CRDF Global Celebrates IVLP Impact Award Winners

The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields engage with this country firsthand and cultivate relationships with their American counterparts that continue long after the exchange concludes. The exchange is just the beginning of a mutually educational experience, benefiting both the visitors and the host organizations.

The IVLP Impact Award Initiative provides follow-on support to IVLP alumni through grants that enable them to leverage and share knowledge and connections gained during their exchange experience; and to design and implement innovative solutions to challenges facing their home communities, including in responding to current crises.

CRDF Global is honored to have played a role as an IVLP implementer, and we congratulate all of the impressive winners of the IVLP Impact Awards! We are particularly proud to celebrate those IVLP alumni whose exchanges we organized, and whom we had the pleasure of meeting personally during their time in the US.

Click the photos below to learn more about the IVLP Impact Award Winners, whose IVLP journey we had the honor of supporting and whom we consider part of the CRDF Global family!

Adah Muyang Mbah, 2022 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Adah is a peace mediator, human rights activist and youth leader from Cameroon. In 2021, Adah participated in the IVLP Project Resilience and Psychosocial Support for Human Rights Defenders and Humanitarian Actors, organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global. In 2022, she received an IVLP Impact Award for her project: Strengthening the Protection and Psychosocial Support of Young IDPs in Response to Human Trafficking in the Northwest Region of Cameroon.

She says, “My experience as an IVLP Impact Awardee gave me a life changing opportunity of impacting youths and women living in conflict affected communities of the North West Region of Cameroon. Having the voices of IDP marginalized communities heard is protecting their rights, eliminating systemic barriers of human trafficking, challenging discrimination and hold decision-makers accountable.

With the ongoing conflict, millions of IDP women and youths still live in the long shadows of human trafficking. There is a need for more community interventions and accountability processes to hold people responsible for human trafficking crimes, address the needs of survivors, establish community support, poverty, lack of housing, food insecurity, suffering from mental health challenges, addiction, family violence, neglect, and intergenerational trauma. Human trafficking till remain is a very serious issue in conflicting communities and more needs to be done to support survivors and their families. Learn more about Adah’s work here>>

Dr. Rumena Filipova, 2022 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Dr. Rumena Filipova is chairperson and co-founder of the Institute for Global Analytics, and an accomplished and respected researcher focused on the politics and international relations of Central and Eastern Europe. 

Rumena was a participant in the IVLP Project Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists: Media Responsibility in an Age of Disinformation II in 2021, organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global. Her exchange experience led to the development of her IVLP Impact Award Project, Disinformation in Bulgaria, which highlights the foreign authoritarian state-sponsored disinformation and provides solutions by relating the knowledge gained during the IVLP program to Bulgarian journalism students and media professionals.

“The IVLP experience provided an unparalleled opportunity to connect with leading American specialists on media and disinformation and establish cross-country partnerships with my IVLP counterparts,” she said. “The IVLP Impact Award project allowed me to produce a range of written, visual, audio and event-organizational outputs in order to acquaint different sections of the Bulgarian public with the challenges posed by foreign authoritarian-state media influence.”

Learn more about Rumena’s work here>>

Mohd Muhaimin (Min) bin Ridwan Wong, 2022 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Min is a research officer at the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Research Centre of the National Defense University of Malaysia. He pursued this career after serving as a university lecturer in civil engineering and discovering his deep interest in research. Min participated in the IVLP Project Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, which was organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global. “Through the project, my team and I were able to better grasp the diverse dynamics, challenges and opportunities that are present among different stakeholders involved in the development local communities,” he remembers.

Mohd’s IVLP exchange experience led to the development of his IVLP Impact Award Project: Enhancing Disaster Preparedness and Climate Change Adaptation For Small Island Community on Redang Island, Malaysia. “For my IVLP Impact Award project, the focus on a small, touristic island community gave me a new, invaluable perspective and experience especially considering my past projects have been focused more on communities across the mainland East and West Malaysia.”

In 2022, he received an IVLP Impact Award for his project. “I’m truly delighted with the opportunity to promote positive changes and contribute towards building more resilient communities locally,” he said. “My participation in the IVLP was incredibly rewarding as it provided opportunities to look at different perspectives, knowledge and experiences shared by the panels and fellow participants alike,” he added. “Programs like this allow us to refine our approaches and potentially produce better outcomes for our goals in disaster risk reduction and community development.”

Read more about Min’s work here>>

Joy Amba Angaama, 2022 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Joy is an experienced educator and the creator of APIPDA, an organization that advocates and cares for persons living with disabilities. She has taught braille and works to address issues regarding gender-based violence. Of her motivation to advocate for disability rights, she says, “My parents both had disabilities. I grew up with my niece and aunt who were all visually impaired too. This made me to devote all my life to work for persons with disabilities due to the discrimination I saw them go through, and thus, I created the association of persons with disabilities.”

Joy was a participant in the IVLP Project Resilience and Psychosocial Support for Human Rights Defenders and Humanitarian Actors, organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global. She says, “I was living for this purpose [disability rights], and forgetting about my personal well-being. One day, a lady from OCHA called me to tell me that she was about to enroll me with a program for the US Embassy. The training was on Resilience and psychosocial support for Human Right Defenders and Humanitarian Actors. During one of the exercises on self care, I discovered that I was actually living in a burn out stage in my life this is because I never knew my limit in my activities. In my IVLP experience. I learnt how to set realistic goals in my endeavors. I learnt to take care of myself physical and emotional wise. This was indeed a turning point in my life as I can now better interact with others and give my self a treat; that’s why I find time to go out and relax than before. My IVLP experience was indeed a turning point in my life.

