In August 2018, the inaugural class of 25 Obama Foundation Scholars arrived at the University of Chicago.

Obama Foundation Scholars: Incoming Class of 2018 

Mahmoud Abouelnaga – Egypt

  • Technical team leader, CareForSEVEN
  • Intern, BioMerieux
  • Promoting sustainable energy development in the MENA region to decrease energy-related geopolitical conflicts.

Sassan Akhlaghi– Sweden/Iran

  • Political Advisor to the Prime Minister, Office of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
  • Increasing investments in green energy and jobs in Sweden through policy making.

Marianne Akumu– Uganda

  • Transitional Justice Coordinator, Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD)
  • Fostering peaceful, just, and inclusive societies through transitional justice and conflict resolution programs for clans, internally displaced people, and refugees in Uganda

Mateus Donato Amorim de Araujo – Brazil

  • Coordinator, Ministry of Social Development
  • Enabling poor families in remote areas of Brazil to safely and effectively receive benefits from a conditional cash transfer program.

Nelly Wakim Awad – Lebanon

  • Humanitarian – Researcher – Writer
  • Identifying community needs in Syria through extensive research for a USAID funded project on  infrastructure rehabilitation, women’s economic empowerment, and governance building.

Ana Cristina Becerra Salas – Peru

  • Forest Engineer
  • Empowering vulnerable populations to be changemakers and achieve inclusive sustainable development.

Miriam Benitez Isidoro – Mexico

  • Advisor, Sectorial Coordination for Academic Development at the Vice-Ministry of Upper Secondary Education, Ministry of Education
  • Increasing educational opportunities for young people from marginalized communities and forming a highly-trained teaching workforce.

Juliana Betancourt – Colombia

  • Former Regional Liaison - Reintegration and Recruitment Prevention Program, USAID / International Organization for Migration (UN - IOM)
  • Promoting peacebuilding and ex-combatant reintegration for vulnerable groups in Meta, Colombia.

Kimberly Brown – United States

  • Spearheading legal and policy reforms related to gender equality, children’s rights, and access to justice to support implementation of regional mechanisms and national constitutional frameworks, predominantly in East Africa.

Patricia Alyanna Esquivias (Trixie) Conlu – Philippines

  • Consultant, Atkins Acuity
  • Enabling public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects to close the infrastructure gap and spur economic activity in the Philippines and other developing countries.

Collins Dadzie – Ghana

  • Energy Modeler, ICF-Ghana, USAID Integrated Resource and Resilience Planning (IRRP) Project
  • Transforming Ghana’s power market by developing an Integrated Power Sector Master Plan and training emerging power sector leaders to lead ethically.

Bonaventure Dzekem – Cameroon

  • Founder, Keafon Health and Chief Medical Officer, HSPC-Cameroon
  • Improving access to healthcare through community-centric health insurance schemes and online healthcare delivery in Cameroon.

Rahmatullah Hamraz – Afghanistan

  • Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Peace and Reconciliation of Afghanistan (PRA), Ministry of Finance.
  • Combating hostility and armed insurgency in Afghanistan by working with local communities to conduct intergroup dialogues and empowerment projects.

Sri Andini Handayani – Indonesia

  • Former Associate for Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Center on Child Protection & Wellbeing (PUSKAPA)
  • Enabling data-driven policy formulation through research and policy advocacy in Indonesia.

Sebastian Hernandez – Nicaragua/Colombia

  • Associated Researcher at Centro de Análisis Socioculturales, Universidad Centroamericana
  • Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Applied Economics, Universidad Centroamericana
  • Combating economic inequality in Nicaragua through academic research and collaboration with poor communities on infrastructure, education, and household finance projects.

John Hiu Fai Mak – Hong Kong / Myanmar

  • Co-founder, MM Community
  • Promoting inclusive development by reinventing the planning process with crowdfunding technology, participatory budgeting and reduced-interest government bonds.

Mario Mazic - Croatia

  • Program Board President, Youth Initiative for Human Rights Croatia
  • Secretary General, European Grassroots Antiracist Movement
  • Promoting reconciliation, justice, democracy and human rights in countries of former Yugoslavia.

Juan Carlos Monterrey Gómez – Panama

  • Working to empower youth, indigenous and rural communities impacted by sea level rise.

Joshua Nassari – Tanzania

  • Member of Parliament, National Assembly of Tanzania
  • Championing good governance and ethical leadership as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Tanzania.

Stanley Ndambakuwa – Zimbabwe, South Africa

  • Founder & CEO, African Community Fund for Education Group; Chairman, African Community Fund for Education Canada
  • Promoting girls education by funding educational and leadership development programs for the disadvantaged in marginalized communities and launching an international campaign on the importance of girls education.

Lan Nguyen – Vietnam

  • Independent Consultant
  • Lan spent the past 10 years working to improve the quality of local economic governance and to empower the voice of the private sector in Vietnam, through the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), a policy advocacy tool that measures the performance of provincial governments in 63 cities and provinces.

Edem Ossai – Nigeria

  • Founder and Executive Director, Mentoring Assistance for Youths and Entrepreneurs Initiative
  • Empowering young Nigerians to become civic leaders through a mobile library, community dialogues on girls education, and active citizenship training.

Nazish Tariq Rahmani – Pakistan

  • Research Officer (BS-17), Leader of the Opposition Office - National Assembly Secretariat
  • Guiding policy and uplifting women’s voices in the legislative process at the National Assembly of Pakistan.

Pearl Ranna – Botswana

  • Managing Director, Unitech Farming
  • Training women in rural and urban area on sustainable farming practices and connecting agricultural youth leaders for training, mentoring, and cooperation.

Fatima Zaman – United Kingdom

  • Policy Advisor – Civil Contingencies, National Security Secretariat, Cabinet Office
  • Countering Violent Extremism Advocate, Kofi Annan Foundation
  • Empowering a global network of youth activists to fight violent extremism worldwide with positive stories of peace.