Foundation research

Obama Foundation welcomes 2022-2023 class of Columbia University and University of Chicago Scholars

The Obama Foundation is proud to announce its fifth cohort of Obama Scholars, 30 emerging leaders from around the world who will study at Columbia University or the University of Chicago for the 2022-2023 academic year. Scholars will participate in a unique set of activities conducted by each academic institution and will jointly participate in the Foundation-led leadership development program which aims to provide training, networking and one-on-one support as they strive to expand their efforts after graduation. Foundation programming will begin on Thursday, September 15 at the University of Chicago.

“The Obama Scholars Program offers students the unique opportunity to give and gain insight into the work that other young leaders are doing in their communities, while talking about the intersectionality of their efforts through collaboration,” said said Obama Foundation Executive Director Valerie Jarrett. “We look forward to welcoming the next cohort of Fellows to the Foundation’s family, a network of changemakers working tirelessly for a more equitable future.”

The newly expanded program at the University of Chicago will accommodate 18 fellows from across campus who are currently final-year students in a master’s degree program at the Booth School of Business, Harris School of Public Policy, or Crown Family School. social work, policy and practice. Through after-school programming, these fellows will discover and examine how engagement with partners on Chicago’s South Side can lead to policies that help address pervasive issues in communities around the world.

“The University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars Program provides students with a unique opportunity to engage with communities in Chicago and around the world,” said University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos. “Like a University of Chicago education, the program’s interdisciplinary approach prepares emerging leaders to solve our toughest problems.”

At Columbia University, 12 Obama Scholars will complete a nine-month residency with Columbia World Projects, an initiative that mobilizes university faculty and researchers to work with governments, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and communities to create tangible solutions to real-world problems. This cohort will also participate in seminars, personal and professional development workshops, audited courses, and other programs designed in consultation with the Foundation.

“It has been extremely gratifying to witness the growth and evolution of this program over the past four years,” said Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University. “Obama Foundation Scholars have proven to be an exceptionally talented group of individuals who are dedicated to addressing complex challenges in their communities and around the world. Our academic community has been enriched by their engaged and forward-thinking presence. coming.

The Obama Foundation Scholars program is designed to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful in their global communities. Since its inception in 2018, the program has served 125 young leaders from 55 countries. Members of this year’s cohort are actively working to address many challenges and issues, including:

  • Empower survivors of gender-based violence in Somaliland by providing access to legal services, medical and psychosocial treatment.
  • Advocate for restorative and transformative political reform that supports the healing of individuals and communities impacted by mass incarceration.
  • Promoting democracy and human rights in Venezuela through popular mobilization, technology and improving equitable access to water and energy.
  • Building innovative vertical farming technology to improve food security and empower women to develop sustainable farming solutions for urban spaces.

To learn more about the program, visit obama.org/scholars. A list of the 2022-2023 cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars is available below.

Columbia University Obama Foundation Scholars

Amna Akhtar – United Kingdom
Co-Founder and Creative Director, GirlDreamer
Increase access to opportunities for young women of color to support their professional and entrepreneurial development and increase representation from minority communities.

Jesus Armas – Venezuela
President, Ciudadanía Sin Limites
Promoting democracy and human rights in Venezuela through popular mobilization, technology and improving equitable access to water and energy.

Dinara Auyelbekova – Kazakhstan
Founder and Director, Girls Power Fund
Designing and delivering innovative solutions to address gender inequalities in rural areas of Kazakhstan by promoting girls’ access to STEM education.

Kealohaku’ualohaku’upoki’i (Poki’i) Balaz – USA
Acting General Manager, Lunalilo Home
Shape the future of elder care and improve community health by engaging leaders, families, and neighbors to develop culturally appropriate continuums of care for Hawaii’s kupuna (elders and aging adults).

Allison Benson-Hernandez – Colombia
Founder, Director and Principal Researcher, Re-imaginemos Action Research Center
Creating opportunities for Colombians to challenge inequalities and reinvent their country’s future through collaborative conversation, research-based journalism, art and media.

Teresa Buczkowska – Poland and Ireland
Integration Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland
Mobilize migrant communities to increase political participation, strengthen democracy and support migrant voices in leadership roles.

