Fifty African leaders arrive in Phoenix as students and teachers

There was a reception on June 21, 2016 at the downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. While the Africans are coming to ASU to learn about Public Management and Civic Leadership in Arizona, at the reception they staffed exhibits that described the many programs they manage in their home countries. As Dean Jon Koppell said to the group during his welcome speech, “We in Phoenix will be learning a lot from you.”

This is the third year, ASU has been selected to be one of few universities in the US to host the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program, created by the Obama Administration in 2010. It is especially noteworthy that the College of Public Service & Community Solutions is now hosting two cohorts—50 students, instead of last year’s 25–on the topics of Public Management and Civic Leadership.

The students represent a wide varieties of professions—lawyers, teachers, scientists, government and non-profit officials, healthcare professionals, computer experts, even an airline pilot. During their stay, the students will attend courses taught by faculty and community leaders, visit local organizations (as well as some popular landmarks), and work on their own individual projects. Then they will return to Washington, DC, and, finally, back home to implement their plans. In the past, a couple of graduates of the program have stayed or returned to work with ASU.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and ASU Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle welcomed the students, and joked about the 110+ heat in Phoenix. Program Director William Valencia, Dana Newell (Academic Director for the Civic Leadership Institute), Hector Zelaya (Academic Director of the Public Management Institute), and Administrative Director Mitchelle Makanjuola are among the many staff, students and volunteers, who are responsible for creating an educational and enjoyable experience for the YALI participants.

Listening to some of the African leaders talk about their early career accomplishments, such as creating jobs, increasing health awareness, empowering women, resolving land use conflicts, enhancing tourism, and supporting entrepreneurship, it is obvious why they were chosen from thousands of applicants to come to the US, and, also, that we here in the US have a lot to learn.

By Denise Meridith
Phoenix Business Insight Examiner
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