Mandela Washington Fellowship

Drake University is proud to announce its selection as an Institute Partner for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Beginning in mid-June, Drake University will host 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging business leaders for a six-week leadership institute, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

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 is celebrating its 10th anniversary supporting young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Since 2014, through the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 4,400 young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals. The cohort of Fellows hosted by Drake University will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 27 educational institutions across the United States. This summer, all Fellows will receive a letter from President Trump welcoming them to the United States for their program.

At the conclusion of their leadership institutes, these exceptional young leaders will convene in Washington, D.C., for 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 70 competitively selected Fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development at 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.

Drake University is proud to be serving as an Institute Partner for the fifth consecutive year. “Hosting Mandela Washington Fellows at Drake has been transformational for our institution and for the Des Moines community,” said Annique Kiel, executive director of global engagement and international programs at Drake University. “Our perspectives are broadened, our connectivity to the African continent deepened, and our sense of global citizenship strengthened. It’s a real honor for us to participate.”    

In addition to the business and leadership curriculum provided by expert faculty and senior leaders of Drake University, many Des Moines and Iowa partners engage with the Mandela Washington Fellows each year. Partners in business, government and nonprofit organizations provide inspiring learning experiences ranging from site visits to volunteerism to meetings with corporate leaders. In 2019, partners included: The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Des Moines Area Religious Council, Meals from the Heartland, the Des Moines African Advisory Community, Des Moines University, Iowa Methodist Medical Center/UnityPoint, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, World Food Prize, John and Mary Pappajohn/Pappajohn Center, Corteva, the City of Manning, Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Metro Waste Authority, The Harkin Institute, former Congressman David Young, Kemin Industries, Camp Dodge/Iowa National Guard, KCCI TV, Genesis Youth Foundation, and the Rotary Club of Des Moines.

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institute at Drake University, please contact the administrative director, Lance Noe at, 515-271-2008. 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders 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 #YALI2020.