Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane - Al Akhawayn Leadership Development Institute Awards Leader of the Year

Al Akhawayn Leadership Development Institute Awards Leader of the Year


Ifrane, April 12, 2012 – Al Akhawayn Leadership Development Institute held last evening its annual Leader of the Year award ceremony whereby the prize was awarded to Mohamed Ouaissa, member of the RMAA M’Rabtine Association for Social and Cultural Activities.

"The Leader of the Year award teaches students how to be leaders and benefits the region of Ifrane," said Al Akhawayn President Driss Ouaouicha. "Today we will select the leader of leaders from among all finalists who spared no effort in enhancing social and economic conditions in the area of Ifrane-Azrou. " President Ouaouicha addressed the finalists and said "The community here needs leaders like you so that it can move forward."

The Leader of the Year award is an annual prize given by the students, members of Al Akhawayn's Leadership Development Institute (LDI), to recognize and publicize diligent and creative projects by local leaders from different NGOs that contribute to the socio-economic development in the Ifrane region.

2012 marks the third year of the Leader of the Year award. Six finalists out of a pool of eight applicants from the areas of Ifrane and Azrou were selected during a large ceremony at Al Akhawayn campus in Ifrane to which University officials, students, staff, and faculty attended.

Mohamed Ouaissa was selected to receive the 2012 Leader of the Year award for establishing a local cooperative in Timahdit of over 70 women and 120 men tailors who repurpose and repair old garments. In addition to the small association’s budget, Ouaissa collected more than 75,000 DH from different sponsors to fund the project. Ouaissa also organized within RMAA M’Rabtine and in collaboration with the National Initiative for Human Development, a tourist tent where the cooperative members exhibited and promoted their hand-made products.

Ouaissa won the symbolic prize of 10,000 DH that the LDI students raised within campus. 

“The Leader of the Year award is a very encouraging initiative for us in the region,” said Ouaissa. “I feel flattered, and I am already thinking about all the things I could do with the prizeIn closing the 2011 ceremony, Duncan Rinehart, Al Akhawayn professor, founder and Director of the LDI, expressed his gratefulness to all finalists who had spared no effort in developing and following up on local projects liable to improve living conditions of the local populations.

The Leader of the Year award aims at strengthening the effectiveness of community leadership in Morocco, assisting development in Morocco by helping build community leadership, strengthening the relationship between the University and its surrounding community, and recognizing outstanding leadership within a local NGO regardless of status, power, or position. 

Known as the first leadership program in Morocco and the second in North Africa, Al Akhawayn Leadership Development Institute was established in 2009 by Duncan Rinehart to develop and enhance student leadership skills. The program supports existing courses with leadership skill-building workshops, speaker-discussion events, and student involvement in service to campus and the community.

The winner of the 2011 Leader of the Year award was the Kaouthar Association for Women’s Empowerment in the Atlas Region. The prize money of 10,000 DH supported the association in its activities aimed at helping women gain social and economic independence through workshops such as sewing, ceramics, painting, aerobics, and more. Over 25 woman and 20 children benefited from the prize money last year.

Sponsors of the event this year were the student-run organization Res Publica, Japanese-Thai restaurant Kai Tai in Fez, and the Grand Hotel in Ifrane.