THE BUZZ: On Thursday May 9th and Friday, May 10th, 2013, I participated in Shaping Together: White House Briefing on Values and Leadership in Washington, DC sponsored by the Global Shapers DC Hub. The Global Shapers Community is one of the multi-stakeholder communities at the World Economic Forum. Other communities include the Young Global Leaders (YGLs), the Global Agenda Councils, and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. Among the 76 participants, there were just a couple of other YGLs so I felt quite honored to spend time with these young(er) leaders who are mostly in their 20s and 30s. Some of my writing and consulting work focuses on youth engagement so I have to keep up with these Millennials!On the evening of May 9th, we had dinner and a conversation with Glen Walter, President and COO of Coca-Cola Refreshments. I was impressed with his comments on leadership, as well as with the company’s new thinking about using their extensive global distribution network for social good such as partnering to deliver medicine to remote African villages through ColaLife. This makes sense because Coca-Cola reaches almost every corner of the globe. I remember being way up in the mountains of Kenya with my dad and siblings with no real sign of modernity except for a bright Coke sign. In fact, Glen shared that the word “Coke” is the number two recognized word in the world, next to “Hello.” Wow! Even though I am a certified Holistic Health Counselor and promote healthy eating (which includes lowering your intake of sugary drinks), I applaud Coca-Cola’s role in being part of the global health solution. The event was held at the GWU Marvin Center and also included young people from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Over 16,200 youth in the region attend the Clubs for activities, to see their friends, and to spend time with uplifting adults. The impact of the Clubs is tremendous. I encouraged the young people I spoke with to seek as many internships as they can and to include international work – with a multinational company such as Coca-Cola – in their life vision.
On May 10th, we started off at the World Bank and a discussion with fellow Young Global Leader Melanie Walker, MD. She is a neurosurgeon and development executive – and is always super impressive. I spent time with her on an Impact Journey into the slums of Mumbai when she was at the Gates Foundation. Read and view videos. Many people may think of the World Bank as just that, a bank. In it’s mission to free the world of poverty, it does so much more. It seeks to help people help themselves and their environments by producing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity, and forging partnerships in the public and private sector.We spent the rest of the day at the White House for a mix of conversations and breakout sessions with various officials. Topics ranged from public engagement, digital strategy and entrepreneurship to immigration, gun violence and healthcare implementation. The discussions were off-the-record, but what I can say is that I walked away inspired about the work of this administration despite the challenges this country faces. The energy of the people working on behalf of President Obama is off-the-charts! That says something positive about his leadership. I was particularly interested in the discussion on healthcare implementation. A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed more than 4 in 10 Americans didn’t know the Affordable Health Care Act was still law or was being implemented. Therefore, a big part of the administration’s task is to educate people on how the law will benefit them. For example:
* insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive, or drop your coverage if you get sick, or discriminate against you because you have a preexisting condition (I still can’t believe pregnancy has been considered a pre-existing condition)
* women now have access to free preventive care like checkups, and mammograms, and cancer screenings
* young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan
* seniors on Medicare receive free checkups and preventive care with no co-pay or deductible, and get a discount on their prescription drugs
Starting October 1st, 2013, if you’re one of the tens of millions who don’t have health insurance, you’ll be able to compare and buy quality, affordable private plans through an online marketplace. Read President Obama’s May 10th remarks on the Affordable Care Act and learn more about the Act.
I also had a chance to have dinner with my aunt Claire and uncle, Joseph C. Kennedy. Under President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, Uncle Joe was instrumental in developing the Peace Corps in Africa as a Washington-based Director. Later he decided to go into the field and became Director in Sierra Leone. His work was so outstanding he was asked to become the Washington Director for the whole region of Southeast Asia. In 1970, he co-founded Africare and served as International Director until his retirement. For four decades, the organization has moved through every imaginable terrain delivering over $1 billion in assistance to millions of beneficiaries impacting 36 countries Africa-wide. Now in his 80s, my uncle still is so sharp about his knowledge of the world. I am extremely blessed to have that expertise right in the family – particularly since my dad (who was equally impressive) is no longer here. Uncle Joe shared with me his thoughts on development in Africa, as well as on Myanmar where I’ll be traveling to in a couple of weeks. Out of the 97 countries he has gone to, that is one that is still on his list! I’ll be sure to share my thoughts/insights and pictures when I return.A number of Global Shapers work for the Obama Administration including Monique Dorsainvil at the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (one of our hosts), Paul Kruchoski at the U.S. State Department, Allison Lombardo at the National Security Council and Christopher Watts at the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
Fellow YGL Mark Hanis also stopped by to talk about his experience. He was appointed by the President to serve in the 2012-2013 Class of White House Fellows and is currently working in the Office of the Vice President. I met him when he was running the Genocide Intervention Network which is now United to End Genocide, and we both have been awarded honors from the Social Venture Network.
For fellow tech geeks… one of the Global Shapers was sporting Google Glass – a wearable computer with a head-mounted display I wrote about last summer as part of a visit to Google’s headquarters during the YGL Silicon Valley Summit 2012. I finally got a chance to test them out. Pretty amazing technology! I must thank DC Global Shaper Mary Galeti at the Tecovas Foundation, and all the other DC hosts, for putting together a powerful two-day event and for inviting this (older) Young Global Leader to join!
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.
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