STA Alumna Named Obama Scholar

September 6, 2023

The Obama Foundation announced today that Amanda Morrall (’07), philanthropic thought leader, will be part of its sixth cohort of Obama Scholars. This cohort is comprised of up of 30 emerging leaders from around the world who will participate in an immersive program at either Columbia University in the City of New York or the University of Chicago for the 2023-2024 academic year. Morrall is the first African-American and the fourth American to participate in the Columbia University global cohort.

Morrall has a long history of community building in the Midwest. As former Executive Director of the Coretz Family Foundation, Morrall was the first Black woman to lead a private foundation in Tulsa. In 2022, she led the foundation in a strategic planning process that engaged over 350 community leaders and 100 organizations in community conversations to document the needs faced by local nonprofits and the communities they serve. Through this community engagement, Morrall transformed the foundation’s grantmaking approach, focus areas, and mission and vision statements, all with an eye toward racial justice and equity, and community-driven philanthropy. This new approach will catalyze individuals and foundations to create lasting change through community-driven, trust-based philanthropy and impact investing by fostering economic access and community voice. 

As a philanthropy trailblazer, Morrall has developed events and programs for organizations such as the White House, The Aspen Institute, Duke University, University of California-Los Angeles, and United Way. She previously served as a American Express Leadership Academy Fellow, Founding President of Blueprint 918, TYPROS Foundation Trustee, and the Advancement Co-Chair of the New Leaders Council National Programming Committee. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Duke University where she was an Alice M. Baldwin Scholar and ex officio board member of the Sanford School; and a MPP from University of California-Los Angeles where she was a Luskin Ann C. Rosenfield Fellow. Amanda grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where she graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy.

“As communities around the world face social challenges, the next phase of my work is helping other foundations and local communities develop community-driven philanthropic initiatives,” said Morrall. “Through the Obama Scholars program, I will learn from and partner with a network of world leaders that are intentional about transformational change and empowering their communities.”

The Obama Scholars program, a cornerstone of the Foundation’s work to develop the next generation of leaders, provides Scholars with exposure to real-world skills, tools, and experiences that will expand the impact of their work when they return home. The Scholars will participate in academic, skills-based and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University and the University of Chicago, in partnership with the Obama Foundation. Their experience will be further enriched by participating in Foundation-led leadership development programming that includes training, networking opportunities, and personalized support as they extend their efforts post-program. The Foundation-led program will kickoff, tomorrow, September 7, with all Scholars attending an orientation in Chicago.

“The Obama Scholars program enables rising changemakers to gain insights into the work of fellow leaders, across issues and geographies, while collaborating to address complex challenges,” said Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett. “We are eager to welcome the new cohort of Scholars to the Foundation family, where they will join a network of changemakers striving for a stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive world.”

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University will welcome 12 Scholars from 12 countries for a nine-month residency at Columbia World Projects. Scholars will engage with the institution’s multifaceted program to deepen their knowledge and skills and build new capacities and networks that will accelerate their impact on the world. The cohort will partake in weekly seminars, personal and professional development workshops, university classes, and other tailored programming developed in close partnership with the Foundation.

The Obama Foundation Scholars program is designed to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful across their global communities. Since its inception in 2018, the Obama Foundation Scholars program has supported 132 leaders from 59 countries, all actively working to address today’s pressing issues.