Americans expand opportunities through international exchange with Africa

An RE Awardee shakes hands with a Fellow.

The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to announce the 102 Americans selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders’ Reciprocal Exchange Component in 2019. 

Through the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, Americans travel to Africa to build upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed with young African leaders during their Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.  This Reciprocal Exchange encourages U.S. experts and leaders to collaborate with African Fellows on critical issues, such as promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity, while contributing to U.S. public diplomacy efforts and strengthening mutual understanding between the United States and Africa.   

Collaborative project proposals are submitted by the American participant and African Mandela Washington Fellow, and selected through a competitive process. In 2019, 102 Americans from 30 states and the District of Columbia will travel to 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to complete projects with their collaborating Mandela Washington Fellow that address a wide array of global and local challenges across the United States and Africa.   

Reciprocal Exchanges also create unique business opportunities for American Participants, allowing them to share successful American business models while being exposed to new African markets.  In 2018, Greg Milano, a disability rights advocate from Berkeley, CA, traveled to Kenya for a Reciprocal Exchange project providing bicycles adapted for use by children with disabilities (also known as adaptive cycles).  The impact of his Reciprocal Exchange experience “can’t be understated,” Greg says.  As interest in the use of adaptive cycles grows abroad, he anticipates that new markets for American products will emerge.  “[My company] now has a new market in Kenya for selling and distributing the kinds of adaptive cycles which can’t be manufactured locally.”  Thanks to his experience on the Reciprocal Exchange, Greg is better positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. 

American Participants selected for the 2019 Reciprocal Exchange grants include the following individuals from across the United States, traveling to destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa:


  • Kelsey Herndon (Togo), technology/telecommunications
  • Rebekke Muench (Togo), technology/telecommunications


  • Christina Carrasquilla (Kenya), technology/telecommunications 
  • Dr. Noah Fritz (Ghana), justice/legal/prison systems
  • Kenneth Mims (Nigeria), disability rights/issues
  • Jason Walker (Ghana), justice/legal/prison systems


  • Brittan Heller (Uganda), peace building/conflict resolution
  • Gregory Milano (Nigeria), disability rights/issues
  • Kevin Wolf (Uganda), environment/conservation/wildlife


  • Kiesha Bell (Ghana), women’s and girls’ issues 
  • Dr. Kearline Jones (Nigeria), health/public health/medicine
  • Catherine Lindroth (Seychelles), education
  • Chandra Pitts (Ghana), women’s and girls’ issues

District of Columbia

  • Alexandra Bailey (Guinea-Bissau), democracy/governance/civic education
  • Anna Mae Green (Rwanda), technology/telecommunications
  • Andrew Lentz (Namibia), health/public health/medicine
  • Raphael Mimoun (Côte d’Ivoire), mental health/women’s and girls’ issues/technology
  • Trinh Nguyen (Côte d’Ivoire), mental health/women’s and girls’ issues/technology
  • Gail Prensky (South Sudan), education


  • Leigh-Ann Buchanan (Rwanda), business/entrepreneurship
  • Dwanita Fields (Tanzania), health/public health/medicine
  • Sarah Hinds (Nigeria), arts/music/fashion


  • Adam Fristoe (Zambia), arts/music/fashion
  • Ariel Fristoe (Zambia), arts/music/fashion


  • Mary Deepa Basani (Mauritius), civil/human rights
  • Dr. Nataka Moore (Madagascar), women’s and girls’ issues
  • Nyenemo Pierre Sanguma (Mauritius), civil/human rights


  • Dr. Teshome Alemneh (Ethiopia), community development
  • Bryan Alexander Richards (Mali), community development
  • Captain Max Litwin (Sierra Leone), community development
  • Thomas Marentette (Malawi), technology/telecommunications
  • Scott Massey (Cameroon), agriculture
  • Chief Jason Moore (Sierra Leone), community development
  • Monique Philpot (Chad), community development
  • Nejla Routsong (Ethiopia), community development
  • Derrin Slack (Mali), community development


  • Justin Engelhardt (Uganda), agriculture
  • Robert Wolff (Benin), business/entrepreneurship
  • Dr. Morgan Yarker (Zimbabwe), education


