Before becoming director of the Africa Program, Wolpe served seven terms as a member of Congress from Michigan. He was the Presidential Special Envoy to Africa's Great Lakes Region and served as chair of the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Wolpe is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy.
Howard Wolpe received a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has taught at the University of Michigan. He was a visiting fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program of the Brookings Institute. He is the recipient of the African-American Institute's Star Crystal Award for Excellence, of the Michigan Audubon Society's Legislator of the Year Award and the Sierra Club's Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr Wolpe is currently working on a book detailing his experience as a diplomat in the Burundi peace process and directs a major post-conflict leadership training program in Burundi.