This year, EnCompass had the pleasure of hosting Ms. Adeng Mayik, a Mandela Washington Fellow from South Sudan and the founder and CEO of the Media Development Foundation, which aims to educate and empower Sudanese communities on conscious consumption of media content. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Each year, the selected Fellows are invited to participate in several U.S.-based activities. Through a highly competitive process, some Fellows are also chosen to participate in a Professional Development Experience, which includes matching them with a host for a collaborative exchange that includes substantive and immersive work experiences in U.S.-based organizations.
With our long history of supporting programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and our commitment to supporting young and emerging leaders, EnCompass was thrilled to be selected as a host location for Mandela Fellows in 2023. Before she returned home, we asked Adeng to reflect on her experience at EnCompass. We are happy to share her insights below, and grateful for her many contributions to our project teams:
My experience in professional development at Encompass was an incredible opportunity as a Mandela Washington Fellow. Out of more than 60,000 applicants from 49 African countries, I was one of the fortunate 100 fellows selected for this program professional development experience, which aimed to enhance the skills of young African professionals while immersing them in the U.S. workplace culture and fostering professional relationships.
During this enriching experience of Mandela Washington Fellowship, I completed a six-week leadership program in civic engagement at the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia.
Following that, I relocated to Washington, D.C. for a four-week professional development stint with Encompass LLC, a women-owned business specializing in leadership solutions, capacity strengthening, technical assistance, and monitoring and evaluation across 70+ countries. With a team of over 1,300 staff and consultants worldwide, they provided me with a unique hybrid work arrangement, combining in-office and virtual tasks.
At Encompass, I collaborated with the Strategic Communications team under the USAID Global Waters Project, focusing on communication and knowledge management. My responsibilities included supporting USAID Global Waters in social media and research, enhancing my communication skills, analyzing organizational communication, understanding modern communication styles, and tailoring messages for a global audience.
Additionally, I contributed to the Encompass Learning Center’s (ELC) mission to make high-quality learning accessible globally by participating in the planning, development, and production of online training courses. This involved working closely with partners and facilitators to create engaging online learning experiences. I also provided media and marketing content for these courses based on participant survey data and assisted in survey analysis.
My time at Encompass not only improved my professional skills but also allowed me to strike a healthy work-life balance. I had the privilege of interacting with colleagues from various departments and exploring Washington, D.C.’s rich history, museums, and landmarks.
I was introduced to the concept of [Appreciative Inquiry in] Reframing Evaluation through Appreciative Inquiry by Hallie Preskill and Tessie Catsambas, EnCompass’ CEO/CFO, which explores positive and constructive approaches to evaluations. I look forward to implementing these insights in my own organization.
This experience at Encompass has equipped me with valuable skills and knowledge that will undoubtedly benefit my work in South Sudan and beyond. I am eager to share these lessons with my peers, both as a journalism lecturer at the University of Juba and as the Founder and CEO of the Media Development Foundation in South Sudan.
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