It is not often that one comes across siblings who are making a significant impact in their respective fields, but the Akunyili sisters are an exception. Ijeoma and Njideka Akunyili are setting an extraordinary example for women everywhere, as they break barriers and pave the way for future generations, just as their mother had done for theirs.
The daughters of the late Professor Dora Akunyili, a renowned pharmacist, and director of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, are shining examples of the power of hard work, determination, and a passion for innovation.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby is a Nigerian-American artist who has established herself as one of the most exciting emerging artists of her generation. Born in 1983 and raised in Enugu, Nigeria, Akunyili Crosby spent her early years in Nigeria before moving to the United States at the age of 16 with her sister. She studied at Swarthmore College, where she earned a degree in art and biology, and later went on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Yale University School of Art.
After graduating from Yale in 2011, Akunyili Crosby was selected as an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. This experience proved to be a turning point in her career, as she met her mentor, artist Wangechi Mutu, and began experimenting with different techniques and styles. In 2015, she had her first solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, which was curated by Jamillah James. The following year, she was named Financial Times Woman of the Year and went on to win a MacArthur Fellowship Genius grant.
Akunyili Crosby’s work is characterized by her use of collage, printmaking, and drawing to create intricate, layered scenes. She incorporates photographs she has taken herself in Nigeria along with family photos and pages from popular Nigerian magazines. Her work often deals with themes of diaspora, displacement, and cultural identity. In 2018, she designed a mural for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and her work was included in the 2022 exhibition Women Painting Women at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
On the other hand, Ijeoma Akunyili is making waves in the medical field. She has made history by becoming the first Black Chief Medical Officer at the Jersey City Medical Center in the United States. The medical center, which is an RWJBarnabas Health facility, announced the appointment of Dr. Akunyili on January 2, 2023.
Dr. Akunyili brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new role as Chief Medical Officer. She has a long history of managing multi-specialty physician groups in integrated health care systems, and her experience in this area will help support the Jersey City Medical Center in providing comprehensive health care throughout the community.
In her most recent role, Dr. Akunyili served as the Regional Medical Director for TeamHealth, Northeast Group, where she had strategic, operational, and clinical oversight of nearly 20 emergency departments, critical care, and hospitalist service lines in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. She led an unprecedented fourfold expansion of service lines with a specific focus on medical services and access to care for underserved populations.
The sisters, who come from a family of educators and academics, have not only made their mother proud but also have become role models for young women everywhere. The sisters are not just breaking barriers in their respective fields but also proving that women can excel in any profession they set their mind to. They are living proof that the future