Mandela Washington Fellows

Lehigh University is one of the 38 U.S. colleges and universities chosen to host 1,000 Mandela Washington Fellows in summer 2017. Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute was awarded a grant to create and provide a six-week Academic and Leadership Institute in Business and Entrepreneurship for 25 of these accomplished young leaders from a wide range of African countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities. Fellows are from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa and have established records of promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations and communities. These exceptional young leaders will meet at the end of their institutes in Washington, D.C., for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they will take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Following the Summit, 100 competitively selected Fellows will spend six weeks in professional development experiences with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

Working closely with the U.S. Department of State and its implementing partner, IREX, Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute has designed an immersive leadership experience that will challenge, inspire, and empower these amazing young professionals. Their program will include interactive entrepreneurship and design sessions, leadership development and teambuilding, site visits, community service, cultural exchange, and a collaborative consulting project. While on campus, the Fellows will also have the opportunity to work and network with more than 75 young professionals from the Iacocca Institute’s Global Village for Future Leaders program as well as 25 local peer professionals, further enhancing the Fellows’ cross-cultural experience and networking here at Lehigh.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by IREX. The Iacocca Institute at Lehigh University is a sub-grantee of IREX and is supporting the U.S.-based academic program of the Fellowship. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation #YALI2017.