Indiana University to host Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

  • Feb. 9, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. State Department and the International Research & Exchanges Board have announced that Indiana University has been selected as a host for the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.

Beginning in mid-June, IU's Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses will host 25 of Sub-Saharan Africa’s brightest young people between the ages of 25 and 35 for a six-week academic and leadership development institute it is developing for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Launched in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and support for activities in their communities.

Fellows are leaders from 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa who have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries.

Applications for the fellowships are highly competitive. More than 40,000 people applied for the 1,000 spots in the 2016 program.

IU’s Mandela Washington Fellows join their peers from about 40 U.S. colleges and universities who will meet with Obama at a town hall during a presidential summit in August in Washington, D.C. Select fellows will spend an additional six weeks in professional development training with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies and government agencies.

Working closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, IU and other host institutions have designed academic programs that will challenge, inspire and empower these young leaders from Africa.

“We are excited to be selected to host the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative,” said Teshome Alemneh, IU associate vice president for international research and development. “Through this program, the Office of International Development leverages IU’s strengths and experiences to advance efforts to enhance leadership skills and experiences of young leaders from around Sub-Saharan Africa.

“IU’s participation in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program represents a commitment of the university to global engagement and promotion of people-to-people relationships with sub-Saharan African countries,” said Alemneh, who will direct the IU program. “It provides our students, faculty and community with an opportunity to develop mutually beneficial networks and become active player in developing a new generation of African leaders.”

At IU, the Mandela Washington Fellows will be involved in a civic leadership track. They will be exposed to civic engagement concepts and leadership experiences and various models of how they function across the United States. They also will be provided with foundational knowledge about community building, economic development and volunteerism.

IU’s effort brings together faculty, practitioners and resources from the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs and several schools: the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the Kelley School of Business, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the School of Global and International Studies and the Maurer School of Law.

Other local partners will include Cook Medical Inc., Ivy Tech Community College, Sagamore Institute and many other local and community organizations.

"I congratulate Associate Vice President Alemneh, who only recently began work in my office," said David Zaret, IU vice president for international affairs. "Garnering this honor of hosting President Obama's flagship program for young African leaders is an impressive achievement that extends and enhances more than a half century of IU engagements in Africa."

People are invited to join the conversation on Twitter about the Young African Leaders Initiative using the hashtag #YALI2016.

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Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

Teshome Alemneh

Genevieve Pritchard