Rutgers University to Host 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

February 2, 2022

The Mandela Washington Fellowship returns to Rutgers University in summer 2022 for the eighth consecutive year.

Rutgers University is proud to announce its selection as an Institute Partner for the 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders for the eighth consecutive year.  Beginning in mid-June, Rutgers will host two cohorts (50) of Africa’s bright, emerging Business and Civic Engagement leaders for two six-week Leadership Institutes, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Across the Rutgers campus, there is much anticipation and excitement about engaging in-person again this summer. 

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 supports young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.  Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 5,100 Mandela Washington Fellows from across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals.  The two cohorts of Fellows hosted by Rutgers University will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 27 educational institutions across the United States.

The Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute will be led by Patricia O’Brien-Richardson, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy; Olabode Ibironke, Department of English; and Greg Costalas, Rutgers Global. 

The Leadership in Business Institute will be led by Kevin Lyons, Rutgers Business School and Johanna Bernstein, Rutgers Global.

While each Institute has a different focus, they both have one thing in common at their core: effecting change for the common good—and there will be a crossover between the two Institutes, with some joint hands-on activities. Beyond in-class training, the Fellows will also visit iconic landmarks in the New Jersey region, participate in cultural activities, and meet with community leaders.

The connectivity with the Rutgers community that develops over the course of the six-week Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institutes continues well beyond the Fellows’ departure. Relationships that are started during the summer program are maintained through regular communication afterwards, and the opportunity for Rutgers faculty to travel to Africa to continue projects exists through the Fellowship’s Reciprocal Exchange component. Rutgers has established a Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni database to help Fellows stay connected. 

After their Leadership Institutes, Fellows will participate in 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 100 competitively-selected Fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

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 to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institutes at Rutgers University please contact Johanna Bernstein ( and Greg Costalas ( and visit our Mandela Washington Fellowship webpage.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship 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 #YALI2022.  

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