Leonard Annan

Annan is an adjunct lecturer for the final year Entrepreneurship Capstone at Ashesi University and also a leadership faculty at Ashesi Innovation Experience. Annan holds an Master of Arts in applied economics with specialization in project management, innovation, and entrepreneurship economics. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Ashesi University. Annan has over 8 years of progressive experience in managing projects in education, oil and gas, technology, start-ups, and healthcare with projects and public presentations in Ghana, Senegal, USA, and Czech Republic and 6 years’ experience in the informal sector. Annan currently runs two companies in retail, transportation, and real estate. In 2013, he was named a Dalai Lama Fellow for his literacy and empowerment work.

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).

Rev. Canon Mpho Tutu Van Furth

Rev. Canon Mpho Tutu Van Furth is a priest, wife, mother, artist, theologian, and public speaker. She is passionate about the flourishing of all people, especially girls, and the planet. She is the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Leah Tutu.

Tutu Van Furth has traveled extensively as a public speaker and priest. She has previously worked in Washington, D.C. and New York City in programs providing loans and scholarships to South Africans and refugees. She was ordained by the Episcopal Church in 2004. She founded the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage in 2005, and served as its executive director until 2011. From 2011 until 2016, she worked as executive director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. She has co-authored two books with her father, Made for Goodness and The Book of Forgiving, and has co-authored a book about her father, Tutu: The Authorized Portrait.

Read her talk on ubuntu from her website »

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor and Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University. She served as a member of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which formed the basis of her research and award-winning book, A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness, published seven times in multiple languages. She has expanded on this earlier work to probe the role of empathy more deeply to make transparent the interconnected relationship among empathy, Ubuntu and the embodied African phenomenon of inimba—a Xhosa word that loosely translated means “umbilical cord”. Her goal is to find a richer, deeper and more complex understanding of empathy that takes into account an African knowledge archive.

Gobodo-Madikizela’s honors are many: she was awarded an honorary doctorate of theology from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Germany (2017); an honorary doctorate of law from Holy Cross University in Massachusetts (2006); and an honorary doctorate of law from Rhodes University in South Africa (2019). In 2005, she was recognized in the “100 People who Made a Difference” permanent exhibit in the Hall of Heroes at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Ohio. In 2010, she was awarded the Social Change Award by Rhodes University for her contributions towards social change in South Africa. She was held research positions and fellowships in the United States and Europe, including Research Advisor and Global Scholar at Queen’s University, Belfast, since 2017.

Justine Hamupolo

Justine Hamupolo has vast experience in development, administration, and management of programmes working with youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in supporting young people’s organized response to HIV/AIDS as well as human rights topics. She is currently the country coordinator for Namibia Diverse Women’s Association, where she works on creating change and protecting the social, political, and economic rights of all.

Hamupolo’s previous work includes UNAIDS, where she oversaw youth programming for young girls. She has also contributed to the development of women’s sports in Namibia, currently mentoring young girls in football. She has worked on youth media literacy development projects, travelling the country to ensure access to media and information literacy. Additionally, she has served as the manager for an LGBT organization to build a more inclusive human rights movement. In 2017, Hamupolo was selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program in the USA in recognition of her role in civic leadership.

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.

Zara Houshmand

Zara Houshmand is an Iranian-American writer whose work focuses on cross-cultural themes and includes poetry, theatre, memoir, new media arts, and literary translation. She was a pioneer in the development of virtual reality as an art form: her installation “Beyond Manzanar” has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Art. She has worked with the Mind & Life Institute since 1992, editing many of the books on dialogues between the Dalai Lama and scientists.

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.

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.

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.

Serêtsê Khama Ian Khama

Serêtsê Khama Ian Khama is the former president of Botswana, elected to two 5-year terms from 2008 to 2018. He is the son of Sir Serêtsê Khama, who led Botswana’s independence movement from Great Britain and became the country’s first president in 1966. Ian Khama is a champion of African democracy, known for calling on other African leaders to follow election processes, democratic rule, and term limits.

Before entering politics, Ian Khama trained as a fighter pilot and became head of Botswana’s armed forces. He served as vice president from 1998 to 2008 under president Festus Mogae and then as president, succeeding Mogae after he stepped down, until he was elected to president in 2009. At the end of his second term in April 2018, Ian Khama stepped down in respect of the country’s two-term limit. Under Khama, the government made progress in reducing poverty and providing low income housing.

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.”

Landa Mabenge

Landa Mabenge is the author of “Becoming Him – A Trans Memoir of Triumph.” A University of Cape Town Alumnus, he is the founder and managing director of Landa Mabenge Consulting, which creates awareness of the transgender experience. He is the first known transgender man in South Africa to receive medical aid to finance his gender alignment surgeries.

Mabenge has extensive experience working in the private and public health care sectors in South Africa, and uses this knowledge plus his personal journey to reach out to marginalised and impoverished communities. In 2017, he was selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in the USA. Mabenge now serves on the USAID’s youth advisory board and is a youth mentor at SAYes Youth Mentoring. He also serves as a non-executive board member for Transgender Intersex Africa (TIA), which advocates for the rights of transgender and intersex persons. He currently works for the Stellenbosch University Equality Unit.

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. 

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.

Agostine Ndung’u

Agostine Ndung’u works to support entrepreneurs in Africa and around the world, to promote multi-ethnic cooperation and employment that will reduce youth participation in violation. To this end, he was worked for Ashoka in the global internship program and the fellows program, and he has worked for Impact Hub to set up programs in support of entrepreneurs in Africa. He is the founder of Audible Concepts and a former manager at Intellecap. He has worked extensively on the Sankalp Forum conventions for entrepreneur networking and fundraising both in Africa and in India.

Ndung’u is a graduate of Amherst College. As a student, he was named a Dalai Lama Fellow in 2011 to develop the Amani Seed Project in partnership with Baraka Agricultural College to promote inter-ethnic integration among rural youth in Kenya through agribusiness. He is currently a prospective Master of Business Administration candidate at the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business in Canada.

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.

Susan Bauer-Wu

Susan Bauer-Wu is the president of the Mind & Life Institute. She is an accomplished scholar and researcher who has studied and applied contemplative practices in health care and higher education, building on her clinical experience as a nurse and her mind mindfulness meditation practice and teaching.

Bauer-Wu has a long history with Mind & Life as a fellow, a grant reviewer, a presenter, and a Research Advisory Council member. Before becoming president, she was the director of the Compassionate Care Initiative and the Tussi and John Kluge Professor in Contemplative End-of-Life Care at the University of Virginia (UVa) School of Nursing, associate faculty in the UVa Department of Religious Studies, and on the executive committee of the pan-university UVa Contemplative Sciences Center. She was formerly the Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar and associate professor of nursing at Emory University, where she co-created the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies.

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.