The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a community of innovators from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Search current members and alumni by year awarded, sector or region.
E. Benjamin Skinner
E. Benjamin Skinner is Founder and President of Transparentem. Previously, he co-founded TAU Investment Management, and prior to that was Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism of Brandeis University. He was named one of National Geographic’s “Adventurers of the Year 2008.” His first book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery (Free Press; 2008), was awarded the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction, a citation from the Overseas Press Club in its book category for 2008, and a finalist for The Ryszard Kapuscinski International Award for literary reportage in 2011.
Previously he held a fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, served as Special Assistant to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and worked as Research Associate for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His 50+ chapters, monographs, and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Time, Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and others. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Lawyer, geologist, entrepreneur, investor and social entrepreneur. Directorships and interests in climate change, responsible extractives, financial inclusion, telecommunications, banking and pharmaceutical industries.
Edward "Smitty" Smith has emerged as a rising star in the technology and telecommunications policy arenas.
A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, he translated his academic success into professional success as a corporate attorney at one of the world’s largest law firms, Hogan Lovells. While in private practice as a corporate lawyer, Smitty advised clients and helped close over $40 billion worth of merger transactions for publicly traded companies.
Smitty left his firm to join the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. After the campaign, Smitty served as Deputy General Counsel of the Presidential Inauguration Committee and joined the Obama Administration.
At the Department of Commerce, Smitty spearheaded national broadband programs that generated critical data about broadband availability and capability and leveraged technology to create new economic opportunities for millions of Americans. After an emergency detail to the Economic Development Administration, where he led teams developing economic response strategies in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Smitty joined the Federal Communications Commission where he served as Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel for a special technology taskforce
Smitty left the FCC to run in the first election for Attorney General of the District of Columbia. Though he lost in a hotly contested race, Smitty received over 35,000 votes citywide and gained the endorsements of nearly every major union and labor organization in the District.
Smitty entered local government and served in the Mayor’s Cabinet as the Director of the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants.He then returned to the FCC as Legal Advisor to the Chairman.
Smitty is now a Partner at the international law firm of DLA Piper, where he advises clients on a broad range of telecommunications and technology issues in countries around the globe.
Elaine Smith Genser
Elaine Smith Genser is a senior financial executive with over 30 years of experience. In the last decade, she has worked on mobilizing resources from the private sector for institutions including the United Nations, World Bank, and World Economic Forum. Before that she was a trader and research sales manager for global investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and J.P. Morgan, where at the height of that career she oversaw daily trading of $75-$250 million of $2.5 billion in trading volume on the Brazilian Exchange.
Currently, Elaine directs partnerships for the UN Joint SDG Fund, which was created by the UN Secretary-General to blend $300 million annually from states with private sector investments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for the 2030 Agenda. She is also the Officer Investment Advisor of the Fund as of June 2022. Earlier, she held advising and community management roles with Global Future Council of Financial and Monetary Systems with top S&P100 institutions, as well as leading the agenda design of international gatherings of banking and exchange CEOs with public authorities.
Elaine’s career reflects her early vision of the need to incorporate social responsibility, sustainability, and environmental concerns into the strategy of public and private companies of all sizes. She also brings deep experience working with global financial markets most especially in developing strategy to create financial vehicles for the blending of public and private sector financing in developing countries.
Elaine holds a BBA from Mackenzie University, an MBA from University of São Paulo-FIA, and is a graduate of Harvard Business School's Owner/President Management Program (OPM). She has also completed executive programs in leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Yale School of Management, Stanford University and Saïd Business School at Oxford University. She is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian.
Marie So is Co-Founder of Shokay and Ventures in Development, a non-profit that catalyses the creation of social enterprises in the greater China region. She previously worked for the United Nations Development Programme, Dubai Development and Investment Authority, Procter & Gamble and Merrill Lynch. So graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School with a Master's degree in Public Administration and International Development, and a Bachelor's degree in Economics, Engineering and Management Science from Northwestern University. She also attended the United World College of the Pacific (UWC). So sits on several government steering committees and foundation boards in Hong Kong. She is a recipient of the Echoing Green Fellow 2008 and an Asia 21 Young Leader 2008.
