May 2022 Newsletter

Alumni & Fellow Updates

Alumni Philile Shongwe featured in Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy’s Graduation Stories

Philile Shongwe (2016-2017 Fellow with African School of Economics in Benin) was born and raised in Eswatini. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Affairs and French from Yale University before going on to work with the African School of Economics as a research assistant Fellow. She recently graduated from Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, where she completed a Master’s Degree in International Development Policy.

In 2021, Shongwe founded Govuka, a non-profit based in Eswatini, which advocates for the health of adolescent girls in her home country. The goal of this organization is to help improve the wellbeing and economic outcomes of girls between the ages of 11 and 19 by demonstrating the benefits of not engaging in intergenerational relationships. Govuka envisions an Eswatini where all young people can reach their full potential.

Read more about her work in Duke University’s Graduate Profiles, written by Carol Jackson.

Vogue Magazine features Collective Focus, a non-profit founded by PiAf alumni Sarah Rooney and her friends.

Princeton in Africa is always proud to see our alumni go on to found their own organizations that help the public good. Like Philile Shongwe with her organization, Govuka, in Eswatini, Sarah Rooney (2019-2020 Fellow with BIPAI in Botswana) and her friend Briana Calderón Navarro also saw a need in the community and began advocating to improve the health and wellbeing of those around them.

Last month, Vogue Magazine published a feature on Collective Focus, a non-profit community center founded by Rooney and Calderón Navarro. The center can be found in Brooklyn, NY where it provides food, clothing and supplies to locals and offers a safe place to gather. The organization is just getting started, as it’s goal is to become completely self-sustaining and keep growing to fit more needs of the community.

Learn more about Collective Focus here.

Haja Isatu Bah (Mount Elgon Ecosystem Trust, Kenya) performs her second TED Talk

Last December, Haja Isatu Bah made her first appearance on TEDx with her talk on Education for Climate Action. She was invited back to TEDx to talk about her entrepreneurial spirit and her love of learning.

Haja talks about building her social enterprise, Uman4Uman, which tackles period poverty, sells reusable pads to girls and women and spreads awareness about the environmental impact of disposable period products. Since launching her social enterprise in 2020, over 4,500 reusable pads have been sold, with an average of 375 pads a month.

In this TED Talk, “Haja Isatu highlights the importance of one merging a love for learning with an entrepreneurial spirit, without neglecting either. She tells us how to embrace this idea by sharing the stories of two Sierra Leonean greats, the renowned academic – Dr. Davidson Nicol and serial entrepreneur – Alhaji Mohamed Bailor Barrie.”

Watch the full TED Talk here.

PiAf Updates

In April, Princeton in Africa announced seven new and distinguished members to our Board of Directors. Our organization looks forward to learning from these experts in their fields and continuing to build partnerships with African organizations and individuals. Please read about our new members here.

Amaka Anku, Princeton in Africa Alumni

Ettie Philitas, Princeton in Africa Alumni

Steve Feldstein, Princeton in Africa Alumni

Rob Wolk

Dr. Jacob Dlamini

Grace Penn

Dr. Mahiri Mwita

Upcoming PiAf Events

Princeton in Africa is holding a Post P-Rade reception from 4 PM to 6:30 PM on May 21st in the Butler College 1915 room. You do not need to be a Princeton University alumni to attend, and we welcome all. We look forward to seeing members of our PiAf community at the first in-person Princeton Reunions since 2019!

Please RSVP here- it only takes a minute! 

Our History

In 1999, a group of Princeton alumni, faculty, and staff launched Princeton in Africa as an independent affiliate of Princeton University inspired by the University’s informal motto, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” In 2010, the program opened up to include graduates of any US accredited university in order to meet the growing demand from host organizations and allow more young professionals access to the unique opportunities afforded by PiAf. During the past 20 years, we have placed over 600 Fellows with more than 100 organizations in 36 countries, while developing more strategic partnerships across Africa and creating more opportunities for our alumni community to engage with the continent and with one another.


The International Rescue Committee has been so fortunate to have had a longstanding relationship with Princeton in Africa since our very first Fellows landed in Rwanda in 1999.  Whether it was Emily or Renee in 1999 or the 110 Fellows across 14 IRC countries over the years, we have been blessed by the relationship, the quality of the Fellows and the impact on what IRC does on the ground every single day.

Brian Johnson
Chief Human Resources Officer
International Rescue Committee

My fellowship has been the most impactful personal and professional development opportunity of my life. I wanted a post-college experience that would push my limits, expand my comfort zone, and help me discern the next steps in my career journey. And this has been the case.

Ryan Elliott
2014-15 Fellow
Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Lesotho

I can honestly say that this year has changed my life and my view of what’s possible for the future. Princeton in Africa isn’t just a one-year fellowship, it’s an introduction to a particular way of life and a new way of thinking about the world. I feel like so many doors are open now that I never would have considered before.

Katie Fackler
2010-11 Fellow
UN World Food Programme

My Princeton in Africa fellowship was everything I could have hoped for and much more. The myriad of experiences makes my head swim, and it has strengthened my desire to help underserved populations worldwide.

David Bartels
2006-2007 Fellow
Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative

Princeton in Africa was an invaluable experience for me. I learned an infinite amount through my work and through living in Uganda. I also realized that I want to continue working on African issues as long as I can.

Alexis Okeowo
2006-2007 Fellow
The New Vision

The International Rescue Committee’s experience with Princeton in Africa has been exceptional. Each Fellow brings excellent writing and analytical skills as well as unique interests and passions that enrich the program and the field office environment. We were so pleased we expanded the program to more field offices.

Susan Riehl
Human Resources, IRC

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has been working in Africa for over 11 years through its Secure the Future program.  One common theme in all aspects of program implementation is having passionate, energetic individuals on the ground who can think outside the box and then transfer the skills for sustainability.  The Princeton In Africa Fellows have been a huge asset in this regard and our programs and patients have been better for it.

John Damonti
President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation