Democracy Works Academy Graduation Press Release



The first cohort of young South African change makers selected to attend the Democracy Works Academy, a youth-based initiative to develop and inspire future civil society leaders, have celebrated their graduation. The Academy, an initiative of Democracy Works Foundation in partnership with the In-Transformation Initiative (ITI), provided the fellows with a holistic perspective on civic engagement and participation. Delegates came from urban, semi-urban and rural areas of Limpopo, North West, Free State and Gauteng. Over the past five months, the Academy fellows have been engaged in a civic education and dialogue program consisting of three-five-day residential seminars and an online learning platform developed with academic institutional partner the University of Pretoria. Additionally, all fellows were provided with life coaches for the duration the fellowship, to assist them with setting their own personal and leadership development goals.

The thinking behind creating such an Academy, was to create a space, centred on young people, for them to engage critically on South Africa’s socio-economic and political landscape with key figures in politics, business and civil society. Thus, as part of the Academy, the fellows engaged with leaders who were involved in the 1994 CODESA negotiations such as Mohammed Bhabha and Roelf Meyer, as well as former Member of Parliament Dr Makhosi Khoza. This intergenerational dialogue enabled engagement between two generations in order to better understand the past and the challenges of today.

Democracy Works Foundation’s aim was to provide the cohort with practical skills that they are able to use in future. On graduation, the fellows were awarded an accredited certificate from the University of Pretoria in Project Management, Thought Leadership and Critical Conversations and a certificate of participation from Democracy Works Foundation.

The Foundation believes this programme will indeed shape the minds of young South Africans far and wide. Congratulations to our 2019 Democracy Works Academy Fellows.


Elaine has a background in democracy, governance, social justice, and gender-based violence. She has worked as a Research Assistant at the Parliamentary Liaison Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC). Her role included working on projects such as Democracy and Good Governance, Economic Planning and Development, Local Government, and Delivery.

At present, Elaine is an Apolitical Academy Public Service Fellow for the 2021 cohort and an ambassador for SA Women Fight Back, advocating for gender-based violence and femicide-free South Africa. In her free time, she writes opinion pieces on gender-based violence advocating for the rights of women and children in South Africa.

Elaine holds a Master’s Degree in Political Studies from the University of the Western Cape, with her thesis topic on the National Prosecuting Authority – “The State Capture of Independent Institutions: an analysis of the National Prosecuting Authority, 1998-2017”.

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