Servant Leadership in Practice: The young African leaders who came home to serve a new network of Obama Foundation Leaders

July 20th, 2018

On any other day, they will be found running high impact startups, carrying out research or winning academic achievement awards in some of the world’s leading universities. Some others might be facilitating leadership sessions for students in Eastern Europe, or teaching an Entrepreneurial Leadership class with young African leaders.

But during this special week, they rolled up their sleeves to not only deliver expert facilitation of the experiential learning and design thinking sessions, but play host to over 200 other African leaders as they navigated our campus for 5 days. The ALA alumni and staff from the African Leadership Group who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes throughout the duration of The Obama Foundation’s Leaders: Africa program have been the embodiment of servant leadership.

The amazing team of staff, faculty and alumni assembled to co-host The Obama Leaders: Africa program preparing on the day before the program started.

Spencer Horne graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Harvard College in 2014 and launched his career as a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company before establishing his first start-up, Public Assembly – a maker-space serving artists and entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, and then launching Cloudline, a supply chain company connecting isolated communities through the use of drones. As a recipient of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship in New Zealand, he is working to reshape logistics to ‘reach the bottom billion’. But if you saw him taking guests on a tour of the African Leadership Academy campus or facilitating a session on “Strategizing for Impact” during the Leaders: Africa summit, you would have noticed the exact same tenacity that he has deployed in pursuing his passion for transforming the developing world.

Lillian Maboya graduated from African Leadership Academy in 2011 before going on to study at the University of Cape Town as an Allan Gray Orbis Fellow, with a stint at the University of California, Berkley. She subsequently worked as a Renewable Energy Sales Analyst with General Electric and served for two years as a on the Board of Trustees for African Leadership Academy. These days, she is a Quaternary science researcher at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, and was named as one of the 200 leading young South Africans by the Mail and Guardian in 2018. Having returned to play a facilitating role at the Leaders: Africa summit, she says of the experience: “I have learned that the ALA team is really good at working together. I hadn’t been on a team with other ALA people since I was a student here, but I feel like I can put my money on this team”.

Some of the other outstanding young leaders from the ALA alumni network who were part of the team that hosted the summit include:

Arnold Sanginga (DRC)

Arnold is a Political Science major with an African Studies concentration at Macalester College. Prior to this, Arnold served as the Chairperson of the African Leadership Academy Model African Union (ALAMAU) 2015, a conference simulating the African Union for over 100 students representing more than 40 nationalities. He is also the Director of Programs for Future Africa, a start-up organisation engaging African youth in being part of solutions within core development areas in their communities.

Iman Bermaki (Morocco)

Iman is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in International Relations with a focus on development and Africa at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. She is on the President's List for academic achievement, and has worked as a peer advisor for freshman students. In the past, Iman has also taught entrepreneurial leadership at the Global Scholars Program, and has worked as a Research Assistant at the African headquarters of United Cities and Local Governments. In 2016, she co-founded Glitch and Tune, a music start-up that promotes electronic music in the Ifrane region. As a senior, Iman is now working as the coordinator of the AUI Short Film Festival, while at the same time writing her thesis on the Politics of Soap Operas.

Sarah Maacha (Morocco)

Sarah is studying International Affairs, Business and Entrepreneurship at Skidmore College. At ALA, she was CEO and co-founder of CYCA (Connecting Youth Connecting Africa), a student-run enterprise seeking to help Africans overcome their preconceptions about each other and help them embrace their African identity as the most salient one. She was also co-president of the Sexuality Discussion Group and was head of the organising team for the North African Cultural Exchange.

Sheila Chukwulozie (Nigeria)

Sheila is a Watson Fellow who graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater & Dance, and a certificate in International Relations. Her passion to use political theory to improve grassroots mobilization & social justice led her to internships with Enough is Enough Nigeria and General Electric. For her Watson Fellowship, she was an apprentice to local mask makers and cloth weavers in Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Trinidad and Morocco. With a focus on gender equality, Sheila spent three years developing her non-profit organization, EmoART with a mission to equip African youth with the imagination of an artist, the technical skills of an entrepreneur and the emotional intelligence of a leader.

Takalani Malivha (South Africa)

Takalani is a Mandela Rhodes scholar studying towards a Master's degree in Economics at the University of Cape Town. Prior this, she was an African Leadership Bridge scholar, majoring in Economics with a minor in Psychology from the University of Texas, Austin. Takalani has equally worked with the Southern African business unit of Coca Cola and with Hollard Insurance.

Thato Seerane (South Africa)

Thato Seerane is a Mastercard Foundation scholar at Arizona State University, acquiring a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychological Science and a minor in Interdisciplinary Organizational Studies. Thato is also an honors student at Barrett, The Honors College, ASU. Thato recently interned with the National Education Collaboration Trust, where she compiled a research report on 21st century teaching and learning practices.

Tsion Tesfaye (Ethiopia)

Tsion is an Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow at African Leadership Academy,having graduated form Hamilton College with a major in Mathematics and minor in Education and Philosophy. In summer 2014, Tsion founded and piloted Youth for Ethiopia, a four week long leadership and social innovation training for Ethiopian high school students, and received a certificate of recognition from Clinton Global Initiative University. At Hamilton, Tsion was on the Dean’s List and was awarded GOLD and Kirkland Scholarships in recognition of her academic achievements and demonstrated leadership potential.

Won Sun Mbegeni (South Africa)

Won Sun is a Global Programs intern at African Leadership Academy, facilitating Entrepreneurial Leadership programs for school groups visiting the Academy. Won Sun is very passionate about the arts and healthcare, and pursued a gap year with the World Leading Schools Association in China after graduating from African Leadership Academy in 2015.

Moustafa Lutfy (Egypt)

Moustafa is a member of African Leadership Academy’s Class of 2014, and currently studies Computer Science and Statistics at University of Rochester. At ALA, he served as Chairperson of the Student Government and Director of Media & Communications for the 2016 ALA Model African Union conference. At Rochester, he was elected to the Executive Board as Webmaster of RC MERT (River Campus Medical Emergency Response Team).

Smangaliso Mbili (South Africa)

Smangaliso is a Global Programs intern at African Leadership Academy, and a member of the Academy's Class of 2015. Prior to studying at ALA, he was the chairperson of a Youth Crime Prevention Desk at his district and counsellor of the student council at his school. Smangaliso collaborated with the Protea Glen Police to fight substance abuse in schools in his community. At ALA, Smangaliso was one of the five 2016 Bezos Scholars selected to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival, in Boulder, Colorado. He was subsequently CEO of the student enterprise, South African Ideas Festival.

This amazing team of ALA alumni were joined by other faculty and staff from the Academy, including Director of Teaching and Learning, Lisa Simelane (Swaziland); African Studies faculty, Jeremy Keen (South Africa); Writing & Rhetoric faculty, Dashen Naicker (South Africa); Global Programs Extern, Shashanka Rao (India); and Marketing Associate, Perry Dubow (USA).

Other members of the African Leadership Group who joined the team include Michy Ferreol (Philippines), Katlego Mohono (South Africa) and Mawulom Essel-Koomson (Ghana).

Uzo and Zuki with their team of amazing facilitators for the Obama Leaders: Africa program.


Want to know more about The Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Program?



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This is an article from the ALA Journey Journal – the blog that tracks our 50 year journey to develop 6000 leaders. Visit the Journal here.


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