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Obama Foundation Names 20 Obama Fellows In Its Inaugural List

Press Release

Dr. Navdeep Kang and Preethi Herman were among the 20 Obama Fellows named by the Obama Foundation from 11 countries, who were chosen from roughly 20,000 applicants spanning across 191 countries.

"These Obama Foundation Fellows are powerful examples of the many pathways we can take to improve our communities," the foundation wrote in its release. "These civic leaders bring a variety of disciplines and skill sets to their work – including community organizing, healthcare, technology, and the arts – and they apply those talents to a range of missions, from empowering parents and teachers to improve our schools, to ensuring deaf children have equal access to literacy tools, to bringing trauma-informed care to the criminal justice system and refugee camps, to working with partners across the healthcare system to treat addiction collaboratively," it said.

Kang, of Cincinnati, Ohio, serves as the Mercy Health director of operations for behavioral health services. The Indian American executive was selected for his work building a collaborative, community-based approach to the opioid crisis, changing how addiction is treated in Ohio.

Kang, according to a Mercy Health news release, will join a two-year, non-residential program to create transformational change on one of our community’s most pressing problems: the opioid epidemic.

“I am honored and humbled to be a part of the very first Obama Foundation Fellows class and look forward to joining a diverse class of community-minded civic innovators,” said Kang in a statement. “When the next generation asks, ‘What did you do when the biggest drug epidemic hit this country?’ We want to be able say – and I think we will be able to say now – that we did something that no one had ever seen before.”

Herman, of Delhi, serves as the global executive director of the Change.org Foundation. She was selected as a Fellow in the inaugural year for equipping a new movement of female leaders to engage their communities in addressing India’s toughest problems.

"So so excited to share that I will be joining the inaugural Obama Fellowship class, a inspiring group of civic innovators from around the world. #ObamaFellows http://obama.org/fellowship," Herman tweeted after the announcement made by the Obama Foundation.

"MASSIVE LIFE+ WORK UPDATE: As one among the #ObamaFellows, I’ll be working with a group of civic innovators from around the world to inspire people to get involved in their communities. I can’t wait to get started," she continued. "Civic participation is a responsibility and opportunity each one of us have and my work and life is driven by this core mission. That’s why I’m proud to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the #ObamaFellows."

Prior to her new role with Change, Herman established Change.org as a people’s platform in India, growing it from fewer than 200,000 users to a current 10 million active citizens, the foundation said.

Under her leadership, the Change.org India team supported citizens in their efforts to create a wide range of change — including strengthening policies fighting acid attacks, recognizing the rights of single mothers as guardians, and shining a light on the excessive rates of Caesarean surgeries. Her vision is to leverage technology and empower people to create a decentralized structure of civil leadership that transforms society; she aims to do this through the mobilization of millions of people and communities with the Change.org Foundation.

The Obama Foundation Fellowship will offer hands-on training, leadership development, and a powerful network for Fellows to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation. Each Fellow will develop and pursue with the foundation a personalized plan to leverage the Fellowship and Obama Foundation resources to take their work to the next level. As Fellows put their plans into action, the Obama Foundation will assist with access to mentors, coaches and additional resources.

Over the course of the two-year program, Obama Foundation Fellows will participate in four multi-day gatherings to collaborate with one another, connect with potential partners, and break down silos to advance their work. The first Fellows gathering will be in Chicago in May.

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