Mandela Washington Fellowship

Mandela Washington Fellowship returns to University of Wisconsin-Madison in summer 2020

University of Wisconsin-Madison is proud to announce its selection as an Institute Partner for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.  Beginning in mid-June, UW-Madison will host 25 of Africa’s bright, emerging Public Management leaders for a six-week Leadership Institute, 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 through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement.  YALI was created in 2010 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary supporting young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.  Since 2014, through the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 4,400 young leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals.  The cohort of Fellows hosted by UW-Madison will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 27 educational institutions across the United States.  This summer, all Fellows will receive a letter from President Trump welcoming them to the United States for their program.

At the conclusion of their Leadership Institutes, these exceptional young leaders will convene in Washington, D.C., for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they will take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.  Following the Summit, up to 70 competitively-selected Fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development at U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by IREX, Leadership Institutes will offer programs that will challenge, motivate, and empower young leaders from Africa.

Some highlights of the UW-Madison program will include:

  • Fellows will give back to the community through service opportunities at Lussier Community Education Center, Goodman Community Center, Gigi’s Playhouse – Madison, The Bubbler, and the UW-Madison Arboretum.
  • You can meet the Fellows at Expert Exchange Roundtables, Our Africa event, networking events and dinners.
  • Fellows will connect with organizations and communities in site visits throughout Wisconsin, including the Bad River Lapointe Band of the Lake Superior Trip of Chippewa Indians, Columbus City Hall and Community Hospital, and the Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institute at UW-Madison, please Dorothy Mayne at or visit our website at

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of 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 and join the conversation at #YALI2020. 

2018 Mandela Washington Fellows

2018 Mandela Washington Fellows pause for a photo following public event titled “Our Africa” at the Pyle Center. (Photo by UW-Madison / Meagan Doll)

2020 Mandela Washington Fellows will be announced soon.


Meet the fellows!

2019 Mandela Washington Fellows pause for a photo outside the Madison City Hall building ahead of a meeting with Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and staff. (Photo by Meagan Doll / UW-Madison_


Meet the fellows!

2018 Mandela Fellows pose with Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) during a visit to the Wisconsin State Capitol. (Photo by Meagan Doll / UW-Madison)


Meet the fellows!

2017 Mandela Fellows pose outside the Columbus, Wis. City Hall. (Photo by Catherine Reiland / African Studies Program)


Meet the fellows!

2016 Mandela Fellows pose with certificates of completion during a Farewell Luncheon, organized by the UW-Madison African Studies Program. (Photo by Meagan Doll / African Studies Program)


Interested in hosting 1-2 Fellows at your local business, organization, or center? Mandela Fellows are eager to engage with American professionals and often enthusiastic about presenting on their personal or professional experience. If this opportunity is of interest, please complete this brief interest survey or contact Meagan Doll at


The African Studies Program seeks families or individuals interested in hosting 1-2 Fellows for family host dinners throughout the six-week institute. If interested, please indicate your availability here and our staff will follow-up to confirm.


The African Studies Program seeks a Local Resource Guide to provide cultural adaptation guidance to Fellows for the duration of the six-week Institute. This work may include guidance mediating cross-cultural challenges, navigating the American medical system and accessing various other local resources.

LOCAL RESOURCE GUIDE POSITION DESCRIPTION (pdf) Deadline: Applications are currently closed for 2019. 


Community partners include local organizations who are willing to share their work with the Fellows, both through education and discussion, as well as experiential learning and service. The purpose of these visits is not only to serve and network, but also to expose Fellows to the inner-workings of American organizations and workplaces.



The African Studies Program is seeking volunteers to help the Fellows with small trips such as shopping for personal needs, attending religious services, or exploring Madison and surrounding areas. If you would be interested in providing transportation and spending a short block of time with a Fellow or two, please contact Meagan Doll at

Mandela Fellows at UW-Madison periodically share their experiences on campus and in the community, as well as what they are working on or have learned since returning home. Check out the latest blog posts here.
















If interested in featuring the UW-Madison Mandela Washington Fellowship in your print or online news source, contact Meagan Doll at

2017 Mandela Fellows strike a pose for the cameras at Wisconsin Public Television during a tour of the WPT and WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) facilities. (Photo by Meagan Doll / UW-Madison)

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. government and is
supported in its implementation by IREX. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a sub-grantee of IREX and is supporting the U.S.-based academic program of the Fellowship.

Videos courtesy of Emily Julka.