UW-Madison to host fourth cohort of young African leaders in summer 2019

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will host its fourth cohort of rising African leaders beginning June 19 for a six-week leadership institute, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders, ages 25-35, through academic coursework, leadership training, networking, professional opportunities and community engagement. UW-Madison is among 27 universities selected to host the fellowship in 2019 and one of nine universities that will focus specifically on the theme of public management.

“The Mandela Washington Fellowship has become an integral part of our programming,” African Studies Program Associate Director Aleia McCord said. “It is a unique opportunity for Wisconsinites to engage with rising international leaders with the potential for lifetime partnerships and collaboration.”

James Baerwolf, co-owner of Sassy Cow Creamery, chats with Fellows about the challenges and opportunities of dairy farming in the United States during a day trip to Columbus, Wis. (Photo by Meagan Doll / UW-Madison)

Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 3,700 young leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections with U.S. professionals.  The 25 fellows hosted by UW-Madison will be part of a larger group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows across the United States. All 700 young leaders will meet at the end of their institutes in Washington, D.C. for a closing summit.

Since joining the fellowship as an institute partner in 2016, UW-Madison has hosted 75 Mandela Fellows from more than 30 African countries. While in Madison, these Mandela Fellows clocked more than 1,500 hours of community service and engaged with hundreds of campus and Madison community members. Many remain engaged with university and community partners into the present day.

For example, several Mandela Fellow alumni have assisted in the development of UW-Madison student internships in Africa. Most recently, 2018 Mandela Fellow Lisawaniso Kabwela, of Zambia, helped launch an undergraduate internship opportunity with the Lupososhi Town Council, located in Lupososhi, Zambia. Working closely with the International Internship Program (IIP), Kabwela leveraged her networks to provide a valuable professional development experience for a Wisconsin student this summer. IIP, in collaboration with Mandela Fellow alumni, has developed similar opportunities in Ghana and Uganda in recent years.

“The YALI Fellows have a strong connection with UW after their summer here,” IIP Advisor and Program Coordinator Carly Stingl said. “IIP can develop high-quality internships through these connections, and it also helps the Fellows stay connected with Wisconsin once they have returned to their home countries.”

In addition to student internships, several Fellows have received Reciprocal Exchange Awards. These grants, awarded by the U.S. Department of State, bring Wisconsin professionals to Fellows’ home countries for collaborative projects.  UW-Madison Mandela Fellow alumni grant recipients include:

  • Siciliy Mburu (2016, Kenya) and Susan Gold
  • Tumi Zantsi (2017, South Africa) and Jenny Faust
  • Dumsani Mamba (2017, Swaziland) and Travis Moore
  • Maxwell Kumbeni (2018, Ghana) and Karen Lied
2018 Mandela Fellows pause for a photo following a July 20 public event titled “Our Africa” at the Pyle Center. (Photo by UW-Madison / Meagan Doll)

This summer, the UW-Madison African Studies Program looks forward to again offering leadership programming that will challenge, inspire and empower the 2019 Mandela Fellows. Some highlights of the 2019 program will include:

For additional information or questions about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, contact Meagan Doll at medoll@wisc.edu. To get involved with the program this summer, visit https://africa.wisc.edu/mandela-washington-fellowship/.

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.