  • Andrew Wefald (Tanzania), education
  • Donna McCurry (Nigeria), health/public health/medicine
  • Savannah Sherwood (Comoros), communications/marketing/advertising
  • Dr. Tim Steffensmeier (Senegal), democracy/governance/civic education
  • Dr. Sandra Procter (Ethiopia), health/public health/medicine


  • Le’Kedra Robertson (Zimbabwe), arts/music/fashion


  • Bindi Jhaveri (Kenya), banking/finance
  • Louisa Nakanuku-Diggs (Rwanda), technology/telecommunications


  • Dr. Louise M.C. Badiane (Senegal), education
  • Kate Mytty (South Africa), policy advocacy/research
  • Dr. Wing-Kai To (Cabo Verde), education


  • Joshua Stoltz (Mozambique), community development


  • Tiffany Young (Zambia), civil/human rights

New Hampshire

  • Jessica Amato (Zimbabwe), disability rights/issues
  • Dr. Tinsley Galyean (South Africa), education

New Jersey

  • Sean Maclaughlin (South Sudan), education
  • Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams (Nigeria), health/public health/medicine

New York

  • Sarah Acer (Zimbabwe), women’s and girls’ issues
  • Servet Bayimli (Côte d’Ivoire), hospitality/tourism/travel
  • Marjorie Cross (Namibia), community development
  • Tom DeFayette (Botswana), disability rights/issues
  • Aaron Leaf (Zambia), arts/music/fashion
  • Richard McKeown (Equatorial Guinea), arts/music/fashion
  • Cindy Oxberry (South Sudan), education
  • Andy Truschinski (South Sudan), education
  • Mica Wilson (Rwanda), women’s and girls’ issues

North Carolina

  • Charlene Grasinger (Benin), women’s and girls’ issues
  • Dr. Joshua Idassi (Benin), agriculture
  • Jesse Lutabingwa (Tanzania), grant writing
  • Dr. Brian MacHarg (Côte d’Ivoire), education
  • Dr. Susan Mills (Namibia), education
  • Chishimba Nathan Mowa (Benin), agriculture


  • Phwey (Dan) Gil (Republic of Congo), science
  • Gregory Nicaise (Mauritius), agriculture


  • Dr. Charles Abramson (Tanzania), agriculture
  • Anthony Cambas (Nigeria), business/entrepreneurship


  • Crystal Kitchen (Côte d’Ivoire), education


  • Brynn MacDougall (Sudan), women’s and girls’ issues
  • Kathleen Newell (Malawi), women’s and girls’ issues
  • Valarie Oulds Dunbar (Nigeria), education
  • Jasmine Poole (Mozambique), education
  • Dr. Tierra Pritchett (Nigeria), health/public health/medicine
  • Dwayne Wharton (Cabo Verde), health/public health/medicine
  • Adam Zahn (Cameroon), education

Rhode Island

  • Amy Barnes (Gambia), women’s and girls’ issues

South Carolina

  • Renee Chewning (Senegal), agriculture
  • Dr. Dave Lamie (Senegal), agriculture


  • Sharesa Alexander (Senegal), business/entrepreneurship
  • Layla Fry (Zimbabwe), children and youth
  • Casey Haney (Kenya), education
  • Mobolaji Sokunbi (Nigeria), business/entrepreneurship
  • Rev. Erin Walter (Togo), hospitality/tourism/travel


  • Brian Kunz (Ghana), business/entrepreneurship
  • Amy Newcomb (Uganda), women’s and girls’ Issues
  • Lindsay Putnam (Uganda), women’s and girls’ Issues


  • Taylor Au (Namibia), health/public health/medicine
  • Dr. Annie Blazer (Botswana), education
  • Vid Micevic (Chad), business/entrepreneurship
  • Avery Sebolt (Malawi), business/entrepreneurship


  • Steven Dubiel (Rwanda), environment/conservation/wildlife
  • John Johnson (Madagascar), communications/marketing/advertising


  • Joshua Shefner (Liberia), agriculture
  • Karen Ruth Lied (Ghana), women’s and girls’ issues

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement.  By the end of summer 2019, nearly 4,400 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa will have participated in the Fellowship since 2014.  Since its inception in 2015, 209 Reciprocal Exchange projects have been awarded to 215 American professionals, representing 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, for travel to 41 African countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.