In the News

Board of Directors


Carol Castiel is the former director of current affairs programming at the Voice of America. For 20 years, she hosted the newsmaker interview program, “Press Conference USA,” and the discussion program, “Encounter.” She also oversaw the production of “Issues in the News,” VOA’s roundup of the week’s top stories. Before joining the Voice of America in 1999, Castiel was a consultant/free-lance journalist specializing in the promotion of trade and investment between the United States and Africa. She was also a contributing editor to the London-based West Africa Magazine, and managed scholarship programs for Portuguese-speaking Africa at the Africa-America Institute from 1984 to 1992.

After learning about the Jewish ancestry of her Cabo Verdean grantees, Carol was inspired to join forces with descendant, Januário Nascimento, in the early 1990’s to help restore and preserve Cabo Verde’s several Sephardic burial grounds. To help raise funds and international awareness, Carol founded in 2007 the “Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc.,” a non-profit organization, which aims to honor the memory and document the legacy of the many Sephardic Jews who immigrated to Cabo Verde from Morocco and Gibraltar in the 19th century. Carol donates her time and expertise to managing all aspects of the Project. She holds an M.A. degree in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and is proficient in Portuguese, French and Spanish.


John C. WahnonJohn Wahnon, Vice President of CVJHP,  was born in the Cape Verde Islands on January 27, 1942, a third generation descendent of Sephardic Jews who emigrated from North Africa, via Gibraltar, to the Cape Verde Islands in mid-19th century. John’s great grandparents, Isaac Wahnon and Rachel Levy Bentubo Wahnon, settled in the island of São Vicente, where they raised a very large family, including son James, who is John’s grandfather.

 On January 1962, John arrived in the United States to join his father, Jacob, and in June of the same year, was inducted into the US Air Force where he served for eight years. John served in the North Pole and in Vietnam, and in many parts of the U.S. John became an American Citizen in January 1966, having been sworn-in on the very day of his departure for Vietnam. Upon discharge from the Air Force John enrolled at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and in 1975 graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology. Concurrently, John remained connected with developments in Cape Verde and participated in a movement to change the political system in the Islands from a single-party regime to the pluralist system it is today. John resided and worked in Cape Verde from 1995 to 2006. He returned definitely to the United States in 2006. While in Cape Verde in 1995, John met Carol Castiel who was exploring the islands’ Jewish roots. Back in the states when Castiel founded the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project, Inc. in 2007, she asked John to join forces. As a proud descendant of Sephardic Jews who immigrated to Cape Verde, John is dedicated to the goals of CVJHP, including the recovery and preservation of abandoned Jewish burial grounds and the documentation of the many contributions by the Sephardic Jews and their descendants to the development of Cape Verde. John holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He resides in the U.S. 


Allan Reich is a senior partner with Seyfarth Shaw LLP, a US national law firm with eleven offices in the United States and Brussels. Mr. Reich specializes in corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, securities financings and governance matters. He also serves as an independent trustee of the Oakmark family of domestic and international mutual funds (approximately US $30 bn) and a director of Kemper Sports Management, Inc.

Mr. Reich is a member of the Executive Council of the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Committee. He chairs AJC’s International Relations Commission and is a member of the Policy Advisory Board of AJC’s Ramer Center in Berlin. He is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.


A retired career diplomat and specialist in African affairs, Ambassador Herman J. Cohen is the President of Cohen and Woods International. The firm provides strategic planning services to African governments and multinational corporations doing business in Africa. During distinguished 38-year tenure with the U.S. Foreign Service, Mr. Cohen served in a variety of senior diplomatic capacities. His last position prior to retirement in 1993 was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George H.W. Bush (1989 -1993).

Throughout his career, Ambassador Cohen served in five African countries and twice in France. During assignments in Washington, he also served as Special Assistant to President Reagan for African Affairs (1987-89), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Personnel.  Ambassador Cohen has been a Professorial Lecturer in African studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) since 1998. His honors and awards include the French Legion of Honor, the Belgian Order of Leopold II, the US Foreign Service rank of Career Ambassador, and the Distinguished Alumni Award of the City College of New York. Ambassador Cohen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy. He is also a member of the boards of directors of the Council for a Community of Democracies and the Constituency for Africa. Cohen and Woods International is a member of the United States Corporate Council on Africa.