Wagner College is proud to have been selected as a host institution for President Obama’s Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Washington Fellowship aims to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. From June 15th through July 25th, Wagner is hosting 25 competitively selected young Africans who will participate in a six-week academic institute on Civic Leadership, part of the larger group of 500 Washington Fellows being hosted across the United States this summer.
This 6-week Institute has been designed to mirror Wagner's Port Richmond Partnership, where Fellows will focus each week on a different pillar that is important to civic life in many communities. After an introduction to Theories of Civic Leadership, Fellows will engage in classroom sessions, site visits, and community service activities focused on Economic Development, Healthcare, Education, and the Environment. During Week 6 of the Institute, Fellows will put their learning into practice, developing grant proposals for their own not-for-profit interests and beginning to develop the means to achieve their goals.
In addition to the blogs below, some of our Fellows have been writing about their experiences. For example, Ms. Faith Nassozi Kyateka has been writing about the importance of internship experiences, echoing a theme that originated through a discussion of Wagner's curriculum.
Read bios of our Washington Fellows
Moffat Louis, Botswana
Moffat Louis currently serves as a rehabilitation officer with the Botswana Ministry of Health. His work focuses on mobilizing people with disabilities, their families and the community to be responsive to the needs and challenges that people with disabilities experience daily as they strive for independent living and a better quality of life. He has helped start new parent support groups and disabled person organizations and has worked in capacity building by providing mentoring, coaching and leadership training. In the past 3 years, he has focused on promoting supported employment, community day options programs and sports for people with disabilities. He has a bachelor's degree in disability and community rehabilitation from Flinders University in Australia. After completing the Washington Fellowship program, he plans to continue providing supported employment projects for people with disabilities, with a specific emphasis on the agricultural sector.
Changu Siwawa, Botswana
Changu currently serves as an outreach coordinator for the Kagisano Society Women's Shelter in Botswana. She is responsible for implementing strategies to build capacity within communities to correctly identify, understand and address gender-based violence and has been instrumental in forming ward gender committees. Changu excels at proposal writing and monitoring and evaluating field program results. She has a master's degree in international development management from the University of Bradford in northern England. She has a keen interest in involving men in addressing gender inequalities and sees them as agents of change toward ending gender-based violence. To that end, she sees her involvement in the Washington Fellowship program as an opportunity to strengthen programming for men, particularly in sports mentorship, and plans to form male action groups upon returning to Botswana.
Roseline Souebele Mayinga, Congo
Roseline Souebele has over 3 years of experience working in civic education, volunteerism and the empowerment of girls. Currently, she is a team leader in the south district of Brazzaville for the Catholic Association of Scouts and Guides, where she mobilizes and manages youth groups. She also works in a private business as a management secretary. Roseline is skilled in communications, including administration skills, and holds a vocational training certificate from Marien Ngouabi University. She will receive a degree in communications in 2015. Upon the completion of the Washington Fellowship program, she plans to work on mobilizing youth through workshops with a focus on promoting a sense of civic commitment.
Mireille Muhigwa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Mireille Muhigwa currently serves as a gender program officer for Sauti ya Mwanamke Kijijini -- SAMWAKI -- where she focuses on initiating peace-building activities. In 2013, she founded a project called Children Social Integration and Education Empowerment, and she has been an interpreter and facilitator in women's workshops and children's outreach programs for the Walungu Community Development Trust. Mireille holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the Université Officielle de Bukavu. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she plans to create an NGO that focuses on the education and empowerment of vulnerable populations, with an emphasis on women and children who are victims of sexual violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Johannes Thomas Arthur, Ghana
Johannes Arthur currently serves as the Creative and Projects Coordinator with RECNOWA, the Recycle Not Waste Initiative, a non-governmental organization that is interested in advocacy and training on waste management issues. He is an artist who uses raw material from a refuse dump to create eco-friendly furniture, clothing, handbags and other products from discarded plastic water bottles. He manages an innovative social enterprise that trains and employs youth from disadvantaged communities to clear their streets of plastic and other material waste. He has trained over 20 schools and artisan groups in the creative reuse and recycling of materials considered as waste. Johannes holds a bachelor of arts degree in communication design from the Kwame Nkruhmah University of Science and Technology, and he is working on a master's degree at the same institution. After completing the Washington Fellowship, he hopes to build the largest recycling plant in the world, with the proceeds being used to build schools and hospitals in rural Ghana.
