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Ms Thandiwe Sylva January-Mclean

CEO, South Africa Tourism

In July 2005, Ms. Thandiwe January-McLean was appointed as South African Ambassador to Portugal. She resides in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Under the leadership of Ambassador January-McLean, the bilateral relationship between Portugal and South Africa grew exponentially. The Ambassador hosted high level delegations to Portugal, including two Presidential and one Deputy Presidential, as well as the Speaker of the South African House of Parliament, various Ministers and senior business leaders. These were all hugely successful and led to partnerships and investments.

The Ambassador also gave great visibility to South African Arts and Culture and led two Trade delegations to South Africa. Trade relations between the two countries have grown by approximately 45% in the past three years.

Before taking up this post, Ambassador January-McLean was Deputy Director-General: Arts, Culture and Language in Society in the Department of Arts and Culture. She was also National Coordinator of the 10 Years of Freedom Celebrations Presidential Project.

Prior to her position at the Department of Arts and Culture, Ambassador January-McLean was the Chief Executive of The College Fund / UNCF, South Africa. She held this post between 1998 and 2003. She was responsible for managing and directing the Tertiary Education Linkages Project (TELP), which is a $25 million project, funded by the United States International Development Agency.

Prior to the UNCF (between 1994 and 1998) she was Executive Director of the Desmond Tutu Educational Trust where she was responsible for the overall administration of the Trust, Fundraising, Public Relations, Human Resource Development and Programme implementation.

The development of Africa and the harnessing of the relevant international and African resources is a key driving force for Ambassador January-McLean. She is also very passionate about issues of gender and women’s empowerment.

Ambassador January-McLean was born in Kimberley, South Africa and is a mother of two daughters. She holds a Bachelors Degree in English and Sociology from the National University of Lesotho (1977) and an MA from Carleton University, Ottawa Canada (1980). She also holds a diploma in Public Relations and a Diploma in Organisation Development and Strategic Management. She is furthermore a Salzburg Fellow - a prestigious fellowship funded by the Kellogg Foundation for the purpose of strengthening the skills base of individuals in the public sector internationally.