Six-week federal program hosted at Drake University introduces 25 African young professionals to Greater Des Moines business, community and culture
Meet the Fellows
Members of the Des Moines business community are invited to meet the Mandela Washington Fellows during a free networking event hosted by The Greater Des Moines Partnership. The event is open to the public and will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, at the Partnership’s downtown office, 701 Locust St., Des Moines.
A physiotherapist who owns and operates a health center in Botswana. An architectural engineer from Equitorial Guinea whose firm focuses on sustainable housing design. An industrial engineer from Chad who designs construction sites and oil wells.
These are just a few of the 25 young African professionals who will spend six weeks in Des Moines this summer through a program called the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellows, all of whom are between the ages of 25 and 35, will immerse themselves in business and entrepreneurship topics through a combination of academic study, cultural activities, professional networking opportunities, and visits to local corporate and community partners during their stay in Des Moines, June 17 to July 31.
“These are truly exceptional individuals—future African heads of state,” said Annique Kiel, interim executive director of global engagement and international programs at Drake University. “We look forward to welcoming them to Des Moines, and to facilitating valuable personal and professional connections that will strengthen internationalization efforts at Drake and in central Iowa.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the U.S. Department of State and administered by IREX. More information about the program is available at MandelaWashingtonFellowship.state.gov.
Partner Organizations Say:
“Wellmark is honored to host this distinguished group of young professionals and to share how workspace design impacts the productivity - and health – of employees. We also hope to share how to achieve a successful workspace environment through sustainable business practices that are more efficient, reduce waste, and are eco-friendly.” — Jim Grant, Director of Building Operations, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
"We look forward to meeting the Fellows at our worldwide headquarters next week. This opportunity is aligned with our investment in Africa, where we see much opportunity for Kemin to provide solutions for quality protein sources to keep up with the growing population and promote a secure food supply. We hope the Fellows are even a fraction of the amount inspired by those they meet in Des Moines as we are by their dedication to learning, and record of promoting innovation and positive change in their home communities and institutions." — Chris Nelson, CEO, Kemin Industries
“For years, the Iowa Soybean Association has invested resources in hosting guests from around the world as Iowa farmers understand the importance of the global economy,” Leeds said. “But as the current political season has reminded us, much work remains in getting more Americans and more Iowans to understand the importance of these relationships. We should take advantage of any and all opportunities to build a deeper understanding with friends around the world.” — Kirk Leeds, Chief Executive Officer, Iowa Soybean Association
This is the first time Drake will serve as a host site. Drake is one of 40 institutes across the country to host cohort group; a total of 1,000 Fellows were selected from more than 40,000 applicants this year. Some of the other institutes—including Iowa’s only other host site, the University of Iowa—will share Drake’s focus on business and entrepreneurship, while other sites focus on public management, civic leadership, and energy.
Drake’s Fellows include a dental surgeon and social entrepreneur from Ghana, and an Angola resident who, through nonprofit work, led the development of more than 5,000 public libraries.
“People are amazed when they learn I’m a physician and an air traffic controller at the same time,” one of the Fellows said. “I am the head manager of a health center, and also member of two [non-governmental organizations] and three Associations. While in Des Moines, I expect to learn leadership, business, and entrepreneurship skills that I can apply in my home country of Madagascar.”
The packed itinerary guides Fellows to networking events at the Greater Des Moines Partnership and World Food Prize, cultural events at the Des Moines Arts Festival and the Iowa Cubs, and practical application lessons through visits to community partners including DuPont Pioneer, Principal, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Kemin Industries, Kuder, and Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity.
Members of the Des Moines business community are invited to meet the Fellows during a networking event hosted by The Greater Des Moines Partnership. The free event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, at the Partnership’s downtown office, 701 Locust St.
“Drake’s location in Des Moines, the state’s capital and largest business metro area, provides Fellows with a unique opportunity to develop enduring relationships with peers across a variety of private and public industries,” said Kiel. “We invite our colleagues across the public and private sector to take advantage of this opportunity to engage with some of Africa’s most impressive young leaders.”
Iowa Soybean Association plans to take the opportunity to introduce the Fellows to new agricultural production practices and technology, including biotechnology. Embracing new production technology is critically important not only to Iowa farmers, but to consumers and farmers in Africa and other high-growth parts of the globe, said Kirk Leeds, the Association’s chief executive officer.
“For years, the Iowa Soybean Association has invested resources in hosting guests from around the world as Iowa farmers understand the importance of the global economy,” Leeds said. “But as the current political season has reminded us, much work remains in getting more Americans and more Iowans to understand the importance of these relationships. We should take advantage of any and all opportunities to build a deeper understanding with friends around the world.”
Selected guest speakers include Johnnie Carson, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs and U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
Carson, a Drake alumnus and member of the Drake University Board of Trustees, encouraged Drake to apply as a host site for the Mandela Washington Fellowship program. He noted that Drake demonstrates a commitment to global engagement through a number of centers and programs, and through institutional partnerships with Makerere University Business School in Uganda, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
“Drake University is well positioned to serve as an academic institute for the Mandela Washington Fellowship program,” Carson said. “[Drake] has a strong academic record and excellent programs in political science, economics, and international relations as well as business and leadership.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Biographical information of each of Drake’s Fellows, and more information about the program, will be available at www.drake.edu/yali. For more information, contact Annique Kiel, serving as administrative director for the Mandela Washington Fellowship institute at Drake, at 515-271-3039 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Lance Noe, director of Drake’s Center for Professional Studies, and Deb Bishop, associate professor of practice in management and international business, are academic co-directors for the institute.
Drake’s Fellows will chronicle their experiences via social media using hashtag #YALIatDrake. The national hashtag is #YALI2016. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit MandelaWashingtonFellowship.state.gov.
Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling more than 3,300 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate students from 40 states and approximately 40 countries. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools. Drake students, faculty, and staff take advantage of the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business opportunities found in Iowa's capital city. In return, Drake enriches the city through its own cultural offerings, considerable economic impact, and many service-learning endeavors, which channel the talent and energy of the Drake students toward meeting the needs of the community.