Unleashing the Network

Meet our Team

The Networks Division at African Leadership Academy is based out of the ALA campus in Johannesburg. We are organised into 3 main teams: University Support, Early Careers Success and Sector Communities.

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Management team

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Sheila Agiti

Head of University Support


Sheila Agiti is from Ghana. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and a Master of Science degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Her professional interests focus on economic development, youth empowerment and education in Africa. Sheila’s career at ALA started off as a Princeton-in- Africa fellow where she worked as a Career and Internship Coordinator and well as a Community Service Coordinator. She later moved to the United States and worked as a Graduate Program Manager supporting ALA alumni studying in the Northeast of the US. Sheila previously worked at the African Center for Economic Transformation (in Accra) where she designed monitoring systems and coordinated the external review of a project in Liberia.
Sheila has served on the boards of Teach for Ghana and Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) in various capacities.

Val Wiggett

Director of Sector Programs


As Director of Sector programs, Val’s role is to provide strategic guidance in building networks around the sector-communities. This entails building partnerships with various external stakeholder groups to enable the successful execution of programs and initiatives focused on building the capacity of our leaders. Val was born and raised in the Western Cape, South Africa. She studied through the University of South Africa, where she completed a Bachelor of Administration in Development and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing Management. She subsequently completed her PGDIP and MBA through GIBS Business School. Val has had senior roles in the manufacturing, construction, F&B and technology industries. Val’s varied work experience and skillset has allowed her to define what strong leadership looks like and created a deep understanding of strategic business operational requirements, to meet and align with various stakeholder needs. These are important skills for her role at ALA.  She is passionate about the African continent, people development and tech. In alignment with this, Val is also a director of the Sekela Foundation, which is focused on supporting, sustaining and enabling local communities and a mentor at Project Girls4Girls South Africa, an organisation aimed at empowering young women.

Suzanne Hunter

Director of Scholar Selection


Suzanne is the Director of Scholar Search and Selection for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at ALA. The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at ALA is a tertiary scholarship program that connects promising students to outstanding universities, and offers scholars sustained and holistic support throughout university. Prior to managing the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program, Suzanne served as a member of the ALA University Guidance team, supporting ALA students through all aspects of the university application process. Suzanne attended George Washington University in Washington, DC, and graduated with a degree in International Relations. Suzanne is deeply passionate about education and how it can transform lives and communities.

Miriro Matema

Head of Marketing and Communications


Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and communications specialist, having worked with leading brands in financial services, corporate travel and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing strategist with 14 years experience working with startups and global multinational corporations.

As the Head of Marketing and Communications, Miriro will bring the Network’s mission to life, and lead the way in building a strong Marketing and Communications engine, which will support ALA’s strategic priority of “Unleashing the Network”. She enjoys tackling complex strategic challenges in the passion-to-entrepreneurship pipeline, particularly focused on the implications of 4th Industrial Revolution and workforce automation.

Early Career Success

Lerato Kubuzie

Employer Engagement Lead


Lerato focuses on cultivating relationships with global employer partners. She works closely with our young leaders and entrepreneurs to develop early career success.  Lerato has a diverse background with extensive experience in law, business development operations, client relations, sales and marketing. The roles she has undertaken throughout her career have developed her exceptional people skills and ignited her passion for people development. She is currently pursuing studies in Business Administration.

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Lois Nienaber

University Support Lead


Lois supports the early career success team by looking after the University Partners.  She also coaches and manages the career development paths of ALA alumni in university pursuing careers within the education sector. Prior to joining ALA, she built extensive experience in the NGO space building and running community centred programs and curriculums. Lois was inspired to follow a career of empowering youth after working at a school in Eswatini; assisting in the development of new strategies for integration for children with trauma and educational development. Lois is a graduate of the University of West of England with a BSc (Honours) in Educational Psychology. She is passionate about social development and has an internal desire to improve the lives of those around her and igniting hope.

Michelle Peters

Screening and Targeting Analyst


Michelle focuses on cultivating relationships with global employer partners.  From 2012 to 2015 Michelle was an Executive with Africa Exchange promoting Africa as an investment destination. She was an organizing member of the United Nations World Tourism 20th General Assembly where over 176 heads of delegations from all over the world were present.  Michelle has been part of the Advisory program at ALA for many years and has been deeply moved by the relationships that she has formed with the students. In 2010 Michelle was nominated for Business Person of the Year with FNB and Randburg Chamber of Commerce and awarded the Gold Award.  She was also awarded Top Entrepreneur with South Africa’s Wire Business Export Council in 2014. She has a diploma in Export Readiness.

