African First Ladies Fellowship Program

photo African women carrying goods along a road

Dates: September 27–October 1, 2010
Location: RAND Corporation Washington Office
1200 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202-5050
More Details: Participants
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The Program

The first course in the African First Ladies Fellowship Program was aimed at introducing First Ladies and their staff and advisors to various strategies for establishing and managing an effective First Lady's Office and to a leadership development and policy-analysis framework for improving executive decisionmaking. Through presentations, small working groups, Q&A sessions, and individual consultation and mentoring, the course provided attendees with a nuanced discussion of how to:

  • Negotiate and define the role of the First Lady and her office
  • Structure and manage an executive office
  • Engage national & international public and private stakeholders
  • Develop short and long-term strategies
  • Efficiently assess problems, identify solutions, and shape policy

Fellows came to the course with pre-selected policy or program challenges they aim to address. This first course was conducted by subject-matter experts from RAND and American University, with guest lectures from leading international agencies, who delivered presentations, facilitated breakout sessions, summarized key points and conclusions, and supervised a forum for discussions and questions. The topics, presentations, and working-group sessions catered to the needs of all participants, including both chiefs of staff and advisors to first ladies. Subsequent courses will be held in select countries in Africa, and will engage subject-matter experts from local institutions, ministries, and civil society institutions.

Participants who successfully completed the week-long program will be awarded a certificate of completion from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.


Days 1 & 2

Led by Anita McBride, former Chief of Staff to Laura Bush, and Bob Tobias, Director of American University's Public Sector Executive Education program, this portion of the course will focus on executive leadership skills best used in establishing and managing First Ladies offices. The discussion will draw on lessons learned from First Ladies offices around the world, drawing on theories and practices used for effective leadership, facilitation and team development. Topics to be addressed will include: defining and prioritizing agendas, establishing relationships with the president's or prime minister's office, roles and responsibilities of key staff, acquiring funding and resources, and establishing and maintaining relationships with other key stakeholders (including government entities, NGOs, donors, and the private sector).

Days 3 & 4

Led by Gery Ryan and Jeffrey Wasserman, senior researchers at RAND and core faculty at PRGS, the next two days will provide an introduction to policy analysis. The discussion and group exercises will draw on a wide range of policy analysis cases in health and education. Emphasis will be placed on learning how to analyze key policy problems, determine the primary causes of such problems, generate potential solutions and interventions, plan effective implementations strategies and devise practical methods to evaluate the results and promote continuous improvement.

Day 5

As a learning practicum, participants from each country will come to the course with a key policy-relevant problem on their First Lady's agenda that they wish to develop further. Participants will work with course advisors to: (a) articulate the nature and scope of the problem; (b) develop a conceptual framework for addressing the issue; (c) assess the key stakeholders involved and what their roles and responsibilities are relative to solving the problem; (d) identify and select among potential intervention options; (e) establish an implementation strategy including an assessment of the resources needed, potential funders, and a time line; (f) create a system for monitoring and evaluating the progress and impact of the plan; and (g) articulate how it will be integrated into the management structure of the First Lady's Office, most often in close collaboration with relevant ministries and other partners.

Follow Up

Fellows will work closely with RAND, American University, and high-level in-country advisors and mentors to implement and assess their plan. Subsequent African First Lady Fellowship sessions will be hosted in Africa in 2011.

The First Ladies

Thandiwe Banda

Her Excellency Mrs. Thandiwe Banda has been the First Lady of Zambia since her husband, President Rupiah Banda, took office in November of 2008. She has a strong interest in health issues especially with regards to maternal and child health. She is also an advocate for strengthening legislation with regards to sexual violence against girls and women. The First Lady believes that Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are critical partners of the government in helping improve social and economic status in the country and has committed to using her status as First Lady to mobilize resources for such NGOs. She has also called for more coordination between the various NGOs so as to improve the efficacy of their programs and avoid duplication of efforts.

Chantal Campaoré

Her Excellency Mrs. Chantal Compaoré has been the First Lady of Burkina Faso since her husband, President Blaise Compaoré, took office in 1987. Mrs. Compaoré is committed to issues affecting women and children, particularly female genital mutilation (FGM), violence against women, child health, and HIV/AIDS. Mrs. Compaoré directs the Suka Foundation which is involved in a range of activities related to maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, and girls' education, including the creation of SOS Children's Village for Ziniare, vaccination programs, construction of woman's house, and various public awareness campaigns, to name a few. Under Mrs. Compaoré's leadership, the Suka Foundation has partnered with the Foundation Biya, under the guidance of the First Lady of Cameroon Mrs. Chantal Biya, to combat HIV/AIDS transmission. Mrs. Compaoré is also the Inter-African Committee's Goodwill Ambassador.

Maria da Luz Guebuza

Her Excellency Mrs. Maria da Luz Guebuza has been the First Lady of Mozambique since her husband, President Armando Guebuza, took office in 2005. As First Lady, Mrs. Guebuza is committed to addressing the issues of literacy, HIV/AIDS, and orphaned and vulnerable children and has attended related conferences across Africa. In collaboration with UNICEF, Mrs. Guebuza launched the Unite For Children, Unite Against AIDS Campaign, a five-year campaign whose main aim is to put "children at the Centre of the national response to HIV/AIDS." The campaign is part of a global UN initiative. Mrs. Guebuza supports the work of Maranatha Volunteers, a non-profit group which administers a four-level literacy program, and the SOS Children's Village, an organization providing vital support to orphaned children in Mozambique.

