It’s official: The Obamas have their first fellows. They’re impressive, to say the least.
Michelle and Barack Obama have always been dedicated to public service and diversity, and their foundation’s new fellowship program is indicative of their commitment to those values.
The Obama Foundation has announced its first round of fellows — an extremely diverse group of scholars.
Today, the @ObamaFoundation welcomes the first class of Obama Foundation Fellows. You all give me so much hope. You represent the continuation of the possibilities for change around the world. Barack and I believe in you, and we couldn’t be more excited to watch your work continue to grow. Congratulations!
The 20 civic leaders have all committed to public service in various parts of the world to challenge the status quo, inspire marginalized groups, and implement programs to empower underserved communities. The fellowship will support these leaders by providing a space for them to collaborate, exchange ideas, and inspire civic action and innovation.
While the fellowship is an incredible opportunity, it’s likely not a surprise to those who have followed the Obamas’ work. As a former president and community organizer, Barack has shown his dedication to public service through his volunteer work and commitment to empowering youth to use their skills and talents to make the world a better place. Michelle has consistently used her platform to support girls’ education and uplift people of color to reach for their highest aspirations while also helping others.
Over 20,000 people from 191 countries applied for the fellowship. They hail from places like Southeast Asia, Chicago, and Haiti, and their projects are simply remarkable.
All 20 of the selected fellows are amazing people, and here’s a sample of who they are and the incredible work they’re doing:
1. Melissa Malzkuhn of Washington, D.C., is working to design digital tools that create equal access to expression, language, and literacy.
Good morning!!! I’m excited to share that I’m joining the inaugural Obama’s Fellowship class! I’ll be working with civic innovators from all over the world, striving and pushing for positive change! #ObamaFellows https://t.co/1yeLniArV6 pic.twitter.com/qmPCHmb54m
— melissa malzkuhn (@mezmalz) April 16, 2018
2. Moussa Kondo of Bamako, Mali, is helping fight corruption in Mali by amplifying and empowering honest civil servants.
3. Preethi Herman of Delhi, India, is showing a new generation of female leaders how to engage their communities in addressing some of India’s most pressing problems.
Civic participation is a responsibility and opportunity each one of us have and my work and life is driven by this core mission. That’s why I’m proud to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the #ObamaFellows. @MichelleObama @BarackObama @ObamaFoundation pic.twitter.com/hTY34Z7Z2e
— Preethi Herman (@preethiherman) April 16, 2018
4. Sasha Fisher of New York City and Rwanda utilizes the power of community organizing and village grants to foster democratic inclusion, capacity, and growth in rural Africa.
So thrilled to work alongside 50 _incredible_ leaders @SparkMG and now alongside 19 game changing #obamafellows from around the world to bolster civic engagement ty @obamafoundation @michelleobama @barackobama #communityworks #communitypower celebrating in #uganda pic.twitter.com/CqQxwmxPer
— Sasha Fisher (@sashadfisher) April 16, 2018
5. Koketso Moeti of Johannesburg, South Africa, is building a digital platform to give black South African women the tools and knowledge they need to address the important issues affecting their lives.
And that’s just a quarter of the amazing people selected.
All of the fellows are incredibly skilled, intelligent, and compassionate. Regardless of their political affiliation, their core values of creating spaces and opportunities for all people around the world are indicative of the kind of work that will move things forward. The Obama Foundation’s support of this work is a welcome example of how political power and influence — when used responsibly — can positively affect our nation and the world at large.