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The Presidential Precinct’s Mandela Washington Fellowship Program: Fostering Global Leaders

The Presidential Precinct’s Mandela Washington Fellowship Program: Fostering Global Leaders

Neal Piper is the executive director of the Presidential Precinct. Photo by Drew Precious.


“The pillars of our democracy are strongest when they are discussed and influenced by the unique perspectives of global community leaders.” 

The Presidential Precinct is a nonprofit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The mission of the Presidential Precinct is to bring visionary leaders to Virginia with the intent of exchanging ideas, challenges, and solutions from all over the world. “We believe that the pillars of our democracy are strongest when they are discussed and influenced by the unique perspectives of global community leaders,” says Neal Piper, executive director of the Presidential Precinct. The organization works with young men and women between the ages of 25-35 from all over the world. Its alumni network bolsters more than 1,200 leaders from over 162 countries. 

“Our work is made possible by the world-class expertise of our four-member consortium, consisting of two premier universities—The University of Virginia and William & Mary—and two historic sites—James Madison’s Montpelier and James Monroe’s Highland,” Neal says.  Close relationships with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the U.S. Department of State, and communities around Virginia help to complete the Precinct’s strategic network.


The best-known program hosted at the Presidential Precinct is the Mandela Washington Fellowship – a component of the U.S. Department of State’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Through this Fellowship, the Presidential Precinct hosts 25 young African leaders each summer for a six-week Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute. Photos courtesy of the Presidential Precinct.


Perhaps the best-known program hosted at the Presidential Precinct is the Mandela Washington Fellowship – a component of the U.S. Department of State’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Through this Fellowship, the Presidential Precinct hosts 25 young African leaders each summer for a six-week Leadership in Civic Engagement Institute. Fellows are encouraged to grow professionally and personally and engage in rigorous academic coursework. The Fellowship curriculum covers each of the Precinct’s core focus areas: good governance, human rights and justice, women’s empowerment, civic engagement, economic opportunity, and cultural heritage. “Our job at the Presidential Precinct is to support these incredible leaders and provide the tools for lifelong collaborations as they return to their respective countries,” Neal says.


 


The Presidential Precinct will soon celebrate its 10th anniversary by reflecting on past accomplishments and looking ahead to future growth. “Through partnerships with academic and community-based partners in Virginia and around the globe, we will launch new signature programs, engaging regions of Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa around the issues of economic empowerment and job creation, and democracy and governance,” Neal says. 

Learn more about Presidential Precinct’s work, connect with alumni, and join their monthly newsletter list by visiting the Precinct’s website.