Rising leaders from around the world awarded scholarship to participate in immersive international development program

CHICAGO – Today, the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the Obama Foundation announced the second cohort of Obama Foundation Scholars, rising leaders from around the world who will study at Harris for the 2019-2020 academic year and participate in one-of-a-kind experiences led by the Obama Foundation. The program’s aim is to empower emerging leaders with a proven commitment to service with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful upon their return home. The 20 Scholars at Harris join 12 from Columbia University to comprise the complete cohort of 2019-2020 Scholars.

The Obama Foundation Scholars at Harris Public Policy will join a robust community of students for the upcoming year pursuing a Master of Arts degree focused on International Development and Policy (MAIDP). The Scholars will be trained to apply evidence-based analytical tools and develop innovative practical policy approaches to address the world’s most pressing problems.

Katherine Baicker
Katherine Baicker, Dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Harris

“We are delighted to welcome our second cohort of Scholars and grateful for the Obama Foundation’s support in ensuring that promising leaders from across the globe have access to the world-class education and leadership opportunities they need to achieve their ambitious goals,” said Katherine Baicker, Dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor, Harris Public Policy. “The Obama Foundation Scholars will enrich our vibrant community and bring diverse global perspectives to addressing the critical international development and policy questions facing the world.”

Outside the classroom, the Scholars will have the chance to participate in experiences throughout Chicago, including on the South Side where the Foundation is located and where President Obama got his start in community organizing. By engaging with the local community, students will have the opportunity to complement what they learn in the classroom and also to share and exchange perspectives on service and change with local Chicago leaders. 

“The inaugural class of Scholars emerged more energized and capable of creating lasting change in their communities,” said Obama Foundation CEO David Simas. “They are one of the backbones of the Obama Foundation’s global ecosystem of young leaders, and we are inspired by the connections they have made and the work they will go on to do. We are eager to grow this international network of changemakers with our second cohort of Scholars.”

The Obama Foundation Scholars program was launched in 2018 in partnership with the University of Chicago and Columbia University. The inaugural class scholarsrecently graduated from the program, and with the guidance of the Obama Foundation, have developed an action plan and approach which they are now taking back to their home regions to scale up their work and reinvest in their communities.  

Chris Blattman
Christopher Blattman is the director of the MAIDP program.

“The Obama Foundation Scholars are integral to our mission as a school and extend Harris’s long-standing commitment to preparing people eager to make a difference, addressing international development challenges in communities around the world,” said Christopher Blattman, Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at Harris and Director of the MAIDP program.    

The incoming class of Scholars who will enroll at Harris this fall are actively working to solve a diverse array of challenges, including:

  • Advocating to make public resources more friendly and inclusive to LGBTQ people in China;
  • Encouraging the growth of technology and innovation in Africa by providing pathways for youth to gain exposure to software development;
  • Working to close the water and sanitation gap in Peru by empowering rural communities and local governments with technical assistance and technology.

To learn more about the Obama Foundation Scholars program and the 2019-2020 cohort, please visit obama.org/scholars. You can also submit a request for additional information to learn more about the program and be notified when our application is open. If you have someone you would like to recommend for the program, please refer a studentA list of the second class of Harris Scholars can be found below.

University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars

Dipak Bishwokarma, Nepal

Project Manager, Practical Action

Enhancing community resilience and environmental sustainability through advocacy for livelihood improvement of vulnerable populations, technology, inclusive policymaking, and partnerships between stakeholders and government.

Jacob Bul Bior Bul, South Sudan

Co-Founder and Media Coordinator, Anataban

Providing a platform for youth civic engagement, advocacy, and empowerment for the betterment of South Sudan.

Yara Cumbi, Mozambique

Health Systems Analyst, ThinkWell

Using multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to achieve better health outcomes at local levels.

Mariana Deschamps, Mexico

Deputy Chief of Staff to the Undersecretary of Cultural Development, Ministry of Culture

Expanding educational and cultural opportunities for disadvantaged communities throughout Mexico.

Rosario Diaz Garavito, Peru

Executive Director, The Millennials Movement  

Promoting people’s engagement in the local sustainable development process of their own communities through education, community action, and “glocal” citizen diplomacy. 

Wafa Ebenberi, Israel

Former Head of Government Policy, The Economic Development Authority for Minorities in the Ministry for Social Equality 

Using leadership development and economic empowerment as tools to strengthen disadvantaged populations to achieve equal representation.

Segun David Fatudimu, Nigeria 

Founder and Director, Sozo Networks for Leadership Development 

Creating and leading formidable networks of young Nigerian social change leaders by discovering, coaching, and connecting them to local and international opportunities.

Tamar Gabruashvili, Georgia

Advisor, Georgia Revenue Service, Ministry of Finance

Enhancing the efficiency of the Georgia Revenue Service by coordinating the implementation of high-profile projects in cooperation with international and donor organizations and researching international best practices.

Feri Gwata, Zimbabwe

Program Associate, Higherlife Foundation

Fostering multi-sectoral collaboration for improved access to water and sanitation and the creation of healthy and productive communities.

Pedro Hernández Santamaría, Colombia

Former Advisor, Director of Competitiveness, Presidency of the Republic of Colombia

Promoting a competitive and productive economy through valuable public-private partnerships that address public problems and meet public needs. 

Cesar Jara, Peru

Advisor to the Vice Minister of Construction and Sanitation, Ministry of Housing, Construction, and Sanitation

Working to close the water and sanitation gap by empowering rural communities and local governments with technical assistance and technology.

Menghun Kaing, Cambodia

Senior Program Officer, The Asia Foundation

Contributing to Cambodia’s development by supporting the economic empowerment of women and youth and promoting evidence-based policy decisions. 

Sowmya Karun, India

Enabling the design and adoption of disruptive data and tech innovations to amplify the impact of development organizations and grassroots workers.

Haneen Khalid, Pakistan

Research Associate, National Assembly of Pakistan

Informing better policy and political consensus on issues of urgent importance by leading research, advocacy, and workshops in the National Assembly of Pakistan.

Danyang Luo, China

Operation Director, Zhitong Guangzhou LGBT Center

Advocating to make public resources more friendly and inclusive to LGBTQ people in China.

Shireen Naffa, Jordan

Policy Analyst, Royal Hashemite Court

Enabling policy change and reform through research and analysis, taking into consideration field trends and existing policies.

Regina Nkonge, Kenya

Manager, Digital Learning Research & Innovation Team, @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University

Widening access to education for youth in marginalized areas, promoting technology research and innovation through student engagement, and collaborating with government and industry leads to propose technology solutions to complex problems.

Karl Vendell Satinitigan, Philippines

Director, Office of Senator Bam Aquino

Pushing for evidence-based policymaking around entrepreneurship and youth development while utilizing design thinking to aid in policy implementation in the Philippines.

Guilherme Syrkis, Brazil

Former Special Advisor to the Minister of Mines and Energy of Brazil

Promoting renewable energy and innovation to lead Brazil’s transition to a low-carbon economy that boosts affordable clean energy, entrepreneurship, quality employment, and economic growth for all. 

Hanna Yim, South Korea

Head of Business Impact, Sentbe

Producing rigorous evidence that will inform policymakers and businesses by making remittance services and remittance-linked financial products accessible to all migrants in the world and their families.