FIU only Florida site selected to host young African leaders


For the fourth year running, FIU was the only Florida site selected to host young African leaders and entrepreneurs this summer as part of the Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Twenty-five men and women between the ages of 25 and 35 will arrive at the university in June and stay for six weeks, attending an academic and leadership institute focused on public management. The FIU participants are part of a larger cohort of 1,000 individuals who will be hosted by different universities throughout the United States. A highly competitive program (64,000 individuals applied for 1,000 spots), participants have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries.

One of the goals is for the fellows’ work at FIU to ultimately help them advance the community-focused work they do at home through governmental offices, educational institutions, civic and non-governmental organizations.

“We’ve planned a program that is multidisciplinary in nature, consisting not only of academic coursework but also of a rich array of cultural activities and community engagement opportunities,” says Susan Webster, who leads the program at FIU and serves as director of Training and International Research Initiatives in the Office of Research and Economic Development. “There’s been a positive reciprocal impact between previous fellows and the FIU and broader Miami communities.”

Academic programming will be developed by the Stephen J. Green School of International and Public Affairs’ Metropolitan Center.

The fellowship is a program of the U.S. government and supported in its implementation by the nonprofit IREX. Fellows are also connected with peer collaborators — young leaders in Miami who have been identified through various sources – and participate in site visits to various agencies in Miami-Dade County. After spending six weeks at FIU, the fellows will fly to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit.

A select group of 100 fellows will remain in the United States for an additional six weeks after their academic and leadership institute and the presidential summit to participate in a professional development experience in the public, private or non-profit sector with organizations throughout the United States.

Says Webster, “I look forward to seeing what the upcoming cohort has to share with us and to sharing our Panther spirit with them.”