Dartmouth Hosts Fellowships for Young African Leaders

Dartmouth Now

August 2, 2016

By Bill Platt

Twenty-five young African leaders from 17 countries came to Dartmouth this summer as Mandela Washington Fellows. This is the third year the College has run the six-week academic and leadership institute in business and entrepreneurship, which is supported by President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).

Peter Robbie
Professor Peter Robbie
. (Photo by John Sherman)

The Dartmouth YALI program is overseen by the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, working with many campus partners and closely with the Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The academic sessions are led by Thayer School of Engineering Professor Peter Robbie and Dartmouth alumni entrepreneur Richard Nadworny ’82 using a combination of traditional lectures, workshops, group-based project assignments, and community engagement. Professor Lorie Loeb of the Computer Science Department and director of the Digital Arts, Leadership, & Innovation (DALI) Lab led culminating sessions on making “the pitch.”

Daniel Benjamin, the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. director of the Dickey Center, says that in three years of hosting the YALI program, the Dartmouth community has been enormously enriched.

“The fellows are so extraordinarily talented and we're doing better and better at integrating them into the larger community,” he says. “The contacts that we're making and the networks that we're building will allow us to send students out and faculty out to these countries and to plug into their networks. I think it is a program that will repay itself many times over.”

Ifeoluwa Oluwole of Nigeria, a digital strategist for Nigeria’s largest marketing agency, says the YALI participants have also been tremendously enriched in their time at Dartmouth.

“I’ve been surprised and amazed at the kind of solutions that we have brought out of some of the group assignments and themes in our classes with Professor Nadworny and Professor Robbie,” says Oluwole, who is working to form her own agency to help men and women who are struggling to establish their own businesses in Nigeria. ...

... The YALI fellows traveled to Washington, D.C., at the end of July and will join fellows from other colleges and universities, 1,000 African leaders in all, for a town hall meeting with President Obama on Wednesday. Mandela Mwanza, the Hip Hop artist known as Third Eye, is looking forward to meeting the president, who gave permission for his words at the memorial of Nelson Mandela to be used in Mwanza’s song, which also praises the YALI experience.

“Obama’s hosting the summit on the third day. He calls out a lot of people. He's in tune, he's in touch. One thing I like about him, he's not too above the situation,” Mwanza said.

The YALI Business & Entrepreneurship Institute at Dartmouth is a collaboration of the following departments: The Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, the Dartmouth Center for Service, Thayer School of Engineering, the Outdoor Programs Office, the Computer Science Department and the Digital Arts, Leadership, & Innovation (DALI) Lab, and the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN).

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