With Its Selection Of Fellows, The Obama Foundation Looks To Change The Face Of Public Service

The inaugural group of fellows span the globe and share a love of helping others.

During his presidential campaign and his eight years in office, former president Barack Obama preached a message of change. So it's not so surprising that the Obama Foundation is also looking to be an agent of change within the global community. On April 17, the foundation announced its inaugural class of fellows. The class encompasses a wealth of people with innovative ideas to improve their communities and those across the globe, it's also a highly diverse group comprised of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. 

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More than 20,000 people from 191 countries applied for the fellowship. Of that number, 20 fellows were selected from places as far as Hungary, Mali, and the Philippines as well as domestic fellows from places such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati. 

"These 20 leaders, representing 11 countries, are tackling some of the toughest challenges in their communities. They are doing the hard work – not for recognition, often without enough resources – because they have a vision of the world as it should be: a little more just, less isolated, more connected," President Obama said of the fellows in an email to The Guardian.

The fellowship is non-residential and will last two years. It will also bring together innovators from different industries — including the arts, healthcare, community organizing, and technology. Through the fellowship, each of the group will experience "hands-on trainings, leadership development, coaching and personalized plans and strategies to help these leaders scale the work they've already started." 

Included in the class are South African activist Koketso Moetsi, who has built a mobile platform to empower women; Dominique Jordan Turner, who prepares Chicago youth for college and helps them find careers; Preethi Herman, who helps women in India address the country's problems; and Zarlasht Halaimzai, who provides psychological first aid to refugees.

"These leaders are working hand-in-hand with their communities to build better futures," the foundation said in a statement on its site. "They understand that creating change often requires reaching out across the lines that divide us. And their successes to date show how collaborative, community-driven work can lead to strong, imaginative, and long-lasting solutions – even on some of our most intractable and polarizing problems."

Cover image via  David Peterlin / Shutterstock.com.

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