Dayo Olopade

Dayo Olopade is a Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

Gatekeepers

Is giving away money -- and lots of it -- really the best way to change the world?

In Pune, India, a shiny van cruised the red-light district, canvassing local brothels. The van was brand-new; the driver was a stranger. Fearing that the state police had dispatched the official-looking vehicle, the prostitutes, some of whom were HIV positive, waved it away. The van belonged to Avahan, a network of about 100 Indian nongovernmental organizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a mandate to create a model for preventing the spread of HIV that could be adopted by the government in India, and perhaps elsewhere. As a Forbes special report on Avahan documented, the intention was noble -- India has the third-highest number of individuals living with HIV, and prostitution is the primary source of new cases. By pledging $100 million over 10 years, the Gates Foundation made Avahan its biggest philanthropic grantee in history. Beginning in 2003, the best and brightest minds from the business and consulting world were sent to manage thousands of NGO...

Eric Holder's War

How the attorney general's relationship to his president, his adopted city, and his race are shaping the Justice Department.

(White House/Pete Souza)
Hours before dawn on one of the last days of October 2009, the deadliest month for American troops in Afghanistan since 2001, Eric Holder, attorney general of the United States, strode out of a C-17 cargo plane parked at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. President Barack Obama, having reversed the ban on media coverage of the arrival of war dead at Dover, trailed just behind. During the official military ceremony, the two friends stood in dark suits, silently saluting 18 servicemen, including three Drug Enforcement Agency officials claimed by the Afghan War days prior. The aggrieved expressions on their faces were identical. Holder's presence was surprising. The attorney general has played only a minor role in the public debate over issues of war and peace. But as the president contemplates the legal and logistical puzzles bequeathed to him by George W. Bush -- chiefly the management of what the administration no longer calls a "war on terror" -- Holder has provided crucial, if...

Lunchtime Lessons from New Orleans

As the Gulf Coast struggles to redevelop, its children build a thriving food-justice movement. Nutrition advocates in Washington would be wise to pay attention.

Students congregate at the Alice Harte Elementary School in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don't I? So asked a pigtailed black girl plastered on buses and billboards around Washington, D.C. The White House blasted the political ad, which promoted healthy food options in public schools, as exploitative -- but the little girl's complaint should resonate with an administration that has prioritized healthy eating and food security, from both the East and West Wing of the White House. In 2006, a group of New Orleans elementary school children, freshly returned from displacement after Hurricane Katrina, took up a similar refrain about public school cafeterias as part of a citywide leadership-development program known as Rethink. Their version: "We hate sporks!" Initially used throughout the New Orleans Parish school district as a cost-saving measure, the plastic spoon-fork combination was all that remained after Katrina swallowed dishwashing equipment at school cafeterias -- leaving hundreds of students with a bad taste...

Charm Offensive

A long list of liberal groups worked to elect Obama. Now the administration is working overtime to make sure they stay happy.

In this Jan. 22, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, and retired military members, gestures in the Oval Office. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In Barack Obama's White House, there's a fine line between tourism and negotiation. On a June afternoon at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 26 individual stakeholders in the health-care debate mounted the sprawling spiral staircase to the building's Indian Treaty Room. The progressive health-reform advocates, who ranged from professors to activists to physicians, had been invited to discuss an administration report on disparities in health care and health outcomes -- but couldn't help gawking at the ornate ceilings and marbled balcony ringing the room. After striding in with Tina Tchen, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took a lap around the folding tables, pausing to greet the White House guests personally, as an agency photographer preserved each heartfelt embrace for the HHS Web site. To maintain order during discussions, senior health-care adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle asked those who wished to speak...

Is Turkey the Key to a New Middle East Approach?

By putting a stop in Ankara on his first European tour, Obama has demonstrated that he's taking a fresh diplomatic approach to both Turkey and the Middle East.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdrogan after addressing the Turkish Parliament General Assembly, Monday, April 6, 2009, in Ankara, Turkey. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
As Barack Obama and his caravan of diplomats, handlers, and hangers-on complete the last leg of his first European tour as president, America's pied piper has one more gift to bestow. After a week spent in the halls of the United States' older Atlantic allies, Air Force One landed in the Turkish capital of Ankara today. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, did not travel to Turkey until 2004 -- and then only for the same annual NATO summit Obama wrapped up in Strasbourg on Friday. Obama only just met Prime Minister (and former President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey last week at the G-20 and European Union summits. That the U.S. president is literally going the extra miles to Turkey speaks volumes about the Obama administration's determination to honor the Islamist democracy as America's best bridge to the ever-turbulent Middle East. The president recently told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he was "keeping score" when it comes to support for his domestic agenda -- and the same...

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