Sunday, June 21, 2009
An Ethiopian American in Virginia, Mehret Ayalew Mandefro, appointed by by US First Lady Michelle Obama for the prestigious White House Fellowship for the year 2009-2010.
According to the announcement made by the white house, the appointment of 15 outstanding men and women, including Mehret, to the 2009-2010 class of White House Fellows represents a diverse cross-section of professions including medicine, business, media, education, non-profit and state government, as well as two branches of the U.S. military.
The purpose of the White House Fellows program is to provide gifted and highly motivated young Americans with some first-hand experience in the process of governing the Nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society.
"We are thrilled that these exceptional men and women will be joining us here in Washington for the next year," said First Lady Michelle Obama.
" The program not only allows for a variety of perspectives to come together, offering expertise and experience to benefit the administration’s efforts, but these Fellows in turn carry what they’ve learned to their own communities to benefit Americans far beyond the walls of the White House.," She said.
The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders "first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs." This unique position in our nation’s government encourages active citizenship and service to the nation. The Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, military operations, and current affairs. Community service is another important component of the program, and Fellows participate in service projects throughout the year in the Washington, DC area. Since 1964, over 600 outstanding American men and women have participated in the White House Fellows program, each chosen because of their extraordinary leadership ability and service to others.
Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of remarkable professional achievement early in one’s career, evidence of leadership potential, a proven commitment to public service, and the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the Federal government. Throughout its history, the program has fostered leaders in many fields including Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, U.S. Representative Joe Barton, writer Doris Kearns Goodwin, former Travelocity CEO Michelle Peluso, former CNN Chairman and CEO Tom Johnson, former Univision President Luis Nogales, and U.S. Court of Appeals Judges M. Margaret McKeown and Deanell Tacha.
Mehret Ayalew Mandefro, 32. Hometown: Alexandria, VA. is a primary care physician and HIV prevention researcher. She most recently was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. Her research addresses the intersection of violence prevention and HIV prevention and the application of digital media in translating research. She completed a Primary Care internal medicine residency at Montefiore Hospital where she founded a nonprofit called TruthAIDS that is focused on health literacy efforts among vulnerable populations. Mehret is the managing editor for www.truthaids.org and conducts workshops on HIV prevention, health disparities, and the public health uses of media nationally and internationally as part of TruthAIDS’ outreach efforts. Her ethnographic work about HIV positive women's lives in the South Bronx and Ethiopia is the subject of a full-feature documentary film entitled All of Us, which premiered on Showtime Networks for World AIDS Day and is used nationwide by community-based organizations and universities as an educational tool. Mehret received a BA cum laude in Anthropology and a Medical Doctorate from Harvard University, and a Masters of Science in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar.
(Additional information about the White House Fellows program is available at www.whitehouse.gov/fellows.)