Zafar Sobhan is the Editor of Dhaka Tribune. As a long-time columnist, he also has to his name numerous articles, features, interviews, and essays in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, TIME, Vice, Himal, Economic & Political Weekly, Outlook, Seminar, and others. Previously, he served as editor of the monthly Forum magazine and opinions editor of The Daily Star, and before that as an associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, among other positions. Zafar is also a licensed New York City public school teacher and a member of the New York State Bar. Zafar has a B.A. and M.A. in English literature and a J.D. in law. He is also a Yale World Fellow and was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2005.
CEO of Eureka, an AI platform for mobile operators to partner with enterprises and government. Previously Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company, Indonesia and Managing Director, Standard Chartered Private Equity, Indonesia. Experience as an investor, board member or advisor to consumer (healthcare, retail, technology), agriculture and energy companies. WEF Young Global Leader 2010. Cofounder of Young Leaders for Indonesia foundation. Bachelor of Law and Political Economy (first class honours) Murdoch University, Western Australia.
Managing Partner, svtl.vc, Senior VP, BusDev, Svitla, YGL @WEForum, Harvard MBA, Deloitte'09 Tech Entrepreneur of the year, co-founder @TravelTipz & IPNet, IPNet, named Russia's fastest growing technology company by Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA (2009). Former President and Treasurer, Harvard Club of Russia. Named one of top young entrepreneurs in Russia, Finans magazine, 33 Perca (2009).
Founder & CEO of Elevate, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing continued education at world-leading universities to young women who have either been forced from their homes by conflict or climate change or are working in industries affected by climate change and looking to further education so that they can use every tool possible to stay in their country of origin
Created Project SHEro, as an extension of her nonprofit’s work offering scholarships to refugees – including climate refugees. Project SHEro is a global climate activism documentary series that raises awareness not only about challenges but also solutions. It explores issues such as climate adaptation, climate justice, reducing emissions, food and water security, gender equity, indigenous rights, migration, and access to finance. Each episode showcases a brave young woman whose business is being affected by climate change, putting her at risk of becoming a climate refugee unless she can find ways to adapt. Local and international experts offer advice –and use cutting-edge technology or respect the old ways, to co-create the solution with her. Each SHEro is given a grant to invest in her business or continue her education.
Previously, Lorna was Director for Latin America and Africa at Institutional Investor, focusing on increasing FDI for infrastructure projects. She also worked at IDEA on Wall Street, covering Latin America, and at Water & Air Research – an environmental consulting firm – on creating national parks in Honduras and Brazil.
Yale World Fellow 2017. Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum since 2010; also, was a member of the Young Global Leaders Group advisory board, and Global Future Council on the Future of Humanitarian System (2016-2018), Women's Empowerment and Gender Parity (2011-2012). Advisory judge for Columbia University’s Dean Challenge at SIPA 2015-Present. Young Center Volunteer 2020-Present. Member of CFR (Council on Foreign Relations). Echoing Green Semi-Finalist in 2012. Former Organizational Partner of Global Dignity Day. Former UNHCR Innovation Council Board member. Former Advisory Board member of the Humanitarian Innovation Project at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre. She finished undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, completed an Executive Leadership Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and coursed studies at Yale University and at Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Lorna is also a figurative sculptor whose work has been exhibited in NYC and has won numerous awards.
Roy Sosa is Founding Partner of MPOWER Ventures and Chairman and CEO of MPOWER Labs. He founded the socially committed venture fund and affiliated business accelerator with his brother Bertrand in order to identify, create and invest in early-stage financial services companies focused on underserved markets. The MPOWER Ventures portfolio companies span international payments, mobile payments, retail financial services and asset-building and investment products and operate in regions across the globe, including North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Sosa is an accomplished entrepreneur who pioneered the multi-billion-dollar prepaid debit market as the co-founder of NetSpend Corporation, a highly successful company that serves millions of unbanked Americans. As a leading voice for underserved consumers around the world, he pledged to the Clinton Global Initiative to bank five million consumers in five years through the work of the MPOWER group of companies, and he serves as Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Financial Empowerment.
Dr. Mirjam Staub-Bisang is Head of BlackRock Switzerland, member of the EMEA Executive Committee and Senior Advisor to BlackRock Sustainable Investing. She currently serves as a non-executive director of the global shoe retailer Bata as well as the leading global business school INSEAD.
