Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity

Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity is a non-residential, year-long program that will support a total of 350 fellows over its 10-year lifespan, annually supporting 35 fellows from the United States and South Africa. The program brings together organizers, artists, advocates and other change agents working to build a more just and equitable world by confronting and dismantling anti-Black racism. The program gives these leaders the time, space and connection to others in the field to encourage brainstorming and inspire forwardlooking planning and new ideas to deepen their work, and better position them to drive powerful and transformative change.

The program is a unique partnership of five leading racial justice organizations—Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD), Center for Community Change, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley—and Columbia University, where its US offices are based.


Fellows participate in a 12-month program, spending intensive time together as a group in learning tours in the US and South Africa, immersive courses with senior leaders in the field, and sessions to explore solutions. They have access to mentors and coaches to advance their leadership, awareness and approaches to combating racism and white supremacy.

The program has 2 fellowship tracks per year:


  • Up to 25 leaders who are early- to mid-career and have made significant accomplishments through their activism.

  • Fellows attend 6 weeklong sessions during the year, including tours in the U.S. and South Africa.


  • Up to 10 seasoned leaders who are more advanced in their racial equity and social justice work and seek sabbatical time to develop ground-breaking solutions.

  • Fellows attend 3 week-long sessions in addition to developing projects with potential to influence the larger field of racial equity work.

Both tracks offer opportunities for continued community, collaboration and access to resources to support Fellows and their work.

Program staff based at Columbia University in New York City and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.

The inaugural cohort of 29 fellows includes:

Obenewa Amponsah, executive director, Africa Office, Harvard University Center for African Studies

Asanda Benya, lecturer, University of Cape Town

Devon Carbado, associate vice chancellor & professor of law, UCLA School of Law

Dara Cooper, national organizer, National Black Food and Justice Alliance

Marisa Franco, director, Mijente

Alicia Garza, special projects director, National Domestic Workers’ Alliance

Dallas Goldtooth, campaign organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network

Mary Hooks, co-director, Southerners On New Ground

Christopher John, chief institutional administrator, AFDA (The School of Creative Economies)

Brian Kamanzi, Master of Science in Engineering Candidate, University of Cape Town

Kelly-Eve Koopman, director and co-creator, Coloured Mentality

Talila Lewis, founder and volunteer director, Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (HEARD)

Rukia Lumumba, founder, People’s Advocacy Institute

Ntombikanina Malinga, president & CEO, Sastela

Joel Modiri, lecturer, University of Pretoria

Neo Muyanga, composer-in-residence, Johannesburg International Mozart Festival & the National Arts Festival of South Africa

Marlon Peterson, president, The Precedential Group

Christopher Petrella, lecturer, American Cultural Studies & Associate Director of Equity and Diversity Programs, Bates College

Rasheedah Phillips, managing attorney, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Alberto Retana, president & CEO, Community Coalition

Rashad Robinson, executive director, Color of Change

Favianna Rodriguez, executive director, CultureStrike

Siyabonga Shange, youth pastor, Grace Family Church

Holiday Simmons, organizer & transgender rights activist and program manager, Generative Somatics

Michael Smith, executive director, MBK Alliance & director, Youth Opportunities Program, Obama Foundation

Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director, Equality Labs

Sarah Summers, co-creator, Coloured Mentality

Richard Wallace, deputy director, Workers Center for Racial Justice

Stha “Sthandiwe” Yeni, national coordinator, Tshintsha Amakhaya