This year, 17 Liberians will be participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the front-runner program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Since its start in 2014, the program has empowered young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.
In 2018, the Fellowship provide up to 700 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to advance their skills in the United States. Out of the 700, 17 creative Liberians were chosen to study higher education institution with support for professional development after they return home.The institutes focus on leadership and skills development in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management.
The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in Liberia.
On June, 19, 17 Liberians will depart and will be in the United States for seven weeks or longer, depending on the program. Each week, we will feature a few of the participants, highlighting their current work and future plans. Meet the first eight below!
Meet: Gladys M Freeman:
Gladys M Freeman has six years work experience in business management. She currently is the business manager of Liberia Pure Honey. Through her business, she is creating jobs for other Liberians. She is a graduate of the United Methodist University with a BBA degree in accounting. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to increase sales by 10-15 percent each year while decentralized her business and providing more value added products.
Going to: Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma Stillwater Oklahoma City
Meet: Shirley Crawford Kais.
Shirley Crawford Kais is an innovative entrepreneur. She is the founder and owner of Inside Shirley’s Inc, where she works as general manager and is the lead handicraft designer and skills trainer. Her quest to address the needs of women’s unemployment through financial and skills training led her to establish her business in 2007. Her business includes salon and spa services and produces organic hair and skin oils. She also designs handmade home decors, African print bags, jewelries and other accessories.
Going to: Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH
Meet: Samuel Fayiah Johnson.
Samuel Fayiah Johnson has over six years of progressive experience in social protection, specifically focusing on programs designed to address the needs of Liberia’s vulnerable population. Samuel currently serves as Capacity Building Officer in the Governance & Decentralization Unit, Department of Policy, Planning and M&E, Ministry of Health, where his unit is committed to actualizing the Ministry’s decentralization agenda, aimed at strengthening capacities at county, district and community levels. Samuel holds a Masters of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies from the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS), University of Ibadan (UI), Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelors of Arts (B.A) degree in Sociology from the University of Liberia (UL). Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he intends to use the new skills, best practices and network to impact the Liberian health sector and to establish community-based initiatives that will focus on strengthening the research and intellectual capacity of youths as well as on reducing the prevalence of drug abuse in Liberian communities.
Going to: Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Meet: Patience Gbolu Goldore.
Patience Gbolu Goldore has over four years of experience in the public sector focusing on Finance and Financial Management. She works for the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning as an assistant project accountant with the Project Financial Management Unit. Gbolu holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the United Methodist University and also is a graduate candidate for a Master’s degree in Finance at Cuttington University. Gbolu is motivated by her passion for transparency, accountability and improvements in public financial management, and how improved management can contribute to national growth and development for the collective good. She hopes to further contribute innovative strategies and technology in Financial Management Policies and implementation through her participation in the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Going to: Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia
Meet: Ruth Nyanamah Gbatoe.
Ruth Nyanamah Gbatoe has over six years working experience in the Liberian media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications from United Methodist University. She currently serves as a program assistant at the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building where she is committed to promoting media rights, freedom of expression, accountability, and the development of the Liberian media. She is a producer at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) radio and champions the rights and safety of children in the region. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she intends to produce documentaries on the impacts of civic engagement as she continues to promoting a free media in a peaceful and democratic society.
Going to: Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana
Meet: Mercy Flomo.
Mercy Flomo is an auditor, banker and an entrepreneur with over five year work experience in both the public and private sectors in Liberia. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Stella Maris Polytechnic in Monrovia and currently works as an auditor for the United Bank for Africa, Liberia. She has drawn on her experiences at the bank and inspiration from her entrepreneur mother by establishing a service that supplies breakfast foods to students and busy professionals in the mornings. Mercy believes that entrepreneurship is the ticket out of poverty. She plans to expand her business model after the fellowship to a larger pool of customers and to work with young girls in entrepreneurship training.
Going to: Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Chicago
Meet: Diana Wiah Dwanah.
Diana Wiah Dwanah is a fashion designer who has been designing and handcrafting beautiful African jewelry and accessories for over three years. She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the African fashion brand Dia-Afrik Designs, and is committed to promoting the relevance and uniqueness of Liberian and African culture and heritage by blending it with contemporary fashion. Through her business, Diana is working with other young women in her community to provide them basic skills in designing and producing accessories as well as employing them at her local production site. Not only passionate about promoting African fashion, Diana is also passionate about empowering other young women around her.
Going to: Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia
Meet: Pokolo F.J. Andrewson Jr.
Meet: Pokolo F.J. Andrewson Jr. is a dynamic and result-driven executive with over five years of experience in shipping management. Presently, Pokolo is the general manager at Atlantic Maritime Agency, a shipping company that provides vessel agency, stevedoring, and clearing and forwarding services. He has also served in the nonprofit sector as the program coordinator for the World Bank-sponsored Economic Governance and Institutional Reform Project. Pokolo holds a Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering from the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, and an Executive Certificate in Shipping Management from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Pokolo is motivated by his passion to create employment opportunities for Liberians. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Pokolo plans to continue his work in the fight for economic empowerment with a focus on accelerating employment opportunities and improving employability.
Going to: Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey
We’ll like to wish you all good luck in your various study. May God continue to open doors for you as you stay focus on your dream. Do it for you, family and Mama Liberia! Good Luck, guys!
Photos credit: U.S. Embassy Monrovia, Liberia
Story source: Mandela Washington Fellowship
Stay tuned for the rest of the MWF members photo/story/names.