Meet our Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of Council

The Nelson Mandela University Council appointed Ambassador, Amb Nozipho January-Bardill as Chairperson of Council, the institution’s highest decision-making body, in October 2017. She is currently serving her second term. Ms Michelle Mbaco was appointed as Vice-Chairperson in September 2022.

Ambassador January-Bardill’s appointment as Council Chair was momentous, as she was the University’s first black African female to take up the position. She took over from Judge Ronnie Pillay, who served as Chairperson of Council with distinction for more than a decade.

She is an independent non-executive director of Mercedes Benz SA, the MTN Foundation, and two NGOs, Tshwaranang Legal Services (for women who are victims of gender-based violence) and Phenduka Literacy (for under educated primary school pupils in Alexander Township). 

At the start of 2021 she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Assistance and the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Report (UPR) in the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Her own company Bardill and Associates advises companies on integrating race, gender and sustainable development into their business strategies and building cultures to end sexual harassment, bullying and GBV.

Nozipho served as SA’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Lichtenstein and the Holy See as well as Deputy Director General, responsible for Human Resources and the Foreign Service Institute in the South African Department of Foreign Affairs.  

She was interim Chief of Staff and special advisor to UN Women and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) respectively. 

A four-year position as Corporate Affairs Executive at MTN Group, the largest and most diverse mobile telecommunications company in Africa, exposed her to executive leadership in the private sector at home and on the continent, and the challenges of creating a human rights culture in business.  

Ethical leadership and governance, social justice and sustainable development are central to her life and work. 


Vice-Chairperson of Council, Ms Michelle Mbaco is an educator by profession. She taught commercial subjects at a high school in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and later served as an official in the Department of Education where she held various positions.

This was followed by five years of working at the ANC Parliamentary Caucus as a Senior Manager in the Office of the Chief Whip. She currently works as a consultant in the Training and Development sector.

Ms Mbaco is a BComm and MA in Development Studies graduate of Nelson Mandela University. She served as Vice-President of the Nelson Mandela University Alumni Association until September 2022 and is currently serving a second term as a member of the a University's Council.

She is a Trustee on the Board of The Raymond Uren Educational Trust and serves as a member of the Accreditation Committee of the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education, UMALUSI.

A development activist, Ms Mbaco has served in various capacities in several non-governmental organisations.

“As Nelson Mandela University celebrates its 5th year of the change in name from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, it is an honour and humbling to serve as Deputy Chair of Council.”

10 October 2022