President and Executive Director
During Rick Gittleman’s 31 year career he has developed a unique perspective on Africa stemming from a diverse range of experiences on the continent. He first developed an interest in international affairs when he was a student at Brown University. He served in the Peace Corps from 1977 to 1979 in the Bas Zaire province of Zaire where he taught English and managed a small animal husbandry project.
After graduating from law school, he joined a Washington-based, D.C. law firm and was transferred to their Kinshasa, Zaire office in 1984 where he lived and worked for seven years specializing on mining issues. During that time, he travelled extensively throughout Africa for clients. He then continued working on African issues from 1990 through 1997 as an international lawyer in Brussels, Belgium. His work focused on the extractive industries.
In 1997 he moved to Washington, D.C. where he focused on mergers and acquisitions and project finance for energy clients. From 2009 until July 2015 he served in senior positions in both Freeport McMoRan and then Glencore. For both companies he was responsible for legal affairs, government relations, community development, communications and labor negotiations. He lived in Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo from 2009 until December 2015.
His life-long experience in Africa has allowed him to see a 360 degree panorama of life at all levels of Africa society from the village to the upper levels of senior government. Accordingly, he firmly understands that democracy, transparency and accountability are prerequisites for good governance. Indeed, he believes that democracy is the most important initiative to Africa’s complex challenges. At this point in his professional career he decided to channel his concerns into actions aimed at improving conditions for the people in Africa and founded United for Africa’s Democratic Future.