Credit: Adam Schultz / Clinton Global Initiative
Sep 20
September 20, 2015

CGI Staff Share A Behind-the-Scenes Preview of #CGI2015


In exactly one week, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Opening Plenary Session of 2015 Annual Meeting. We asked a few staff members to share what they were looking forward to most, as they prepare for this year's meeting and work with members to develop their Commitments to Action. Follow along on social media with #CGI2015 and starting at 10:30 am ET next Sunday via the live webcast

The Annual Meeting covers a broad range of topics. Which conversations are you looking forward to during the meeting?

Alex Amouyel, Director of Program: We’ve designed the Plenary Sessions to highlight several themes we think are critical to consider in the next decade. For example, income inequality remains a challenge globally, but there are proven solutions to help address the issue. The Plenary Session Escalators of Opportunity will explore these potential remedies with some incredible experts, including Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize Winner in Economic Sciences, and Robert Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom, which manages M-PESA—the mobile money platform used by Kenyans to manage their money without the need for a traditional bank account.

Emily Dery, Head of the Global Health Track: We have a terrific conversation centered on the stigma surrounding mental health, and the services and support necessary to address the mental health epidemic that currently impacts 450 million people around the world. We are also bringing together African ministers of health in a session exploring new partnerships and commitments to build resilient health infrastructure.

Noah Cohen-Cline, Head of the Food Systems Track: Our commitment to smallholder farmers has been reflected in our programming throughout the year. Previous sessions have supported smallholders in corporate supply chains and explored how to leverage data and technology innovations to bring better information to smallholders around the world. I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation with a session at the Annual Meeting focused on microcredit and financial inclusion for smallholder farmers in supply chains.

Every year, CGI members launch hundreds of new Commitments to Action at the meeting. Can you share a preview of a commitment you are excited about?

Emily: CGI members have long been active in not just disaster response, but also in helping communities rebuild for a more resilient future. We have a great commitment that will continue this work in Nepal, helping the nation rebuild health systems damaged by the earthquake earlier this year.

Noah: There are around 500 million smallholder farms in the world and they are responsible for providing up to 80 percent of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. At this year's Annual Meeting, there will be at least ten new commitments focused on supporting these smallholders around the world.

Devon Ritzer, Head of the Education and Workforce Development Track: An education company will make a commitment to apply their platform to a group of refugee girls, teaching STEM principals and inspiring a new generation of scientific minds.

This year’s theme explores “The Future of Impact.” What excites you about the theme?

Alex: This theme really challenges our members and speakers to think critically about the remaining issues we need to tackle. What are the solutions that the global community should double down on? What are the new opportunities emerging from globalization and technology? I am optimistic about the future – the world has made great progress over the last decade, and although there remains much more work to be done, concerted efforts and partnerships across sectors are the key to unlocking every human’s potential and driving long-term global prosperity.

Emilie Openchowski, CGI University Associate: The Future of Impact relies heavily on the adaptability and innovation of young people. Thinking outside the box and approaching challenges in new ways will be critical. We see this entrepreneurial spirit in the thousands of CGI U students who have made commitments around the world, and I’m excited that several of those students will get to explore the theme when they attend this year’s meeting.

From entrepreneurs to educators, presidents of companies and presidents of countries, the Annual Meeting brings together a diverse group of leaders. Who are some of the speakers and participants you are most excited to see this year?

Alex: I am most excited about the voices that many folks have never heard from before. As one example, our Opening Plenary Session features a conversation led by Chelsea Clinton between Tin Ma Ma Htet, a teacher-trainer in Myanmar, and Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner who advocates for the rights of children globally. We’ll close the meeting by bringing in perspectives from classrooms around the world, using Skype to hear young people share their vision for the future. In addition to these new voices, we will hear insights from an array of recognized cross-sector leaders, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jim Yong Kim, Jack Ma, Charlize Theron, Ashley Judd, Edward Norton, Freida Pinto, Judith Rodin, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and more.

Emilie: Continuing the tradition of past years, several CGI U students will attend the Annual Meeting to meet and learn from leaders across sectors. This includes Mansi Prakash, who is tackling poverty in the Phillippines; Jordan Schermerhorn, who is working to improve immunizations in Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine; and Jeremy Goss, who is advancing access to healthy food in the United States.

Ilana Jaffey, Head of the Education and Workforce Development Track: I’m excited for the Youth Speak session, which will give CGI members the opportunity to learn from amazing young people about their ‘chutes and ladders’—the moments that set them on their life trajectory. It’s a unique opportunity to have two generations of leaders learn from each other.

Are there any final thoughts or advice you would like to leave for people tuning in to #CGI2015 around the world?

Alex: You should participate! Share your vision on our Impact Wall—which will be available online and on-site at the Annual Meeting, host session viewing parties with your family and friends, and tag questions on social media during our Plenary Sessions with the hashtag #CGI2015. You never know – President Clinton or Chelsea Clinton may read your question on stage.

Emilie: If you’re a student and you are inspired by what you see at the Annual Meeting, learn more about CGI U and follow us on facebook and Twitter to find out when the 2016 application process opens.