A Profession Dear To Her Heart
Ambassador Alice Dear’s hometown of Gary, Indiana, is nearly 5,500 miles from the African coastline, but as a girl her interest in the faraway continent was close to her heart, thanks to an encyclopedia set in her parents’ book collection. “I remember being fascinated by the photos of Africa,” she says. “I would leaf through the pages and think about what life was like for the people there.” In the 40 years since, Dear successfully transformed that childhood curiosity into a dynamic international banking career during which she has traveled to Africa more times than she can count.
After graduating from Howard University in 1969, Dear embarked on an exciting job with Pan Am that flew her regularly between the United States and Africa. Her background in sociology, anthropology, and African Studies, paired with a thirst for using her potential, perfectly positioned her as specialist in the Technical Assistance Program with Air Zaire. Following her return to the United States, she pursued an MBA with Pace University, earning her degree in 1977.
Dear then used the financial foundation she’d gained at Pace to launch a decades-long career in banking, beginning with Irving Trust Company (now Bank of New York) as an international lending officer in the Middle East and Africa Division. She intertwined her first-hand knowledge of the region with her banking skills and traveled to Africa frequently, rising through the ranks to become vice president. She soon expanded her contacts to include heads of banks—and heads of state.
In 1992, Dear was encouraged by colleagues to join the Clinton administration as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB), a position that held ambassadorial rank. President Clinton appointed her in 1994. “I went as a reformer, and I could quickly see how all my knowledge and love for Africa was paying off,” she reflects. “The entire six-year experience was so rewarding. We really made a difference.” Today, Dear is President of A.M. Dear & Associates, a business consulting and investment advisory boutique. Founded in 2000, it specializes in promoting private-sector investment in Africa and strategies to support small- and mediumscale enterprises, particularly women-owned businesses.
“It’s important to have a vision of what you want to become in life, and it’s also important that others in your life have a vision for you, too,” she says. “Support from all areas of your life can help you reachyour full potential and truly fulfill your dreams.”