Mandela Washington Fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement. YALI was created in 2010 and supports young Africans as they spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has supported nearly 5,100 Mandela Washington Fellows from across Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaboration with U.S. professionals.

The University of Notre Dame's Leadership in Business Institute connects Fellows with South Bend entrepreneurs and organizations to network, discuss pressing business issues, and serve the community. The Fellows also learn in a series of management training sessions and participate as a cohort in cultural activities, including a cultural showcase, South Bend Cubs baseball game, whitewater rafting, and much more. 

Following their six weeks at Notre Dame, Fellows participate in a Summit, where 100 Fellows — selected from the 27 Mandela Washington Fellowship programs at higher education institutions across the U.S. — go on for six additional weeks of virtual professional development with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

Funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by IREX, MWF Leadership Institutes offer programs that challenge, motivate, and empower young leaders from Africa to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. The Pulte Institute receives critical faculty and course support for its Leadership in Business Institute from other units on campus, including:

Additionally, the Pulte Institute is proud to partner with IBM to administer the 2024 program.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship — which has become one of the most prestigious and sought-after exchange programs of its kind in the world — has also served as a major boon for Notre Dame as it has endeavored to become a truly international university. By imparting these Fellows with new knowledge, skills, mentors, and other resources to accelerate their own career trajectories, the Pulte Institute has helped strengthen Africa's next generation of leaders, who are now better prepared than ever to robustly contribute to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security across the continent and beyond. 

For additional information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institute implemented by the University of Notre Dame, please contact Administrative Director Sarah Genz.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit

Program Staff

  • Edward Jurkovic - Academic Director, Mandela Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame and Senior Program Manager, Pulte Institute
  • Sarah Genz - Administrative Director, Mandela Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame and Program Manager, Pulte Institute
  • John Pinter - Leadership Manager and Community Partnerships Coordinator, Mandela Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame, John Pinter Consulting