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.
— Department of State (@StateDept) August 3, 2015
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.
— Department of State (@StateDept) August 5, 2015
As you return home as a @WashFellowship, proudly wearing that mantel, I want you to press for the rights of women and girls - LTG #YALI2015 — A/SThomas-Greenfield (@StateAfrica) August 5, 2015
USAID Acting Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt encouraged the Fellows to continue to work hard. "Progress is not sustainable without hard work and dedication," he urged.
"Seize the day. This is your time. Prepare yourselves now for the opportunities that will surely come your way" -Alfonso Lenhardt #YALI2015
— IREX International (@IREXintl) August 4, 2015
The 2014 Regional Advisory Board members with Ambassador Lenhardt, Acting Administrator at @USAID pic.twitter.com/RZruxxyE4M — MandelaWshFellowship (@WashFellowship) August 4, 2015
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.
For More Information:
- Read President Obama's Remarks at the Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall.
- Learn more about the Young African Leaders Initiative.
- Follow @ECAatState and @IREXIntl on Twitter for more video, photos, and tweets from the Summit.