Beware of Corporate Interests Masquerading as NGOs – American Friends of Guinea

Hyperdynamics, which started out as a computer software firm, is now exploring offshore Guinea for oil and gas and holds the largest exploration license in West Aftrica, covering 31,000 square miles.  The president and CEO, Ray Leonard, is a member of the Board.  The company is the primary mover behind “American Friends of Guinea.”
PR Newswire

HOUSTON, Jan. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — American Friends of Guinea (AFG), a Houston-based non-governmental organization whose mission is to provide medical and infrastructure aid to the people of the Republic of Guinea in West Africa, announced four new directors who were elected during the Board’s January 25 meeting, including:

  • Ray Leonard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyperdynamics Corporation (NYSE Amex: HDY)
  • Dr. Judith Hermanson, Director of the Center for Non-Governmental Leadership and Development at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Ill.  
  • Amb. John Simon, a Managing Partner at Total Impact Advisors Co.  
  • Dr. Darius Mans, President and CEO of Africare


These new directors replace Ernest Watts and Michael Watts, who tendered their resignations after serving as members of AFG’s initial board since 2006. Kent Watts, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hyperdynamics and founder of the American Friends of Guinea, remains AFG’s Chairman of the Board.

“We’re grateful that these four accomplished individuals have chosen to dedicate themselves to improving quality of life for the people of Guinea,” said Kent Watts.  “The three development executives possess a combined 80 years of international economic development experience, and they will provide important guidance and insight to help AFG achieve its goals.  We’re pleased that Ray Leonard is continuing Hyperdynamics’ legacy of support as he oversees one of the most important investment projects occurring in Guinea today,” Watts added.

Leonard is President and CEO of Hyperdynamics, an oil and gas company that is exploring for oil off the coast of Guinea and provides logistical support to AFG.  He has spent most of his 30-year oil and gas career working on international exploration projects.  

“Hyperdynamics is fully committed to Guinea’s social and economic transformation, and we are excited about the prospect of working in Guinea during its political renaissance, which culminated in the 2010 democratic election of President Alpha Conde,” Leonard said.

Dr. Hermanson has a long career in international development, humanitarian assistance, and nonprofit management.  She was previously an executive at CHF International, which helps developing countries improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. She also led the Peace Corps’ re-entry into Guinea in the late 1980s, where she worked closely with Guinean governmental officials. “I believe that the Republic of Guinea is poised to reform, and am very pleased to be able to serve at a time of expanded opportunities for its 10 million citizens and civil society,” she said.

Amb. Simon is former ambassador to the African Union, where he responded to unrest in Guinea in 2008.  He formerly was Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), where he spearheaded efforts to finance housing, small and medium businesses and large-scale renewable power generation.  He founded his consulting firm in 2008 to advise entrepreneurs seeking to maximize the social impact of their capital investments. “Guinea is ready to transform itself as Liberia did after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s election in 2005. I am excited to be part of African history by serving on AFG’s board,” Amb. Simon said.

Dr. Mans’ Africare organization partners with African people to build sustainable, healthy and productive lives and communities. He brings the organization’s extensive experience in managing agriculture, food security and health projects in Guinea to AFG’s board as it expands its activities and its staff. He is a former World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corporation executive who commented that he “wants to apply to Guinea the lessons learned from leading the World Bank’s financing of Angola and Mozambique’s reconstruction at the end of their civil wars in the late 1980s and 90s.”

During 2011, AFG will continue its support to Emergency Fistula, Hydrocephalus Children’s, Cholera Camps and Water and Sanitation projects. It will also channel support from Medical Bridges, a Houston non-governmental organization that donates medical supplies to health projects in developing countries, to Guinean hospitals, medical personnel and community associations.

AFG will assess how to work with coastal communities and the Guinean islands of Kassa and Loume, which have been failed to receive tangible development assistance for decades.

Finally, with the guidance of its Board of Directors, AFG will embark on a strategic plan to mobilize more resources to expand its support to Guinean communities and medical personnel.

About AFG

American Friends of Guinea is a non-profit organization created in 2006 to aid in the development of Guinea and to reinforce the friendship between the United States and the West African country.  For additional information, please visit our website at

Contact: Michael Carson, Director  
  American Friends of Guinea  
  (713) 353-9400, ext. 128  

SOURCE American Friends of Guinea


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