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Fellow elected as CEO of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation


2018 Tutu Fellow Judy Vatiswa Sikuza, has been announced as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer, with effect from 1 August 2019.  Sikuza is herself a Mandela Rhodes Scholar from the Class of 2007 (South Africa & NMMU) and is currently the MRF’s Deputy Executive Director. She originally joined as MRF Programme Manager in 2014.  Sikuza, who is 33, succeeds Founding Executive Director Shaun Johnson, who was personally tasked by Mandela to establish the Foundation in 2003.

The Chair of the Board of Trustees of the MRF, Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele, said in a statement that: ‘After an exceptionally rigorous and open international process of identifying, shortlisting, and interviewing candidates of exceptional quality, we are delighted to appoint Judy Sikuza. Ms Sikuza embodies the calibre of leadership for which the Foundation strives, and we have watched her development with pleasure. We are very proud that a Mandela Rhodes Scholar has reached the highest position at the Foundation – this is indeed a historic moment.’ Ndebele added that Sikuza achieved an excellent track record in her position as Deputy Executive Director and has an exciting vision for the next phase of the MRF’s growth as the organisation builds on the foundations put in place by her predecessor.

Sikuza is a leadership and organisation development practitioner with a passion for education and projects that support people to fulfil their highest potential. ‘It is an honour and a privilege for me to accept this appointment,’ she said. ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead a new phase of the Foundation’s work, as we advance thought leadership around our four principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship and leadership. Equally exciting is the focus on increasing our Pan-African footprint and enhancing impact through collaborations amongst our 400 alumni in 24 African countries.’

Sikuza has appeared on public platforms locally and internationally for institutions such as the Graça Machel Trust, Obama Foundation, Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, the University of Oxford, and the University of Cape Town. She has received several leadership and excellence awards including an Abe Bailey Fellowship to the United Kingdom in 2007, being named one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2011, one of Michelle Obama’s Young African Women Leaders in 2011 and an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow in 2018.

The outgoing Executive Director of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation is Shaun Johnson, 59, an internationally-award winning author and scholar, and former editor, journalist, and activist. He said he could not be more delighted by the appointment. Johnson said: ‘Judy is living proof of Madiba’s belief that the best-of-the-best of young Africans have the capability to lead early and at the highest level. I have wholeheartedly supported her exceptional talent, and could not be prouder to hand over the MRF’s leadership to her.’

In April 2019, Judy was the guest speaker at the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Humanities graduation ceremony. Her address was covered, here, on the AFLI news section.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

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