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The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. This week, Secretary Blinken is joining YALI alumni and members of the YALI Network on his virtual trip to Kenya and Nigeria.

YALI is the U.S. government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Comprised of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program, USAID-run Regional Leadership Centers on the continent, and the YALI Network virtual community of more than 700,000 members, YALI provides African youth with opportunities to connect with Americans and Africans, create conditions for prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across sub-Saharan Africa.

Mandela Washington Fellows from across Sub-Saharan Africa share best practices with members of their cohort and other Alumni. (Photo Credit: IREX)
Mandela Washington Fellows from across Sub-Saharan Africa share best practices with members of their cohort and other Alumni. (Photo Credit: IREX)

YALI’s website offers emerging leaders tools and vital online resources, content, and courses. These online resources provide hundreds of online courses and video vignette series on topics such as networking skills, small businesses, human rights, and public speaking. In addition to online activities, the Network continues to participate in offline activities by hosting “YALILearns” events, in which members come together to facilitate community dialogues on policy-focused campaign topics. Information about the flagship Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program and four Regional Leadership Centers located in Nairobi, Kenya, Dakar, Senegal, Accra, Ghana and Pretoria, South Africa, is also available on the website.

Mandela Washington Fellows participating in community service in their Leadership Institute host communities. (Photo Credit: The University of Texas at Austin)
Mandela Washington Fellows participating in community service in their Leadership Institute host communities. (Photo Credit: The University of Texas at Austin)

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, the YALI Network has risen — time and time again — to make a difference in local communities, including in response to COVID-19. The emerging leaders are making their voices heard, serving their communities, and breaking barriers. Some YALI alumni have already risen to high-ranking leadership positions in the public and private sectors and have been recognized with international awards.

Melva, a practicing lawyer in Nigeria, volunteers with the Kachem Young Initiative in June 2019. (Photo Credit: iStock)

To stay up to date on the YALI Network visit their social media on Twitter here.

Learn more about the YALI here.

About the Author: Elizabeth “Liz” Liu is Foreign Service Officer serving as the Special Coordinator for the Young African Leaders Initiative in the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. 

U.S. Department of State

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