African Centers of Excellence for Women’s Leadership

New ACE-Leaders to support women’s empowerment and leadership training in Sub-Saharan Africa

ADDIS ABABA, March 26, 2012—The Institute of International Education is initiating a new program, the African Centers of Excellence for Women’s Leadership, to help women throughout Sub-Saharan Africa build new skills and train in leadership development. The initiative, ACE-Leaders, will be a 3-year, $1 million program funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

IIE itself has five Centers of Excellence, among them the IIE Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives which serves as an umbrella for all of the work the Institute does with women’s empowerment in the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. ACE-Leaders will fall under the auspices of IIE’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives and be implemented by IIE’s office in Addis-Ababa.

ACE-Leaders is designed to support four organizations in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia to become centers of excellence in women’s advocacy and leadership training in Sub-Saharan Africa. These groups work in three critical development areas: economic empowerment, family planning and girls’ education.

 The organizations that IIE has selected to participate in the ACE-Leaders initiative are:

  • The Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda
  • The Young Women’s Leadership Institute in Kenya
  • The Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) in Ethiopia, and 
  • Akina Mama wa Afrika in Uganda
As African centers of excellence, these organizations will expand and improve delivery of new skills and tools for women’s effective leadership; provide a space for sharing experiences and for networking to mobilize women for change; and offer state-of-the-art leadership training for the empowerment of young African women.


“The Institute is committed to increasing opportunities for women worldwide to pursue higher education and serve as effective leaders in diverse sectors. This is critical to achieving wide-scale gender equity around the world,” said IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman. “IIE works to engage women from underserved groups and those who may not otherwise have access to leadership training and professional development opportunities, resulting in significant social and economic returns.”

Through the four new African centers of excellence, ACE-Leaders will also benefit established women leaders who need to strengthen their leadership skills and knowledge for better outcomes in girls’ education, women’s economic empowerment and family planning; and groups of young women who learn new skills to help them exercise leadership in a qualitatively different way using the ACE training.

IIE Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives

The IIE Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives provides opportunities for women worldwide to participate in cutting-edge training, professional development and exchange programs and pursue higher education. Through the Center’s programs, women develop and join networks of peers, mentors and experts and serve as effective leaders in the public and private sectors around the world. IIE works with sponsors to design programs that leverage strategic partnerships to engage emerging and established women leaders from underserved communities.

The new IIE Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives builds on IIE’s highly successful work implementing major programs, such as Women in Technology, funded by the U.S. Department of State and Microsoft; E-Mediat, a dynamic public-private partnership providing cutting-edge new media training to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; and TechWomen, a new State Department initiative to foster more collaboration between the U.S. and the Middle East in the areas of business, technology and women’s leadership.

Institute of International Education

Founded in 1919, the Institute of International Education is a world leader in international education and exchange.  IIE partners with foundations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and institutions of higher education to develop and implement scholarship and fellowship programs that attract the most talented researchers, students, and scholars leaders in the world.  These include the prestigious Fulbright and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships, administered by IIE on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, as well as more than 250 other initiatives that benefit over 24,000 men and women from 175 countries each year.


Public Affairs