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Leaders From Three Continents Join Fellowship To Bring New, Local Perspectives On International Development To Global Dialogue

Leaders From Three Continents Join Fellowship To Bring New, Local Perspectives On International Development To Global Dialogue

by Vinta Nanda May 14 2014, 4:40 pm Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins, 39 secs

“This year’s class of fellows is an impressive crowd that will match the incredible work we saw in the first class of New Voices,” said Andrew Quinn, director of the fellowship at Aspen. “What makes these leaders so inspiring is their proven track record of working on the ground to improve lives both individually and collectively. They are showing us the next big ideas in development.”

Andrew Quinn was with Jacques Sebisaho at a convening in Seattle, USA, where I was moderating a session on innovative storytelling, and where Andrew talked about the fellowship program of The Aspen Institute in which Jacques is one of the fellows. Talking to Andrew and discussing his works was one of the highlights of my recent trip.

Andrew came to the Aspen Institute after spending more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent with Reuters, reporting on everything from post-Tiananmen China to the Baghdad trial of Saddam Hussein. His most recent assignments included a stint as Southern Africa bureau chief during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and more than three years traveling the world with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as Reuters’ State Department correspondent. Andrew holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of California-Berkeley, and was a 2008 Nieman Global Health fellow at Harvard University. At Aspen, Andrew is leading the New Voices Fellowship initiative which aims to train and support a new cadre of experts from developing countries to communicate effectively and play a larger role in championing solutions and setting priorities for global development work.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.

The New Voices Fellowship is a groundbreaking program designed to amplify the voices of experts from the developing world and bring their experiences to discussions of global development. The 2014-2015 fellows come from 12 countries and three continents: Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This year’s fellows include: advocates working in schools and through social media on sustainable, locally driven entrepreneurship; an outspoken leader for the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and other sexual minorities across Africa; medical professionals advancing reproductive rights of women and girls, and combatting preventable and chronic diseases in countries from Haiti to Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania; business leaders creating mobile devices to improve health care in all settings; advocates for good governance and food security; and a defender of Indonesian coral reefs.

These fellows will undertake a program of intensive media training and mentorship to help them reach a broader global audience through both traditional and new media and speaking engagements.

“Far too often, the leaders who are having the biggest impacts on the ground in the developing world are not those that are visible outside of their home countries. We want to change that to ensure that these leaders can speak for themselves to global media and ultimately international policymakers,” said Peggy Clark, executive director of Aspen Global Health and Development, and vice president of policy programs at the Aspen Institute.

“The New Voices Fellowship is a vehicle to help share the most critical and impactful programs, solutions and innovations with other leaders around the world,” Clark added.                                  

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the New Voices Fellowship was established in 2013 to bring the essential perspectives of committed development experts from Africa and other parts of the developing world into the global development debate.

The 2014 New Voices Fellows are:

Adebisi Alimi

Founder, Bisi Alimi Consultancy, Nigeria, @bisialimi

An LGBT advocate and HIV activist, Alimi was the first person to ever come out as gay on Nigerian television. Alimi fled to the UK after an attempt on his life in Nigeria. His development work focuses on promoting human rights for gay Africans and the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

James Kassaga Arinaitwe, MA, MPH

School Partnerships Manager, Educate!, Uganda, @JamesArinaitwe

Arinaitwe’s advocacy and development work is focused on encouraging economic growth by fostering development and partnering with secondary schools to teach entrepreneurship and leadership skills to the next generation of Ugandans.

Yetnayet Asfaw Demessie, MD, MPH

Country Director, EngenderHealth, Ethiopia, @YetnayetAsfaw

As an advocate for education and the reproductive health rights of girls and women for nearly 20 years, Demessie works to encourage family planning, maternal and child health, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Nafi Chinery, MA

Capacity Building Specialist, African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Ghana,@nafichinery

Chinery is passionate about promoting women’s rights in African countries and works with women-led organizations to train and advocate for their leadership and staff and their inclusion in decision making processes at different levels.

Anick Supplice Dupuy, MPH

Deputy Director, PSI Haiti, Haiti, @asdupuy

Through her work with Population Services International (PSI), Dupuy focuses on promoting HIV/AIDS prevention, malaria, family planning and maternal and child health through social marketing and communication programs.

Utibe Effiong, MD

MPH Candidate, University of Michigan, Nigeria, @UtibeEffiongMD

As an internist drawn to studying public health and epidemiology after seeing the impacts of Nigeria’s oil industry, Effiong is focused on both environmental drivers of health and chronic disease prevention, with a focus on diabetes as well as infectious diseases, which remain among the biggest health challenges in Africa.

Myshkin Ingawale, PhD

Cofounder, Biosense Technologies, India, @myshkinonline

Myshkin is driven to design and build innovative, disruptive healthcare technologies that improve care around the world. For example, his company Biosense created ToucHb, a needle-free blood hemoglobin testing device, and uChek, a mobile phone app and accessory that converts the smartphone into a medical-grade lab machine equivalent.

Sisonke Msimang

Writer, South Africa, @Sisonkemsimang

With a background in funding non-profit organizations fighting for democratic change in Africa, Msimang has become a powerful advocate for the better use of money and power on her continent. She also writes about sex.

Jacqueline Musiitwa, Esq.

Founder, Managing Partner, Hoja Law Group, Uganda/Zambia, @nubiancounsel

Musiitwa’s background in the law and policy has led her to focus on achieving sustainable development by advocating for investment, trade, good governance and rule of law, all to improve Africa’s standing in the world.

Ramadhani Abdallah Noor, MD, PhD

Research Associate, Harvard School of Public Health, Tanzania, @ranoortz

Noor was drawn to study public health and focus on vaccine development and dissemination after being overwhelmed by the number of patients he saw dying from preventable or treatable diseases and conditions. In addition to a focus on public health, he also advocates for food security and nutrition for maternal and child health in Africa

Jensi Sartin

Director, Reef Check Foundation, Indonesia, @jensisartin

Sartin witnessed the deforestation of rainforests in Borneo during his childhood, and it set him on a path focused on conservation. His advocacy is focused on the health of coral reefs and community-based approaches to manage them in the face of development.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, PhD, MSc

CEO, Head of Diplomatic Mission, Food Agriculture Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, Zimbabwe, @lmsibanda

Sibanda’s work advocating for food and nutritional security covers 17 African countries and promotes sustainable agricultural development through innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture.

Evans Wadongo

Founder, Executive Director, Sustainable Development For All, Kenya,@evanswadongo

Wadongo has been a leader by bringing both energy and economic development to rural communities in Kenya and Africa. He started with an initiative to use solar power to reduce the cycle of poverty for poor communities and is now advising young entrepreneurs and leaders on growing relevant innovations that tackle socio-economic problems for developing countries. 

In addition to personal coaching on creating a dynamic platform to get their messages across, Fellows will receive introductions to select media outlets, serve as sources for journalists, and speak at high-profile conferences throughout the fellowship period. The group held its first workshop in Johannesburg in March, with another group meeting later in the year.

During the program’s first year, New Voices fellows were featured more than 76 times in media outlets and speaking opportunities, including op-ed articles in CNN, Al Jazeera and the New York Times, interviews for NPR and the BBC, and a speech on the TED main stage.

Application to the fellowship is by nomination only, and nominations will open in September 2014 for the next class. The 2015 New Voices fellows will be announced in early 2015.

For more about the New Voices Fellowship and further information about this year’s fellows, please visit or Follow all the fellows and the fellowship on Twitter at @aspennewvoices.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.