WASHINGTON, D.C. — The first woman to head the prestigious TransAfrica human rights organization has left the job after eight years. Nicole C. Lee, an attorney, said the death of South African icon Nelson Mandela in December was part of the reason she is quitting. Lee coordinated the U.S. national memorial for Mandela held at the Washington Cathedral that featured Vice President Joe Biden, South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool and actress Alfre Woodard.
TransAfrica, founded by Randall Robinson, became a nonprofit in 1977 and was a leading voice in demanding Mandela’s release from prison and for an end to the racist apartheid system in South Africa long before it gained large-scale support.
In her letter of resignation to Danny Glover the activist actor who chairs TransAfrica’s board of directors, Lee said when she was appointed president she set out to build upon the organization’s reputation as a voice for social justice “and create a body of work that was true to its Pan African and civil rights history.”
“Today, TransAfrica stands as a renowned thought leader on issues relating to the African Diaspora and serves as the voice of advocacy with regards to matters of social, political, and economic justice for members of the Diaspora,” she said.
According to a statement announcing her resignation, TransAfrica stepped up its role lobbying on Capitol Hill on issues concerning African and Caribbean nations.
Lee also led TransAfrica in embracing relevant social issues and most recently she was instrumental in bringing rights activist Frank Mugisha to the U.S to meet with rights leaders concerned with Uganda’s anti-gay policies.
“I am proud of what TransAfrica was able to accomplish during my term. Now I want the opportunity to work more closely with other international movements and organizations and work with communities here at home in understanding international affairs,” Lee said in the statement.
Lee’s last day on the job was May 1. A new TransAfrica president has not yet been announced.