Salma Kikwete

Her Excellency Mrs. Salma Kikwete has been the First Lady of Tanzania since her husband, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, took office in 2005. Mrs. Kikwete is the Founder and President of the WAMA Foundation, which targets development by improving women's social and economic status by re-defining gender roles and creating more opportunities for the development of women and children, particularly girls. The Foundation also aims to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS infections among youth and children. Mrs. Kikwete is a member of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA). Mrs. Kikwete, along with her husband, President Kikwete, and the Presidents and First Ladies of Benin and the United States, was honored among the 2008 End Malaria Awards' President and First Lady Advocates of the Year.

Sia Nyama Koroma

Her Excellency Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma has been First Lady of Sierra Leone since her husband, President Ernest Bai Koroma, took office in September 2007. As First Lady, she has dedicated her efforts to promoting gender equality in Sierra Leone and empowering women through better education and health. She is also committed to the enhancement of the standard of living for the most poor and vulnerable groups, focusing her efforts on reducing infant and maternal mortality. In the international arena, Mrs. Koroma has used her status as the First Lady to raise the profile of Sierra Leone and to advocate for the poor and vulnerable. Mrs. Koroma was trained as a biochemist (M.Sc. in organic chemistry), and a psychiatric staff nurse both in Sierra Leone and in the United Kingdom.

Mathato Mosisili

Her Excellency Mrs. Mathato Mosisili has been First Lady of Lesotho since her husband, Prime Minister Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili, took office in April 1998. She is committed to health issues, particularly the fight against HIV/AIDS and the care of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. She is the patron of the Lerato Trust Charity Fund and the Selibeng Women's forum. She is also a special member of the United Nations task force on women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, she coordinates the activities of the spouses of Parliamentarians with respect to HIV/AIDS activities at the community level. Mrs. Mosisili is trained as a teacher and has extensive experience as a lecturer at the Lesotho College of Education and as an education inspector.

Penehupifo Pohamba

Her Excellency Mrs. Penehupifo Pohamba has been First Lady of Namibia since her husband, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, took office in March 2005. In her tenure as First Lady, she has advocated for the empowerment of women to enable them to make a meaningful contribution to the development of society and has fought for the eradication of violence and other forms of injustice against women. She has also been active in supporting maternal and child health-care, and in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In July 2006, she was elected vice president for the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC). Mrs. Pohamba was trained in midwifery both in Tanzania and Jamaica and practiced as a midwife and as a registered nurse until she became First Lady.

Ida Betty Odinga

Her Excellency Mrs. Ida Betty Odinga of Kenya has been playing an influential role in political and civil issues in Kenya since her husband, Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga, took office in April 2008. Mrs. Odinga is the founder of the Ida Odinga Trust (IOT), a non-partisan, non-profit organization that focuses on the advancement of women and children in the areas of education, maternal heath, and women in leadership roles. Being one of the first women in Kenya to lead a major corporation when she took over as the Managing Director of East Africa Spectre in 2003, Mrs. Odinga is known for her leadership. She also served as the National Chairperson of The League of Kenya Women Voters. In May 2009, she was nominated and accepted to serve as the Ambassador for Freedom from Fistula and has recently launched a program that mentors girls to stay in school and complete their education. She also supports various initiatives supporting patients of breast cancer and children with cancer, as well as heading the advisory board of the Kenya Paraplegic Association, among others. She is a patron of White Ribbon Alliance-Kenya, Kenya Medical Women's Association and Kenya Breast Health Organization, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and UNICEF nutrition initiatives. Mrs. Odinga is a teacher by profession having taught for a period of over 20 years.

See the full list of participants, including presenters, guest lecturers, and fellows.

Partner: Women's Campaign International

Women's Campaign International commits to provide strategic planning and capacity-building for the First Ladies of Africa so that they can create and sustain their legacy plans to work towards social improvement and development. To accomplish this, WCI will also create an interactive fundraising website to allow for sustainable initiatives and to promote awareness about all of the legacy projects. These projects will address issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention, curbing all forms of violence against women, girls' education and other pressing problems across the African continent.

Read the full commitment at


African First Ladies

  • Angola
  • Burkina Faso
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia

Individual Donors

  • Neal Baer
  • Reza Bundy
  • Lee Sorensen

Institutional Donors

  • Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • RAND Health
  • RAND International Programs
  • UnitedHealth Group

About PRGS and AU

This event is being conducted under the auspices of the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) and American University (AU). The Pardee RAND Graduate School, established in 1970, has evolved into a model for graduate programs in policy analysis. PRGS is co-located with its parent organization, RAND. RAND provides research and analysis that keeps policymakers ahead of the curve on the issues that matter most such as health care, education, national security, the environment and more. For more information about RAND and PRGS, visit

Chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1893, American University continues to hold true to its ideals of global outlook, practical idealism, and a passion for public service. For information on AU, visit

For More Information

Contact the codirectors of the African First Ladies Fellowship: Cora Neumann, M.P.H.: (310) 876-9311 or (310) 393-0411, ext. 7132 /; or Gery Ryan, Ph.D.: (310) 393-0411, ext. 7925 /