Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bridgewater State University to host Mandela Washington Fellows

Bridgewater State University has been selected as a partner with the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in 2016. Beginning in mid-June, Bridgewater will host 25 of Africa’s brightest emerging public management leaders for a six-week academic and leadership institute.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and support for activities in their communities.

Fellows are young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries.

“It is an amazing opportunity for us,” said Dr. Karim Ismaili, vice provost and senior international officer at Bridgewater. “It’s an honor to be selected for an initiative that is so important to the president, to the nation but also for our own outreach and understanding of Africa.”

Mandela Fellows hosted by Bridgewater are part of a larger group of 1,000 hosted at 41 institutions across the United States this summer. These emerging leaders will meet with President Obama at a Town Hall during the Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C. at the conclusion of the institutes.

The Public Management Institute at Bridgewater, under the direction of Dr. Michael Kryzanek, professor emeritus of the Department of Political Science, is tailored to Fellows who work, or aspire to work, in all levels of government, regional or international organizations, or other publicly minded groups and think tanks.

Public Management Institutes are designed to introduce Fellows to U.S. models and best practices while building technical and leadership capacity in areas such as citizen engagement, human resource management, public financial management, and the intersection of government with business and civil society.

Bridgewater has brought together a team of six leaders, each of whom will address a particular topic during each of week of the program as follows: Dr. Wendy Haynes, interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies and former coordinator of the Master of Public Administration program, introduction to public management; Dr. Uma Shama, professor and graduate coordinator for mathematics and computer science, public works and transportation; Dr. George Serra, professor of political science and director of legislative studies, elected officials and elections; Dr. Carolyn Petrosino, professor of criminal justice, criminal justice; Dr. Kevin Donnelly, assistant professor of political science and service learning coordinator, governance and civic involvement; Dr. David Almeida, professor and chair of special education and communication disorders, education.

Morning classroom sessions will also include meetings with practitioners while afternoons will feature site visits associated with an interest in that week’s topic, Dr. Kryzanek said. Each Fellow will have a peer collaborator who works in the region and will act as a mentor.

“Fellows also have a leadership plan – how they are going to use what they’ve learned and take it back to their home country,” Dr. Kryzanek said. Saturdays and Sundays are free, but Bridgewater is arranging a whole range of activities for the Fellows.

In addition to Bridgewater, universities hosting Mandela Fellows at Public Management Institutes include: Arizona State University, Florida International University, Georgia State University, Howard University, Syracuse University, The Ohio State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Maine, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin Madison and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mandela Fellows will also attend institutes in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and energy. Bridgewater is one of four higher education institutions from New England running institutes. The others are the University of Maine, Dartmouth College and Cambridge College.

Working closely with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, host institutions have designed academic programs that will challenge, inspire and empower these inspiring young leaders from Africa.

“There will be a very focused attention to the afterlife of this fellowship,” said Dr. Ismaili. “We believe this will be a major strategic foray into how we engage in Africa and other parts of the world in the future. It’s a great example of the future of this university and the kind of work we can do to advance the understanding of the U.S. in the world – and of the world in the U.S.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit or join the conversation with #YALI2016.

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