Grace Amponsah

Grace Amponsah is a MasterCard foundation scholar and recent graduate of Ashesi University College with a major in Business Administration. She is passionate about youth development, women empowerment and entrepreneurship. She is a member of the Dalai Lama fellows and Byron fellows community whose purpose is to create a flourishing world by building compassionate, resilient and visionary leaders around the world. She is the founder of “A New Dawn,” an organization whose sole purpose is to unleash the potential of underprivileged teenage girls by maximizing their educational, financial, social and spiritual life. Amponsah is presently a faculty intern for Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship at Ashesi University College.

Carsten de Dreu

Carsten de Dreu is Professor of Psychology at Leiden University and is affiliated with the Center for Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making at the University of Amsterdam. He is a fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, and former president of the European Association of Social Psychology. He trained over 30 PhD students and 10 postdoctoral fellows, many of whom pursued successful academic careers. With them, and others, he published over 200 research articles and 50 book chapters on the neurobiological and psychological underpinnings of human cooperation and conflict, ethnocentrism, intergroup prejudice and discrimination, and creative problem solving as a means to negotiate agreement. He has published several books, including “Conflict in Organizations” (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2008; with Michele Gelfand), and “Social Conflict within and Between Groups” (Taylor & Francis, 2014).

Michael Onyebuchi Eze

Michael Onyebuchi Eze teaches African political theory at the University of Amsterdam, is associate faculty at Colorado Christian University, USA (2011 – present), and is a fellow at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. Previously, he was a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies and a research associate at the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute, both at Stanford University.He is the founding director of the Center for Leadership and African Diaspora Studies, Covenant University of Nigeria. He was a Stiftung Mercator Foundation Research Fellow at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut (Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities) in Essen, Germany, from 2006–2009. He earned his PhD, summa cum laude in History and Cultural Reflection from Universität Witten-Herdecke, Germany (2008),  He received his MA in philosophy from the University of Pretoria, South Africa (2006) and BA Honours in philosophy and classics from the Jesuit School of Philosophy, in Harare, Zimbabwe (2003). He has taught at the universities of Frankfurt, Augsburg and Colorado Christian University. He has published articles in many scientific journals, and he has published two books, “The Politics of History in Contemporary Africa” (2010) and “Intellectual History in Contemporary South Africa” (2010), both from Palgrave-Macmillan. Other scholarly peer reviewed articles include, “Pan Africanism and the Politics of History” (2013), “Pan Africanism: A Brief Intellectual History” (2013), “Humanism as History in Contemporary Africa” (2011), “The Politics of Being a Human Being In Soweto: Identity as a Social Capital” (2011),“I am Because You Are” (2011), “Pan-Africanism and the Politics of History” (2013), “Pan-Africanism: A Brief Intellectual History” (2013), and “I am Because You Are: Cosmopolitanism in the age of Xenophobia” (2017).

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor and Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University. Her previous positions are Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Cape Town, and Senior Research Professor at the University of the Free State, leading the initiative “Studies in Trauma, Memory and Forgiveness.” Her book “A Human Being Died that Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness” won the 2004 Alan Paton Award, and the Christopher Award in the United States. The book has been published seven times, including translations in Dutch, German, Italian and Korean. Her other books include “Narrating our Healing: Perspectives on Healing Trauma” as co-author; “Memory, Narrative and Forgiveness: Perspectives on the Unfinished Journeys of the Past” as co-editor; “Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Repetition: A Global Dialogue on Historical Trauma and Memory” as editor; and “Dare We Hope: Facing Our Past to Find a New Future.”

Among her honors are an honorary doctorate of law from Holy Cross College, in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2006, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award in 2007. She was honored among “100 People who Made a Difference” in the permanent exhibit of the Hall of Heroes in the National Freedom Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2005. Her dialogue initiatives and her research on empathy were recognized with the Social Change Award for “contribution made by a leading psychologist toward social transformation in South Africa.”

Gobodo-Madikizela was the 2016 Distinguished African Scholar at Cornell University. She has received various research fellowships including fellowships at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard University, and the Claude Ake Visiting Chair in the Peace and Conflict Research Department at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Uri Hasson

Uri Hasson grew up in Jerusalem. As an undergraduate, he studied philosophy and cognitive sciences at the Hebrew University. He completed his PhD in Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel and was a postdoctoral fellow at NYU before moving to Princeton. He is currently a Professor in the Psychology Department and the Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. His research program aims to understand the neural basis of face-to-face, brain-to-brain, social interaction, with a focus on verbal communication and storytelling in real-life contexts.

