The Girl Child Long Walk Fellowship is a supportive cohort of learning and practice for faith-inspired change agents working at the nexus of faith, gender, and social change. We co-create a space with Fellows where they can take the next step in their journey to untangling the contradictions at the intersection of faith and gender inequality. This is a leadership development opportunity for faith-inspired change agents who don’t typically have access to leadership opportunities.

Through this opportunity, Fellows have:

  • Space to deepen their intellectual inquiry into the historic structures which underlie and perpetuate the patriarchal social norms which devalue girls’ human rights from the womb and make them vulnerable to systemic patterns of overwork, harmful traditions, abuse, neglect, and basic disrespect.
  • Opportunity for contemplation to connect with their own souls, cultivate inner freedom to ask questions, sort through their own religious and cultural beliefs, and tap into and clarify what is the deepest essence of faith that can “move mountains” (in particular those fortified by religion).
  • Peer learning with a small cohort of brave faith-inspired change agents from around the world working at the intersection of faith, gender equality, and community-led social change. 
  • Opportunities to refine strategic thinking and maximize the impact of a new or existing project.

Read on to learn more about our 2021–2022 first Fellow cohort.


Susan Barnett
Susan Barnett is based in New York City and consults with diverse faith and secular leaders and nonprofits on media/communications strategy and content creation. A former investigative reporter, Susan focuses on the intersection of water/sanitation/hygiene and women and girls’ health, education, dignity, and equity.

Esperande Bigirimana
Esperande Bigirimana is based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She works with We Will Speak Out South Africa, and is an advocate against sexual violence, and a member of the Phephisa survivors Network in South Africa and the global survivor, dignity, and equity.

Maria Ligia Conti
Maria Ligia Conti is based in Sao Paolo, Brazil. She is a language teacher, healing doll maker, and seeker. Ligia loves nature, people and all that which is to be learned. Her goal in life is to be of service and to find her inner truth.

Kate Kiama
Kate Kiama is based in Nairobi, Kenya. She is a born feminist and works at She’s the First as Director of Programs. Kate serves on the Board of Make Every Woman Count and is passionate about addressing social injustices that affect adolescent girls and women.

Esther Kitonga
Esther Mali Kitonga is based in Nairobi, Kenya. She is currently pursuing an advanced degree in counseling psychology. Esther is a social worker and counselor at Tumaini International Trust and was a project director at Compassion International Trust.

Patrick Musembi
Reverend Patrick Musembi is based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is an accomplished educator with over 20 years of university teaching experience and focuses on peacebuilding and human security. Rev. Musembi and his wife Ruth are blessed with two sons and a daughter.

Humphrey Nabimanya
Humphrey Nabimanya is based in Kampala, Uganda. He is a sexual reproductive health and rights advocate, a youth and gender activist, and social change agent. Humphrey is the founder and CEO of Reach A Hand Uganda, an organization of youth and gender change advocates from some of the country’s most vulnerable communities.

Jennifer Nantale
Jennifer Nantale is based in Kampala, Uganda. She is the country director for Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project in Uganda, and has been working with civil society organisations, government departments and the private sector in relief and development programs in East Africa for 20 years.

Valencia Ortiz
Valencia Ortiz is based in Baltimore, MD. She is a social worker supporting foster care youth at the Baltimore County Department of Social Services. Valencia is an Afro-Latina and big sister, auntie, mentor, feminist, dancer, equality advocate, and child of God.

Amal Sarah
Amal Sarah is based in Lahore, Pakistan. She is pursuing a postgraduate degree in Environmental Sciences from Forman Christian College. She is a member at the Central Cathedral of Praying Hands and works for the Women’s Desk of the Diocese of Raiwind – Church of Pakistan.

Maame Afon Yelbert-Sai
Maame Afon is based in Mountain House, California. She is an internationally recognized thought leader, advocate for the rights and leadership of women and girls, coach, mentor, facilitator, and recording artist who uses music to promote social change and philanthropy. Maame is the Founder and Chief Steward of MILT – Management for Impact, Leadership & Transformation.

Student Fellows

Katie Gienapp
Katie Gienapp is a senior at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies (Sociology, Biblical and Theological Studies). Previously a leader in various faith-based and justice-oriented organizations, Katie currently resides in a multi-racial living and learning community and works as a missiological research assistant.

Whitney Thomas
Whitney Thomas is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and is a sophomore at Dartmouth College where she is studying biology. She enjoys looking at the intersection of her faith and science as a writer for the Dartmouth Apologia and working as a research assistant in Dartmouth’s octopus cognition lab.