Leadership for Excellence and Africas Development (LEAD) is designed to develop African leaders who are creative, strategic, ethical, and dedicated to serving the common good.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a young and highly capable population that wants to address the problems that have for too long held the region back, said Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC, a political scientist who studies Africa and directs the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity.

These young people want to be problem solvers and job creators. They want to build accountable and responsive institutions in the private and public sector. Through this program, Notre Dame seeks to support young leaders in their efforts to bring about positive change in their societies.

Originating in conversations between Dowd and campus visitors about how the University could contribute to Africas growth, the LEAD program was developed as a collaboration between the Ford Program at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Mendoza College of Business, and the Engineering, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship Masters (ESTEEM) Program as well as IBM.

To prepare for the launch of LEAD this fall, Dowd worked with partner universities in Kenya and Uganda to identify candidates who had completed at least one year of a two-year MBA or comparable program. Additional criteria included high academic performance as well as a demonstrated superior work ethic and leadership potential. Dowd interviewed 13 finalists in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. 

The student participants, who arrived on Oct. 21 for the seven-week program, are housed at the University and fully integrated into the Notre Dame MBA curriculum, while also participating in seminars designed specifically for them by the Ford and ESTEEM programs. Representatives from IBM will teach once per week and the students will have the chance to attend a week-long seminar at IBM before returning to East Africa in December.

MBA courses include International Business Ethics, Ethics in Finance and Banking, Sustainability in Business, Team Building, and Staying True to Self Under Pressure: The Spirituality of Work, among others.

The integration of these students into Notre Dames regular curriculum is crucially important because it will provide them with the opportunity to learn from and with peers from other parts of the world, said Dowd.

We foresee the students making a positive difference in their own countries—and enriching us at Notre Dame, too.