The Mandela Washington Fellowship’s inaugural Level-Up Chat took place on February 16, 2022. Level-Up Chats provide Alumni with unique access to influential thought-leaders and experts offering technical expertise in an interactive digital format. During this discussion, the speakers discussed the history of mis- and disinformation and why it has proliferated over the last couple of decades while previewing a new virtual course on the Fellowship Portal, Navigating the New Information Landscape – Resilience to Disinformation! Featured speakers include Frank Sesno of the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs alongside Fellowship Alumnae Lizette Feris and Eastina Taylor.
Lizette Feris, Project Manager and Trainer, DW Akademie Africa; 2017 Fellowship Alumna, Namibia
Lizette Feris has over 20 years’ experience in project management, media, corporate communications, and business development. Lizette won UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Award during the Global MIL Week in October 2021 for her current work as project manager and trainer at DW Akademie Africa, working in the Southern African region. She holds a professional diploma in Strategic Marketing and Train the Trainer certificates from DW Akademie. Lizette is passionate about human rights and has been involved in numerous innovative projects and initiatives aimed at strengthening the capacity of children and young people to find solutions to their challenges. She credits the Mandela Washington Fellowship with providing the knowledge and tools to use a human-centered design approach in her work and on her journey as a social entrepreneur.
Frank Sesno, Director of Strategic Initiatives, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
Frank Sesno serves as the director of strategic initiatives at the George Washington University (GW)’s School of Media and Public Affairs. Prior to this position, he led the school for 11 years as its director. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and creator of Planet Forward, a multi-media storytelling platform that celebrates compelling narratives in sustainability and science. Sesno hosts the Planet Forward summit as well as the monthly Planet Forward video series on Peril and Promise, PBS’ digital platform, which focuses on climate change and sustainability. Sesno also hosts a podcast, Healthy You: Surviving a Pandemic, a co-production of GW’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and the School of Media and Public Affairs.
Sesno teaches classes on environmental reporting and “the art of the interview.” He is the author of Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change, which illustrates how the right questions at the right time lead to creativity, success, empathy, and discovery.
Sesno’s diverse career spans four decades in journalism, including 21 years at CNN, where he served as White House correspondent, anchor, Sunday talk show host, and Washington Bureau Chief.
Eastina Taylor, Community Engagement Officer and Project Lead, On Our Radar; 2018 Fellowship Alumna, Sierra Leone
Eastina Marian Boimadi Taylor is an experienced mentor, producer, and presenter with demonstrated professional experience in the broadcast media industry. She is skilled in storytelling, breaking news, editing, and television, and is a strong community and social services professional.
Eastina is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumna who completed her Leadership Institute at Indiana University. She continues to champion the issues of young people through an organization called Shaping Young Minds Initiative. As a community engagement officer and project lead for On Our Radar, Eastina also leads the community engagement of over 70 community reporters in Sierra Leone, and mentors reporters across On Our Radar’s network.