Coach the Mandela Washington Fellows

Northern Nevada International Center invites you to engage with the Mandela Washington Fellowship program by being a coach to promising young leaders. Coaches will have the opportunity to share personal and professional expertise in order to positively influence outcomes across the globe. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Established in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has engaged nearly 6,500 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa through academic and leadership training. The Fellows, between the ages of 25-35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries and are seeking individuals who can help them reimagine their contributions and strengthen the value they bring back to their business, profession and communities at home. Coaches are integral in refining the Fellows’ visions and providing valuable insights for Fellows’ future success.

What do coaches do?

Coaches are industry professionals (who do not necessarily need to be in the same industry as the fellow they are paired with) who have expertise in project planning and implementation and who are paired with a Mandela Washington Fellow to navigate a “Focus Project.” Each Fellow is required to select and complete a Focus Project, and coaches provide guidance through the lens of their experiences. These individuals lend constructive criticism and critical thinking prompts to the Fellow’s Focus Project so that they may better identify challenges, problems or needs facing their organization, business or community.

What should coaches expect?

Coaches are required to use Mandela Washington Fellowship-approved tools in order to complete three 60-minute, one-on-one coaching sessions between June 19 July 27, 2024. Given the robust schedule that the Mandela Washington Fellows will have, timeslots throughout the Fellowship will be predetermined by program staff for coaches to plan their one-on-one sessions with their assigned Fellows. This helps mitigate scheduling conflicts. Coaches should anticipate that there might be more time dedicated on the front end of the Fellowship to better understand their Fellow’s industry or unique circumstances, in order that they may provide the most relevant coaching for maximum positive impact. Additionally, a coaching orientation and general guidance meeting is planned for May of 2024. Coaches are asked to connect with their Fellows in order to discuss their vision and progress using a Focus Project toolkit (provided prior to coaching sessions). Coaches should take time to listen and understand the Fellows’ goals, challenges and environment in order to provide guidance that advances their project’s ideation or forward progress. Together, Fellows and Coaches will work to evolve the project concept so that it has the best chance for success in future implementation or iterations. While it is not a requirement, coaches may offer more time to their Fellows if they so choose. Coaches are encouraged to participate in multiple program components like scheduled networking events and group activities as their calendars permit.

Industries in demand

Coaches hail from many professions and industries and will be considered regardless of their professional backgrounds. Here are several of the most common in-demand industries Mandela Washington Fellow coaches are from:

  • Agriculture
  • Energy (renewal, sustainable) 
  • Climate solutions (conservation, ecotourism)
  • Nonprofit (creation, administration, fundraising)
  • Education 
  • Distribution, logistics
  • Government affairs, policy, political science
  • Communications (marketing, public relations, social media, media relations)
  • Entrepreneurship, small business
  • Arts 
  • Media
  • Tourism, hospitality

What are coaches provided with?

Coaches will attend an pre-institute coaching orientation in May 2024 (details will be communicated after coaches are selected) that will outline how NNIC orchestrates activities and what opportunities coaches are likely to have to meet Fellows in person in June and July. The orientation will also review expectations and provide further guidance for the coaching sessions and the assets to be used. While it will be up to the Fellow to complete these assets, Coaches should review and understand the assets below in order to help Fellows respond critically and develop their project concepts.

  • Pre-fellowship focus project worksheet. This worksheet is an asset to help the Fellow identify the idea or topic of their Focus Project. This document helps Fellows prepare for conversations with coaches.
  • Focus project toolkit. The toolkit is an action-planning framework that encourages Fellows to process and apply lessons learned during their time in the Fellowship to the work they hope to complete after. This is an ongoing resource to be used during coaching sessions and something Fellows may use in the future for their project planning and their professional group. 

Who is a good fit?

Coaches from all industries and professions are invited to submit an application. Coaches should also be located in the Reno/Sparks region, or be willing to meet their Fellow in Reno/Sparks for sessions. Professionals with leadership training or experience in mentoring are ideal. 

Coaching benefits

  • Global relationships. Mandela Washington Fellow alumni are selected for their demonstrated talent and their promising entrepreneurship. They go on to advance their careers and their communities, implementing new policy, creating programs for social change and creating new programs and processes for combating climate change, poverty and more.
  • Professional inroads. Coaching a Mandela Washington Fellow often grants coaches with access to the Fellow’s industry at home. This can be advantageous for the coach’s own organization or enterprise.
  • Vibrant new energy. The Fellows bring with them an enthusiastic appetite for creating positive change and coaches from years past often cite feeling inspired by the connection with their mentees. 
  • Closer local connections. As a coach, you’ll connect with fellow coaches and their enterprises. The Mandela Washington Fellowship program attracts top-tier professionals at entities that also care about improving the globe.
  • Access to travel. The reciprocal exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship gives U.S. professionals the opportunity to travel, all expenses paid, to Sub-Saharan Africa and engage in collaborative projects with Fellowship Alumni. Coaches who receive a reciprocal exchange grant have the chance to reconnect with Fellows, building upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed during the Fellowship. 
  • Business opportunities. Coaches and Fellows have gone on to create businesses or development opportunities together.

How are coaches selected?

Coaches are selected at the discretion of Northern Nevada International Center after evaluating who may have relevant industry experience that is an ideal match for the Fellow. Coaches for the 2024 Mandela Washington Fellowship cohort will be selected and notified by May 1, 2024.

Ready to apply?

Please inquire directly with Jennae Frederick, program coordinator, at

Applications for Mandela Washington Fellowship Coaches will be kept on hand until the applicant specifies they do not want to be considered. If you are unable to commit to being a coach but would like to be involved, please email Jennae Frederick at for more opportunities.