Araba Hammond, Ghana
Araba Hammond has over 6 years of experience working in the area of non-profit management with a focus on childcare, education and health care for poor children. She serves as the Chief Operations Officer of Village of Hope, a Ghanaian non-governmental organization with over 200 employees responsible for 1,000 children. Her work focuses on coordinating the operations of the organization, facilitating collaboration among its subsidiaries and supervising all communications across a variety of media to ensure that the childcare and educational initiatives of the organization continue to grow. She also mentors children and has personally formed a children's choir that she directs. Araba has a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Ashesi University College and a diploma in telecommunication engineering from Multimedia University. After completing the Washington Fellowship, Araba plans to change negative mindsets about children with learning difficulties and lead in the establishment of a child assessment and parent training center for children with learning difficulties.
Vickie Wambura, Kenya
Vickie Wambura has over 6 years of experience engaging with the criminal justice system in Kenya with a particular focus on prisons. She is the founder and executive director of the Nafisika Trust. Under her leadership, Nafisika has become a key partner in prison work, where they have successfully implemented programs aimed at reducing recidivism among inmates through behavior change and economic empowerment skills training. In recognition of her work and her transformative approach, she was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2013. She holds a Cambridge International diploma in business management and is an alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation, a pan-African organization that works to train transformational leaders across a variety of contexts. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Vickie plans to work on enhancing communication and prisoner information-sharing among the different stakeholders in the criminal justice system in Kenya.
Magdalene Kelel, Kenya
Magdalene Kelel currently serves as project leader with the Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya. She has extensive experience in HIV and AIDS community development programs, where she is responsible for initiating, designing and implementing project ideas and activities with a focus on human capacity development and the facilitation of a team approach for community and organizational change. She has additional experience working with youth groups on advocacy, and with women on promoting sustainability and self-reliance for a better future. She holds a bachelor's degree in art from Egerton University and is currently conducting research on indigenous health care and its resilience. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Magdalene plans to work on youth participation in democratic processes, capacity development on early childhood education, and health issues.
Brian Magwaro, Kenya
Brian Magwaro has over 5 years of experience working in community development. Currently, he serves as the director of social work for Blue Cross Kenya, where his duties include rehabilitating and reintegrating street children, transferring life skills to over 100 children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs, and starting 12-step groups for drug addicts. He is also the founder of Young Change Makers CBO, where he uses football as a tool to empower children and youth living in informal settlements through health education, violence prevention and lifeskills building. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Brian plans to set up the first youth center in Kisumu, which will give young people from the informal settlements an opportunity to get access to different sports, games and vocational training. It will also give them an opportunity to be active in community service projects such as digging ditches, clearing bushes, sweeping community markets and planting trees in schools.
Samuel Talwa Duo Jr., Liberia
Samuel Duo has over 10 years of experience in management and civic leadership with a focus on community services, community development training and capacity building and human resources management. He is the executive director of Calvary Empowerment Team, a local not-for-profit organization working with children and youth in Liberia. CET implements programs focused on sexual and reproductive health education, leadership development, sports for development, culture and education. Samuel holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the African Methodist Episcopal University, where he focused on management, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Liberia. Upon completing the Washington Fellowship program, he intends to strengthen CET's capacity for institutional and human capital development and program delivery.
Jean Clement Andriamanampisoa, Madagascar
Jean Clement Andriamanampisoa has 15 years of experience working with Youth for Christ Madagascar. As part of his work, he leads youth groups to perform community service work in prisons, hospitals and schools. He participated in a young leader's empowerment training offered by Youth for Christ International and was later appointed the center director of Youth for Christ Madagascar Antananarivo in March 2013. Clement studied law and human resource management. Upon returning from the Washington Fellowship, he plans to implement a plan to create a Christian center called the Training, Leadership and Development Center that will promote volunteerism among youth.
Mweta Wyford Katemba, Malawi
Mweta Katemba has over 8 years of experience working with rural communities on the issue of HIV/AIDS and providing education on how to prevent and combat HIV and gender-based violence. he currently serves as the project manager with the Friends and AIDS Support Trust in Malawi. He is responsible for implementing and monitoring the Men as Protectors campaign and a women's empowerment project as well as design project monitoring and evaluation tools. Mweta holds a certificate in community development from the Association of Business Managers and Administrators in the U.K. Upon his return from the Washington Fellowship, he plans to further his work on the women's empowerment project and the Men as Protectors campaign.
Adama Kouyate, Mali
Adama Kouyate has over 6 years of experience working directly with disadvantaged communities, focusing on health and capacity building for women and youth. He currently serves as the communication and public affairs manager for the Mali Health Organizing Project, where he is responsible for all of MHOP's communications activities. He works to promote the prevention of disease in women and children and to improve the quality of health care. Adama is also the founder and CEO of Initiative contre la Faim des Enfants(IFE-Mali), an organization specializing in the field of children's nutrition and food sufficiency through food donation and strengthening the agricultural production capacity of local farmers in western Mali. He has completed an intensive management training course through the Management Development Institute and participated in an intensive English study program at Ohio University. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Bamako and a master of business degree in human resource management from Technolab-ISTA. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Adama plans to expand IFE-Mali to other communities in northern Mali to enhance the agricultural production capacity of more local farmers.
