I never actually met her…the amazing Professor who emailed me one day and asked to send her stories for publication on KonnectAfrica.Net.
I was more than a bit wary, I must confess. What did an American Professor know about Africa and Africans? And how could she write about a struggle she had never witnessed first-hand?
My wariness dissolved into nothingness as she sent in article after article. This was a woman who knew and appreciated Africa and Africans. Her stories were heart-felt, well-researched and deeply motivating. From West, East, North and South, she chronicled the challenges and victories of African men and women.
How and why she nurtured this passion I never really knew and sadly, I never will. Dr. Heidi Frontani died of a sudden illness on February 26th, 2016.
Before her death, Dr. Frontani had been a prolific scholar and student mentor since joining the Elon faculty in 1998. She was a Professor of Geography and a strong advocate for the people of Africa, and served as faculty mentor to the Periclean Scholars Class of 2010 when students focused their studies on Ghana. At the time of her death, she was serving as a Senior Faculty Research Fellow, working on a book on charitable foundations and the birth of medical philanthropy in Africa.
Recently, Dr. Frontani served as co-chair of the implementation and assessment team for the Presidential Task Force on the Black Student, Faculty, and Staff Experiences at Elon. She served as coordinator of the geography program from 1998 to 2011, chair of the Department of History & Geography from 2009 to 2012, and as interim coordinator of the African & African-American Studies program from 2014 to 2015. She also served at various times as faculty advisor for the “Visions” environmental magazine and for the Gamma Theta Upsilon geography honor society.
We are comforted that though she left behind several unfinished projects, Dr. Frontani has made a huge impact in the lives of her students, her colleagues’ and every person that was motivated to succeed by the stories she shared on her blog, AfricanDevelopmentSuccesses.
We mourn your passing Professor; your passion for Africa motivated us to do even better. Thank you for choosing to share your awesome work with us.
Dr. Heidi .G. Frontani is survived by her husband.
© 2016, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.