Rutgers University to Host 2024 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Mandela Washington Fellows at Rutgers 2023
Monday, February 5th

Rutgers University is proud to announce its selection as an Institute Partner for the 2024 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Beginning in mid-June, Rutgers will host 25 of Africa’s brightest, emerging leaders for a six-week Leadership in Business  Institute, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Rutgers has been chosen as an Institute Partner each year since the program’s inception in 2014 and is connected to our 375 alumni of the program. Get to know some of our alumni here.

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 Africa. Established in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2024.  Since its inception, nearly 6,500 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The cohort of Fellows hosted by Rutgers will be part of a group of 700 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at 28 educational institutions across the United States. 

The Leadership in Business Institute will be led by Kevin Lyons, associate professor specializing in supply chain management at Rutgers Business School and Johanna Bernstein, assistant dean for faculty engagement at Rutgers Global.

Beyond in-class training, the Fellows will also visit iconic landmarks in the New York/New Jersey region, participate in cultural activities, and meet with community leaders. Highlights for the 2024 program include a visit to the Thomas Edison National Historic Park, a visit to the Jersey Shore, a trip to New York City, and enjoying a New York Mets baseball game.

The connectivity with the Rutgers community that develops over the course of the six-week Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institute continues well beyond the Fellows' departure. Through the Fellowship’s Reciprocal Exchange component, Rutgers faculty has had the opportunity to travel to Africa to continue projects with Fellows. Rutgers has established a Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni database to help Fellows stay connected to the Rutgers community. 

After their Leadership Institutes, Fellows will participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they will take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and with U.S. leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Following the Summit, up to 100 competitively-selected Fellows will participate in four weeks of professional development with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by IREX, Leadership Institutes will offer programs that will challenge, motivate, and empower young leaders from Africa to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institute at Rutgers, please contact Johanna Bernstein at and visit this webpage.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a program of 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 #YALI2024.  

Photo caption: The 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship cohort at Rutgers University poses before attending a reception at the home of President Jonathan Holloway. See more photos here