#YALI2015: Laying the Foundation for a New Generation of Global Leadership

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 6, 2015
President Obama addresses the YALI Presidential Summit Town Hall in Washington, D.C., August 3, 2015 [IREX Photo]

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama kicked off the 2015 YALI Presidential Summit by joining five-hundred exceptional young African leaders for a town hall meeting, where he underscored the United States commitment to the African continent and empowering young African leaders to increase their skills, professional networks, and resolve in driving positive change in Africa.

Over the course of the three-day Summit, the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows, who represent the extraordinary promise of an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, activists, and public officials, engaged with leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as with each other.  Here are highlights from the inspiring remarks and stories told by State Department and USAID officials: In remarks to the group, Deputy Secretary of State for Management Heather Higginbottom noted that the the young leaders, present at the Summit,  represent a great force of potential. She discussed her travels to the African continent, and her meetings with young social entrepreneurs who are participants in the YALI program. She underscored the United States commitment to equipping young leaders around the world with the tools, knowledge, and connections for success.

Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel shared his personal insights about his time working with Nelson Mandela on his autobiography, a Long Walk to Freedom, and important lessons of leadership from his encounters with the global leader. He underscored the importance of being willing to lead and the ability to adapt to change.

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield shared a humorous story about a time when she served in Islamabad, Pakistan, and met Nelson Mandela when he made a trip there to thank his supporters. The Assistant Secretary also underscored the important legacy of Mandela and the centrality of the Mandela Fellows to that legacy. The Assistant Secretary also encouraged the leaders to continue to hone their skills and to contribute to their communities. She recounted the words of President Obama during his recent trip to Ethiopia, "Young people with new energy and new insights must be given the opportunity to lead" and noted that those words ring true across sectors. She underscored that the Mandela Fellows are not only leaders of tomorrow, but also leaders of today and encouraged them to be champions for the rights and dignity of others.

USAID Acting Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt encouraged the Fellows to continue to work hard. "Progress is not sustainable without hard work and dedication," he urged.

The words of these participants supported the important and inspiring message that President Obama delivered when the Summit began: It is our hope that the YALI Fellows will have tremendous success and become pioneers of social change -- more importantly that they will be reaching back and helping the next generation and become the foundation of a new generation of global leadership working together across borders to make the world safer, more prosperous, more peaceful, and more just. 

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Patrick W.
Maryland, USA
August 12, 2015
Global leaders should lead through a gained mutual respect for one an other, and not through the fear of each other. Fear only makes people strike out against the thing they fear the most. That's why governments that use fear to control their people always fail and end badly.
Kambale D.
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
August 12, 2015
Obama's initiative is lovely one. But we are waiting for the result because words have been said and program set but... I hope this will be the last one before the Africa's change comes.
Jjemba M.
August 20, 2015
YALI is a great initiative which we hope great underscores the Importance of Youth's involvement ,participation and Positioning at different Leadership Levels. In Africa, where Corruption is seen as a source of presitege, because it is closely related with both power and riches, we are devoid of Honest and astute Leaders, this has greatly affected the Continent. therefore we See YALI Not only ad an Incubator but also Mentorship for Honest Leaders for Tomorrow in Social, Economical and Political Areas, Wish all attendees a fruitful deliberation, and hope Uganda and East Africa in General is Ablery Represented.


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