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Health Partners Plans Connects Young African Leaders with PA Legislators

Mandela Washington Fellows Spend a Day of Networking with Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus

Philadelphia, PAToday Health Partners Plans (HPP) hosted fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders for a day of education, networking and inspiration with members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

The fellowship is a flagship program of the federal government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that invests in young African professionals, so they can learn and share best practices for their work in the public, private and NGO sectors. Health Partners Plans organized the day in Harrisburg to empower the young fellows, providing educational and networking opportunities with the lawmakers.

“HPP has always been an advocate for enriching the lives of our members and our communities through not only health, but also education,” said Kearline Jones, vice president of government relations and compliance for HPP. “Sponsoring this trip to Harrisburg for the fellows gives HPP the opportunity to connect with an international community and invest in the next generation of African leaders who are sure to inspire and positively impact their organizations and communities.”

HPP arranged for the fellows to tour the Capitol, attend a House session and meet with members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

“It’s been amazing having the Mandela Washington Fellowship of Young African Leaders in Harrisburg today,” said Pennsylvania State Representative and Vice Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Donna Bullock. “It’s great to have that exchange of leadership, sharing experiences and ideals from what they are doing back home in their countries in Africa and comparing that to their experiences in Philadelphia and in Harrisburg. It helps us as legislators see how we can improve the quality of life for Philadelphians as well as those individuals they are representing back home.” 

This year’s Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, are all accomplished, innovative professionals and include nonprofit directors, educators, health care experts, activists, lawyers, public officials and entrepreneurs. In 2017, the Fellowship is sponsoring 1,000 accomplished leaders from 48 sub-Saharan countries for academic coursework, leadership training and networking activities.

Each Fellow attends a six-week Academic and Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university and then travels to Washington, D.C., for a summit featuring networking and panel discussions with American leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Then 100 Fellows remain in the United States for a six-week professional development experience that relates to their professional interests.

“It’s been great, and I’ve learned a lot of approaches I can take back home,” said Nneamaka Mokwe, a Mandela Fellow from Nigeria and founder of Eliakim Global Resources Limited, dedicated to mainstreaming children with developmental challenges into regular schools. Ms. Mokwe completed a fellowship with the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities Services.

She added that she appreciated observing a legislative session, noting, “It’s very interesting when you sit with the senators and reps and speak to them one on one, and back home I’ve not had the opportunity to sit in on a session like this.”

Philadelphia-based organizations have been hosting the Fellows, who visited Harrisburg, for their professional development experience. In mid-August, representatives from the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs hosted a welcome reception for the Fellows. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit


Nationally recognized for its innovations in managed care, Health Partners Plans is among the top fifteen Medicaid plans in the country, one of the highest-rated in Pennsylvania and receives strong ratings for member and provider satisfaction according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2016–2017. Health Partners Plans is a not-for-profit managed health care organization serving more than 280,000 members in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh/Capital region. It provides a broad range of health coverage options through Health Partners Medicare, Health Partners (Medicaid) and KidzPartners (Children’s Health Insurance Program) plans. Founded more than 30 years ago, Health Partners Plans is one of the few hospital-owned health plans in the country. Learn more about how Health Partners Plans is doing it right at, and

Monet T. Irving
Director, Corporate Communications