In late April, the 2019 cohort of Next Generation Leaders convened in Arizona for the McCain Institute’s “Leading Change and Innovation” leadership module. Leveraging the Institute’s affiliation with Arizona State University, this module gave NGLs the opportunity to expand their network and strengthen ties with a major academic and research institution, which they can utilize for future collaboration and support when they return home to implement their Leadership Action Plans (LAPs).

Engaging at Arizona State University

NGLs met with Arizona State University President Michael Crow (pictured above), Senior Vice President Jim O’Brien and Provost Mark Searle to gain a clear picture of leading the enormous culture change at ASU over the past several decades. They also engaged with many ASU professors, including Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz and Dr. Kristin Ferguson-Colvin from the School of Social Work and Dr. Minu Ipe of the W.P. Carey School of Business. NGLs also had the opportunity to connect with ASU student leaders, from students working on the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program course taught by Dr. Kevin Wright from the School of Criminology and Criminal to students who are members of ASU’s Public Service Academy.

Taking advantage of the learning environment, NGLs also honed important skills they will need to successfully implement their LAPs and affect positive change in their home countries. These included:

  • Design thinking workshop centered around using arts for cultural change, led by Dean Steven Tepper of the Herberger Institute.
  • Traditional and social media training hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship workshops hosted at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center (pictured below).

  • Practical exercises on leadership, ethics and innovation led by Dr. Jason Robert, director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics

NGL Sokayna El Allam of Morocco is interviewed at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism during the module’s day-long media training. El Allam’s Leadership Action Plan focuses on supporting start-ups in Morocco through the development of a social entrepreneurship online platform and incubator.

Meeting Other Arizona Practitioners

Besides meeting with ASU faculty, staff, and students, NGLs also connected with local Arizona practitioners. A dinner with the first Native American Federal District Court Judge Diane Humetewa (pictured left with the NGLs) provided insights into Native American leadership, and a dinner hosted by Ambassador Barbara Barrett connected NGLs with leaders across many sectors in Arizona. A cultural evening with members of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community taught NGLs more about Native American traditions and leadership in Arizona. Finally, meeting with Dr. Scott Parazynski – astronaut, inventor, scaler of Mt. Everest and former University Explorer – at ASU provided NGLs with inspiration to chase their impossible dreams.

NGL Tyesha Wood (right) of the Navajo Nation will use the insights she gathered from Dr. Parazynski’s (left) talk about maintaining a relentless curiosity and planning for success, but preparing for failures to ensure that Indian Country receives centralized, locally specific data to develop culturally-appropriate policies and training for tribal communities to improve their capabilities to combat human trafficking and exploitation.

The Sedona Forum

A unique feature of the annual Arizona Module is the NGLs’ participation in the Sedona Forum. Held annually by the McCain Institute, the Sedona Forum is an exclusive, top-level international leadership conference that convenes thought-leaders, decision makers, activists and diverse experts to discuss approaches and solutions to complex world problems. NGLs network with top-level leaders in a private setting and have the opportunity to share their LAPs directly with policy-makers and key stakeholders. This year, the Sedona Forum featured a keynote address from former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and a speech from the acting First Lady of Venezuela Fabiana Rosales de Guaidó.

Since the conclusion of the Arizona Module, NGLs have returned to their placement sites across the U.S. to spend the last few months of their program year refining the final iterations of their Leadership Action Plans, which they will present to a panel of experts in July in Washington, D.C. The 2019 cohort will graduate from the NGL program on July 17, 2019, after which they will return to their home environments to begin the implementation phase of their LAPs.

NGL Aliz Pocsuvalszki of Hungary presents her LAP 3.0 to her fellow cohort members and McCain Institute staff. Ms. Pocsuvalszki seeks to focus on education through challenging the long-standing practice of school segregation and to work towards a better, more inclusive system which guarantees access to education to all marginalized groups in Hungary.

NGL Abdalaziz Alhamza of Syria explains his LAP to an ASU Public Service Academy student. Mr. Alhamza seeks to empower the next generation of Syrians to become compassionate and informed leaders in their own communities and to rebuild the country based on the principles of freedom, dignity, truth, justice, unity and peace.