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!

Erin Barnes

Brooklyn, NY


Equipping new local leaders across the country to improve their neighborhoods through resident-led, crowdfunded community change

Veronica Crespin-Palmer

Aurora, CO

RISE Colorado

Empowering families most affected by educational inequity in Colorado to organize for change

Celina De Sola

San Salvador, El Salvador

Glasswing International

Forging partnerships across institutions and people to empower youth, mobilize action, and build community resilience to reduce poverty and violence

Clarissa Delgado

Makati, Philippines

Teach for the Philippines

Redesigning teacher training to address the reality of students’ poverty and helping public school teachers become community leaders

Nedgine Paul Deroly

Gonaïves, Haiti

Anseye Pou Ayiti

Working with Haitian communities to create a network of civic leaders and build an equitable education system based on shared history, values, and vision.

Tiana Epps-Johnson

Chicago, IL

Center for Technology and Civic Life

Improving voter turnout by training elections officials to better communicate with voters and providing civic information through digital platforms

Sasha Fisher

New York, NY / Rwanda

Spark MicroGrants

Using community organizing and village grants to foster democratic capacity, inclusion, and growth in rural Africa

Harry Grammer

Los Angeles, CA

New Earth

Empowering justice-involved youth through arts, education, and vocational programs

Zarlasht Halaimzai

London, UK / Greece

Refugee Trauma Initiative

Providing psychological first aid to refugees, making mental health care integral to all relief efforts

Ashley Hanson

Granite Falls, MN / Boulder, CO

PlaceBase Productions and The Department of Public Transformation

Using the arts to help rural communities connect across difference, revitalize their rural spaces, and create new narratives across the United States

Preethi Herman

Delhi, India Foundation

Equipping a new movement of female leaders to engage their communities in addressing India’s toughest problems

Navdeep Kang

Cincinnati, OH

Mercy Health

Building a collaborative, community-based approach to the opioid crisis, changing how addiction is treated in Ohio

Moussa Kondo

Bamako, Mali

Accountability Lab Mali

Fighting corruption in Mali by celebrating honest civil servants

Sandor Lederer

Budapest, Hungary

K-Monitor Association

Building digital tools to help citizens push for transparency and good governance in Hungary

Kalani Leifer

San Francisco, CA / New York, NY


Building a movement of diverse, upwardly mobile college grads overcoming underemployment through digital skills and peer connections

Melissa Malzkuhn

Washington, DC

Motion Light Lab, Gallaudet University and Ink and Salt LLC

Designing digital tools to give deaf children equal access to language, literacy, and expression

Koketso Moeti

Johannesburg, South Africa

Building a digital platform to enable Black South African women to organize around the issues that most affect their lives

Alex Smith

London, UK / Manchester, UK

The Cares Family

Fighting loneliness and polarization in the UK by connecting seniors and young professionals to build new and lasting relationships

Dominique Jordan Turner

Chicago, IL

Chicago Scholars

Equipping under-resourced youth to get to and through college, find meaningful careers, and become the next generation of Chicago leaders

Keith Wattley

Oakland, CA

Uncommon Law

Transforming the lives of young people convicted of serious crimes, equipping them to become valuable members of the community