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Washington power broker at art guild Sunday

Washington power broker Janet McElligott, one of the world’s leading experts on Africa, the Middle East and China, will speak Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Convergence Art Guild  located at 99 Main St. in Halifax.

McElligott is in Halifax County to meet with local writer Jason Thomas who is co-writing her new book. 

Thomas, whose books include “Too Rich,” “Gilda,” “Haute,” “Champagne,” “Heartless in Beverly Hills” and “Mogollon,” is a business partner with McElligott in a firm that produces international documentaries.

Besides her Washington duties, McElligott has endorsed a line of skin care products for Rodan and Fields, one of the world’s leading skin care lines.

 “I discovered this product during my world travels and decided I wanted to become involved,” McElligott said. “It might seem to be a stretch from my day to day political duties but when you travel from climate to climate, as I do, having a product that works for my skin is very important. So I invested in Rodan and Fields.”

Her daily activities can range from a television appearance to a meeting at the State Department or White House.

McElligott is founder and managing partner of McElligott Associates, experts in international business and political strategy. She is a frequent speaker and consultant in the United States, Africa and Asia.  

She is an assistant professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Additionally, she is the co-chair of The Royal Foundation to Rebuild Africa with King Kigeli V of Rwanda.  The foundation was the first private NGO allowed back into Darfur after May of 2009.  

In 2012, she serves as the vice chairman of the National Cherry Blossom Festival Princesses and in 2013 will serve as the chair.

Ms. McElligott was a member of the Small Arms Survey’s Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment team that worked on implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for three years.  In 2004 she briefly served as the IGAD spokesman for the Sudan Peace talks and lived in Kenya.  

She began her work in Africa in 1996 as a member of the task force that freed the International Committee of Red Cross aid workers from rebel territory in Southern Sudan.  She continues to serve as an unofficial liaison between the Catholic Church of Sudan and the Sudanese Government.  She was instrumental in the commuting of 27 prisoners’ death sentences; among them was the bishop of Khartoum, as well as acting as the chief negotiator to solve many of the complex refugee issues in the outlaying capitol region, and the issues of the Catholic schools bankruptcy in the South.  

McElligott has served as a go between for those in trouble in Africa, most notably the Chicago Tribune reporter on loan to National Geographic who illegally crossed from Chad into Darfur and was arrested for treason.  

In 2011, she was involved in the negotiations of the disputed presidential elections in the Ivory Coast, working with the Kenya and Congolese mediators. 

In 2007 she helped arrange the invitation and trip of President Bashir of Sudan to see Pope Benedict XVI to Rome to call for a ceasefire in Darfur.  

McElligott was a registered foreign agent for Sudan in 1997.  From 1997 through 2001 she was the liaison between the Sudanese intelligence service and the U.S. FBI, focusing on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, some of which is chronicled in the book, “Losing bin Laden,” by Richard Miniter in 2003, as well as Vanity Fair’s “The Secret bin Laden Files,” by David Rose in 2002.  

During this time period she also shuttled between Cairo and Sudan to help normalize relations that led to the formation of the Sharma El Sheik Summit between President Hosni Mubarak and President Omar el-Bashir.

In 1999, McElligott was instrumental in assisting the Arab Organization of Agricultural Development first environmental symposium in Damascus, Syria. She also was a member of the international consortium to rehabilitate Sudan’s Dinder Wildlife Park, a UN designated biosphere.

She served as vice president of C3i, the organization tasked with assisting the People’s Republic of China with workers’ safety, health and environment laws and implementation of nationwide training programs and facilities.  

She is a past member of the board of cirectors of the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce founded by The Honorable Prescott Bush, a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.  She was the architect and chief negotiator for the AISEC’s student exchange agreement between their 85-member countries and China.  As a result of these negotiations, AISEC was the first international student group operating in China post-Tiananmen.

In 1998, McElligott lived and worked in Kazakhstan for the Presidential Palace for five months during their election cycle.  She helped train palace personnel in modern media strategies, and worked closely with NGOs and the newly formed Campaign Election Commission in order to have free and fair elections.

In the U.S., McElligott served under President George Bush on his personal staff in the White House in 1990 and was later appointed his Public and Congressional Affairs Officer at the Farm Credit Administration where she served until the end of his administration.  Prior to this she worked on the legislative staffs of Senators Mark Hatfield and Dan Evans, and committee campaign staff of Senator John Heinz as assistant to the legal counsel.

McElligott was a foreign expert for the People’s Republic of China’s government in their capital from 1993-1994, lectured at the Beijing Language and Culture University and appeared frequently as an actress on China Central TV.  She was the foreign advisor to the Chinese People’s Friendship Association on their international conference on business development. 

As senior advisor for the first congressional delegation to visit China after the 1989 June 4th Tiananmen Square incident, McElligott was the first international guest allowed on the Square.  She was the program director of a 1986-1987 U.S. - People’s Republic of China exchange program in Shanghai and was on screen in Steven Spielberg’s production of “The Empire of the Sun” in Shanghai that same year.

McElligott attended the U.N’s Fourth World Conference as a delegate in Beijing.  During the official conference she assisted the Turkish Republic delegation.  She also was the press director for Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori official state visit and speech before the U.N. Plenary.

McElligott is active in civic Washington.   She is a member of the Leadership Washington’s 1996 Class, The Bush/Quayle Alumni, Women of Washington and the Asia Society. 

She was the 1985 National Cherry Blossom Princess from Oregon for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.  

McElligott earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Portland.  She speaks conversational German and Chinese, functional French, as well as limited Arabic and Russian.