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Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity Announces 20 Impact-Driven Leaders as its 2019 Atlantic Fellows

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AFRE-2019-4001-launch-3_TW_R2.jpg                                                                                        Photo: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity

Selected from across the United States and South Africa, the new Fellows will join an enduring transnational network of leaders working across issues, approaches and geographies to challenge anti-Black racism and build the policies, institutions and narratives needed for a more equitable future

NEW YORK, NY — The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE) today announced its second cohort of Atlantic Fellows—20 leaders from across South Africa and the United States who are employing a broad spectrum of strategies to end anti-Black racism in the two countries and to build a more equitable world. As part of the programme, Fellows will receive financial resources and embark on a leadership journey in which they will meet, share, learn from and collaborate with other changemakers from around the world to advance strategies that achieve liberation for Black people.

The 2019 Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity are:

  • Cedric Brown, chief foundation officer, Kapor Center
  • Jitu Brown, national director, Journey for Justice Alliance
  • Zakiya Carr Johnson, principal, Odara Solutions
  • Busisiwe Dlamini, dialogue practitioner, the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand
  • Betsy Hodges, the 47th mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Regina Holloway, senior program manager, the Policing Project at New York University School of Law
  • Bongiwe Lenga, founding director of the Creative Academy
  • Mitchell Little, executive director, Mayor’s Office of the City of Philadelphia Community Empowerment & Opportunity
  • Dorah Marema, director, GenderCC Southern Africa – Women for Climate Justice
  • Lucky Nhlanhla Mnisi, a marine ecologist
  • Koketso Moeti, founding executive director,
  • Constance Mogale, national coordinator, Rural Democracy Trust
  • Elana Needle, director, Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative
  • Wilneida Negron, strategic advisor, Ford Foundation
  • Lovelyn Nwadeyi, founder and director, L&N Advisors
  • Tess Nolizwe Peacock, lawyer and early childhood development advocate
  • Kelvin Sauls, a community organiser and former senior pastor of Holman United Methodist Church
  • Devon Simmons, global ambassador for education programs and research assistant, Incarceration Nations Network
  • Dylan Valley, award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator
  • Deloris Wilson, head of strategy and operations, BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders Initiative

“Anti-Black racism continues to undermine the possibilities for a more just, equitable and compassionate world,” said Kavitha Mediratta, PhD, executive director of the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity programme. “It’s critical that we support the professional and personal development of the leaders driving systemic change and provide a space where they can foster collaborations to make real and lasting impact. Across South Africa and the United States, racial equity leaders are leveraging their scholarship, art and activism to dismantle anti-Black racism, and we are proud to have 20 of the most impactful leaders as part of our programme this year.”

Launched in 2017, AFRE’s yearlong, nonresidential fellowship programme builds knowledge, skills and a sense of community among Fellows working collaboratively to address the causes of racial inequality. Based at Columbia University in New York City and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, AFRE is one of seven interconnected Atlantic Fellows programmes which together create a global community to advance fairer, healthier and more inclusive societies. AFRE’s work is also informed by the history of Atlantic Philanthropies’ funding in South Africa and the United States and its deep commitment to advancing equity in these countries. As participants in a programme housed at Columbia and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Fellows engage with faculty around innovative projects and study lessons from the history of Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

“South Africa and the United States have been shaped by anti-Black racism and are still defined by racialised exploitation and other forms of violence,” said Sello Hatang, chief executive at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “The transnational exploration of the history and current struggles for racial equity in these two places can inform leaders from both nations while also inspiring new forms of activism, scholarship and art that speak truth to power.” As Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, leaders participate in transnational modules that build community and learning through structured dialogues, site visits and leadership trainings; guided webinar discussions that delve deeper into the topics discussed during the modules and that relate to the Fellows’ work; and partner learning institutes that provide Fellows with foundational content in a more traditionally academic setting. Fellows also receive individualised coaching and advising from professionals skilled in the particular areas of focus for Fellows’ projects or personal development. Fellows receive financial resources through a scholarship of $10,000 and additional project support of up to $10,000.

“In a changing world, the most impactful leaders are those who are able to build solidarity that draws traction from and leverages the communities to which they belong,” said Maxine Griffith, chair of AFRE’s board of directors. “Through leadership development, community building and narrative shifting, AFRE supports racial equity leaders in building knowledge, skills and relationships to work effectively across identities, sectors and ideological perspectives so that more powerful and visionary change can be achieved.”

In January, AFRE graduated its inaugural cohort of Fellows and launched the Senior Fellows programme. The Senior Fellows network furthers the impact of the fellowship experience by creating a sustained community in which Fellows continue to develop their own leadership practices and engage in exchange, learning and experimentation with others.

Meet the 2019 Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity

Contact: Daryl Hannah |


Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity is a nonresidential yearlong program that will support more than 250 Fellows from South Africa and the United States over its 10year lifespan. The programme, which is based at Columbia University and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, brings together organisers, artists, advocates and other change agents working to build a more just and equitable world by confronting and dismantling anti-Black racism. The program gives these leaders the time, space and connection to others in the field to encourage brainstorming and to inspire forward-looking planning and new ideas to deepen their work, better positioning them to drive powerful and transformative change.