Thupten Jinpa

Thupten Jinpa received his early education and training as a monk and obtained the Geshe Lharam degree from the Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University, South India. In addition, Jinpa holds a BA Honors in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from Cambridge University. He taught at Ganden monastery and worked as a research fellow in Eastern religions at Girton College, Cambridge University.

Jinpa has been the principal English translator to the Dalai Lama since 1985 and has translated and edited numerous books by the Dalai Lama, including The New York Times’ bestseller “Ethics for the New Millennium,” “Transforming the Mind,” “The Universe in a Single Atom: Convergence and Science and Spirituality,” and “Towards a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together.” His own published works include, in addition to papers in both English and Tibetan, “Songs of Spiritual Experience” (co-authored), “Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for the Middle View,” “Mind Training:The Great Collection,” and “The Book of Kadam: The Core Texts,” the last two titles being part of The Library of Tibetan Classics. Jinpa’s Tibetan publications include “Chos kyi snang ba gsar pa” (A New Light on Dharma), a first-ever introduction to Buddhism in vernacular Tibetan, as well as the recently published comprehensive modern Tibetan grammar entitled “bod skad kyi brda sprod gsar bsgrigs smra sgo’i lde mig” (A Modern Tibetan Grammar, Key Opening the Door of Speech).

Jinpa is an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, Montreal. He is also an executive committee member of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at the School of Medicine, Stanford University, and the main author of CCARE’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program. Jinpa is a core member of the Mind & Life Institute, dedicated to promoting dialogues between the sciences and contemplative knowledge. He is the founder and president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics and the general editor for The Library of Tibetan Classics.

Carolyn Jacobs

Dr. Carolyn Jacobs was a vital member of the Smith College School for Social Work faculty for 35 years, serving as the dean and the Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor for 14 of those years, as well as director of “Contemplative Clinical Practice: An Advanced Certificate Program in Spirituality and Social Work Practice” for seven years. In 2001 she was elected to the National Academies of Practice as a distinguished social work practitioner. She has written and presented extensively on the topic of spirituality in social work. Her most recent publication is “Contemplative spaces in social work practice,” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2015, 49 (1): 150-4.  Since 2009 Jacobs has served as a trustee for Elms College, and since 2011 for Naropa University. She has served as a member of the Mind & Life Institute board of directors since 2012. Jacobs received her BA from Sacramento State University, her MSW from San Diego State University, her doctorate from the Heller School of Brandeis University, and her training as a spiritual director from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She maintains a spiritual direction practice.

Mhondoro Mandaza Kandemwa

Mandaza Augustine Kandemwa is a spirit-medium and medicine-man from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In Shona, his native tongue, he is known as a Mhondoro, Svikiro and Gombwa. He was initiated through the tradition of the njuzu, the water spirits. As a vessel of the Spirits, Mandaza receives visions and dreams, makes offerings, performs healing rituals, and serves as a messenger for the Ancient Ones. Mandaza carries with him in his heart the Central African spiritual tradition of healing and peacemaking. He is known internationally for his loving presence and for his preservation of the old ways. He stands for Truth, Love, Justice and Peace in this world.

Mandaza was raised in a Christian home, trained as an educator, school administrator, and police officer in Apartheid Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. During this time, he became actively involved in the liberation struggle. Like the water spirits he carries, Mandaza flows between the worlds. He easily moves between the worlds of Christianity, the secular, the traditional, the modern, the industrial and the earth ways: all that is sacred and profane. Currently, Mandaza travels internationally offering teachings and healing counsel in churches, schools, prisons and hospitals. He co-authored, with Michael Ortiz Hill, Twin from Another Tribe and The Village of the Water Spirits, two of the few books that discuss Shona cosmology and traditional practices. Mandaza serves a large community in Zimbabwe that is dependent on him for food, clothing, education, healing and spiritual nourishment. Mandaza is married to the Ndebele trance medium Simakuhle Dube and has twelve children, ten boys and two girls.

Ponatshego H.K. Kedikilwe

His Honour, Dr. Ponatshego H.K. Kedikilwe, was appointed Vice President of the Republic of Botswana on 1 August 2012.  He is a graduate of Syracuse University in New York.  He has served as a senior civil servant in the ministries of Finance and Development Planning, Works and Communications and headed the Department of Public Service Management.  In addition, he has served as Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Commerce and Industry, Finance and Development Planning, Education and Minerals, Energy and Water Resources.  He has served as Chairman of the University of Botswana Council and was Member of the Monetary Preparatory Commission which recommended the establishment of the Bank of Botswana and use of the Pula currency in 1976.

