Congratulations to the 20 Fellows chosen out of 20,000 applicants.
When the Obama Foundation opened applications for the inaugural Obama Foundation Fellowship,2018, over 20,000 people from 191 countries applied. From that incredible pool, they selected 20 inaugural Fellows who represent 11 countries around the world.
Welcome to the Fellows:
Erin Barnes, Veronica Crespin-Palmer, Clarissa Delgado, Nedgine Paul Deroly, Celina de Sola, Tiana Epps-Johnson, Sasha Fisher, Harry Grammer, Zarlasht Halaimzai, Ashley Hanson, Preethi Herman, Navdeep Kang, Moussa Kondo, Sandor Lederer, Kalani Leifer, Melissa Malzkuhn, Koketso Moeti, Alex Smith, Dominique Jordan Turner, and Keith Wattley.
The Obama Foundation Website:
These Obama Foundation Fellows are powerful examples of the many pathways we can take to improve our communities. These civic leaders bring a variety of disciplines and skill sets to their work – including community organizing, healthcare, technology, and the arts – and they apply those talents to a range of missions, from empowering parents and teachers to improve our schools, to ensuring deaf children have equal access to literacy tools, to bringing trauma-informed care to the criminal justice system and refugee camps, to working with partners across the healthcare system to treat addiction collaboratively.
These leaders are working hand-in-hand with their communities to build better futures. They understand that creating change often requires reaching out across the lines that divide us. And their successes to date show how collaborative, community-driven work can lead to strong, imaginative, and long-lasting solutions – even on some of our most intractable and polarizing problems.
Meet the 2018 class below – and stay tuned to hear more about these leaders and their work over the course of the Fellowship!
Of the 20, three involve Africa, including the fellow from South Africa, Koketso Moeti, Johannesburg, whose work involves building a digital platform to enable Black South African women to organize around the issues that most affect their lives: Amandla Mobi
From Former President Barack Obama:
I want you to remember their names.
These 20 leaders, representing 11 countries, are tackling some of the toughest challenges in their communities. They are doing the hard work — not for recognition, often without enough resources — because they have a vision of the world as it should be: a little more just, less isolated, more connected.
They are ensuring access to literacy tools for deaf children, working with parents and teachers to improve our schools, and changing the way we treat addiction and approach the opioid crisis. They’re building digital platforms to help South African women get connected and start organizing. They’re incorporating mental health care into refugee relief.
In Oakland, they’re giving young people convicted of serious crimes a second chance when no one else will. In London, these folks are connecting seniors to young people to fight loneliness. In Chicago, our Foundation neighbors are helping at-risk youth finish college and become the next generation of city leaders. In El Salvador, they’re mobilizing youth to resist poverty and cycles of violence. And in the Philippines, they’re transforming public school teachers into community leaders.
I couldn’t be prouder of this group, and I can’t wait to learn from them and watch them grow over the next two years. The Foundation will facilitate hands-on trainings, leadership development, coaching, and personalized plans and strategies to help these leaders scale the work they’ve already started.
These Fellows, and the over 20,000 impressive applicants to the program, are exactly why this Foundation exists. We are successful when we connect and support the next generation of civic leaders. So that’s what we’re going to do.
Thanks for being part of this work, and for joining me in welcoming our inaugural class of Obama Foundation Fellows.
By Melanie Nathan