6th cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship pose for a photo with skyline behind them

UT Austin Welcomes 6th Cohort of Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

  • Jun 18, 2019

The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to host its sixth cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), U.S. Department of State’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  

Twenty-five accomplished business leaders and entrepreneurs from 17 sub-Saharan countries will participate in a six-week intensive leadership and entrepreneurship institute from Jun. 20-Jul. 28. Working closely with the Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, UT Austin has designed a rigorous program of academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, and networking opportunities to challenge, inspire and empower these entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators.

“We are honored and excited to welcome a new cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows to The University of Texas at Austin,” said Dr. Sonia Feigenbaum, senior vice provost for global engagement and chief international officer. “Programs such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders contribute greatly to internationalization at our university, offering our students, faculty, and community the opportunity to connect with dynamic leaders from Africa, to explore multiple perspectives and collaborate on projects with global impact. Hosting the program for the sixth consecutive year demonstrates our commitment to global engagement, and we look forward to learning from our shared experiences.”

The twenty-five fellows at UT Austin represent one cohort of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows participating in institutes at universities and organizations across the United States this summer. Fellows are between the ages of 24 and 35 and have a proven record of achievement in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions and communities. A highly competitive program, less than one percent of those who apply are selected.

At the conclusion of their institutes, all 700 Fellows will gather in Washington, D.C. for a three-day Presidential Summit. A select group of 100 Fellows will remain in the United States after the Presidential Summit for an eight-week internship experience at a relevant U.S. business, NGO, or government agency. The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes robust programming in Africa upon their return home, including networking opportunities, continued professional development and access to seed funding.

Africa is home to six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. Africa is the second most populous continent, with a population of more than 1.2 billion people, two-thirds of which are under 25. Africa’s young people are important influencers in our global future, but even with their exceptional achievements and innovation, many still face considerable political and social challenges in their local communities.

Highlights from UT Austin’s 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows cohort include:

  • Twenty-five individuals (10 male and 15 female) from 17 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Botswana, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe). 

  • Changemakers and educators dedicated to empowering Africa’s youth through leadership and academic development.

  • Artists, screenwriters, producers, dancers and musicians using their talents for community development, social justice, women empowerment, preservation of local culture and youth engagement.

  • Journalists, marketing and communications experts building community and economic development by connecting African-inspired designs with modern fashion, increasing access to information and health communication, and using story-telling to leverage  

  • Innovation-seekers using information technology to develop urban and rural communities, increase access to quality eye-care and healthcare, and support women and girls.

  • Disability advocates working to build more inclusive schools, serving the deaf community to advance their livelihoods and economic empowerment, educating students who are blind and developing an inclusive business environment for persons with disabilities.  

Members of the media are welcomed to engage as the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows explore leadership tactics, refine their businesses through academic coursework, connect with the Austin community and generate ideas to positively impact the future of the African continent.

Principal media opportunities throughout the program include:

  • June 23: Welcome reception with an address by Dr. Sonia Feigenbaum, Senior Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Chief Texas Globalr, and Ambassador Penne Percy Peacock, U.S. Ambassador to Mauritius (1989-1992)

  • July 18: Mandela Day community service event at the Central Texas Food Bank with the Mandela Washington Fellows from Texas Tech University

  • July 19: Pitch showcase at Capital Factory

  • July 24: International Night at UT Austin bringing together international students and summer program participants from around the world

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov/mwf and join the conversation at #YALI2019.  

For more information, visit the Mandela Washington Fellowship Institute at UT Austin webpage or contact Fiona Mazurenko at fiona@austin.utexas.edu.