He has served in various key parastatal and private organisations in Botswana and chaired the famous Presidential Commission on Education in 1992.  That same year, he was awarded a Presidential Order of Honour.  He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Botswana in 2007.  In November 2011 His Majesty the Emperor Akihito of Japan conferred on Dr. Kedikilwe the highest award in that country, the distinction  of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun for efforts in sustaining and developing the bilateral relations between Japan and the Republic of Botswana.  In 2014 Dr Kedikilwe was awarded Naledi ya Botswana (NYB), an honour given for outstanding service to the Republic of Botswana.   He was a Member of Parliament for 30 years (1984 – 2014).  After his retirement the President of Botswana appointed him Chairman of the Presidential Inspectorate Task Team to assess, monitor and propose interventions to improve the delivery of Government programmes and projects such as Poverty Eradication, Youth Development Fund, Women Economic Empowerment and Economic Diversification Drive.

Graça Machel

Graça Machel is President of the Foundation for Community Development, the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. She is a renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. She is a former freedom fighter and was the first Education Minister of Mozambique. Her contributions to the Africa Progress Panel, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, the High-Level Panel on Post 2015 Development Agenda, and now as Member of the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group have been widely appreciated. She is a member of The Elders, Girls Not Brides, Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Ambassador for Every Woman Every Child, President of SOAS, University of London, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Board Chair of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, President of the Foundation for Community Development, founder of the Zizile Institute for Child Development. As Founder of the Graça Machel Trust, she has focused more recently on advocating for women’s economic and financial empowerment, education for all, an end to child marriage, food security and nutrition, and promoting democracy and good governance.

Lily Mafela

Lily Mafela is a Professor of History and History Education at the University of Botswana in the Department of Languages and Social Sciences Education. She joined her department in 1983 as a newly graduated Staff Development Fellow. Following attainment of the MEd (History Teaching) degree from the University of Bristol, she served as head of the department.

Between 1987 and 1993, Mafela studied at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, obtaining an MA and PhD in History, with a major in African History and a minor in Latin American History. Her doctoral dissertation, funded by a competitive award from the Rockefeller Foundation of New York, focused on gender analysis of the history of education in pre-colonial and colonial Botswana. She is currently revising that work for publication as a book. Subsequently, she earned an MBA from the De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

Mafela has published in the fields of history and education, with a particular focus on issues of social inclusion in education delivery, and in historical writing. A passionate educator with keen understanding of the multifaceted role of education in overall development, she is one of the pioneers of research that established the disturbing link between teenage pregnancy and lack of girls’ attainment of higher levels of education, subsequent to which ameliorative strategies have been implemented to promote better life chances for girls in Botswana’s education system.

Mafela has demonstrated her leadership capabilities in many spheres of activity. She has served in key positions at regional and international levels, such as the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA), and the Association for African Historians (AAH), in each of which she served as executive board member. For a little under a decade now, she has also been serving in the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Project on the Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa Volumes (PUGHA) as Rapporteur. This project aims to promote transformative approaches to the teaching of African history. The project also seeks to promote mutual understanding, interdependence and peaceful coexistence. Furthermore, the project highlights the positive contributions Africans have made to the progress of humanity, while fostering a sense of pride in their heritage, self-esteem and self-confidence that may enable them to master their own destiny. Mafela has great energy and passion for this work, and does considerable advocacy at governmental and non-governmental levels, as well as nationally and regionally. 

Vusi Mahlasela

Vusi Mahlasela is simply known as ‘The Voice’ in his home-country, South Africa. He is celebrated for his distinct, powerful voice and his poetic, optimistic lyrics. His songs of hope connect Apartheid-scarred South Africa with its promise for a better future. Raised in the Mamelodi Township, where he still resides, Vusi became a singer-songwriter and poet-activist at an early age teaching himself how to play guitar and later joining the Congress of South African Writers. After his popular debut on BMG Africa, “When You Come Back,” Vusi was asked to perform at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994. Vusi has released seven studio albums to-date and has toured globally and shared the stage with Dave Matthews Band, Sting, Paul Simon, Josh Groban, Ray LaMontagne, Natalie Merchant, Taj Mahal, among many others.

