Humphrey School News—June 19, 2015

University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrative Leadership to host 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging leaders for six-week institute

The Center for Integrative Leadership—an initiative of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Carlson School of Management, along with several other colleges at the University of Minnesota—will host 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging leaders this summer for a six-week academic and leadership institute, made possible through the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. Fellows are young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities.

The cohort of 25 fellows hosted by the University of Minnesota hail from Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Madagascar, Zambia, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Liberia. They are part of a larger group of 500 Mandela Washington Fellows being hosted across the United States this summer. They represent the fields of health, youth development, planning, education, housing, public works, architecture, public relations, aviation and more.

“We are honored to join with the State Department for the second year of this exciting global partnership,” said Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “It is a perfect fit for the Center for Integrative Leadership’s experience in educating, cultivating and empowering leaders.”

The interdisciplinary training will focus on providing fellows the skills they need to serve as public managers and improve service to their communities. The program leverages top faculty, cutting-edge curricula, and local opportunities to impart practical professional and leadership skills. The fellows will engage with several local nonprofits and businesses, as well as Hennepin County, a partner in the first year that is eager to build upon relationships formed with year-one fellows.

“We are most excited about the enthusiasm that community partners such as Hennepin County and the nonprofit organization Books for Africa have shown for this program,” says Merrie Benasutti, who is directing the fellowship program for the Center for Integrative Leadership. “This is really as much an opportunity for American organizations to learn from our fellows as it is for the fellows to learn from us, and that was an unexpected benefit we saw during last year’s program.”

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program supported in its implementation by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation with #YALI2015.

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. Last year, the University of Minnesota was selected by the U.S. Department of State to be one of 20 host institutions that represent the excellence and diversity of U.S. higher education. Fellows represent the most promising young leaders ages 25–35 from Sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities. The program also includes robust programming in Africa, including networking opportunities, continued professional development, and access to seed funding.

2015 Mandela Washington Fellows at the University of Minnesota: 

  • Malebogo Portia Motlhabane, Botswana
  • Josué Ango, Burkina Faso
  • Viviane “Vivi” Gnouinabe Pare Nabie, Burkina Faso
  • Agwenjang Patience Ngonwei, Cameroon
  • Valéry Eugene Boidy Dakoury Guei Kore, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Koulodiomo Ouattara, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Helen Abelle Melesse, Ethiopia
  • Belinda Afriyie Nimako, Ghana
  • Bright Kwaku Dey, Ghana
  • Lizandra “Maiza” Cabral Dos Reis, Guinea-Bissau
  • Erick Amunga Mukolwe, Kenya
  • Christine Mabera Sagini, Kenya
  • Wahdae-mai Harmon, Liberia
  • Michel Sabir Michael Ratovonasy, Madagascar
  • Abdourahamane dit Baffa Keita, Mali
  • Marie Telly, Mali
  • Mlumun Joyce Ikpaahindi, Nigeria
  • Catherine “Keight” Chinyere Edeh, Nigeria
  • Salamatu Akor, Nigeria
  • Jean Paulin Mutatsineza, Rwanda
  • Kadiatu “Kadija” Aminata Turay, Sierra Leone
  • Osman Abdal Timbo, Sierra Leone
  • Khayakazi “Khaya” Buntu Namfu, South Africa
  • Samwel “Sam” John Kikaro, Tanzania
  • Mwila Chabala, Zambia

Read fellows' biographies here.

Office of Communications

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
300G Humphrey School
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455