Emmanuel Mvula

ACN Community Engagement Analyst


Emmanuel is a Community Engagement Analyst, where he works with the University Engagement Lead to support all coaching and professional development programming and resources for students. He was born and raised in Mpumalanga, South Africa and studied at Nelson Mandela University where he completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Industrial Psychology and Human Resources Management. Before joining ALA, he worked in the Department of Basic Education as an Educators’ Assistant in one of the local schools. 

University Support

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Mbali Shange

University Support Associate


Mbali Shange joined the ALA community 3 years ago and has a total of 8 years of experience in student support. She has a Psychology background and works to provide holistic support to ALA graduates and MasterCard Scholars studying at universities in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe. She is passionate about student development and support; and cultivating the potential in this continent’s greatest asset – the youth. Before joining ALA, she worked with various South African NGOs that sought to provide financial and psychosocial support to university students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Sydney Newman

University Support Associate


Sydney Newman is a University Support Associate at the African Leadership Academy. She supports ALA alumni and MasterCard Foundation Scholars attending universities in the United States, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean.
Sydney joined ALA in 2019 after obtaining her master’s in African Studies from Stanford University. Her professional background includes work in refugee resettlement and immigration, international law, and gender relations. In addition, she holds bachelor’s in Political Science with minors in African Studies and French from Gustavus Adolphus College, a liberal arts university in her home state of Minnesota.
Sydney is based out of the ALA office in New York City. In her spare time, she enjoys playing competitive rugby and exploring new places and people.

Sector Communities

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Amanda Chembezi

Sector Lead: Governance


Amanda is a seasoned International Development specialist and the Network Manager for AL for Governance at African Leadership Academy. She leads a network of students, youth activists, political leaders, and public officials that are passionate about the radical transformation of the governance sector on the African continent. She also manages career placements for graduates interested in public service, diplomacy, international development, and civil society. Amanda was selected as one of the Top 25 young women in Africa leading social change in her community in 2012 by the Moremi Initiative. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Finance and is completing her MSc in International Development at the University of Portsmouth. Amanda aspires to become a cabinet Minister of Education in Botswana in the future and pursue a career in public service.

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Jihad Hajjouji

Program Lead: Education Accelerator


Jihad Hajjouji ’08 from Morocco leads a network of education entrepreneurs building high impact institutions across Africa through the Anzisha Education Accelerator. Drawing expertise from her earlier career as a Consultant with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, and learnings from Stanford University where she earned an MBA and Master’s Degree in Education, Jihad seeks to transform the education landscape in Africa by empowering the next generation of education leaders. Jihad has always seen herself as an enabler and she intends to continue playing a key role in the education sector, supporting leadership development, tackling youth unemployment and enabling the growth of others.

Jomo Erick

Sector Lead:  Infrastructure


Jomo is currently leading the Infrastructure Sector mission of the African Leadership Academy of creating a community of African Leaders who will work together in developing sustainable practices and green technology solutions that will position the African infrastructure for social inclusivity and thriving economies. He is a trained Biomechanical engineer with interests in innovation, technology, sustainable agriculture, climate change, infrastructure and management. Prior to joining ALA, Jomo worked as a cofounder of SSENTE, an early-stage Fintech Startup in Nairobi positioned to serve the unbanked and underserved in the global financial ecosystem. He also worked with over 100 farmers in rural communities in Kenya to improve the food security situation in those regions through a partnership with the European Union and the Kenya Climate Innovation Center. Among other roles, Jomo began his professional career in 2010 as a Pre-University Scholar at Equity Group Foundation where he also worked with peers and young leaders. He is a registered engineer with the Engineers Board of Kenya. Jomo holds a BSc. Biomechanical Engineering from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and MSc. Public Management from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China.

Malilomo Nkhabu

Program Coordinator – Al For Governance


Malilomo was born in South Africa and is an experienced community development professional who is passionate about development and creating better livelihoods for communities. She completed her master’s degree in Environment and Society at the University of Pretoria and her Undergraduate and Honors degree at Monash South Africa. 

She has professional experience in project coordination focusing on sustainable development, environmental projects, education projects and monitoring & evaluation in the NGO field. Prior to ALA she was working at Enke as a Program Manager implementing youth development programs across different provinces in South Africa. Malilomo is part of the Tshwane Global Shapers Community an initiative of the World Economic Forum. She also serves as a board member for Engage SA which serves to empower youth about leadership. Malilomo believes in the power of working together and creating platforms that offer opportunities for youth and community development. 

