In her Tutu Talk, titled The Activist-Scholar: Navigating the promises and pitfalls of policy-making, 2010 Tutu Fellow Robtel Neajai Pailey PhD speaks about her commitment to building progressive politics in her country and influencing public discourse and policy-making processes.

TutuTalks are a series collaboration between the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and the African Leadership Institute, and it is a platform for African leaders who embody the values and ethics displayed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu throughout his life of service.

Robtel says that one should surround yourself with people who have the same kinds of values, who are committed to transformational change, who believe that human dignity should be preserved for everybody.  With more than 15 years of combined personal and professional experiences at the intersection of scholarship, policy and practice, she has worked across a broad range of fields supporting universities, governments, media institutions, multilateral, regional, non-governmental and community-based organisations in Africa, Europe and North America.

Robtel explained how when she was working in the Liberian government, she discovered that scholarships in Liberia were being driven by graft rather than awarded on merit to the best and brightest scholars. She went on to provide a briefing to the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who told her to provide recommendations, which she did. The outcome was a revamping of the scholarship process, which was of significant benefit to the country.

She currently serves as Assistant Professor in International Social and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where she conducts research on race, citizenship, ‘South-South’ migration and development cooperation in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Watch the Tutu Talk below.









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About AFLI



The African Leadership Institute (AFLI) focuses on building the capacity and capability of visionary and strategic leadership across the continent. Developing exceptional leaders representing all spheres of society, the Institute’s flagship programme is the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship. Offering a multifaceted learning experience and run in partnership with Oxford University, it is awarded annually to 20-25 carefully chosen candidates, nominated from across Africa. Alumni of the African Leadership Institute form a dynamic network of Fellows passionately committed to the continent’s transformation, bridging the divide between nations and ensuring that Africa is set centre-stage in global affairs.