The Obama Foundation Scholars Program will give rising young leaders around the world who are already making a difference in their communities the opportunity to take their work to the next level through a newly designed curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based, and hands-on learning. The Scholars Program empowers individuals with a proven commitment to service with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective, to identify innovative solutions to complex global problems, and promote change through values-based leadership.

The program will build lasting relationships among emerging leaders who are committed to working together to solve the most pressing challenges of our time, creating a global network that reaches across issues and borders. After completing the program, Obama Foundation Scholars will return to their communities and continue the important work they started in the program by implementing their own personalized action plan. They will also have an opportunity to play a role in the Obama Foundation’s efforts to inspire, train, and connect rising leaders from around the globe.

Meet the 2018-2019 Scholars

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Mahmoud Abouelnaga

Egypt

Technical team leader, CareForSEVEN
Intern, BioMerieux

Promoting sustainable energy development in the MENA region to decrease energy-related geopolitical conflicts.

Sassan Alexander Akhlaghi

Sweden, Iran

Political Advisor to the Prime Minister, Office of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven

Investing in increased equality and green jobs in Sweden through policy making.

Marianne Akumu

Uganda

Fostering peaceful, just, and inclusive societies through transitional justice and conflict resolution programs for conflict affected communities, internally displaced people, and refugees in Uganda.

Mateus Donato Amorim de Araujo

Brazil

Coordinator, Ministry of Social Development

Enabling poor families in remote areas of Brazil to safely and effectively receive benefits from a conditional cash transfer program.

Nelly Wakim Awad

Lebanon

Humanitarian, Researcher, and Writer

Assisting and empowering vulnerable populations of refugees, IDPs and host communities through projects in conflict areas and affected regions.

Ana Cristina Becerra Salas

Peru

Forest Engineer

Empowering vulnerable populations to be changemakers and achieve inclusive sustainable development.

Miriam Benitez Isidoro

Mexico

Advisor, Sectorial Coordination for Academic Development at the Vice-Ministry of Upper Secondary Education, Ministry of Education

Increasing educational opportunities for young people from marginalized communities and forming a highly-trained teaching workforce.

Juliana Betancourt

Colombia

Former Regional Liaison - Reintegration and Recruitment Prevention Program, USAID / International Organization for Migration (UN - IOM)

Promoting peacebuilding and ex-combatant reintegration for vulnerable groups in Meta, Colombia.

Kimberly Brown

United States

Spearheading legal and policy reforms related to gender equality, children’s rights, and access to justice to support implementation of regional mechanisms and national constitutional frameworks, predominantly in East Africa.

Patricia Alyanna Esquivias (Trixie) Conlu

Philippines

Consultant, Atkins Acuity

Enabling public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects to close the infrastructure gap and spur economic activity in the Philippines and other developing countries.

Collins Dadzie

Ghana

Energy Modeler, ICF-Ghana, USAID Integrated Resource and Resilience Planning (IRRP) Project

Transforming Ghana’s power market by developing an Integrated Power Sector Master Plan and training emerging power sector leaders to lead ethically.

Bonaventure Dzekem

Cameroon

Founder, Keafon Health and Chief Medical Officer, HSPC-Cameroon

Improving access to healthcare through community-centric health insurance schemes and online healthcare delivery in Cameroon.

Rahmatullah Hamraz

Afghanistan

Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Peace and Reconciliation of Afghanistan (PRA), Ministry of Finance

Combating hostility and armed insurgency in Afghanistan by working with local communities to conduct intergroup dialogues and empowerment projects.

Sri Andini Handayani

Indonesia

Former Associate for Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Center on Child Protection & Wellbeing (PUSKAPA)

Enabling data-driven policy formulation through research and policy advocacy in Indonesia.

Sebastian Hernandez

Nicaragua, Colombia

Associated Researcher at Centro de Análisis Socioculturales, Universidad Centroamericana
Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Applied Economics, Universidad Centroamericana

Combating economic inequality in Nicaragua through academic research and collaboration with poor communities on infrastructure, education, and household finance projects.

John Hiu Fai Mak

Hong Kong, Myanmar

Co-founder, MM Community

Promoting inclusive development by reinventing the planning process with crowdfunding technology, participatory budgeting, and reduced-interest government bonds.

Mario Mazic

Croatia

Program Board President, Youth Initiative for Human Rights Croatia
Secretary General, European Grassroots Antiracist Movement

Promoting reconciliation, justice, democracy, and human rights in countries of former Yugoslavia.

Juan Carlos Monterrey Gómez

Panama

Working to empower youth, indigenous, and rural communities impacted by sea level rise.

Joshua Nassari

Tanzania

Member of Parliament, National Assembly of Tanzania

Championing good governance and ethical leadership as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Tanzania.

Stanley Ndambakuwa

Zimbabwe, South Africa

Founder & CEO, African Community Fund for Education Group
Chairman, African Community Fund for Education Canada

Promoting girls education by funding educational and leadership development programs for the disadvantaged in marginalized communities and launching an international campaign on the importance of girls education.

