Young African civic leaders visiting Indianapolis as Mandela Fellows

  • July 18, 2016


INDIANAPOLIS -- Twenty-five of Sub-Saharan Africa's brightest young civic leaders have arrived in Indianapolis to participate in Nelson Mandela International Day service activities at four nonprofit organizations, attend workshops and make site visits. They will help people in Indianapolis while exchanging ideas and offering insights into how communities in both the U.S. and Africa might improve the lives of youth and women and advance global health and environmental sustainability.

The African leaders will be divided into four groups that will visit and engage in projects with the Julian Center, Indiana Youth Group, Indy Urban Acres, and the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis.

The visitors are fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a flagship program of President Barack Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative. The fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, were selected based on their accomplishments in promoting innovation and positive change in their nations.

Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela's birthday on July 18. It was inspired by Mandela's call for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world's social injustices.

The visits to local nonprofits were arranged by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. The activities at the nonprofit organizations will include meeting with local youth, many of whom haven't had an opportunity to meet people from other countries, and then engaging in service activities.

The group will spend Tuesday and Wednesday at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy for two days of academic workshops and seminars as well as site visits to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Lutheran Child and Family Services, Second Helpings, and the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

The IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis will also put on a three-day workshop for these young leaders, led by W. Todd Roberson, a senior lecturer in finance. The workshop, "Commerce and Social Value," will focus on the impacts of business on society. 

"Through this workshop, I would like to show these emerging leaders a new, positive way of thinking about how business benefits society at large," said Roberson.

Kelley Indianapolis Associate Dean of Academic Programs Phil Powell will also lead a session for the scholars on business and emerging markets.

"We are proud to host the Mandela Washington Fellows here in Indianapolis," said Powell. "Our hope is that they will be able to learn practical skills and knowledge they can implement in their countries in sub-Saharan Africa."

Today's visit will end with an event that is open to the public at the Big Car Collaborative, 615 N. Alabama St. The event, which will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will include meeting the African fellows and hearing stories about them and their countries. It is organized by the IUPUI Office of International Affairs and Big Car.

IU's Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses are hosting the fellows for a six-week academic and leadership development institute that was created for their program. Launched in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and support for activities in their communities. Opportunities to host the fellowship program are highly sought after, and IU and other host universities were chosen through a highly competitive selection process.

IU's effort brings together faculty, practitioners and resources from the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs and several schools: the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the Kelley School of Business, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the School of Global and International Studies, and the Maurer School of Law.

Margie Smith-Simmons
Adriene  Davis Kalugyer