michael received his Bachelors degree from Georgetown University.

Tom Ficarra

Tom is employed at Bloomberg L.P. in Fixed Income Electronic Trading Sales, managing accounts in Canada and New York City. Prior to this, he held several roles at Bloomberg, including Relationship Manager for Goldman Sachs’ Fixed Income Sales and Trading. Tom began his career as a Dollar Index Futures Broker on the New York Board of Trade. He graduated Cum Laude from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Arts, concentrating in History and Asian Studies. He then went on to receive a Master’s of Business Administration in International Finance from St. John’s University.

Dr. Blessing Enekwe

Dr. Enekwe works at the University of Maryland as an administrator in the newly established Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Her research interests include American politics, immigration and social policy, race and ethnicity and political incorporation.

Her dissertation focused on the integration of refugees through social services during resettlement, particularly focusing on how health care, education and employment assistance lends to economic and social integration for refugees. Blessing received her B.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park.