Building on Early Success, Humphrey School Again Hosts Young African Leaders for 6-Week Fellowship
June 15, 2016—For the third straight year, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota is hosting 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging leaders this summer for a six-week academic and leadership institute. The Center for Integrative Leadership—an initiative of the Humphrey School and the Carlson School of Management, along with several other colleges at the University—will lead the program, which is made possible through the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Its goal is to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. Fellows are young leaders age 25–35 from nearly 50 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities.
“We are delighted to host this group of inspiring young leaders from Africa for the third year,” said Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School. “The fellowship program is well-suited to the Center for Integrative Leadership’s experience in educating and empowering leaders.”
The program is an enriching experience that combines classroom work with mentorship opportunities that connect fellows with local government leaders and nonprofit organizations throughout the Twin Cities. Several partner organizations have been involved in the program from the beginning, and say they look forward to exchanging ideas with fellows—a valuable ‘give and take’ that lets both parties learn new things.
Although the Mandela Fellowship program is only in its third year, it is “growing in size, reputation, and impact,” according to Merrie Benasutti, who directs the program for the Center for Integrative Leadership. She notes the program has been so successful that its size was doubled this year to include 1,000 fellows who are participating at three dozen schools across the United States.
The cohort of 25 fellows hosted by the University of Minnesota hail from 22 African countries, and hold various leadership positions in the fields of health, youth development, planning, education, housing, public works, architecture, public relations, aviation, and more.
The fellows will also engage with Minnesota’s African immigrant community. Their coursework is based at the Humphrey School—which is situated in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood—and includes events and activities with the African Development Center, Hennepin County, and the nonprofit organization Books for Africa, among others.
The interdisciplinary training by Humphrey School faculty provides fellows the skills they need to serve as public managers and improve service to their communities, with workshops on such topics as management and leadership; budgeting; community organizing; and civic engagement. It also encourages collaboration.
Participants from the first two years of the fellowship program have returned home to apply new leadership skills, and have built a stronger network with fellow leaders in nearby countries.
“I am inspired by the many ways they are transforming their home countries. I heard about collaboration across countries, innovation, and meaningful engagement,” said Benasutti, who recently traveled to South Africa and visited the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows.
The fellows met with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents the city of Minneapolis in Congress (pictured at top), to discuss the American political system. During their stay here, the fellows will also get a taste of Minnesota life, with trips planned to the Guthrie Theater, a Minnesota Twins game, Fort Snelling, and the city of Duluth.
At the end of the six-week program, all 1,000 fellows will travel to Washington, DC for a three-day presidential summit, which includes a meeting with President Obama.
About the Mandela Washington Partnership
President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they seek to encourage growth and prosperity, democratic governance, and peace and security. The University of Minnesota was selected by the U.S. State Department as one of the host institutions that represent the excellence and diversity of U.S. higher education. The program also includes robust programming in Africa, including networking opportunities, continued professional development, and access to seed funding.
The fellowship program is supported in its implementation by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit MandelaWashingtonFellowship.state.gov and join the conversation on Twitter with #YALI2016.
2016 Mandela Washington Fellows at the University of Minnesota:
- Maura Manuel Da Silva, Angola
- Victor Agognon, Benin
- Tshepo Makete, Botswana
- Evódia Gomes Da Graça, Cape Verde
- Likanjo Luma Fritz, Cameroon
- Seifu Yilma Woldemariam, Ethiopia
- Diana Mensah, Ghana
- Abdoul Mazid Diallo, Guinea
- Margaret Thatcher Ng'ong'a, Kenya
- Abdinasir Mohamed, Kenya
- Janet David, Liberia
- Elyan Edwige Barbara Vololonarivelo, Madagascar
- Jo-Ann Allen Livey Van Wyk, Namibia
- Thaddeus Onaja Akpa, Nigeria
- Mohammed Ibrahim, Nigeria
- Oluwabusola Oluwasubomi Majekodunmi, Nigeria
- Jerome Ndayambaje, Rwanda
- Clement Basse, Senegal
- Alhaji Barrie, Sierra Leone
- Tessa Dooms, South Africa
- Asantewaa Eriyani Lo-Liyong, South Sudan
- Irene Anyango Nyamondo, Tanzania
- Charles Kossi-Mawuko Akakpo, Togo
- Brenda Shenute Namugumya, Uganda
- Musonda Musonda, Zambia
Here's a video highlighting the activities of the 2015 Mandela Fellows.