The Paper Fig Fellows

June 4, 2019  

When Laurie DeJong decided to enroll as a mentor in the Peace Through Business Program many years ago, she didn’t know how it would change her life. She became a mentor to two young women, one from Rwanda and one from Afghanistan, both of whom she remains in close touch with today. Her only problem with the program was that after six months, the mentorship was due to end. And to Laurie, mentorship never ends. To Laurie, mentorship is a lifelong relationship.

That was why she started Paper Fig Foundation: to use her expertise to empower others. To mentor. The Paper Fig Fellowship is the pinnacle of mentoring opportunities: Fellows gain a year of official mentorship, which includes shadowing PFF and LDJ team members at fashion weeks in Africa and New York. And after a year is up, Laurie doesn’t stop picking up her phone. She doesn’t stop responding to emails. Because she believes mentorship is for life.

Now it’s time to announce the next two Paper Fig Fellows, who we believe will not only grow and learn immeasurably from the experiences we’ll provide, but also who will inspire and change us forever.

The process of choosing a Fellow was not an easy one. With the help of generous members of our community, we compiled a Review Board so that the process could remain unbiased. Because truth be told, we love many of the applicants like family. How could we choose between them?

Instead, we created a list of questions that asked the Review Board to consider not only talent, commitment, and skill. We also asked them to consider morality, values, and alignment with the Paper Fig mission to empower others through fashion and fine arts.

We carefully considered each applicant, and even the ones we did not select this year have passed through the gateway and into the Paper Fig fold. We will work to connect them to resources and contacts who can help them as they grow in their careers, and we hope they’ll apply again in the future.

This year, we are very proud to announce that Sylvia Nakajubi Kawalya, makeup artist and entrepreneur, and Ak Abrahim, designer and activist, will be our next Paper Fig Fellows. Read more about them here on our web site and on our social media platforms in the coming weeks.