2022-23 class of University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars announced

The University of Chicago and the Obama Foundation on Aug. 30 announced the newest class of University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars, a cohort of 18 emerging leaders from the Harris School of Public Policy, Booth School of Business, and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

The program brings together an interdisciplinary group of promising young leaders and empowers them with the education, skills, relationships and perspectives needed to tackle the most pressing issues facing the South Side of Chicago and communities around the globe.

“The University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars Program provides students with a unique opportunity to engage with communities across Chicago and the world,” said University of Chicago President Paul Alivisatos. “Much like a University of Chicago education, the program’s interdisciplinary approach prepares emerging leaders to address our most complex problems.”

Programming, which kicks off this September, will bring together students from across campus who are current students in their final year of study in a master’s program at Chicago Booth, Harris School or the Crown Family School. The UChicago Obama Scholars will supplement their studies with innovative co-curricular programming, and engage with partners on the South Side of Chicago, while applying those experiences to advance social change.

“The Obama Scholars program provides students with the unique opportunity to give and gain insight into the work that fellow young leaders are driving in their communities, while speaking to the intersectionality of their efforts through collaboration,” said Valerie Jarrett, chief executive officer of the Obama Foundation. “We are eager to welcome the new cohort of scholars to the Foundation family—a network of changemakers tirelessly working for a more equitable future.” 

Generous support for the University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars program is being provided by BMO Harris Bank; Robert and Jane Clark; The Clayco Foundation; The Crown Family; The Harris Family Foundation; Rachel DeYoung Kohler and Mark S. Hoplamazian; The Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation; Charles Ashby Lewis and Penny Bender Sebring; The Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation; The Neubauer Family Foundation; and Susan Rustandy and Tandean Rustandy.

The program is designed to inspire and connect emerging leaders with the tools to better impact their global communities. Members of this year’s cohort are actively working to address many challenges and issue areas across the globe—from projects in Chicago to the Middle East to Africa to Asia.  

To learn more about the program, please visit harris.uchicago.edu/obamascholars. Learn more about this year’s UChicago Obama Scholars below:

Deqa Aden (Harris) - Somaliland
Former Manager, Harhub
Empowering victims of gender-based violence in Somaliland by providing access to legal services, medical and psychosocial treatments.

Chris Akel (Crown) - Chicago
Co-founder, Pathways
Nurturing access to education and mental health counseling for youth leadership development in refugee, rural and low-income Palestinian communities.

Olamide Babatunde (Booth) - Chicago
Former Director, Alumni Career Office, Noble Network of Charter Schools
Improving career opportunities for low-income youth and adults across Chicago.

Linda Flor Brito (Harris) - Chicago
Community Organizer, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos
Building collective resistance against the deportation and criminalization of immigrants and forcefully displaced communities.

Binh (Ben) Bui (Booth) - Vietnam
Founding Member and Product Lead, Social Walk
Increasing educational opportunities for underserved learners through technology.

Christine Goggins (Crown) - Chicago
Lead Violence Recovery Specialist, University of Chicago Medical Center
Providing crisis intervention care to promote the comprehensive recovery of victims and families of intentional violence.

Noel Green (Crown) - Chicago
Student and Change Agent, Southside Health Advocacy Resource Partnership (S.H.A.R.P.)
Curating community-driven models of social change that foster liberation of marginalized groups from oppressive systems.

Ben Harris (Booth) - Denver, Colorado
Former Health and Social Systems Strategic Advisor, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
Developing and supporting community-based service models for individuals with complex health and social needs.

Amanda Lee (Booth) - Chicago
Director of Practice Transformation, Access Community Health Network
Transforming health care delivery in the community health setting to advance health equity.  

Orlando Mayorga (Crown) - Chicago
McCormick Reentry Policy Coordinator, Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative - Office of Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton
Championing restorative and transformative policy reform that supports healing for people and communities impacted by mass incarceration.

Heena Mohammed (Harris) - United Kingdom
Former Policy Advisor, UK Government
Designing and improving equitable, community-based solutions to eliminating racial disparities in crime and policing policy.

Karem Muksed (Crown) - Chicago
Mental Health Professional and Refugee and Immigrant Advocate
Increasing mental health care access to refugees by focusing on services and trauma-informed practices.

Omotunde Odedeyi (Booth) -  Nigeria
Co-Founder, JetAfrica
Bridging the opportunity gap for young Nigerians through mentorship and entrepreneurial skills development.

Rebecca Silverman (Crown) - Chicago
Co-Founder, Rose Café
Promoting literacy, education and peace in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago.

Nishit Shukla (Harris) - India
Co-Founder, ReHive
Scaling impact of promising climate adaptation startups through climate finance solutions.

Lily Wang (Booth) - Canada
Co-Founder & CEO, Demi
Building a healthier planet through sleek and convenient urban composting solutions to reduce food waste and encourage sustainable living habits.

DeKevious Wilson (Harris) - Chicago
Regional Manager, Youth Guidance - Becoming A Man Program (BAM)
Fostering, supporting and strengthening resources of urban communities through mental health advocacy and policy work.

Umama Zillur (Harris) - Bangladesh
Founder and Director, Kotha
Addressing the root causes of gender-based violence in Bangladesh and South Asia through advocacy and educational interventions.