Publication Date: May 13, 2024
Publication Location: Washington, DC
Contact: Abby Henson   |   [email protected]

The U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with World Learning, is pleased to announce the spring 2024 Professional Fellows Program Alumni Impact Award (AIA) winners: Mr. Ahmad Abdelgalil (Egypt), Mr. Harunah Damba (Uganda), Ms. Jiang Yi (China), and Mr. Louis Goseland (United States).

With backgrounds in child rights and protection, disability empowerment, service to the most underprivileged in society, and community engagement, the AIA winners will return to the Professional Fellows Congress to share their experiences and achievements, as well as the tools and skills they applied to their work after their fellowship, with current fellows.

The Professional Fellows Congress will take place in Washington, DC, on June 10-14. To learn more about the AIA winners, read their bios below.

MR. AHMAD ABDELGALIL, EGYPT (Legacy International, fall 2022)

A Youth and Adolescents Development Officer at United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Cairo, Ahmad Abdelgalil has been working to strengthen communities and support youth for the past twelve years. Driven by the critical need for leadership, Abdelgalil has become a social entrepreneur: “I have lived my life observing a world full of social, economic, and political catastrophes. But it was not until the Arab Spring sparked that I realized that we need profound change leaders. This became obvious after seeing how the lack of technical calibers contributed to the falls of almost all the post-revolution systems in the Arab Spring countries. I decided to invest in myself to become a technical change-maker in my region.” His career has reflected this commitment to leadership. Abdelgalil has worked as a gender and economic empowerment specialist at Plan International Egypt, specifically on the Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs in Egypt project. At Ashoka Arab World, he supported more than 118 social entrepreneurs working to solve the most pressing social problems in the Arab world to scale their impact, replicate their models, and change the systems of the industries of their fields.

While on the Professional Fellows Program, Abdelgalil completed his fellowship at the Department of Employment Services in Washington, DC. Here he learned about various interventions for empowering youth and wrote a concept note to secure a $5 million grant to support youth with disabilities. His fellowship taught him about the essential employability skills needed to prepare youth and women for the job market. Recognizing the social and economic benefits of educating women and girls, his follow-on project in Egypt included training sessions to empower girls in marginalized communities and speaking out on the importance of gender equity.

Abdelgalil received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Cairo University. In 2017, he was honored with the Lazord Fellowship from The American University in Cairo for his contributions to the social development field.

MR. HARUNAH DAMBA, UGANDA (ICI/University of Massachusetts, fall 2022)

Trained as a biomedical laboratory technologist, Harunah Damba is passionate about promoting employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Uganda, who are often overlooked and undervalued in the labor force due to their disabilities. Witnessing such attitudes was not only painful, he says, but also made him realize that his professional training and efforts alone were insufficient in addressing the underlying cultural and moral perceptions surrounding disability in Uganda. “This realization compelled me to commit myself to improving the employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. As a result, I established the United Persons with Disabilities (UPWDs) with the goal of uniting people with disabilities under a common mission of self-transformation.” As the chair of UPWDs, he oversees strategic planning, grant writing, and staff and volunteer training. He ensures the effective implementation of projects and has implemented a monitoring and evaluation system to assess the impact and effectiveness of the organization’s programs and activities.

In addition to serving as the chairperson of UPWD, Damba is the founder of the Twezimbe Project for Inclusion in Uganda, an inclusive savings and credit cooperative organization that empowers graduates with disabilities through employment skills development. Damba’s commitment to disability empowerment shines through his active involvement in several prestigious programs, including the Talloires Network of Engaged Universities Next Generation Leaders Program and the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Centre East Africa. He is currently a One Young World East African Ambassador and serves on the council of the U.S. Exchange Alumni Network in Uganda as an executive member.

MS. JIANG YI, CHINA (National Committee on United States-China Relations, spring 2017)

Jiang Yi has served as the child-friendly justice project manager at Save the Children China for nearly 10 years. During her tenure, she has established and overseen a pilot project focused on establishing a one-stop center for forensic interviews and protection for child survivors of sexual abuse. Additionally, she is leading a capacity-building project to enhance the skills of child protection caseworkers. Previously, she held the position of project manager at Give2Asia, where she was responsible for project design and grant-making from overseas to China, contributing to philanthropic initiatives in the country.

In early 2020, Jiang co-founded the International Alliance for Crisis Community Response (IACCR), a network consisting of 28 members from 11 different countries, including university professors, nonprofit practitioners, and local government officials. IACCR’s primary objective is to strengthen community-level crisis response capabilities through the establishment of volunteer groups.

Jiang holds a master of arts degree in law and studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. She is qualified as both a legal professional and a social worker in China. She was the first Save the Children China staff member accredited with Leading Edge in Child Protection by CACHE/NCFE.

Mr. LOUIS GOSELAND, USA (Fellowship Host for Great Lakes Community Action Partnership)

In August 2022, Louis Goseland returned from Illinois, where he was executive director of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, to his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, where he is building a new multi-faith justice ministry organization as a lead organizer with the Direct Action and Research Training Center.

Goseland grew up in a home and community environment in Wichita where the struggles of generational poverty and family separation, incarceration and violence, mental illness, and addiction were part of daily life. As the heartache of his younger years transformed into anger in his teenage years, he became increasingly interested in finding the answer to the question of why the good, worthy, caring people that he loved struggled every day.

Goseland began organizing as a student leader at Hope Street Youth Development, where he learned that by acknowledging and voicing the pain we experience in our communities, we can work together to confront broken systems through grassroots democratic action. After graduating high school, he worked with Sunflower Community Action as a neighborhood organizer, beginning his professional career.

As he approaches 20 years in this field, Goseland has helped launch two worker resource centers, a statewide grassroots electoral project, and has organized and consulted a multitude of coalitions, campaigns, and initiatives. He has worked as an organizer, consultant, trainer, director, and executive director for faith-based communities, labor organizations, neighborhood groups, and student-led efforts. Wherever he serves, he thrives in his commitment to extend to others the affirmation, dignity, and transformational empowerment afforded to him through community organizing.