Young African leaders gather at VCU for public management and leadership institute

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Fifty of Africa’s brightest emerging leaders in the areas of public management, business and entrepreneurship are spending June 20-July 31 in Richmond participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

For the second consecutive year, Virginia Commonwealth University will host this prestigious flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative and President Barack Obama’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of global leaders. VCU is one of only four institutions nationwide that will host two cohorts of fellows. The program is co-sponsored by the VCU Global Education OfficeL. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and School of Business.

“Part of what we hope you’ll learn from this experience is that it is mostly your initiatives that will make the biggest differences in this world,” VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., said to the fellows at a welcome reception Monday. “A world full of people who absolutely, positively need your leadership, need your initiative and need you to be thoughtful about their concerns.”

While in Richmond, 25 fellows will participate in the public management and leadership institute through the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. This institute will expose participants to world-renowned scholars in the fields of governance, management, administration and leadership across the public and nonprofit sectors.

In addition, the fellows will meet with elected and appointed officials including U.S. Rep. Dave Brat, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. They will also hear from community organizations such as the Homeward and Tricycle Gardens and participate in a leadership development program through the VCU Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute.

The other 25 fellows will participate in the business and entrepreneurship institute through the School of Business. Fellows will work alongside VCU faculty members and business practitioners to gain knowledge in both theory and application. In addition, fellows will visit local businesses such as Luck Stone in Manakin-Sabot, and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, both in Richmond. The fellows will also participate in 10 professional coaching sessions with International Coaching Federation-certified coaches — two sessions in the U.S. and eight once the fellows have returned to their home countries.

“We hope that the inspiration that has already begun to formulate in you will flourish completely and will enable you to become the strongest leaders imaginable,” Rao said. “If VCU can be a small part of strengthening your ability to truly make a difference in the lives of millions of others, then we feel wonderful about that.”

The combined cohort of fellows will attend the 54th annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello on July 4 and were also welcomed at a special reception hosted by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe at the Governor’s Mansion on July 20.

The fellows at VCU are part of a larger group of 1,000 being hosted across the U.S. this summer. Upon completion of their program, these exceptional young leaders will meet with President Obama during a summit in Washington, D.C. Select fellows will also receive hands-on experience through six-week placements with U.S. companies, organizations and government agencies.

Fellows are young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions or communities.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by the International Research & Exchanges Board, an international nonprofit organization that provides leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media and foster pluralistic civil society development.

For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation with #YALI2016.

Fellows in VCU's Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
Fellows in VCU's Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.


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