Isaiah Oluwatobi Owolabi, Nigeria
Isaiah Owolabi has over 6 years of experience implementing development initiatives aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and environmental degradation and developing business models for such interventions. He is the co-founder and project director of HACEY's Health Initiative, an NGO that supports and empowers vulnerable children, women and young people in Africa to live a healthy and productive life. He is also the co-founder and executive chair of the International Youth Alliance on Family Planning. Isaiah is the author of "The Girls' Sexual Health Promotion Training Manual" and a co-author of "The Sanitation and Hygiene Training Manual for School Children." Isaiah holds a bachelor of science degree in human physiology. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, he plans to use the knowledge and experience acquired to strengthen the advocacy and program management skills of youth-led organizations in Nigeria that are championing initiatives that can help vulnerable people live a healthy and productive life. Read Isaiah's blog here.
Vincent Kalimba, Rwanda
Vincent Kalimba has over 5 years of experience working on employment and economic development programs for youth. He currently serves as the senior business advisor for Technoserve Rwanda, a program that aims at the sustainable improvement of livelihoods for 14,000 regional rural youth and their households. Vincent holds a bachelor of science degree in food science and technology from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and is pursuing a master of business degree from Kampala International University in Uganda. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship program, Vincent plans to implement the Action4Change Initiative, a program designed to empower Rwandan youth to build their capacity around leadership, entrepreneurship and management in order to enhance their readiness, competitiveness and preparedness to seize any economic or leadership opportunity.
Sobel Aziz Alfred Marie Ngom, Senegal
Sobel Ngom is an entrepreneur who serves as the social media manager for an African digital agency. He has started several social projects, including a summer school program for rural communities to reduce the gap in national exam results between rural and urban students. Following the implementation of this program, a 50 percent increase in the success rate of these communities was recorded. He also designed and implemented the Voices of Youth program, which provided key information about the voting and voter registration process during the 2012 elections in Senegal. Sobel was recognized as an African Changemaker by Ashoka and has served as a consultant for the organization for three years. After completing the Washington Fellowship, he hopes to use the acquired skills and knowledge to open his own social marketing agency dedicated to social change.
Jestina Simba, Sierra Leone
Jestina Simba has over three years of experience serving as the administration and logistics officer for Restless Development-Sierra Leone. She is responsible for procuring, organizing, coordinating and supporting training activities and events. She also has experience serving as a volunteer peer educator working in remote communities for her organization. Jestina has a bachelor of science degree (honors) in sociology from Njala University. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she hopes to conduct training activities and workshops focused on raising awareness about teenage pregnancy and girl's education in Sierra Leone.
Sahra Said Bile, Somalia
Sahra Bile has worked with the United Nations in Somalia for the last 8 years. She currently serves as Project Officer for Community Security and Peace Building in the United Nations Development Program's Governance and Rule of Law Program. In this capacity, she oversees the establishment of community-safety and peace-building infrastructure, partnerships with key stakeholders, knowledge building and sharing in conflict resolution, and security- and peace-building activities in Somalia. She started her career with Save the Children, where she served as the senior national finance officer. Sahra received a postgraduate diploma from the University of Hargeisa's Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in January 2012. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Sahra plans to work with local communities in security and peace building and development projects through advocacy, provision of basic services and improving opportunities for women, such as access to education and employment. She believes that it is vital to engage Somali women and youth to take an active role in the dialogue for peace.
Lalumbe Makuya, South Africa
Lalumbe Makuya is a civil engineering technician and social entrepreneur. She is the founder and currently serves as the executive director of the Naledi Foundation, an organization that identifies underperforming rural schools and finds ways to improve their academic performance as well as exposing pupils in rural schools to different careers and higher institutions available to them. She has received an SET Africa award for her contribution to social entrepreneurship in Africa. Lalumbe is currently studying for a business administration degree. Upon her return from the Washington Fellowship, she will use the knowledge and experience acquired to extend Naledi Foundation's work to all rural areas in South Africa.
Romy Alexandra Titus, South Africa
Romy Titus has over 7 years of experience in prison work. She is the founder of Babies Behind Bars, an organization that equips prisons in South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland with the basic building blocks to ensure that prison-born children remain happy and healthy while living with their incarcerated mothers. As the head of this organization, Romy accomplishes this task by donating educational toys, upgrading facilities for mothers and children and advocating for proper nutrition. In addition to working with BBB, Romy is a sports journalist for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. After completing the Washington Fellowship, she hopes to return home armed with the necessary skills to seek funding and grow BBB beyond South Africa's borders into the rest of Africa, ensuring that every prison-born baby on the continent is given the chance to become tomorrow's shining stars. Read Romy's blog here.
Linda Simon, Tanzania
Linda Simon has 3 years of experience working in the field of health care. She has extensive experience serving as a volunteer, including with Family Health International as a youth group adviser on a Tanzania youth HIV prevention project in Dar es Salaam, and with the Simple Hope Organization to coordinate a medical exchange program between Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Surgery Center and health centers in the city of Arusha. She currently works as an intern doctor at Selian Lutheran Hospital in Arusha. Linda was a student at Emusoi Centre for Pastoralist Girls, where she learned more about the educational needs of her community, especially women. She holds a bachelor's degree in medicine from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Linda plans to work on projects that support early childhood development and community education in the Enduimet WMA of Tanzania's Longido District.
Faith Nassozi, Uganda
Faith Nassozi has 6 years of experience working in the area of behavioral health communication, specifically related to the use of telephone hotlines. She currently works with Marie Stopes Uganda, a nonprofit organization, where she sets up and manages a telephone hotline that provides health services to over 4,000 clients on a monthly basis. In addition, she is a sexual reproductive health rights advocate who has written various articles for the press and participated in both national and international advocacy campaigns on sexual reproductive health. She holds a bachelor's degree in social work and social administration and is studying for her master's degree in public administration and management. Upon her return from the Washington Fellowship, Faith plans to ensure that the young people who call the Marie Stopes Uganda hotline on a monthly basis receive an electronic voucher that will entitle them to discounted family planning and sexual reproductive health services. She also plans to set up clubs in schools to promote sexual reproductive health.
Zila Milupi, Zambia
Zila Milupi has 3 years of experience leading national and international public service institutions, including the International Labor Organization, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and the Permanent Human Rights Commission of Zambia. She previously served as the president of Restless Development's Student Stop AIDS Campaign, and she recently coordinated a community football league in her hometown of Lusaka, Zambia, for over 200 youths to combat the inactivity that can lead to antisocial and unproductive behavior. She is the co-founder of the Winners' Circle Association, which aims to promote entrepreneurialism as a means of wealth generation and poverty reduction among youth. Zila holds a bachelor's degree in law and a master's degree from the Public International Law program of the London School of Economics. Through the Washington Fellowship, she aims to further her skills in civic engagement to more efficiently and effectively run WCA. She also aims to draw inspiration from other young leaders on how to address challenges faced by African youths in today's economy.
Edson Gandiwa, Zimbabwe
Edson Gandiwa has 10 years of experience in the natural resources conservation field. Currently, Edson is a professor and dean of the School of Wildlife, Ecology and Conservation at Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe, where he provides academic leadership in teaching, research and community service. He previously served as a wildlife ecologist for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority based in the Gonarezhou National Park in the Chiredzi district of Zimbabwe. He hold's a bachelor's degree in environmental science and health from the National University of Science of Technology in Zimbabwe, a master's degree in tropical resource ecology from the University of Zimbabwe, and a doctorate in wildlife conservation from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. His main research interests include community-based natural resources management, wildlife conservation, population ecology, media framing of wildlife conservation and plant ecology. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Edson plans to contribute to the capacity building of local communities' management of natural resources conservation and to the training of students in conservation leadership and research in Zimbabwe.
Marlon-Ralph Nyakabau, Zimbabwe
Marlon-Ralph Nyakabau has 5 years of experience mentoring young people living with HIV/AIDS. He is a volunteer program coordinator with the Champions For Life program of Celebrate International, a faith-based psychosocial support and leadership development program for children, adolescents and young adults living with HIV. In this capacity, he is responsible for fundraising, designing and facilitating seminars that tackle psychosocial issues affecting young people with HIV in dynamic and creative ways. He is a medical doctor who earned his MBChB degree from the University of Zimbabwe, allowing him to clinically support the young people he mentors. Upon returning from the Washington Fellowship, he aspires to be an avid social entrepreneur who will expand the reach and effectiveness of his seminars and employ networks to find the medical equipment and other resources necessary to support a rural district hospital at which he will be working.
To measure the greatness of a society, we need to evaluate the quality of the people in the society. What they do, how do they think, what they are doing, what can they do and what will they be doing? Providing answers to these questions and many more related ones will help us understand if a society [...] Keep reading →
It is week two and I am getting to learn more from the wonderful YALI female colleagues, not forgetting the ever meek and helpful Ninah the Coordinator of International Initiatives at Wagner College. Her listening skills would probably win an award at the global level if she were to contest. Dr Mary [...] Keep reading →
I have had great opportunities in my life, some of them just make me feel happy, few of them make me excited but very few of these opportunities have made me over-excited. After listening to President Obama announce the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, I was looking forward to being [...] Keep reading →