Josue De Paz – Mexico and United States
CEO and Co-Founder, First Tech Fund
Help low-income youth reach their full potential by giving them access to technology, career mentoring and skills training.

Wael Haffar Habbal – Syria and Greece
Community Leader and Director, Syrian and Greek Youth Forum
Connecting refugees, migrants and all Athenians living in Greece to come together, share experiences and work together to create creative action for their communities.

Lilian Nakigozi – Uganda
Founder and CEO, Women Smiles Uganda
Building innovative vertical farming technology to improve food security and empower women to develop sustainable farming solutions for urban spaces.

Olusola Owonikoko – Nigeria
Executive Director, Stanforte Edge; Founder, Enable Africa Project
Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in workplaces and legislation to enable persons with disabilities in Nigeria to fully participate in employment and civic life.

Jackson Rowland – New Zealand
impact investing advocate; Former Director, Ākina Invest, Ākina Foundation
Growing the impact investment space in New Zealand to connect social impact businesses with capital and encourage businesses and economic leaders to invest in social change.

Mustika Wijaya – Indonesia
Founder and Executive Director, Solar Chapter
Promoting sustainable community development by improving access to water, sanitation and education in rural communities across Indonesia.

University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars

Deqa Aden – Somaliland
Former Director, Harhub
Empower survivors of gender-based violence in Somaliland by providing access to legal services, medical and psychosocial treatment.

Chris Akel – Chicago, Illinois
Co-Founder, Pathways
Foster access to mental health education and counseling for youth leadership development in Palestinian refugee, rural and low-income communities.

Olamide Babatunde – Chicago, Illinois
Former Director, Alumni Career Office, Noble Network of Charter Schools
Improve career opportunities for low-income Chicago youth and adults.

Linda Flor Brito – Chicago, Illinois
Community Organizer, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos
Build collective resistance against the deportation and criminalization of immigrants and forcibly displaced communities.

Binh (Ben) Bui – Vietnam
Founding Member and Product Manager, Social Walk
Increase educational opportunities for underserved learners through technology.

Christine Goggins – Chicago, IL
Lead Abuse Recovery Specialist, University of Chicago Medical Center
Provide crisis intervention care to support full recovery for victims and families of intentional violence.

Noel Green – Chicago, IL
Student and Changemaker, Southside Health Advocacy Resource Partnership (SHARP)
Organizing community-driven models of social change that promote the liberation of marginalized groups from oppressive systems.

Ben Harris – Denver, Colorado
Former Health and Social Systems Strategic Advisor, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
Develop and support community service models for people with complex health and social needs.

Amanda Lee – Chicago, Illinois
Director of Practice Transformation, Access Community Health Network
Transforming health care delivery within the framework of community health to advance health equity.

Orlando Mayorga – Chicago, Illinois
McCormick Reentry Policy Coordinator, Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative – Office of Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton
Advocate for restorative and transformative political reform that supports the healing of individuals and communities impacted by mass incarceration.

Heena Mohammed – United Kingdom
Former Political Adviser, UK Government
Design and improve equitable and community-based solutions to eliminate racial disparities in criminal and policing policies.

Karem Muksed – Chicago, Illinois
Mental health professional and refugee and immigrant advocate
Increase access to mental health care for refugees with a focus on trauma-informed services and practices.

Omotunde Odedeyi, Nigeria
Co-founder, Jet Africa
Bridging the opportunity gap for young Nigerians through mentorship and entrepreneurial skills development.

Rebecca Silverman – Chicago, Illinois
Co-founder, Rose Cafe
Promoting literacy, education and peace in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago.

Nishit Shukla – India
Co-founder, ReHive
Expand the impact of promising climate adaptation startups through climate finance solutions.

Lily Wang – Canada
Co-founder and CEO, Demi
Building a healthier planet through stylish and practical urban composting solutions to reduce food waste and encourage sustainable lifestyle habits.

DeKevious Wilson – Chicago, Illinois
Regional Manager, Youth Orientation – Becoming a Man (BAM) Program
Foster, support and strengthen the resources of urban communities through mental health advocacy and policy work.

Umama Zillur – Bangladesh
Founder and Director, Kotha
Addressing the root causes of gender-based violence in Bangladesh and South Asia through advocacy and education interventions.

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Contact: Gloria Nlewedim, [email protected]