Lan Nguyen

Vietnam

Independent Consultant

Strengthening local economic governance in Vietnam.

Edem Ossai

Nigeria

Founder and Executive Director, Mentoring Assistance for Youths and Entrepreneurs Initiative

Empowering young Nigerians to become civic leaders through a mobile library, community dialogues on girls education, and active citizenship training.

Nazish Tariq Rahmani

Pakistan

Research Officer - National Assembly of Pakistan

Creating a difference through research, better policies, and effective implementation.

Pearl Ranna

Botswana

Managing Director, Unitech Farming

Training women in rural and urban areas on sustainable farming practices and connecting agricultural youth leaders for training, mentoring, and cooperation.

Fatima Zaman

United Kingdom

Policy Advisor and Private Secretary, Her Majesty's Government
Countering Violent Extremism Advocate, Kofi Annan Foundation

Empowering a global network of activists to counter violent extremism worldwide with counter narratives, positive alternatives, and stories of peace.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Alice Barbe

France

CEO and Co-founder, SINGA France

Fostering collaboration between refugees and their host societies by focusing on refugees’ personal, professional, cultural, and entrepreneurial plans and goals.

Rumbidzai Chisenga

South Africa, Zimbabwe

Program Manager, Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS)

Building the capacity of African youth to lead the continent’s social and economic progress.

Gabriela Galilea

Paraguay

CEO and Founder, Okimo Vision Ltd.

Democratizing access to visual health and inclusive education through the creation of tools that help diagnose and treat visual and development conditions at a fraction of the current market price.

Ana Maria Gonzalez-Forero

Colombia

Chief Sustainability Officer, Fundación por la Educación Multidimensional (FEM)

Enabling inclusive development in Colombia through participatory planning and design processes that allow diverse stakeholders to find shared fulfillment and mutual recognition in indigenous communities.

Hong Hoang

Vietnam

Founder and Executive Director, CHANGE

Mobilizing youth leaders to promote environmental preservation through communication, education, and community organizing toward a vision of a green and clean Vietnam protected by all people.

Omezzine Khelifa

Tunisia

Founder and CEO, Mobdiun – Creative Youth

Inspiring youth to become peaceful and creative change leaders in Tunisia and throughout Africa.

Pavel Kounchev

Bulgaria

Co-founder and Managing Director, Time Heroes Foundation
Co-founder and Chair of the Board, Fine Acts Foundation

Developing creative solutions and digital tools to inspire civic engagement.

Peter Ndayihereje

Burundi

Community Engagement Program Manager, Village Health Works

Improving community cohesion among people of all backgrounds by leveraging communal structures to improve health and economic outcomes.

Ndansi Elvis Nukam

Cameroon

Founder and President, Unite for Health Foundation

Improving access to basic health care in underserved communities in Cameroon.

Oluseun Onigbinde

Nigeria

Lead Partner, BudgIT

Working to simplify budgets and public finance documents to strengthen the capacity of citizens to hold governments accountable.

Vanessa Paranjothy

Singapore

Co-founder, Freedom Cups

Changing mindsets and making periods a problem of the past by providing women in underprivileged communities with menstrual cups through a “buy one, give one” model.

Trisha Shetty

India

Founder and CEO, SheSays

Advancing sustainable development through a gender-sensitive and youth-centric approach.

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About the Scholars Program

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Obama Foundation Scholars at the University of Chicago will earn a Master of Arts degree focused on International Development and Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. In addition to classroom studies, the Obama Foundation will offer a robust program of leadership development and service activities throughout the academic year to help Scholars gain the real-world skills, tools, and experiences to expand the impact of their work when they return home.  These may include leadership development convenings; program experiences in New York and Washington, DC; speaker series with innovators across a variety of sectors; individual and group service projects; mentorship through the Obama Foundation network; potential internship placements; and action plan development for post-program activities. Some of these Foundation activities will include experiences throughout Chicago and the South Side. By engaging with the local community, students will have the opportunity to complement what they learn in the classroom and also to bring their unique perspectives to Chicago.

You can learn more about the Obama Foundation Scholars at the University of Chicago and apply for the 2019-2020 class here.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia University will participate in Columbia World Projects, a new initiative in which faculty and researchers from Columbia will partner with governments, nonprofits, the private sector, and intergovernmental organizations to create tangible solutions to real-world issues. The inaugural cohort at Columbia University will participate in a rigorous, immersive program that brings together academic, skills-based, and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation. The program will also take advantage of the unique opportunities for engagement that come with being at one of the world’s most important centers of research and in the city of New York.

In addition to classroom studies, the Obama Foundation will offer a robust program of leadership development throughout the academic year to help both cohorts of Scholars gain the real-world skills, networks, tools, and experiences to expand the impact of their work when they return home.  These may include leadership development convenings; program experiences in Chicago and Washington, DC; speaker series with innovators across a variety of sectors; individual and group service projects; mentorship through the Obama Foundation network; and action plan development for post-program activities.

You can learn more about the Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia University as well as future application cycles here.

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