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Briefing on the U.S. Response to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

Briefing on the U.S. Response to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

EVENT:  Please join us on April 9, 2019 at 10:00am CAT for a telephonic press conference on the U.S. response to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.


In the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Idai—which left at least 600,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance—the U.S. Government has been responding to urgent needs on the ground in the most affected areas, including with the U.S. Agency for International Development's deployment of a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Mozambique to assess the most immediate needs and work closely with partners to provide critical assistance to people affected by the devastating cyclone. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), the lead for U.S. Department of Defense logistics support to the U.S. Government humanitarian relief response, is supporting DART by airlifting vital U.S. Government-provided commodities to Beira and other affected areas in Mozambique.



  • U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique, Dennis Walter Hearne
  • USAID/Cyclone Idai Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader Angela Sherbenou
  • U.S. Army Col. Ryan O’Connor, CJTF-HOA Director of Operations

Date:                    April 9, 2019
Time:                   10:00 CAT | 04:00 EDT

Language:            English.  French and Portuguese interpretation will be offered.

Ground rules:      On the record

Dial-in Info:          To be provided once you RSVP

RSVP:                   RSVP via Eventbrite at this link.

Twitter:                 We will use the hashtag #AFHubPress for the call.


  • Callers should dial-in to the conference call 10-15 minutes early. 
  • When an individual journalist dials-in, the operator will collect the caller’s name, press affiliation, and location.  When an embassy dials in, the operator will ask the embassy’s name and location.
  • The moderator will facilitate the Q and A among the connected callers.  Journalists on the conference call will be instructed to press the “*” and “1” buttons on their phones in order to enter the question queue.  NOTE:  You can press “*1” at any time during the call to join the question queue, even before the moderator begins the Q and A portion.  We ask that journalists limit themselves to one question and indicate to which speaker the question is directed.
  • Journalists can also submit questions in English to afmediahub@state.gov prior to or during the call. 


Ambassador Dennis Walter Hearne

Dennis Walter Hearne, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1985.  He was appointed by President Donald J. Trump on January 7, 2019 as Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique and sworn-in to office on January 31, 2019.  He most recently served as Principal Deputy High Representative, Office of the High Representative, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2017 to 2018.

Other senior leadership positions in which he has served include: Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2016 to 2017; senior advisor to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs from 2015 to 2016; United States Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 2009 to 2012; and as foreign policy advisor to United States military commanders, including two years of service in combat operations in Afghanistan.

His other assignments include Brasilia, The Hague, Zagreb, Lisbon, Sao Paulo, and Washington.  He is the recipient of the United States Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards.  He speaks Croatian and Portuguese.

Ambassador Hearne is a native of North Carolina and a resident of Virginia.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wake Forest University and a Master of Science from the National War College.

Angela Sherbenou, Cyclone Idai Disaster Assistance Response Team

Angela Sherbenou is serving as one of the leaders of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) for the Cyclone Idai response in Mozambique. Mrs. Sherbenou oversees a team of 16 disaster experts—including logisticians, as well as experts in food security, shelter, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. This team deployed immediately after the cyclone hit and is leading the U.S. government’s humanitarian response, coordinating with local government and the U.S. military, and working with partners to provide lifesaving assistance.

When not serving on a DART, Mrs. Sherbenou is USAID’s West Africa Regional Advisor at the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the lead office responsible for coordinating the U.S. government’s response to international disasters. 

With a mandate to save lives, alleviate suffering, and reduce the social and economic impact of disasters, OFDA monitors, mitigates, and responds to humanitarian needs as they arise. In fiscal year 2018, OFDA responded to 54 disasters in 50 countries, and provided more than $1.8 billion in humanitarian assistance, helping tens of millions of people around the world.

As the regional OFDA representative based in Dakar, Senegal, Mrs. Sherbenou oversees emergency response programs and operations. During her 14-year tenure with OFDA, she deployed on high-profile DARTs for the Georgia Complex Emergency, Indonesia Earthquake, Haiti Earthquake, West Africa Ebola response (in Liberia and Sierra Leone), Nigeria Complex Emergency, and the Northeast Syria Crisis.

Prior to joining OFDA, Mrs. Sherbenou did a short-term stint as chef on the Spirit of Massachusetts, a 125-foot wooden schooner; a hotel manager for Relais du Masoala in Madagascar; and the Team Leader for interagency training for Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. Mrs. Sherbenou also served as a director for hospitality programs at New York University, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar, and an English teacher in Japan.

Mrs. Sherbenou holds a Master of Arts in International Education from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech Communication from Southwest Texas State University (San Marcos, TX). For her degrees, she completed studies in Lugano, Switzerland and Prague, Czech Republic.

U.S. Army Col. Ryan O’Connor, CJTF-HOA Director of Operations

U.S. Army Col. Ryan O’Connor is the Director of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Operations Directorate, or J-3.  He provides the CJTF-HOA commander with command and control for ongoing operations, including civil affairs missions, humanitarian assistance missions, engineering projects, military-to-military operations, and personnel recovery operations.

He graduated the Virginia Military Institute in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, receiving his Army commission as an infantry officer.  Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, he was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, then Rifle Company Executive Officer, and then Headquarters Company Executive Officer in 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry.  He subsequently served as the Assistant Operations Officer and Training Officer for 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Advanced Course in the summer of 2001, Col. O’Connor was assigned as a planner in the Directorate of Training, 7th Army and U.S. Army Europe, in Grafenwoehr, Germany.  In 2002 he was reassigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, where he served as the Brigade Training Officer and Assistant Operations Officer.  He then moved to 1st Battalion (Airborne) 508th Infantry, serving as the Assistant Operations Officer and then Airborne Rifle Company Commander.

After graduating the Defense Language Institute in 2007, Col. O’Connor served as an Assistant Army Attaché, US Embassy, Mexico City, both attending and teaching at La Escuela Superior de Guerra.  He then graduated the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with a Master of Military Art and Science.  In 2009, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, as the Battalion Operations Officer and then Executive Officer.  He subsequently served as the Brigade Combat Team Operations Officer and then Executive Officer for the re-flagged 2nd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT), at Joint Base Lewis-McChord until 2012.  He then served as the Infantry Majors’ Career Manager and Assignment Officer, US Army Human Resources Command, at Fort Knox, Tennessee. 

In 2013, Col. L. O’Connor was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, directing the Commander’s Special Action Group, before commanding 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  He then served as the Secretary of the General Staff for US Army Pacific, at Fort Shafter.  Col. O’Connor graduated the U.S. Army War College in 2018.

His three combat deployments include two with the 173rd Airborne Brigade:  Iraq 2003-2004, as the Assistant Operations Officer; and Afghanistan 2005-2006, as an Airborne Rifle Company Commander.  He returned to Afghanistan with 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2009-2010, as a Battalion Operations Officer and then Executive Officer.

Col. O’Connor is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Defense Language Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, The Advanced Strategic Art Program at the US Army War College, as well as the Airborne, Air Assault, and Ranger Schools.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.Africa Regional Media Hub
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