Prior to BlackRock, Mirjam Staub-Bisang co-founded and was formerly Managing Partner of Independent Capital Group AG an investment management firm focusing on sustainable investing based in Zurich. She served on the investment committees of pension funds and endowments and on the board of several several public and private companies, among which as chair of Profond Sammelstiftung, one of Switzerland’s leading multi-employer pension plans. Prior to these roles she held senior positions in asset management and private equity at Commerzbank and Swiss Life, Quadrant and was an investment banker at Merrill Lynch.
Mirjam Staub-Bisang holds a PhD in Law from the University of Zurich and an MBA from INSEAD. She authored the standard work “Sustainable Investing for Institutional Investors: Risks, Regulations, Strategies" (Wiley 2012) and co-authored the second edition of "Infrastructure as an Asset Class" (Wiley 2016). In 2009 she was elected a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.
Former Head, Shaping the Future of Media, Entertainment and Information and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum.
Kirstine Stewart is an internationally award-winning technology and media leader with a reputation for turning around revenue performance and driving new market expansion on a global scale.
Her work spans executive roles with Twitter, Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Crown Family Media/Hallmark, the World Economic Forum, as well as other media corporation and technology companies.
Kirstine is presently focused on her work serving across a number of public and private company boards, and serving as advisor on projects in the US and Canada.
In her last executive role at the World Economic Forum, Kirstine headed the Future of Media, Entertainment, & Sport as a member of the WEF Executive Committee, collaborating with C-level leaders from multinational enterprises like Facebook, Google, ByteDance, Publicis Groupe, P&G and others, addressing emerging trends in areas such as digital disruption, AI, metaverse and Web3, revenue creation in the media ecosystem, consumer data privacy, and the future of work.
Prior to joining the WEF, Kirstine had moved from recognized media leader to the tech industry when she was appointed by Twitter as the Founding Head of Canada, setting up their first Canadian offices and establishing it as
a sales leader for Twitter globally with the highest per capita revenues. She soon moved to New York when asked to
take on the role of Twitter VP Media, responsible for Entertainment, Sports and all content partnerships for Twitter across North America.
Kirstine was recruited to Twitter from the CBC, where she sat as the first women in the top programming role at the national broadcaster. She is credited with catapulting ratings and launching into the digital market as CBC’s EVP of TV, Radio & Digital. Prior to that, she served as Senior Vice President growing the subscriber base and revenues for Alliance Atlantis, a media company with a portfolio of lifestyle channels including HGTV, Food Network, BBC Canada, National Geographic, History, and many others.
As Head of Programming for Crown Media/Hallmark in Denver, CO, she opened new international markets, positioning the portfolio for a profitable sale, directly following her as General Manager and Head of Programming for Trio/Newsworld International where she helped secure the $300M sale of those channels to NBCUniversal.
Kirstine launched her media career fresh out of school at Paragon, a media licensing and distribution firm where she rose from her initial entry-level position to become president, leading a multi-million dollar business in content licensing and global distribution..
In 2016, Kirstine authored the bestseller, Our Turn, an internationally award-winning book on leadership published by Penguin RandomHouse.
A sought-after board member and corporate advisor, Kirstine serves as the World Economic Forum Advisor for Young Global Leader (YGL) and member of the board for Think Research, a publicly traded medical technology company and Rivalry a global Esports and Gaming company. She was recently appointed as Chairwoman of Blink49Studios, a venture between former Eone leadership and Endeavor Content. Her leadership extends into non-profit advocacy as well, after serving as a member of the Founding Board for CILAR (Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism) and as a member of the board for the Center for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation and serves on the Board of Ingenium, Canada’s National Museums of Science, Tech, Space and Aviation.
She is also a Founding Member of Chief and Soho House as well as a Board Member of C-100 a collection of Top Canadian Technology/Business Leaders in the US. Her husband Zaib Shaikh is currently Canada’s Consul General to Los Angeles, Nevada and Arizona. They have two children and live in Los Angeles.
Kirstine is internationally known as an industry leader having earned recognition including membership in the YGL - Young Global Leaders, The Power 50: Canada's Most Powerful Business People by Canadian Business in 2016, Person of the Year by Playback Magazine for 2012, Woman of the Year by Canadian Women in Communications, Media Player of the Year by Marketing Magazine, Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Award in 2007, among others.
A native of Canada, Kirstine earned her bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto before completing executive leadership programs including the Global Leadership in the 21st Century through the Harvard Kennedy School, the Transformational Leadership program through the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School, and Leading with Finance, Capital Markets and Valuation through the Harvard Business School.