Participants in the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program gather for a reception at Dartmouth College. Cornell will be welcoming 25 public management Fellows this summer.

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Cornell to welcome young African leaders

The Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies have been selected as Institute Partners for the 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Beginning in mid-June, Cornell will host 25 of Africa’s most promising 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. Created in 2010, YALI supports young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 5,800 Mandela Washington Fellows from across sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals. The cohort of fellows cohosted by the Brooks School and Einaudi Center will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows based at 28 educational institutions across the United States.

“The Einaudi Center is thrilled to partner with the Brooks School to welcome the cohort of Young African Leaders, who will share with our Cornell community their innovative thinking and strategies for positive impact in their communities and countries,” said Einaudi Center director Rachel Beatty Riedl. She is Einaudi’s John S. Knight Professor of International Studies and a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Brooks School.

 “This flagship mobility fellowship brings leading entrepreneurs and public servants from across Africa to Ithaca to participate in faculty-led courses in public management practices, projects in community engagement, and leadership development,” Riedl said. “The program highlights how much we can learn from and share with emerging global leaders around the world.”

At Cornell, fellows will engage in intensive leadership training that will hone their skills as public officials and managers in challenging, complex public and private sector environments.

Fellows will also participate in field treks that will demonstrate in practice concepts raised during the institute; complete community service projects, network with seasoned practitioners, and develop a capstone project linking their training to practice.

“The partnership between the Brooks School and the Einaudi Center is key,” said Tom O’Toole, executive director of Brooks School public affairs programming. “In the context of improving lives and doing the greatest good, this is a tremendous opportunity for us to share our resources, as well as learn from some of the top minds from Africa,” O’Toole said.  

After their Leadership Institutes, fellows will participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they will join networking and panel discussions with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Following the summit, up to 100 competitively selected fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development with U.S. nongovernmental 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 offer programs that challenge, motivate, and empower young leaders from Africa to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

Jim Hanchett is assistant dean for communications for the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.

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