LEDI’s leadership combines passion, inspiration, integrity, dedication, ethics, competence, talents, and professionalism to drive the organization’s success. LEDI goal is to be a trusted leader in poverty alleviation by ensuring economic development is achieved in the communities served. Meet the Founders!

Rufus Darkortey -LEDI Co-Founder

ledi founder

Rufus Darkortey is passionate about poverty reduction and economic and infrastructural development, especially in underdeveloped countries. That is why he Co-founded the Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) in 2007 with a flagship project of constructing the first modern public state of the art library and technology center in his native country, Liberia. The building construction is currently ongoing.

He brings strong leadership qualities to LEDI. Prior to Co-founding and serving as the President of LEDI, he served as President of the Liberian Association of Cleveland and its Environs (LACE) in Ohio for several years with distinction. He also served as student senator of the Student Government Association at the Cleveland State University. He also served as Vice President of the Black Alumni Organization at Cleveland State University. Rufus also served as Liberian Ambassador for ClevelandPeople.com; and Liberian Ambassador representing LACE at various levels in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rufus is an Economist and financial manager with many years of experience working for multinational institutions, including the African Development Bank as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director, KeyBank NA (10th largest bank in the U.S. with $136 billion in assets) as Risk Reviewer; Forest City Real Estate Trust (a leading commercial and residential real estate development, management, and servicing company with $8 billion in assets) as Senior Financial Analyst/Accountant; the State of Ohio Human Services Department (serving over 11 million people in that State) and other vital firms. He also serves as Senior Economic and Policy Advisor to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning of the Republic of Liberia

His professional experiences include economic development, infrastructure and real estate development; revenue performance, management and domestic resources mobilization; fiscal and monetary policy framework formulation and management; budgetary and resource allocations; domestic and international trade; small, medium, and large-sized enterprise development and investment.

Rufus holds a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Economics from the Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio and an Associate degree with honors in Computer Science with emphasis in computer programming from the A.M.E. Zion Community College in Liberia. He has been recognized for his leadership and community engagement efforts with an Outstanding Public Service Award from the Alumni Association of the Cleveland State University.

He is married to Joan Curran Darkortey, LEDI Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of LEDI. He is a father to two children, including Rufus, Jr., and Jeremiah.

Joan Curran-Darkortey - LEDI Co-Founder

LEDI founder

Joan Curran Darkortey, aka “The Difference Maker” is a corporate administrator and trainer, people builder and motivational speaker, and all-around servant leader. She is deeply passionate about literacy, business and economic development, and women and youth empowerment. In 2007, she co-founded Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) to provide life-changing hope and empowerment to impoverished individuals, while rebuilding communities decimated by the Liberian civil war. She is committed to completing LEDI’s flagship project, currently underway, to build the first modern public library and technology center in Liberia.

Mrs. Darkortey has worked for notable organizations including the United States Federal Reserve System, Emory University, Georgia Department of Agriculture and CNN.  She holds an Executive MBA from the Monte Ahuja College of Business at Cleveland State University (2014), a paralegal degree from Clayton State University (2005), and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Emory University (2002). Mrs. Darkortey is a certified informational governance professional (CIP), certified Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt (CLSSGB) and certified litigation paralegal.

She has served on numerous Boards and is currently the Chairman of LEDI Board of Directors and President of the International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) Board of Trustees. Joan has been recognized as Crain’s Cleveland Business Forty Under 40 (2014), Cleveland State University Alumni Board Distinguished Alumni (2015), Federal Reserve Bank’s Corporate Citizenship (2019) and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Awards (2021 & 2022), and is a lifetime member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society.

Joan is married to Rufus Darkortey, LEDI Co-founder and President and the mother of their two sons, Rufus, Jr. and Jeremiah.


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