LI Grad Manages Presidential Race in Africa’s Mali

Renting camels are not traditionally budgeted for most campaigns' get-out-the-vote efforts.  But, for American-born and Leadership Institute-trained Patrice Pederson, camels are crucial to her candidate’s success on Election Day.

Patrice manages Yeah Samake’s presidential race in the African country of Mali, a 14.1 million person country with 30 percent unemployment and a literacy rate of 46.4 percent.  She first started on Yeah’s campaign as a general consultant, but eventually accepted the campaign manager role.

“The Leadership Institute has played such a huge role in my life,” Patrice said.

Patrice first learned of LI when she was 15-years-old and attended LI’s Youth Leadership School in Utah. She remembers the training as--originally--a good excuse to get out of junior high for a day.

“I went to the Youth Leadership School, took good notes, and before I knew it,” Patrice said,
“I was the vice-chair for the Utah Teenage Republicans and had a job working for Enid Waldholtz for Congress, who won the race as part of the Republican Revolution in 1994.”

After working for several campaigns in high school, Patrice came to LI to become a summer intern before college.  While at the Institute, Patrice took LI’s Campaign Leadership School and Broadcast Journalism School.

At Brigham Young University, later her alma mater, Patrice met a constitutional law professor who inspired her to learn more about family policy internationally. She spent the next 12 years fighting for life, marriage, parental rights, and religious liberties on the international level at organizations including the UN, European Union, Organization of American States, African Union, and the Human Rights Council.

“During this time I was also able to give back to the Leadership Institute by teaching at their International Leadership Training Seminar,” Patrice said.

She has been a volunteer faculty member for LI’s Youth Leadership Schools and for various International Leadership Training Seminars.

After the African Union passed the Maputo Protocol, which legalized abortion across the continent, Patrice was distraught. “I had lost my hope for Africa,” she explained.

Enter Yeah Samake, candidate for president in Mali.

“What Mali needs is an awakening,” Yeah said on his campaign website.

Patrice was awakened.

Shortly after Patrice committed to work on Yeah’s campaign, she came back to LI in October to retake the Campaign Management School.

“I returned to LI to update my campaign skills and to review all of that information from an African perspective.  For example, my get-out-the-vote budget includes camel rentals because two-thirds of Mali is covered by the Sahara,” Patrice explained.  “It was great to be back at the Leadership Institute since I feel like I practically grew up there!”

“The Leadership Institute will teach you how to do whatever you want to do in politics,” Patrice said. “Once people are committed to the 'why' of politics, they need to go to LI to learn the 'how'.  Even after taking almost every LI training and teaching as faculty, there is always so much more to learn.”

Make a difference this year for the candidate or campaign that inspires you. LI now offers week-long campaign training the first week of every month.

For more information on Yeah, please visit

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Please welcome Patrice as this week’s Leadership Institute Graduate of the Week.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at