Beam Me Back, Scotty: How Young Liberians Are Coming Home

April 17, 2012
This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz
Scott Fellow Idella Cooper 2nd from right
When in Liberia last February, we kept running into dynamic young Liberians with American accents in high-powered jobs.  They also seemed to have something else in common.  Idella Cooper, the newly-appointed Deputy Justice Minister, had returned to her home country first as a Scott Fellow.  Gyude Moore, President Sirleaf’s deputy chief of staff and head of the President’s special Program Delivery Unit, is a Georgetown grad and former Scott Fellow.  The Scott Fellows, literally, seemed to be everywhere.
Scott Fellow Gyude Moore / Credit Berea College
The Scott Family Fellows are the brainchild of Ed Scott (also founding Chair of CGD) after he visited the country and asked President Sirleaf how he could help.  The program recruits young professionals to work as special assistants (not advisors!) to senior Liberian government officials. Recruitment is open and competitive but targets the Liberian diaspora, aiming to boost public sector capacity and also provide a vehicle for Liberians living abroad to contribute to their country’s reconstruction.  (Full disclosure: CGD had a hand in the fellowship’s beginnings, but now it is fully run by JSI.)Today, there are five Scott fellows. Our curiosity piqued, we asked JSI what happened to the other previous ones and the answer was stunning:  Idella and Gyude are not outliers. Eva Morgan is now a judge in the commercial courts. Norris Tweah is the Deputy Tourism Minister.  In fact, every single Liberian Scott Fellow opted to stay in-country after their fellowship—with many of them stepping up to fill impressive government positions. A few non-Liberians stayed too.A small, yet potentially meaningful, victory for Liberia.*Includes one who stayed in-country after the fellowship, but is currently pursuing graduate studies in the UK. Source: JSI.


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