Constantinides picked for Obama’s Mandela Fellowship


catherine---textCatherine Constantinides is a former Miss Earth South Africa and Play Your Part Ambassador. (Image: Kevin Mark Pass)

Former Miss Earth South Africa and Play Your Part Ambassador Catherine Constantinides’ star keeps shining as she works to make South Africa and the world a better place.

No stranger to leadership platforms and thought leadership, Constantinides will be heading to the US as one of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows, part of the Department of State’s Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali).

Constantinides leaves in June with fellows from across Africa for a six-week leadership training programme. This includes an opportunity to hone their skills at an American higher education institution with support for professional development after they return home.

She said that ensuring human rights for all Africans will unlock the continent’s potential. “We must be committed to succeed in ensuring that human rights are an integral part of our fabric with a unified commitment and energy to move Africa forward as an economically stable and viable global competitor.”

The Fellows

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders began in 2014 as the flagship programme of President Barack Obama’s Yali initiative.

Fellows are placed at US colleges and universities where they will focus on developing skills in one of three areas: business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management.

Constantinides has been placed in the civic leadership track and will spend her time in Virginia at the Presidential Precinct.

The precinct is made up of six landmark institutions – four of America’s most important historic sites, which includes the Thomas Jefferson Monticello, and two of the country’s most outstanding public universities being the University of Virginia and America’s second-oldest university the College of William and Mary.

A social innovator

The South African government recently awarded Constantinides with the Ubuntu Youth Diplomacy award for her outstanding work across Africa and the world.

She started her first business at the age of 16 and has worked as an international climate activist, passionate humanitarian and social entrepreneur.

Her work on women empowerment in the environmental space has gone beyond South Africa to reach Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Namibia.

Constantinides also is at the helm of the Miss Earth South Africa leadership programme, is co-founder of Generation Earth and is a social cohesion advocate for the Department of Arts and Culture.

She is an Archbishop Tutu African Oxford Fellow and has worked tirelessly over the past 18 months on human rights violations in Africa with a firm commitment to bring justice to forgotten people across the continent.

In 2015 she was invited as an honorary member of the Golden Key Society and was also nominated as one of South Africa’s 21 Icons, an acclaimed TV and photographic series honouring great South Africans.

Follow @ChangeAgentSA on Twitter and Instagram over the next two months as Constantinides shares her wisdom on leadership.