A two member staff delegation from the United States Congress is in Zimbabwe on a three day visit until June 30th 2015.
The Staff Delegation is led by Gregory Simpkins is Staff Director for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Health, Human Rights, and International Relations. Mr Simpkins will be accompanied by Piero Tozzi, Counsel in the House Subcommittee on Africa, Health, Human Right and International Relations. The two officials will meet representatives of government, business and civil society organizations to hear firsthand accounts about the situation in Zimbabwe in relation to human rights, democracy and governance.
Early this month, the U.S. Congress subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations conducted a hearing on Zimbabwe. During the hearing a wide range of issues including United States government policy on Zimbabwe and future relations between the two countries. Dr Shannon Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, gave a presentation during the hearing which is available online. Dr Smith and Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, visited Zimbabwe on May 12 on a similar fact-finding mission.
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Gregory Simpkins is Staff Director for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, where he manages subcommittee activities and advises the Chairman on policy issues, arranges Congressional hearings, drafts legislation and conducts oversight missions. He served in the same position from 1997-98 and from 2005-2006.
Mr. Simpkins has served in a variety of positions in civil society, allowing him to help shape or implement U.S. policy on Africa, including two versions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and U.S. corporate support for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. A journalist who has worked in national and local radio as a reporter, talk show host and producer since 1977, Mr. Simpkins has written for national and international magazines and newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Times, Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, the Nairobi (Kenya) Law Monthly and The Guardian (Nigeria). From 2009-2011, wrote the blog Africa Rising 2010.
Mr. Simpkins also has been an interview subject on Africa events by such media outlets as the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting System and has lectured on Africa issues before audiences at such institutions as the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and the Emancipation Support Committee (Trinidad and Tobago).
Beginning in 1987, Mr. Simpkins has been involved in foreign advocacy projects. In recent years, he has designed and managed democratization, trade and capacity-building programs in Africa. He helped to establish the African Democracy Network, an organization of more than 200 African democrats from 31 nations in 1994; the AGOA Civil Society Network, a coalition of African NGOs concerned with the equitable implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the U.S. Civil Society Coalition for African Trade and Investment, an alliance of U.S. civil society organizations working on U.S.-Africa trade.
He holds a B.A. in journalism from George Washington University and an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management.
Piero A. Tozzi is counsel to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. He holds a JD from Fordham University School of Law and a BA from Columbia University.
Prior to joining the Subcommittee, Piero authored numerous articles on international law, constitutional law and comparative constitutional law, and his work has been cited by the United States Supreme Court. In addition, he has submitted friend of the court briefs to the Supreme Courts of Mexico and Argentina, as well as the Interamerican Court of Human Rights.
At the Subcommittee, Piero’s focus has been on oversight of US global health and food security programs, as well as monitoring human rights issues in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. He also is tasked with overview of international organizations, in particular the United Nations. Piero engages with civil society organizations and other stakeholders on a regular basis, and negotiates the advancement of legislation within the Foreign Affairs Committee, other House Committees with overlapping jurisdiction and with the Senate, in particular the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Piero speaks Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, and lives with his wife and three children in northern Virginia.