The Mandela Washington Fellowship program aims to create stronger ties between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. (Photo by IREX)
The Mandela Washington Fellowship program aims to create stronger ties between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. (Photo by IREX)

The U.S. State Department and IREX welcomed the 2018 cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to the United States on June 21.

Funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered in partnership with IREX, a nonprofit organization, the Mandela Washington Fellowship aims to create stronger ties between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.

Accomplished in their careers and dedicated to serving their communities, the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows represent the diversity of Africa coming to America with the goal of strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth and enhancing peace and security on the continent.

Fellows are from both rural and urban areas, and include individuals with disabilities. Men and women are represented equally.

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.

They include: Frank Leonel Tianyi Tianyi, a doctor and chief medical officer at a hospital in Cameroon; Nasreen Ali Mohamed, a social entrepreneur whose company leverages mobile technology to provide financial education and credit to women running micro-enterprises in Kenya; Beza Emanuel, a lawyer and finance official who helps develop laws and policies that promote efficient, sustainable public resource management in Angola; and Zainab Aminu Gurin, a community development professional who helps reduce social and economic barriers in Nigeria.

During their first six weeks in the United States, the fellows will participate in Academic and Leadership Institutes at 27 colleges and universities in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Throughout the program, they will focus on developing connections with Americans and enriching local communities while enhancing their skills through leadership training, experiential learning, and networking.

They also will 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, the group will convene in D.C. for the fifth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit from July 30-Aug. 1.

During the summit, fellows will connect with each other and American professionals, setting the stage for continued collaboration when they return home.

After the summit, 100 competitively-selected Fellows will join private, public and nonprofit organizations across the country for a six-week Professional Development Experience.

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, the fellows will continue to build the skills they developed in the United States through professional development and mentoring opportunities.

To get involved in Fellowship activities, email

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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