The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders brings 500 young African leaders from across the continent to the United States for 6 weeks of leadership training and mentoring. The Presidential Precinct was one of a small number of institutions selected to host these Fellows, bringing them here to Grounds. The Precinct partners with two universities, including the University of Virginia, and three Presidential sites, in order to provide an inspiring venue for young leaders to collaborate and learn the skills needed to be empowering leaders in their communities.

Members of our staff at the Women’s Center were inspired by the fellows’ keen interest in our areas of expertise during the program last summer and we built upon that experience for this summer’s session.

Spending a day at Morven farm with the fellows, Charlotte Chapman and Claire Kaplan facilitated conversations with small groups of leaders on the topics of Trauma Stewardship and gender-based violence, respectively. The small groups spoke of the ways that these topics relate to the concerns they have for their home countries, as well as the work they are doing.

Claire, as well as Jaronda Miller-Bryant, mentored leaders from the program following their visit to continue supporting their work to increase education and leadership opportunities for girls and to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

“[…] We gained a lot from each other during our time together,” Jaronda said. “I’m hoping we can remain in contact and continue to brainstorm ways we can support each other’s global programs and progress.”

We were impressed by the fellows’ commitment to leading their communities in facing steep challenges. We were grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their efforts by answering their questions about the ways that we support students at the University. It was an honor to get to know them and their work and we hope you will enjoy the spirit of our session with them by viewing the pictures from the fellows’ visit.