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Kalliope Kruesman

Sector Lead:  Education


Kalliope is an ALA alumnus from the class of 2012. Kalliope has a defined passion for global education reform and innovation. At Africa Careers Network, she oversees the development of ALA’s education network and the development of professional development opportunities for alumni hoping to pursue careers in the sector. She pursued her undergraduate studies in Social Anthropology and African Studies at SOAS, University of London. Alongside a variety of projects, internships, and independent consulting work, she has designed for Minerva Schools KGI’s global experiential curriculum as well as set up supplementary school programs in the UK in efforts to address the persistently growing attainment gap. Kalliope returned to ALA to channel her passion into helping shape ALA’s education sector.

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Matt Maralack

Sector Lead: AL for the Arts


Matt Maralack is the sector lead for AL for the Arts and is a South African by birth, but truly identifies as a global citizen. He is a BA (Hons) Music and Musicology graduate from Rhodes University with several years of experience in the fields of ethnomusicology, sound technology, music performance and music education. Though he continues to occupy classroom, stage and music studio spaces when presented with the opportunity, he has taken a primary interest in arts and culture’s intersection with society from a leadership and urban governance perspective. To this end, Matt completed an MA in Cultural Policy and Management from Wits University conferred in 2019. With these experiences, Matt demonstrates a unique understanding of the challenges that face the creative industries. “I want the AL for the Arts community to feel tangibly supported by the network… it is my hope that members will buy into unleashing all that the arts has in store for the development and shared prosperity of the continent.”

Laurene Amoit

Sector Lead:  Health


Laurene is passionate about revolutionizing the state of healthcare in Africa. Before joining ALA, she co-founded MamaTips, a Kenyan-based maternal healthcare company leveraging data and technology to serve women in marginalized communities. She later joined Castlight Health to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare across the US. Drawing from these two experiences and her learnings from Minerva Schools at KGI, where she earned her undergraduate degree, she seeks to empower graduates to map out and take ownership of their careers in healthcare. As the sector lead, she engages employer partners and professionals across the continent to create opportunities in healthcare for ALA Alumni. She also champions for the creation of pan-African networks comprising of young people, professionals, and other stakeholders seeking to address change in the health sector.

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Nono Sekhoto

Sector Lead:  Agribusiness


Nono leads the Agribusiness sector network which supports alumni to access career opportunities in the agriculture sector across the African continent. Nono’s work consists of relationship building with alumni and industry stakeholders and placing alumni into career opportunities. Nono has developed an 8-year career in agriculture as a farmer and leader at a national farmers’ association where she established and ran the young farmer portfolio. Nono developed programs that focused on supporting young farmers in partnership with many industry corporates. Nono founded a company which focused on finding ways to empower youth in agriculture. Nono has participated in local and international platforms advocating for support of youth in agriculture.

Elsie Adeya

Program Assistant – Al for Education


Elsie is a youth development enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge and skills in talent management as well as program design in industries such as education, public governance, and civic leadership. She enjoys solving complex situations to provide sustainable solutions. Born and bred in Kenya, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Moi University.

Her current role entails managing program logistics to assist in the coordination of all AL for Education programs, such as the Master Teacher Program, The Edupreneur Growth Lab, the Anzisha Education Accelerator and the AL for Education Apprenticeship. She also provides support in building talent pipelines for alumni interested in pursuing careers in education. This, she does by managing employer partner relationships with organisations across Africa to source job and internship opportunities. She also facilitates career coaching and guidance to students and alumni seeking to build impactful careers in the education sector.

Prior to joining ALA, Elsie worked as a project consultant at Deloitte Kenya for the YALI RLC East Africa Program where she coordinated alumni engagement programs and activities. Her passion lies in developing young exemplary leaders who will steer the African continent to greater heights.

Tinyiko Nyathi

Network Coordinator


Tinyiko is a network coordinator supporting young leaders in health and education as they go through their journey of becoming great leaders in Africa. She obtained her BA degree in Development and Management at the Northwest University. She worked as a junior product owner in the insurance sector, and she comes with great experience in UX strategy.

Keneilwe Motlana

Network Coordinator


Keneilwe is the Network Coordinator for the Al for the Arts and Al for Governance networks. Keneilwe was born in the United States of America and raised in South Africa. She did her undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology at Western Washington University in Washington State, USA. After completing her undergraduate degree, she returned to South Africa where she did her Honours in Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand. She also holds a TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) from the University of the Witwatersrand Language School. Prior to joining ALA, Keneilwe began her career by teaching English as a foreign language and then moved into the NGO industry,  first working at the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, and then as the founding National Program Coordinator for the Girls For Girls Program in South Africa.