Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at Mandela Washington Fellowship 2022 Virtual Summit

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 13, 2022


Good afternoon, YALI Fellows. Congratulations and welcome! I know it may sound odd to say welcome when I’m your closing speaker, but as this summit comes to an end, you are about to embark on a new beginning. You are entering the ranks of YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni.

You are joining an esteemed group of more than 5,000 alums – each and every one inspiring change and making a difference in their communities. And I’m thrilled to welcome you to that group. And yes, that means you now get access to a wide array of alumni benefits, from Reciprocal Exchanges to small grants – including the Mandela Day Service Grant for volunteer projects that improve livelihoods. I urge you to take advantage of these benefits. But even more valuable is the network you now join, of leaders like yourselves who are committed to working together and improving your countries, continent, and world for your generation and many more to come.

I still remember when YALI first started in 2011 and the immense pride I felt sending off our first group from Liberia, where I had the honor of serving as the U.S. Ambassador at the time. Since then, many of you have started referring to me as the mother of YALI. Well, I’m proud to welcome you to the family.

I also have the honor of recognizing the winner of the Leadership Impact Award, which celebrates an outstanding alumni member who has committed their time and expertise to promote inclusion, innovation, and access. Congratulations to Ian Tarimo! Ian, your work as Executive Director of Tai Tanzania has truly impressed and inspired all of us. After Ian’s fellowship, he received alumni funding from the U.S. African Development Foundation to create an animated short film on disability and inclusion. And after our summit today, I encourage all of you to watch some of his organization’s powerful short films.

And to everyone watching – I want you to know we are all rooting for you. You are the reason I have optimism and faith in Africa’s future. The challenges we face are great, but I know you will be greater still.

Congratulations again on completing this fellowship. I cannot wait to see what you accomplish in the months and the years to come. Thank you.