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Obama Foundation Announces 2019 Fellowship Class of Global Civic Innovators

April 30, 2019 at 6:00 AM CDT

Two-year, non-residential program brings together a diverse set of 20 civic innovators from around the world to scale the impact of their community-driven work; Fellows will convene in D.C. next month

CHICAGO — Today, the Obama Foundation announced its second-ever Fellows class. The two-year, non-residential program brings together 20 leaders representing 10 countries and five continents who are confronting many of the world’s most pressing problems through civic engagement. From re-investing in homegrown agriculture in rural areas to strengthening black and native communities’ role in combating the effects of climate change, these civic innovators will work with the Obama Foundation on ways to scale their work and inspire others to engage in their communities. The Fellowship offers hands-on training, resources, leadership development, and a powerful platform for Fellows to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation. These rising leaders join the current class of 20 Obama Fellows selected in 2018.

The 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows bring a variety of disciplines and skill sets to their work— including healthcare, community organizing, technology, and the arts. Each of them lifts up their communities and builds a better future in different ways. These leaders apply their talents to a range of missions, such as:

  • Making change from within the criminal justice system by transforming prosecutorial culture through in-house restorative justice programs;

  • Addressing systemic challenges and empowering Native American communities through culturally and environmentally responsive housing design; and

  • Using digital tools and tech platforms to mobilize citizens to campaign for social change across Brazil.

"The 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows are tackling big, complex issues in unique and inspiring ways but all share the common practice of making positive change in their communities," said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. "After welcoming an inaugural Fellows class last year, we are excited to bring together a new group of civic innovators and amplify their work. These leaders are taking off, and I look forward to working with this remarkable group and watching them transform the world for the better."

Over the course of the two-year program, Obama Foundation Fellows will participate in four multi-day gatherings to develop key skills, connect with thought leaders and potential partners, and collaborate with one another. The first Fellows gathering will be in Washington, D.C., in May and will also include the members of the 2018 inaugural Fellows cohort.

Each Fellow will develop and pursue with the Foundation a personalized plan to leverage the Fellowship and Obama Foundation resources to take their work to the next level. As Fellows put their plans into action, the Obama Foundation will assist with access to mentors, coaches, and additional resources and opportunities. These offerings have helped the first Fellows class build their organizational capacity, overcome leadership challenges, and work with new partners to deepen their impact.

In April 2018, the Obama Foundation announced its inaugural Fellows class. Since the announcement of the program, thousands of people from around the world have applied. The Obama Foundation weighed a variety of factors when selecting the 20 members of its 2019 Fellows class, including geographic location, community engagement, commitment to the Obama Foundation’s values, and proven impact.

The work of the 2019 Fellows will support the Obama Foundation’s broader mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. The Obama Foundation will open applications this summer for its 2020 Fellows class.

To learn more about the Obama Foundation Fellowship and the 2019 Fellows, please visit A list of 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows can be found below.

Bella Alexandrov

Dedo Baranshamaje

Colette Pichon Battle

Derrick Braziel

Ciara Byrne

Johnny Chatterton

Tarun Cherukuri

Charles Daniels

Shari Davis

Aimée Eubanks Davis

Mario Fedelin

Seema Gajwani

Brent Hutchinson

Joseph Kunkel

John Leong

Esther Mwaniki

Hue Thu Nguyen

Alessandra Orofino

Tania Rosas

Ayman Sabae