Americans expand opportunities through international exchange with Africa

Americans expand opportunities through international exchange with Africa


RE Soccer Handshake

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 Awardees, 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 Awardees 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 (Cote D’Ivoire), mental health/women’s and girls’ issues/technology

Trinh Nguyen (Cote 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


Dr. Trisha Gott (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 (Cote 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 (Cote 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 (Cote 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.  For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation online using #YALI2019 and #ReciprocalExchange.