Yale convenes forum on education and impactful leadership in Kenya

Moderator Amandla Ook-Ombaka, Dr. George Njenga, Kaakpema Yelpaal, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, and President Peter Salovey
From left: Moderator Amandla Ook-Ombaka, Dr. George Njenga, Kaakpema Yelpaal, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, and President Peter Salovey during the “Yale-Strathmore University Leadership Forum: The Nexus Between Education & Impactful Leadership.” event in Nairobi, Kenya.

On March 15, President Peter Salovey joined Yale alumni who are leaders in Africa for the “Yale-Strathmore University Leadership Forum: The Nexus Between Education & Impactful Leadership.” The forum, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, focused on the role of education in efforts to improve the world and benefit society. Salovey also announced the creation of the Yale-Africa Impact Scholarships and celebrated Yale’s partnerships in East Africa.

 “I feel strongly that Yale’s engagement with Africa should be an important dimension of Yale’s missions of research, teaching, and service. It should be a genuine partnership — a partnership where both sides learn from each other, a partnership where we collaborate on the same footing, a partnership that is equally valuable to both institutions,” Salovey said in his opening remarks.“[Yale and Strathmore] have so much to offer each other, and we have only just begun to explore the potential synergies.”

President Salovey joined Strathmore University Vice Chancellor Professor John Odhiambo, Patrick Njoroge ’93, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, and Kaakpema Yelpaala ’06, CEO of access.mobile, International, on stage for a conversation moderated by Amandla Ooko-Ombaka ’10, a consultant with McKinsey & Company. In her first year at Yale, Ooko-Ombaka founded the Yale Leadership Institute, a student organization dedicated to helping students cultivate leadership skills, now its 10th year.

Panel participants — representing the government, business, and education sectors — talked about their visions as leaders, sharing personal stories of success as well as challenging experiences and lessons learned.

While leading the group discussion, Ooko-Ombaka shared a story about a “crucible moment” that tested her own values as a leader.

During her sophomore year at Yale, she returned to Kenya to serve as an election monitor in 2007. As she stood in line waiting to exercise her right to vote, a rock was thrown right above her head, breaking a window. Violence seemed imminent, she said, and she considered running.

In that moment I was thinking, ‘This is the change that everyone is thirsty for, I am that change: sitting here voting and refusing to leave the polling station because my right to vote is at risk,’” she recalled.

I always come back to that crucible moment for me, looking internally and thinking, ‘I can’t say I am a leader of an organization if in a moment like that I hide and don’t do the right thing. I refused to leave the voting station,” Ooko-Ombaka said. “You can’t take on and off the hat of leadership. You’re a leader the entire time. You don’t wake up one day and decide you’re not going to live these values. You live them 100% of the time.”

While speaking at Strathmore University, Salovey announced the creation of the Yale-Africa Impact Scholarships, which provide an expanded opportunity for emerging leaders in Africa to pursue an M.B.A. at Yale. The Yale School of Management will dedicate two scholarships in its full-time M.B.A. program for students from the continent who intend to return and contribute to economic growth in their nations and communities.

Peter Salovey, Amina Mohamed, and John Odhiambo at Strathmore University.
President Salovey, Cabinet Secretary for Education in Kenya Amina Mohamed, and Vice-Chancellor of Strathmore University Prof. John Odhiambo.

Salovey joined leaders from Strathmore in praising another milestone: On Jan. 25, Strathmore Business School joined the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), a network of 32 top business schools on six continents that are committed to educating global leaders and having a transformational effect on students, member schools, management education, and beyond. Yale School of Management convened the network in 2012.

Strathmore is the first member of the GNAM network from East Africa, joining other members from Africa: the Lagos Business School, University of Cape Town Business School, and University of Ghana Business School. Yale and Strathmore are exploring the possibility of other collaborations with the Yale Center for Data Analytics and Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale.

Yale aspires to advance our role as a leading global research university through building partnerships worldwide,” Salovey said. “We are honored to work with Strathmore in pursuing our mutual goal of serving society through teaching, research, and scholarship.”

A delegation of Yale faculty and staff are in Ghana and Kenya March 10-16, meeting with alumni, scholars, and entrepreneurs and extending educational and research partnerships in Africa. The trip marks five years since Salovey announced the Yale Africa Initiative, an ongoing effort to prioritize and expand Yale’s commitment to the continent. Follow #YaleinAfrica on Instagram, Twitter, and on Facebook to see updates and photos from the visit.

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale and Africa: Empowering through partnership

Media Contact

Adam Gaber: adam.gaber@yale.edu, 203-436-5449