Beginning June 21, Lehigh will virtually engage 25 of Africa’s bright, emerging business leaders for a six-week Leadership Institute.

Beginning June 21, Lehigh University will virtually engage 25 of Africa’s bright, 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 supports young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across the African continent. Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 4,400 young leaders from across 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals through the Fellowship. The cohort of Fellows hosted by Lehigh University will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted by 26 educational institutions across the United States.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and with the health, safety, and well-being of Fellows and Partners as the highest priority, the U.S. Department of State is planning a virtual Fellowship for 2021. While remaining in their home countries, Fellows will participate in virtual Leadership Institutes, which will include leadership training, networking, mentoring, and professional development.

After their Leadership Institutes, Fellows will participate in a virtual Summit. Up to 70 competitively selected Fellows will also participate in six weeks of virtual professional development with U.S. nongovernmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and working closely with its implementing partner, IREX, host institutions will offer leadership programs that will challenge, motivate, and empower these inspiring young leaders from Africa.

The 2021 Leadership in Business Institute at Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute will feature an intensive, hands-on virtual curriculum that will provide a deep look into American business, entrepreneurship and culture. This will include academic sessions and workshops with Lehigh and visiting faculty and experts, virtual site visits and networking opportunities with the local Lehigh Valley community, and personal interactions with American peers and mentors Together these provide opportunities to gain powerful insights into the challenges facing business people in the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa.

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Institute at Lehigh University, please contact Kira Mendez at

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is sponsored by 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 #YALI2021.