The Aspen Institute Announces 2013 New Voices Fellows

June 10, 2013

Contact: Andrew Quinn
New Voices Fellowship Director
The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute Announces 2013 New Voices Fellows:
To offer new perspectives on global development from community activists, doctors, health systems experts, entrepreneurs from 10 countries in Africa

Washington DC, (10 June 2013)—The Aspen Institute announced today the first 12-member class of the New Voices Fellowship, a groundbreaking new program designed to amplify expert voices from the developing world in the global development discussion. The 2013-2014 fellows come from 10 countries in Africa: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and Tanzania. 

They include the founder of an organization which promotes African-focused children’s literature; a Somali civil war refugee turned youth leader; a primary care expert from Ethiopia; a Cameroonian activist campaigning for women’s rights;  a Malawian health systems expert helping to implement Swaziland’s universal HIV treatment program; the Ghanaian CEO of a technology company addressing social issues in West Africa; a physician working on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Tanzania; a nonprofit leader from Mali spearheading efforts to boost small-scale farmer income; two activists from Nairobi’s Kibera and Korogocho slums; a doctor and helicopter pilot from Nigeria; and an expert from the Democratic Republic of Congo on health care in Africa’s most remote regions.

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.

“All too frequently, the most powerful leaders and practitioners in the developing world do not have access to global communications platforms to tell their stories in their own words,” said Peggy Clark, executive director of Aspen Global Health and Development, and also vice president of policy programs at the Aspen Institute.

“The New Voices Fellows will give us insights into the most critical programs, solutions and innovations based on their own experiences and research.” 

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

The 2013-2014 New Voices Fellows are: 

–        Regina Agyare
CEO, Soronko Solutions, GHANA
Agyare’s work focuses on developing and promoting unique technology solutions to address social issues in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. 

–        Deborah Ahenkorah
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Golden Baobab, GHANA
A commitment to education and a passion for reading led Ahenkorah to establish the Golden Baobab Prize, which is aimed at encouraging the production of quality African children’s literature and promoting literacy. 

–        Mohamed Ali, J.D.
Founder, Iftiin Foundation, SOMALIA
A one-time refugee from Somalia’s long civil war, Ali now works through the Iftiin Foundation to encourage entrepreneurship among Somali youth and tighten ties with the Somali diaspora. 

–        Kassahun Desalegn, M.D.
Clinical Director, Gondar University Hospital, ETHIOPIA
Desalegn, the only dermatologist in an area of northern Ethiopia that is home to six million people, is focused on strengthening primary health care in developing countries. 

–        Yvonne Leina Fomuso
Founder and Coordinator, Gender Danger, CAMEROON
One of the world’s best known activists campaigning against the controversial traditional practice of breast ironing, Fomuso hopes to create a media training center for women. 

–        Jeffrey Misomali
Program Manager, Clinton Health Access Initiative, MALAWI
Misomali, a citizen of Malawi, has helped Swaziland lay the groundwork to become one of the first African countries with universal HIV treatment – a massive logistical challenge that represents the next phase of Africa’s AIDS response. 

–        Mary Mwanyika-Sando, M.D.
Maternal and Child Health Coordinator, Management and Development for Health, TANZANIA
Mwanyika-Sando, a medical doctor, has worked on efforts to scale up prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Tanzania and to start eligible HIV-positive pregnant women on antiretroviral drugs earlier. 

–        Salif Romano Niang
Co-founder and Chief Impact Officer, Malo Traders LLC, MALI
Niang put a U.S. academic career on hold to return to his native Mali and launch Malo Traders, an organization designed to combat extreme poverty and malnutrition by increasing the incomes of smallholder farmers and providing affordable fortified rice to consumers. 

–        Kennedy Odede
President and CEO, Shining Hope for Communities, KENYA
Odede, who grew up in Nairobi’s Kibera slum and went on to study at Wesleyan University, has become one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and has used his NGO to launch projects that range  from a tuition-free school to eco-friendly toilets. 

–        Ola Orekunrin, M.D.
Managing Director, Flying Doctors Nigeria LTD, NIGERIA
Orekunrin is both a medical doctor and a helicopter pilot who set up Nigeria’s first air ambulance service. She now hopes to help improve paramedic training across West Africa. 

–        Jane Otai
Senior Program Advisor, Jhpiego, KENYA
Otai has worked to spread the news about family planning, prenatal care and HIV counseling in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum, using her own story as an example of what women can achieve when provided with family planning options. 

–        Jacques Sebisaho
Sebisaho grew up on Idjwi island in Lake Kivu between the DRC and Rwanda, and since earning his medical degree has worked to improve healthcare there – and demonstrate that innovative healthcare results can be achieved in Africa’s remotest regions. 

“I’m thrilled that we have such a strong and exciting group for the first New Voices class,” said Andrew Quinn, director of the Fellowship at Aspen. “These are people who have their sleeves rolled up and are working to make things better on the ground. They have a lot to tell the rest of us about what should come next in development.”

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 will hold its first workshop in Johannesburg in June, with another group meeting later in the year.

Application to the Fellowship is by nomination only, and nominations will open in October 2013 for the next class. The 2014-15 New Voices Fellows will be announced in early 2014.

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

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. 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, D.C.; 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. For more information, visit:


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