Day One of #GPF18

Last year, the Global Philanthropy Forum focused on the trust deficit. This year, the conversation continues with a focus on repairing that trust using social capital and individual agency. The first day of the 2018 Global Philanthropy Forum was about responsibility, collaboration and the urgency to act.

Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general and founder of the Kofi Annan Foundation, opened the day by describing the current divisions and lack of trust he has observed in societies around the world. This trend is important for the foundation as it focuses on preserving liberal democracies and upholding electoral integrity. Annan emphasized the importance of youth. “I believe deeply that no one is ever too young to lead, or too old to learn,” he said. He highlighted the need for collaboration; problems can be solved most effectively when governments, civil society and the private sector work together, he said. And in line with the 2005 Responsibility to Protect commitment, which he ushered as secretary-general, he referred to the Rohingya refugee crisis as a crisis in which the international community must act collectively to provide for the needs of the refugees.

Global Philanthropy Forum at the Pullman Hotel in Redwood City, CA. May 2, 2018. Photo by Ken Cedeno

Narrowing in on a rural community in Guatemala, we heard from filmmakers Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple from Living on One who told the story of Rosa Coj Bocel – a nursing student and women’s rights advocate who has persevered through many hardships in life. Despite having to leave school after 6th grade to care for her family and despite losing her daughter to an incurable brain condition at age two, Coj Bocel turned her obstacles into a source of strength. Later, Coj Bocel took the stage and emphasized the importance of working together to make a difference. She called on everyone to “Contribute your grain of sand so that together, with our contributions, we can be powerful.”

While young people have powerful ideas and the ability to affect meaningful change, they often face profound challenges. Omar al-Tal, program manager at Mercy Corps Jordan, Lashon Amado, national coordinator of community action teams at Opportunity Youth United, Celina de Sola, co-founder of Glasswing International and Essam Daod, co-founder of Humanity Crew spoke with Lorraine Heggessey, CEO of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry about strategies to reach out to disconnected and disaffected youth. They each shared personal stories about the young people who had made an impact on them and demonstrated perseverance in the face of adversity. They talked about the importance of culture when devising interventions, the importance of contextual factors that influence disconnected youth and the need to focus on individuals rather than outcomes.

Global Philanthropy Forum at the Pullman Hotel in Redwood City, CA. May 2, 2018. Photo by Ken Cedeno

Another major theme that emerged was the need for leadership in driving change. Transformation requires leaders, someone to take the first step and set an example for others to follow. La June Montgomery Tabron, CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation sat down with Rajiv Vinnakota, executive vice president of youth and engagement programs at the Aspen Institute, to talk about the foundation’s disruptive grant-making strategies.

Global Philanthropy Forum at the Pullman Hotel in Redwood City, CA. May 2, 2018. Photo by Ken Cedeno

Two lightning talks addressed the connection between health and poverty. Rebecca Onie, founder of Health Leads, pointed out how the vast majority of health outcomes in the United States can be directly attributed to social and environmental factors. She posed the question, “Why don’t we do what we know we need to for health in this country?”  Krista Donaldson, CEO of D-Rev spoke about health issues that disproportionately affect the lives of low-income populations and the challenges in distributing the technologies that address them. Both emphasized the need for greater collaboration and transparency.

While technology can empower us to do enormous good, it can also have unintended consequences. Anne Hale Miglarese, CEO of Radiant Earth, Varun Gauri, senior economist in development economics at the World Bank, Simon Segars, CEO of Arm and Tomicah Tillemann co-founder and director of the Blockchain Trust Accelerator at New America, joined Paula Goldman, vice president and founding head of the Tech and Society Solutions Lab at Omidyar Network to talk about some of these risks and how we should think about collective values around technology going forward. Speakers warned of the possible ethical conflicts that come with emerging technologies, but expressed optimism regarding their potential for impact.

Global Philanthropy Forum at the Pullman Hotel in Redwood City, CA. May 2, 2018. Photo by Ken Cedeno

The 2018 Global Philanthropy Forum Conference, May 2 to 4, 2018 in Redwood City, CA, brings together cross-sector leaders to explore the theme of “No Bystanders.” Learn more about the conference and see all videos by visiting All photos by Ken Cedeno. 

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