Joy’s IVLP Impact Award Project – Mental Health and Psychosocial Support to 200 Students Living with Disabilities and Displaced Students in 3 Inclusive Schools – provided 45 teachers and 175 students across 3 schools with trainings and workshops about how to support students with disabilities. By providing mental health and psychosocial support, as well as training on livelihood activities, this project promoted the integration of students living with disabilities in Maroua, a far north region of Cameroon.

Read more about Joy’s work here>>

Magaly Ines Beltran Siñani, 2022 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Magaly is the CEO of Biosolar Energy, a company that promotes the use of renewable energies in Bolivia through awareness and technical workshops on renewable energies, sustainability and climate change. She has worked with renewable energies on strategies to mitigate climate change in Bolivia since 2010. Magaly participated in the IVLP Project Renewable Energy as an Economic Driver: A Multi-Regional Project, organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global.

“My participation in the IVLP Program…has been a truly transformative experience,” said Magaly. “During this learning journey, I had the opportunity to explore the vast potential of renewable energies, such as green hydrogen, wind, and solar power, alongside an exceptional group of professionals from around the world. Through visits to innovative companies in the USA that are at the forefront of clean technologies and interactions with institutions that regulate and promote their use, I gained valuable insights into the latest developments in the field. I am committed to applying the knowledge I have acquired to drive sustainable initiatives and advocate for clean technologies. Furthermore, I look forward to sharing these valuable lessons with colleagues and professionals, thereby contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

With her experience in the IVLP, Magaly designed her IVLP Impact Project – Sustainable Energy For All – which was recognized with an Impact Award. The project was implemented in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia with a focus on developing future trainers and awareness campaigners who are motivated to increase their knowledge of the topic and who can spread the knowledge they acquire through the project. This project engaged 200 people virtually and 149 people through in-person workshops about renewable energy, how to build PV panels and how to increase renewable energy usage.

Additionally, the IVLP Impact Awardee project sparked a new project concept that secured funding in a later year’s Alumni Ties program, Magaly added. Read more about Magaly’s work here>>

Chamango Blaise Aime, 2022 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Blaise is the founder of Human is Right and a human rights and good-governance specialist who holds positions with Amnesty International for the southwest region of Cameroon and the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms and the Network for Human Rights Defenders for Central Africa (REDHAC). He is also a founding member of the African Youth Trainers Network and served as a mentor for CIVICUS. He has helped approximately 20 public, private, and social sector organizations advance their missions by leading initiatives to strengthen operations, enhance capacity, and improve cultural competency.

Blaise was a participant in the IVLP Project Resilience and Psychosocial Support for Human Rights Defenders and Humanitarian Actors, organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global. “My experience with the IVLP was unique, educative, rich in knowledge sharing and profitable to my community,” he said. With this experience, Blaise developed what would become a 2022 IVLP Impact Award Project: Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence in Cameroon.

“Being an IVLP awardee has been a stepping stone to my career as human rights defender. The experience has been rewarding and highly valuable. Our project has recorded an unexpected success, thanks to the project we have strengthened the capacity of more than 500 community leaders to prevent and respond to gender based violence. Thank you, IVLP!”

Read more about Blaise’s work here>>

Tetiana Vasylivna Konovalenko, 2023 IVLP Impact Award Winner

Tetiana is a vice-rector for Research in Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University, and her research interests are media and information literacy, methodology of teaching English language, implementing of information technologies and media literacy while teaching a foreign language, foreign literature, and digital technologies for teaching English.

Tetiana was a participant in the IVLP Project 21st Century ChangeMakers: Engaging Youth in the Battle Against Disinformation, organized by the U.S. Department of State and CRDF Global. “For me, the person, who had had to leave home because of Russian occupation and who could see the violent information war, participation in IVLP became an inspiring and motivating experience to contribute to the battle against disinformation. So, I started my own campaign on the development of information and media literacy in Ukraine. And IVLP Impact Award has opened great opportunities for its much stronger impact.”

With her experience from the IVLP Project, Tetiana began her IVLP Impact Award Project, Keep Calm and Verify the Information, which was designed to raise the media literacy of Ukrainians and support resistance to disinformation in the information space of Ukraine. “Information and media literacy is important for the citizens of any country. But it is extremely needed for those who undergo the influence of Russian propaganda and Russian malinformation,” Tetiana explained. “They started the war in Ukraine declaring that they were going to defend the Russian-speaking population. They have killed thousands of Russian-speaking people, including children. They have erased whole Russian-speaking cities. When they came to Ukrainian lands and occupied our territories, the first thing they did was disconnect Ukrainian Internet, TV and radio broadcasting. Instead they started broadcasting specially created information messages discrediting Ukrainian government and everything associated with Ukrainian identity. People who left occupied territories need to be trained to resist disinformation, fakes and propaganda. So, it is planned to invite internally displaced people to participate in project activities.”

Read more about Tetiana’s work here>>