The University of Iowa

Mandela Washington Fellowship returns to University of Iowa summer 2020

February 6th, 2020
Mandela Fellows

2017 Mandela Washington fellows at a Des Moines Event with Mr. John Pappajohn

The University of Iowa is proud to announce its selection as an Institute Partner for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Beginning in mid-June, the UI will host 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging business and entrepreneurship leaders for a six-week Leadership Institute, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

"International Programs is delighted to play a part in welcoming the Mandela Washington Fellows as they return to Iowa City this summer," said Russ Ganim, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs. "For a number of years, the Fellows have contributed significantly to interdisciplinary partnerships that further the UI’s collaborations on the African continent. From both a professional and interpersonal perspective, we very much look forward to receiving this year’s delegation of scholars and friends."

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.  YALI was created in 2010 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary supporting young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.  Since 2014, through the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 4,400 young leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals.  The cohort of Fellows hosted by the University of Iowa will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 27 educational institutions across the United States.  This summer, all Fellows will receive a letter from President Trump welcoming them to the United States for their program.

At the conclusion of their Leadership Institutes, these exceptional young leaders will convene in Washington, D.C., for the 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, up to 70 competitively-selected Fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development at U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

"The real value is the knowledge and insight the Fellows bring here to Iowa." -  Iowa City mentor Assata Worrell

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by IREX, Leadership Institutes will offer programs that will challenge, motivate, and empower young leaders from Africa.

During their stay in Iowa City, the Fellows will travel across the state visiting farms, large businesses, and connecting with local mentors. 

"Being a mentor for the Mandela Washington Fellowship allowed me to work with some of the brightest young entrepreneurs I’ve ever met," said Iowa City mentor Steve Baker. "Their drive and motivation to foster stability and be a positive force in their communities are truly impressive." 

"While I and the other mentors are happy to impart our knowledge, the real value is the knowledge and insight the Fellows bring here to Iowa," said Assata Worrell.

The Fellowship is delivered and administered in Iowa City by the Institute for International Business, a partnership between the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) and the Tippie College of Business. UI International Programs, in partnership with the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC), will provide cultural and logistical support to the Fellows during their stay. 

CIVIC, the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities, has partnered with the Tippie College of Business since 2016 to provide an orientation, cultural excursions and Iowa hospitality for the Mandela Washington Fellows. 

"Being a CIVIC volunteer presented me with the rewarding opportunity to meet all 25 Mandela Washington Fellows outside the classroom and truly engage in people-to-people exchanges," said Jane McMullen, CIVIC volunteer and president of the board of directors.  "From welcoming the fellows upon arrival at the Quad Cities airport to leading a walking tour of campus and downtown Iowa City, or visiting an Amish farm and sharing a meal together-- each interaction afforded us the leisure to share a laugh, make connections, learn about different cultures, and build new friendships." 

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institute at UI, please [contact [name] at [contact details] / visit our website at [link]].


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State 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 #YALI2020.