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Alumni Spotlight:  C. Payne Lucas, Sr.
"After 31 years serving as president of Africare, an organization which has developed more than 150 assistance programs in 27 African countries, C. Payne Lucas, over the course of its 32 years, [guided Africare into becoming] a leader among private, charitable U.S. organizations assisting Africa. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $350 million in assistance to African countries. Awarded numerous honors for his achievements as America's biggest booster for aid to Africa..."  JET Magazine, June 17, 2002

Africare co-founder and 30-year president C. Payne Lucas, Sr.  was born on September 14, 1933, in Spring Hope, North Carolina. He grew up in a family of fourteen children and earned money as boy picking cotton and shining shoes. In 1951, Lucas earned his high school diploma from Spaulding High School, where he was a member of the baseball team and excelled in drama and public speaking activities. In 1950, during his junior year of high school, he joined the NAACP and became a youth representative for the state of North Carolina and initiated a voter registration drive in Spring Hope.

Lucas earned a bachelor's of science

degree in history from the Maryland State

College, now known as the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, in 1959. During his sophomore year he left Maryland, and enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served for four years. He then went on to earn his master's degree in government from the American University in 1961.

After working as a volunteer for the Democratic National Committee in 1961, he joined the Peace Corps under the agency's first Director, 

Sargent Shriver. From 1962 to 1971, Lucas served as assistant country director in Togo, country director in Niger, director of the Africa Region and director of the returned volunteers.

Lucas left the Peace Corps in 1971 to become the president of Africare, an organization he co-founded with William Kirker. Today, Africare is the oldest and largest African-American nonprofit organization specializing in aid to Africa. Its more than 150 programs benefit families and communities in nearly thirty nations throughout the continent.


After thirty-one years as president, Lucas retired from Africare in 2002 and was succeeded my Julius Coles. He continues to remain active with the organization and 

serves on its board of directors. Currently he serves as chief executive officer of Lodestar, LLC, a domestic and international business consulting firm.

He is married to Freddie Hill Lucas and they have three grown children and one grandchild.

Mr. Lucas is president of Africare, a Washington-based, non-profit, private development organisation formed in 1971 to improve the quality of life in rural Africa. The first African-American recipient of the Hubert H Humphrey Public Service Award, Mr. Lucas is a director of World Resources, InterAction, Population Action International and the Constituency for Africa.

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