In light of his international and national acclaim, the SAMA Awards (South African Music Awards) honored Vusi with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.  Vusi was proud to have been an ambassador to Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign (an awareness effort surrounding the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa) and holds an honorary doctorate degrees from the prestigious Rhodes University in Grahamstown, SA and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  Additionally, South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma awarded Vusi with the National Order of Ikhamanga, recognizing him for “drawing attention to the injustices that isolated South Africa from the global community during the Apartheid years.”

Donald Molosi

Winner of more than 25 international acting awards and more than 15 writing awards, Donald Molosi is an award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor and writer. Molosi was the first Motswana actor to perform on Broadway in 2007, and in his upcoming 2017 off-Broadway play “Black Man Samurai,” Molosi chronicles his own decade-long career in New York City’s Theatre District.

Molosi is featured in “A United Kingdom” opposite Golden Globe and Emmy award nominee David Oyelowo and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike. The film depicts the marriage of Prince Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams in the 1940s and the uniting of the people of Botswana. In his 2017 viral essay “Dear Upright African,” Molosi explores botho as a basis for the African school curriculum. In it, he argues that if African schools included African classrooms it would be an act of botho to those who came before and those who are still to tread the Earth, a proposal embodied in all his theatrical works.

Molosi’s most recent film appearance is in “We Are All Blue,” a documentary film Molosi released in 2017. The film explores Botswana history over the past 50 years through the lens of inter-generational dialogue. In his off-Broadway magnum opus, “Blue, Black and White” (2008), Molosi explored the transformative interracial marriage of Botswana’s inaugural First Couple, Sir Seretse and Lady Khama.

Molosi holds an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of California–Santa Barbara, a Graduate Diploma in Classical Acting from LAMDA (UK) and a BA in Political Science and a BA in Theater, both from Williams College in Massachusetts.

Rebecca Shansky

Rebecca Shansky is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Her doctoral work at Yale University examined the influence of sex hormones on stress-related cognitive impairments, identifying an interaction between estrogen and catecholamine signaling. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she studied the effects of chronic stress on prefrontal circuitry, again focusing on the role of estrogen in mediating the structural changes the brain undergoes in response to stress. Now her lab focuses on identifying the neurobiological basis of sex differences in fear responding, integrating complex behavioral analyses and confocal microscopy to identify cellular markers of susceptibility and resilience.

Theo Sowa

Theo Sowa is an independent advisor and consultant, specialising in international social development with a particular emphasis on children’s rights and protection issues. She is currently the CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund.

Born in Ghana, she has lived and worked in many countries in Africa, as well as the UK, Europe, and the USA. Her work includes advisory roles to African and other international women and children’s rights activists and leaders, plus policy development and advocacy with a variety of international agencies and organisations. She was Senior Programme Advisor to the UN Study on Children and Armed Conflict (the Machel Report) and led the five-year review of the report.

Sowa is a board member of various national and international civil society organisations and grant-making foundations, including being a trustee of Comic Relief (a multi-million grant-making foundation) and Chair of Comic Relief’s International Grants Committee; a member of the African Advisory Board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation; a Patron of Evidence for Development; a member of the UBS Optimus Foundation; and a board member of the Graça Machel Trust.

She has authored many publications, including being a contributing editor to “The Impact of War on Children”; a contributing author and co-editor of a Harvard Law School/UNICEF Innocenti publication on “Children and Transitional Justice”; and co-author of “Groupwork and Intermediate Treatment.” She was awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in June 2010.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a man of peace. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. He has travelled to more than 67 countries spanning six continents. He has received over 150 awards and honorary doctorates in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion.  He has also authored or co-authored more than 110 books, including the “Book of Joy” with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on 6 July 1935 to a farming family in a small hamlet of Tibet. He is now the spiritual leader of Tibet, yet describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. At the age of 23 he passed a rigorous examination with honors and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy. In 1950, after China’s invasion of Tibet, he was called upon to assume full political power. Therefore, in 1954, he went to Beijing and met with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders. Five years later, following the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, the Dalai Lama was forced to escape into exile. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India.

In 1963, he presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet. The charter enshrines freedom of speech, belief, assembly, and movement. It also provides detailed guidelines on the functioning of the Tibetan Administration with respect to Tibetans living in exile. In 1992, the Central Tibetan Administration published guidelines for the constitution of a future, free Tibet.

In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet.