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UGA to Host 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Alan Flurry

The University of Georgia has been selected as an Institute Partner for the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Beginning in mid-June, UGA will host 25 of Africa’s bright, emerging Civic Engagement leaders for a six-week Leadership Institute, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement. Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 3,700 young leaders from 49 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaborations with U.S. professionals.  

The Fellowship hosted by UGA will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 27 educational institutions across the United States. At the conclusion of their Leadership Institutes, these exceptional young leaders will convene in Washington, D.C., for the sixth annual 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, 70 competitively-selected Fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development at U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

The Civic Engagement Institute at UGA will include 25 experienced professionals between the ages of 25 and 35, who will travel to UGA this summer to participate in a six-week leadership program centered on civic engagement. Fellows will be provided with a deep understanding of pivotal issues impacting U.S. civic engagement through academic sessions, group discussions, living case studies, and site visits. 

“UGA has developed considerable expertise in both civic engagement and international development practice,” said Brian Watkins, Director of International Initiatives at the UGA Office of Global Engagement and Administrative Director for the institute. “The Civic Engagement Institute at UGA represents a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this expertise and to expose UGA students and faculty to the diverse experiences of leaders from across Africa.”

During the Institute at UGA, Fellows will hear from influential community leaders and grass roots activists as they travel to various cities across the South. In Atlanta, they will visit local civic organizations to learn about organizational development, and advocacy skills will be reinforced with a visit to Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the U.S. civil rights movement. In New Orleans, the Fellows will explore the complex intersection of civil society and government through the lens of post-Katrina reconstruction efforts.

“Helping these carefully selected and highly qualified young African leaders identify their personal leadership styles and strengths and refining their leadership skills is key to them becoming more effective vehicles for civic engagement in their home communities,” said Matt Bishop, Director of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit. Rich McCline, Academic Director for the Civic Engagement Institute at UGA added:“The Fanning Institute is committed to building stronger communities by developing engaged leaders, and we are proud to partner with the Office of Global Engagement and the African Studies Institute to do that with this important opportunity.” Dr. Brandy Walker and other Fanning faculty will join Dr. McCline in helping to implement the academic components of the Institute at UGA.

Through The Civic Engagement Institute at UGA, connections between the United States and Africa will be strengthened as Fellows establish long-lasting partnerships with local American communities. Fellows will also leave a lasting impression on the host community through community service and cultural exchange. Upon returning to their home countries, they will continue to build upon the skills learned from the program through support from US embassies, U.S. mentors, and affiliated partners. 

“The Institute at UGA offers both UGA and Athens communities an opportunity to invest in young African civic leaders, the catalysts for meaningful changes across the continent,” said Akinloye Ojo, Director of the UGA African Studies Institute and Co-Academic Director for The Institute at UGA. “Due to the high level of civic engagement in Athens, Georgia, it is an ideal venue for our African Fellows to learn and to comparatively appraise their own civic leadership experiences.”

For additional information about the Institute at UGA, please contact Brian Watkins at the Office of Global Engagement.


The Mandela Washington Fellowship  is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs 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 #YALI2019.  



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