Anna Adeola Makanju, a Nigerian born in Russia has made her mark in policy affairs globally.
Born to a Ukrainian mother and a Nigerian father, Makanju, who was raised mostly between Lagos and Leningrad, is the vice president of global affairs at OpenAI, an AI-oriented organisation, leading the company’s policy and engagement strategy.
Particularly, in her work at OpenAI, Makanju has been pivotal in Altman’s transformation from a start-up darling into the AI industry’s ambassador.
Having previously been a manager of Global Policy at Facebook, as well as Senior Policy Advisor to the Vice President on Europe and Eurasia in the Obama/Biden administration for eight years, she has over a decade of experience in policy making and development. She has also operated in other foreign policy roles at the White House, Department of State, and Pentagon.
Makanju has also held important positions, including Senior Policy Advisor at the United States Mission to the United Nations, Director for Russia at the National Security Council, and Chief of Staff for European and NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Currently, she serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Board Member of Coty, an American multinational beauty brand. She is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Board Member at Panera Bread and ClearyX.
As regards her education, Makanju holds a first degree in linguistics and French from Western Washington University. She also has a law degree from Stanford and has worked at international criminal tribunals in the Hague, on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and in the international arbitration group of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP.
Having joined OpenAI in September 2021, Makanju has transformed the workings of the organisation from an everyday startup to what it is today. Makanju emphasises OpenAI’s four key principles: a commitment to broadening the distribution of artificial general intelligence benefits, efforts to enhance the long-term safety of AI systems, collaboration with other research and policy institutions, and maintaining a position at the forefront of AI capabilities as a technical leader in the field.
Makanju has also set herself as a beacon in the AI space. No matter what heights AI attains in terms of regulation in years to come, there’s a good chance Anna Makanju will have left her fingerprints on them.