Young African leaders arrive in U.S., fostering connections with Americans


The Mandela Washington Fellowship creates stronger ties between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States with the goal of strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security on the continent. (PRNewsfoto/IREX)

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to welcome the 2018 cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to the United States. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered in partnership with IREX, a non-profit organization. The Mandela Washington Fellowship creates stronger ties between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States with the goal of strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security on the continent.

Accomplished in their careers and dedicated to serving their communities, the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows represent the diversity of Africa. Fellows are from both rural and urban areas, include individuals with disabilities, and represent equal numbers of women and men. Selected from a pool of more than 37,000 applicants, the 700 Fellows are leaders in public service, business, civil society, education, agriculture, and other fields and include:

  • Frank Leonel Tianyi Tianyi – A doctor and chief medical officer at a hospital in Cameroon. He is committed to implementing evidence-based, preventive approaches to address health care access disparities between poor rural communities and urban areas.
  • Nasreen Ali Mohamed – A social entrepreneur whose company leverages mobile technology to provide financial education and credit to women running microenterprises in Kenya. She is passionate about developing resources, products, and services that will make an impact in local communities.
  • Beza Emanuel – A lawyer and finance official who helps develop laws and policies that promote efficient, sustainable public resource management in Angola. He is dedicated to helping the government establish economic reforms to promote a robust private sector that will speed national growth.
  • Zainab Aminu Gurin – A community development professional who helps reduce social and economic barriers in Nigeria. She teaches core academic subjects and health issues to marginalized girls, helping them realize their rights and improve their circumstances.

During their first six weeks in the United States, Fellows will participate in Academic and Leadership Institutes at 27 colleges and universities in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Throughout the program, Fellows will develop lasting connections with Americans and enrich local communities while enhancing their skills through leadership training, experiential learning, and networking. They also develop innovative solutions to pressing challenges in their countries and collaborate with their peers from both the United States and Africa. Fellows also give back to their American host communities: in 2016 and 2017, Fellows contributed 25,000 hours of community service to organizations across the country.

Following the Institutes, Fellows will convene in Washington, D.C. for the fifth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit from July 30 – August 1. During the Summit, Fellows will connect with each other and American professionals, setting the stage for continued collaboration when they return home. American companies and organizations are invited to join the Summit’s Partnership Expo, where they can highlight their work in Africa and make connections with the next generation of African decision-makers.

After the Summit, 100 competitively-selected Fellows will join private, public, and nonprofit organizations across the country for a six-week Professional Development Experience. These substantive, short-term placements allow Fellows to contribute their skills and insights to American organizations and grow as early career professionals. From 2014 to 2017, nearly 400 Fellows contributed more than 100,000 hours of service to over 200 U.S. host organizations.

Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows will continue to build the skills they developed in the United Statesthrough professional development and mentoring opportunities. Fellows may also apply for their American colleagues to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange.

To get involved in Fellowship activities near you, please contact


Recent Activity [RSS]

Viewing 1 - 3 of 3 items