Our History

For 24 years, Princeton in Africa has been sending young leaders to the African continent to fulfill incredible personal and professional growth opportunities. Below, please find more information about our major past achievements, events, and recognitions.

Princeton University students sign on to aid Africa: one of the first articles highlighting Princeton in Africa’s first four full-year Fellows

Princeton in Africa featured on BellaNaija.com

Bellanaija is a lifestyle, entertainment and fashion website in Africa, headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. As part of Bellanaija’s corporate social responsibility program that is committed to youth, education, healthcare, and community development, they shared an article promoting our 2023-24 application.

2022-22 Fellow Matthew Fuller, sponsored by Henry Richardson Labouisse 1926, featured in Princeton International Magazine 2022 Issue

Matthew tells Princeton International Magazine that “(PiAf’s) mission stuck out (to me) and the opportunities stood out, just in terms of their focus on responsible development and also professional development.”

Princeton in Africa Welcomes Seven Board Members in April of 2022

We believe that our Board, with the diversity that they bring in identities, lived experiences, expertise and more will be crucial to Princeton in Africa’s commitment to building human capital and forging productive partnerships with people and organizations across the African continent.

International Fellowship Groups Go Remote, Hope to Return Abroad written by Anna Mazarakis in 2021

Could an international program function remotely? (Yes!)
“We only wanted to do this if it was something the organizations and the Fellows thought would work,” PiAf program director Stephanie Hooper Leroy said of the decision to offer remote programming. In the 2020–21 cohort, PiAf ended up having 16 remote Fellows. Read more about our 2020-21 Fellows achievements and remote programming here.

PiAf Celebrates 20 Years on the African Continent with their 20th Anniversary Gala in 2019

“In 2019, we celebrated all those who made it possible for our Fellows to bring skills in marketing, fundraising, teaching, finance, M&E, software design and more to our incredible host organizations while developing critical professional skills and cultivating meaningful relationships with their host communities in Africa and with one another.”

Princeton Profiles: Zoe Sims, finding purpose and passion in the natural world by Jamie Saxon and Danielle Alio featured in Princeton University News in 2018

“Zoe Sims was a 2017-18 Fellow with Mpala Research Centre & Wildlife Foundation in Kenya.  Originally from the Big Island of Hawaii, she graduated from Princeton University in 2017 with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a certificate in Environmental Science.”

From New Jersey to Nairobi: Princeton in Africa marks 10 years, featured in Princeton University News in 2010

“Our fellows have studied Africa and development work in college, and they want to take the experience out of books and into the field,” said Cordelia Persen, executive director of Princeton in Africa in 2010. “Seeing Africa firsthand is a totally different learning experience.”

Princeton in Africa Turns 10, featured in Princeton Alumni Weekly in 2010

A comprehensive history of our founding and our first Fellows.

“In 1999, about the time of the 100th anniversary of Princeton-in-Asia, a team including Hritz; Jim Floyd ’69; Paula Chow, director of the International Center; Jeffrey Herbst ’83, former chairman of the politics depart­ment; Howard Ende, then the University’s general counsel; former dean of students Andy Brown ’69; and the Rev. Frank Strasburger ’67 gathered to ask the question: Shouldn’t there also be a Princeton-in-Africa program?

“One of the reasons that I got involved in founding PiAf was to give an opportunity to black students to become involved in Africa — something that [former assistant dean] Carl Fields had hoped to do 40 years ago,” Floyd said.”

Into Africa: Princeton-in-Africa builds on burgeoning interest in the “Forgotten Continent” by Douglas Bennett Lee ’75.

A highlight of Iming Lin, a 2002-2003 PiAf Fellow with Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa

 “We asked ourselves what in particular (PiAf) had to offer,” Frank Strasburger, founding president and board president emeritus, recalls. “We knew that there were a lot of NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] doing fantastic aid and relief work in Africa, and that we had neither the same expertise nor logistical capacity. We were very concerned about the dearth of commitment to understanding African issues among the current crop of leaders across the countries in the West,” he continues, “and most of all in this country. We zeroed in on what we had sitting around that table, and realized it was access to the best and the brightest of a future generation of leaders. And what gradually came into focus was a mission — to create a growing constituency of young leaders committed to the emergence of Africa as a full partner in the developed world.”

Alumni and Faculty Launch Princeton in Africa Program by Kathryn Federici Greenwood

Princeton in Africa was launched due to a “tremendous demand on the part of Princeton students to do community service overseas.”

Nurturing a Lifelong Commitment: Princeton in Africa by Anne Levin, featured in Princeton Magazine

 “There are very few programs for people who want on-the-ground experience in Africa,” says Jodianna Ringel, PiAf’s former executive director. “And (our Fellows) become very dedicated. Last year, (2015-2016 cohort) a quarter of them stayed on the continent to work, most with their host organizations. The year before it was 37 percent. We love to see that.”

Starting Out: Isabel Pike ’11, a profile of a PiAf Alumni, featured in Princeton Alumni Weekly in 2012

“(Isabel) helps write press releases, respond to media queries, write articles for the World Food Programme website, and manage a Twitter account. She also helps organize press ­conferences — including two on the food crisis in the Sahel, the belt of land that stretches across Africa just south of the Sahara desert.” 

Fitting In by Alexis Okeowo, featured in Princeton Alumni Weekly in 2010

Alexis Okeowo was a 2006-2007 Princeton in Africa Fellow at The New Vision in Uganda. She is currently a staff writer at The New Yorker.

“I was riding in a public matatu, essentially a glorified minivan, when the moment I had been dreading finally arrived. We were approaching my stop, the market in front of my apartment, and I needed to alert the driver that I would like to disembark. “Stage,” I said weakly, using the term I had heard other passengers use at their own stops. The fare-taker nodded and then asked me something about where exactly I wanted to get off. But he put the question in the Ugandan language Luganda, and I could respond only: “English?”  

He immediately stopped counting his money. The other commuters halted their conversations, and they all silently watched me as I sighed, then awkwardly climbed out of the van. Until I had spoken, none of the other passengers had suspected I was foreign, and I liked moving around unnoticed. But now I had been exposed as that rare creature: an African-American living in East Africa.”