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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellowship


Trish Gott, Brandon Kliewer

Email: tcgott@ksu.edu; bkliewer@ksu.edu

Phone: (785) 532-6085

Purpose of the Collaboration:

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. The 6-week program takes place at a U.S. college or university followed by an opportunity to participate in a 4-week professional development experience with a U.S. business, civil society organization, or public agency. Since 2016, SSLS has hosted the YALI Civic Leadership Institute (CLI), a leadership education and development program based on theoretical and practical learning experiences. Built from the idea that leadership is, at its core, a relationship, the guiding ethos of the CLI is to make the connection between leadership theory, practice, and engagement with a deeper understanding of self. Emphasizing development of a learning community, YALI fellows are able to meet basic standards of inclusion and community to reflect on self as a function of leadership and how they will impact the direction and effectiveness of shared learning; learn how to reset community norms with an emphasis on the importance of engaging the process of learning and development; translate political campaigning and activism best practices to their own cultural context; capitalize on reciprocal exchanges to help build public relationships for professional networking; engage in service-learning as an act of civic leadership; and engage in sensemaking of their overall experience to produce leadership development plans.

Length of Partnership:

3 years

Community Partners:

U.S. Department of State - International Research and Exchange (IREX) (main), Kansas Leadership Center, City of Manhattan, Islamic Center, Children and Youth Empowerment Centre in Kenya (Africa), DECLIC in Senegal (Africa)

Community Impact:

The fellows became a part of the Manhattan community during their time with the YALI CLI. Visits to city hall and connections with the mayor and commissioners were relationships that carried through the whole CLI. The mayor intends to introduce legislation regarding the taxation of feminine hygiene products due to her relationship with the fellows. Fellows cohorts have, for example, included dentists through which connection with a group of women in the dentistry profession in Manhattan was made. Past fellows have also collaborated with the local Boys and Girls Club to work toward developing continued relationships and shared programming. Informally, the fellows become part of faith-based networks and communities, meeting with many community members and campus partners. Initial connections are often made through staff team or peer collaborators, but the size of Manhattan also allows for continued run-ins and unexpected meet-ups that help relationships develop. For the Manhattan community, this program and the impact of the fellows has been felt immensely. Since the summer of 2016, community leaders, campus partners, faith organizations, and community members have been longing to meet and get to know Mandela Washington Fellows. Hosting such talented and impressive leaders from across the continent of Africa is a major asset to Manhattan. The community also worked to bridge cultural gaps through hosting the fellows in individual homes and talking about the demographic make-up of the region. Additionally, site visits were organized intentionally to provide several different experiences in Middle America.

Institutional Partners:

Staley School of Leadership Studies (SSLS), Dartmouth College Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Institutional Impact:

As a result of YALI participation, SSLS has benefitted from deeper campus relationships, specifically with the African Student Union and African faculty and staff campus-wide. SSLS has been regularly invited to organizational events and SSLS has worked to include faculty from the African Faculty Staff organization in its coursework and program design more fully. For instance, faculty working on the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Leadership Communication have deepened curriculum goals around community-engaged research imagining what kinds of learning would be most helpful for a group like the fellows. SSLS work with the Muslim Student Association and local Islamic Center also deepened and a network between these organizations that includes faculty, staff, and students has developed. As a result, an even greater understanding of how to support international students and staff has emerged. Participation in the Leading Change Institutes, a Kansas State University signature leadership program, has also been extended to graduating fellows. Partnership between SSLS, the mayor, and commissioners has grown as a result of YALI participation. The mayor has joined in teaching during the YALI CLI. Relationships with state and national congressmen and women and senators have deepened as well as relationships with local organizations such as Restore, Girls on the Run, faith communities, and other non-profits.