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US-Africa Relations: Insights from Mandela Washington Fellows

  • 325 Russell Senate Office Building (map)


You are invited to join a conversation about U.S. policy in Sub-Saharan Africa featuring three Mandela Washington Fellows and an American Reciprocal Exchange Awardee. This event will take place on August 21, 2019 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM in the Kennedy Caucus Room (SR-325). The session will be a facilitated question-and-answer “talk show” style conversation with the audience, with the panelists discussing their experiences on the Fellowship in the United States, the importance of U.S.-Africa relations, and their important work on the continent. Refreshments and a networking reception will follow the panel discussion.

In its sixth year, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which is a program of the U.S. Department of State, aims to invest in the new generation of young African leaders who will shape the continent’s future; provide them with practical skills that can help take their current work in the public, private, and NGO sectors to the next level; and deepen partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa. This June, the Fellowship brought 700 young African professionals, ages 25-35, to the United States for intensive six-week Leadership Institutes at 27 top American educational institutions. Fellows also participated in the sixth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington, D.C., in late July.

Following the Summit, 70 Fellows have been competitively selected to complete a four-week Professional Development Experience (PDE). PDEs are designed to be substantive, short-term work experiences that allow Fellows to learn about an issue or topic of interest from a U.S. perspective, produce work products valuable to their host, and get exposure to U.S. workplace and organizational culture. This year, three Mandela Washington Fellows are completing their PDEs in the Congressional offices of Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, and Congressman French Hill of Arkansas.

After completing the Fellowship, Fellows can apply jointly with American professionals they met during their time in the United States for a small grant provided to the American which will enable them to travel to the Fellow's country to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections. Through the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Americans and young African leaders form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Dave Peterson, Senior Director, Africa Programs, National Endowment for Democracy

Dave Peterson is the Senior Director of the Africa Program of the National Endowment for Democracy, a privately-incorporated, publicly-funded grant-making organization in Washington, DC. Since 1988, he has been responsible for NED’s program to identify and assist hundreds of African non-governmental organizations and activists working for democracy, human rights, free press, justice and peace. He was formerly executive director of Project South Africa of the A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, and a freelance journalist in Africa and Turkey. He has a BA from Columbia College and an MA from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York, as well as an MA in African Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC. He has visited more than 40 African countries since 1984, and has published numerous articles on African politics.


Annie Lusungu Chipeta, Malawi - Office of Senator Chris Coons

Annie Lusungu Chipeta is a public administrator and marketing professional with over two years of experience in public management as a court administrator in the Malawi Judiciary. She is passionate about harmonizing her skills as a public administrator and marketing professional to introduce innovation in the public sector to achieve an effective, efficient, and accountable justice sector. As an activity coordinator for the European Union ‘Justice and Accountability' program, Annie plans and implements activities aimed at increasing accessibility to justice for vulnerable groups. Annie is committed to empowerment through education. She currently tutors undergraduate level students in marketing through her Go to Marketers Foundation, which she founded to help students obtain their professional qualifications. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Annie aspires to influence public policy and to grow Go to Marketers into a firm that can access scholarships and job opportunities for its students.

Lemnoute El Hacen, Mauritania - Office of Congressman French Hill

Lemnoute El Hacen has eight years of experience in the field of public finance. She currently works in the communication department at the National Tax Office in Mauritania overseeing the development and management of the agency’s official website. She started working for the government after graduating from the National School of Administration in Nouakchott. Lemnoute also volunteers for Halte Paludisme, a non-governmental organization that tackles and prevents malaria in rural areas. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Lemnoute plans to help her organization develop and launch a new communication strategy.

Balkissa Gambo Illo Daoura, Niger - Office of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Balkissa Gambo Illo Daoura has five years of experience in the environmental sector. Currently, Balkissa is working to engage stakeholders in resettlement. Balkissa is an environmental engineer in urban planning and rural development. She also volunteers in diverse NGOs in restoration and conservation. She is also a blogger in her spare time on kissmajuscule.com. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to redouble her efforts to protect the environment.

Gail Prensky, Washington, D.C. - 2019 Reciprocal Exchange Awardee to South Sudan

Gail is the founder, executive producer, and director of The Jüdische Kulturbund Project, which explores issues of oppression and response through music and art. She has brought together select talent, partners, and like-minded supporters to educate and inspire others to connect through commonality, respond to persecution through cultural response, and encourage freedom of expression and culture. Through her Meteopa Productions, Gail produces independent projects focusing on advocacy, art, human rights, international, and music themes. She is on the advisory board of the Breaking Barriers Institute to develop films about those who made an impact on civil rights in the United States. Between 2013 and 2016, Gail served on the board of The Welders, the DC-based playwrights’ collective and winner of the Helen Hayes-John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company (2016).

Want to learn more?

Contact the Mandela Washington Fellowship Team at MWF2019@irex.org. For more information on the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov/mwf. You can also follow us on:

Facebook – Facebook.com/MandelaWashingtonFellowship

Twitter -- @WashFellowship

Instagram -- MandelaWashFellowship