ALA Hosts 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Program

After a successful inaugural session in 2018, the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa program returned to the ALA campus in Johannesburg, welcoming 200 emerging leaders from 45 countries across the continent, including ALA’s Marvin Tarawally (’11) from Liberia.

Credit: The Obama Foundation

The five day-gathering, held from July 10th – 15th, served as an opportunity for the leaders to “explore new ways to take on the biggest challenges in their communities”. With speakers and facilitators including ALA co-founder, Fred Swaniker and former ALA Entrepreneurial Leadership faculty and founding Head of College at African Leadership University Rwanda, Veda Sunassee, the ALA community once again served as a melting pot for this diverse group of emerging leaders.

In his talk during the closing session of the program, alongside Ben Rhodes, former US Deputy National Security Advisor, Fred highlighted five key traits for all leaders to embody: imagination, passion, values, courage and resilience. Reflecting on the imperative to be both fearless and humble as a leader, Fred said: “To imagine that we were going to develop a new generation of leaders for an entire continent, it’s a huge audacious goal, you’ve got to have some belief and confidence in order to embark on that journey, but you have to temper that with humility and an understanding that you are not perfect as a leader”.

As one of the emerging leaders selected in the 2019 cohort, Marvin Tarawally found himself surrounded by a group of highly impressive leaders whose collective impact spans across several sectors and countries across the continent. Marvin’s selection was on the back of his work providing exceptional education and social change opportunities for young people in Liberia. After two years at ALA from 2011-2013, he went on to study Business Administration, Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at Babson College and then returned home to establish SMART Liberia, focusing on education advancement and employment acceleration.

Through the Changemakers Village, Liberia’s first social change hub, Marvin and his team use blended learning to equip a generation of young Liberians with the technological and entrepreneurial skills, tools, and networking opportunities to create jobs and wide-scale social change in their communities. Watch the closing session from the program through a conversation on leadership journeys, the work of empowering and training ethical leaders and how the next generation can tackle timely challenges.

Watch the closing session from the program through a conversation on leadership journeys, the work of empowering and training ethical leaders and how the next generation can tackle timely challenges.

(Video Credit: The Obama Foundation)