Meet the inaugural class of the 2018 Obama Foundation Fellowship for civic innovators.

These Obama Foundation Fellows are powerful examples of the many pathways we can take to improve our communities. These civic leaders bring a variety of disciplines and skill sets to their work – including community organizing, healthcare, technology, and the arts – and they apply those talents to a range of missions, from empowering parents and teachers to improve our schools, to ensuring deaf children have equal access to literacy tools, to bringing trauma-informed care to the criminal justice system and refugee camps, to working with partners across the healthcare system to treat addiction collaboratively.

These leaders are working hand-in-hand with their communities to build better futures. They understand that creating change often requires reaching out across the lines that divide us. And their successes to date show how collaborative, community-driven work can lead to strong, imaginative, and long-lasting solutions – even on some of our most intractable and polarizing problems.

With over 20,000 people from 191 countries applied. From that incredible pool, the Obama Foundation selected 20 inaugural Fellows who represent 11 countries around the world.

Meet the 2018 class below – and stay tuned to hear more about these leaders and their work over the course of the Fellowship!

1. Erin Barnes

Brooklyn, NY ioby
Equipping new local leaders across the country to improve their neighborhoods through resident-led, crowdfunded community change

2.Veronica Crespin-Palmer

Aurora, CO RISE Colorado
Empowering families most affected by educational inequity in Colorado to organize for change

3. Celina De Sola

San Salvador, El Salvador Glasswing International
Forging partnerships across institutions and people to empower youth, mobilize action, and build community resilience to reduce poverty and violence

4. Clarissa Delgado
Makati, Philippines Teach for the Philippines
Redesigning teacher training to address the reality of students’ poverty and helping public school teachers become community leaders

5. Nedgine Paul Deroly
Gonaïves, Haiti Anseye Pou Ayiti
Working with Haitian communities to create a network of civic leaders and build an equitable education system based on shared history, values, and vision.

6. Tiana Epps-Johnson

Chicago, IL Center for Technology and Civic Life
Improving voter turnout by training elections officials to better communicate with voters and providing civic information through digital platforms

7. Sasha Fisher
New York, NY / Rwanda Spark MicroGrants
Using community organizing and village grants to foster democratic capacity, inclusion, and growth in rural Africa

8.  Harry Grammer
Los Angeles, CA New Earth
Empowering justice-involved youth through arts, education, and vocational programs

9.Zarlasht Halaimzai
London, UK / Greece Refugee Trauma Initiative
Providing psychological first aid to refugees, making mental health care integral to all relief efforts

10. Ashley Hanson
Granite Falls, MN / Boulder, CO PlaceBase Productions and The Department of Public Transformation
Using the arts to help rural communities connect across difference, revitalize their rural spaces, and create new narratives across the United States

11. Preethi Herman
Delhi, India Foundation
Equipping a new movement of female leaders to engage their communities in addressing India’s toughest problems

12. Navdeep Kang
Cincinnati, OH Mercy Health
Building a collaborative, community-based approach to the opioid crisis, changing how addiction is treated in Ohio

13. Moussa Kondo
Bamako, Mali
Accountability Lab Mali
Fighting corruption in Mali by celebrating honest civil servants

14.  Sandor Lederer
Budapest, Hungary K-Monitor Association
Building digital tools to help citizens push for transparency and good governance in Hungary

15.Kalani Leifer
San Francisco, CA / New York, NY COOP
Building a movement of diverse, upwardly mobile college grads overcoming underemployment through digital skills and peer connections

16. Melissa Malzkuhn
Washington, DC Motion Light Lab, Gallaudet University and Ink and Salt LLC
Designing digital tools to give deaf children equal access to language, literacy, and expression

17. Koketso Moeti
Johannesburg, South Africa
Building a digital platform to enable Black South African women to organize around the issues that most affect their lives

18. Alex Smith
London, UK / Manchester, UK The Cares Family
Fighting loneliness and polarization in the UK by connecting seniors and young professionals to build new and lasting relationships

19. Dominique Jordan Turner
Chicago, IL Chicago Scholars
Equipping under-resourced youth to get to and through college, find meaningful careers, and become the next generation of Chicago leaders

20. Keith Wattley
Oakland, CA Uncommon Law
Transforming the lives of young people convicted of serious crimes, equipping them to become valuable members of the community

For More Information:

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  1. This is a team of some of the wonderful people from around the world, that are transforming lives and inspiring hope. I call on all to give them and President Obama the much needed support to continue this great work.


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