We are excited to welcome 112 Young Global Leaders for the Class of 2021. From a gender justice and human rights activist to a multi-award winning artist and advocate for indigenous literacy, to a celebrated leader from the world’s youngest country, and leaders from business, civil society, healthcare, and government, meet the new class of YGLs:
20 YGLs in North America
Dr. Daniel P. Ahn is Managing Director, the Chief U.S. Economist, and Head of Markets 360 – North America at BNP Paribas in New York. He is also a non-residential Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Until 2018, he was the chief economist at the U.S. Department of State, where he advised the Secretary of State and senior principals on a wide range of international economic and security topics, including global macroeconomic growth, economic warfare and sanctions, international trade, and energy and environmental issues. Prior to entering public service in 2014, Dr. Ahn was the chief economist for energy and commodities at Citigroup in New York and also held senior positions at Citadel, Barclays Capital, and Lehman Brothers. He has also held research and teaching positions at Harvard University, the National Bureau of Economic Research, Columbia University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Monetary Fund, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Georgetown University, and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors. He is the author of multiple research articles, Congressional testimony, and a textbook, Principles of Commodity Economics and Finance with MIT Press. Dr. Ahn has extensive experience using state-of-the-art econometrics, data science, geospatial imagery, and machine-learning for economic forecasting, data analysis, financial risk management, project financing, commercial strategy, public policy, and operational solutions. He was featured in Forbes Magazine as one of 30 under 30 in Finance. He is the recipient of both the Superior Honor Award and the Meritorious Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State. He completed his A.B. in economics and finance with honors from Princeton University, and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Peter Biar Ajak
Peter Biar Ajak is a prominent civil society leader, political dissident, and scholar from South Sudan. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies of the National Defense University. Peter is also the Chairman of the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum, Senior Advisor to the LSE-based International Growth Centre, and the Founder of the Juba-based Center for Strategic Analyses and Research. He was previously a Senior Advisor to the Minister of National Security in the Office of the President of South Sudan and an In-Country Economist for the World Bank. An outspoken advocate of human rights, free and fair elections, he was arbitrarily detained and convicted in a politically-motivated show trial for “disturbing the peace” and jailed for eighteen months in South Sudan’s notorious Blue House prison. Peter is also a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Fellow, and a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He holds a Ph.D. in Politics & International Studies from the University of Cambridge, a Master of Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a BA in Economics from LaSalle University.
Adriana Cargill is an independent public radio journalist based in Los Angeles. She’s reported and produced stories for KCRW, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC), Marketplace, LAist, Latino USA, Crooked Media, Wondery, KUSC Radio, VICE News and more. She graduated with a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism as a Bloomberg Scholar. She is also a fifth-generation Cargill family member. Founded in 1865, Cargill Inc. is a privately held agribusiness with over 155,000 employees in 70 countries around the world. By revenue, Cargill consistently ranks as one of the largest private companies in the U.S and in the top tier globally. Adriana has worked to support employees during the COVID crisis and advocated for the company to do business in a sustainable and more equitable way. Adriana is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Family Business Community and its Next Gen Working Group. She is also a member of The ImPact, a global membership community of families committed to aligning their assets with their values.
Arvan Chan serves as Regional Vice President for Centene Corporation, a publicly traded Fortune 50 healthcare enterprise that partners with local governments to ensure people receive high quality and cost effective health and social care. Since joining Centene in 2007, Arvan has played a major role in helping the company establishes a footprint outside the United States. As part of his work in developing and managing Centene’s international businesses, Arvan led the investments and integration of the company’s international operations. He also works closely with local governments to expand public-private partnerships for the delivery of healthcare services in new markets. Arvan was named among the 40 most influential young professionals by St. Louis Business Journal and among the five emerging leaders by Olin Business School. He serves on the boards of various organizations around the world, including Vivent Health, International Institute, Ribera Salud, and Operose Health. He is also actively involved in a number of advisory and selection committees, including Arch Grants, Washington University in St. Louis, and United Way. Arvan received his bachelor's degree from University of California of Los Angeles and his masters in health and business administration from Washington University in St. Louis.
A global economist who focuses on geopolitics and investing, Alexis Crow provides insights on capital allocation and long-term investment. She covers Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and North America. She is a public speaker on the global macroeconomic environment and the geopolitical landscape, with a focus on sectors including real estate and infrastructure, environmental, social and governance (ESG), energy, technology and consumers. She leads a team of experts, with a focus on developing their expertise in macroeconomic analysis, geopolitical investing, developing client relationships, and using data visualization tools to guide investment decisions. She is a Senior Fellow at Columbia Business School and with the Global Business and Economics programme at the Atlantic Council, focussing on income inequality, ESG and the environment, and economic empowerment of women. She mentors young women and young men who are seeking their purpose and to foster their careers in business and policy. She also volunteers in New York City with Santa Egidio, participates at the Basilica of Saint Patrick's Old Cathedral as reader, and works to support professional people seeking a richer spiritual life St Patrick's Cathedral, along with addressing issues such as immigration and income inequality.
Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 54gene, a health technology company advancing the state of healthcare through large-scale discovery and translational research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs for the benefit of Africans and the global population. He holds a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of London, a Masters in human molecular genetics from Imperial College London, and a Masters in Business Management from Claremont Colleges, California. He also worked as a cancer researcher and published a seminal paper on pancreatic cancer immunology, Gastroenterology Journal. He has extensive experience operating in the US, UK, and Nigerian healthcare industries. Prior to 54gene, Dr. Ene-Obong worked with leading healthcare organizations, including Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies, academic and research institutions, and governments as a management consultant with PwC and IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS). Founded in 2019, 54gene has made the Time Magazine list of 12 innovations that would change healthcare in the 2020s and has been listed by Nigeria’s Punch newspaper as 1 of 5 innovations that would improve healthcare for Africans. 54gene also made the Fast Company list of the world's Most Innovative Companies’ in 2020. It was also awarded the best health technology solution by AppsAfrica. Dr. Ene-Obong was listed as 1 of the 30 most innovative entrepreneurs on the African continent in 2019 by Quartz Africa. In September 2020, Dr. Ene-Obong was labelled a Nigerian hero in the fight against COVID-19, by a Nigerian newspaper, ThisDay. Dr. Ene-Obong is also included in Fortune’s 40 under 40 most influential people in healthcare for the year 2020.
Jocelyn Formsma is the Executive Director of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC). Ms. Formsma is a member of the Moose Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario, Canada. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Ottawa. Ms. Formsma has over 19 years of work and volunteer experience building strong relationships and advocacy on behalf of Indigenous peoples. She is called to the Bar of Ontario and has worked as a lawyer for a First Nations-owned law firm. Prior to this, she worked for numerous national Aboriginal organizations and First Nations organizations. In addition, Ms. Formsma serves as the Chairperson of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Board Member of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, Treasurer of the Indigenous Bar Association Board, Founder of the Morningstar Fund and is an Advisor to the Ontario Indigenous Youth Partnership Project. As Executive Director, Ms. Formsma brings her legal training and passion for Access to Justice to her work with Indigenous peoples in urban environments and the Friendship Centre Movement towards innovative, positive and effective systemic change for Indigenous peoples.
Garlin Gilchrist II
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist has dedicated his career to solving problems. An engineer by training, he uses thoughtful innovation, progressive reform, and efficient modernization of policies and programs to make the work better for hardworking families. From spearheading campaigns for equality and justice to harnessing technology to solve real problems, his focus has consistently remained on serving the public and getting things done. He brings a lifetime of experience to the task, receiving his first computer at age five and setting up a computer lab in a Detroit community recreation center using computers that he built himself at age 16. Lt. Governor Gilchrist studied computer engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, graduating with honors, and later had a successful career as a software engineer at Microsoft, helping to build SharePoint into the fastest growing product in the company’s history. Lt. Governor Gilchrist spent the next several years of his career as a social entrepreneur and community organizer who helped people in communities across America realize their full economic and political potential. Upon returning home to Detroit, Lt. Governor Gilchrist worked in local government to make sure build systems that made the government more responsive, transparent, and accountable to city residents. This experience prepared him for a key priority: to bring Michigan’s state government fully into the 21st century on every level. As part of the Whitmer Administration, Lt. Governor Gilchrist has sought to address injustice and inequity across our state at every level. From co-chairing the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration to helming the Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, these task forces have taken actions that saved lives and protect our most vulnerable populations. Lt. Governor Gilchrist’s approach to addressing these disparities is deeply rooted in fact-based practices, science, and connecting with individuals across Michigan. Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and his wife, Ellen, reside in Detroit where they are raising their twins, Emily and Garlin III, and daughter, Ruby.
Megan Greenfield, Ph.D., Partner with McKinsey & Company, is a recognized leader in healthcare, COVID-19 economic recovery, and advancing equity in the workplace. Megan works with healthcare companies across the value chain on how to drive growth. She helped design one of the first state-level COVID-19 economic recovery plans in the United States, building a framework that has been adopted by states, cities, and organizations nationwide. Megan is a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and researches ways for employers to understand gender and racial bias within their companies (processes, benefits, etc.) so they can make changes to support their diverse employees. Megan has led numerous DEI executive meetings, authored several white papers, and is leading many DEI initiatives within McKinsey. Megan received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in chemical and biological engineering and she holds a B.S. degree from the California Institute of Technology, where she majored in chemical engineering. Megan is a WEF Young Global Leader (Class of 2021) and on the Board of Advisors of the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jessica Jackson’s quest for justice began in a Georgia courtroom. The high-school dropout held her two-month-old daughter and watched helplessly as her husband was sentenced to six years in prison. In that moment, she decided to turn her shock into a crusade to change the justice system. As a single mother, she graduated college and law school. Today she is a leader in the bipartisan movement to end excessive incarceration. Jessica’s specialty is bringing political rivals together to pass bills considered “impossible.” As the bill’s main advocate, she led the drive to pass 2018’s “First Step Act.” The New York Times called the law “the most substantial justice reform in a generation;” it has already helped free more than 16,000 people. While leading her national initiative, #cut50, Jessica helped ban the shackling of jailed pregnant women in 14 states. Her “Dignity for Incarcerated Women” campaign enlisted formerly incarcerated women and dozens of celebrities to deepen the focus on women’s issues. At the helm of #cut50, Jessica built the biggest national grassroots network for bipartisan reform, #cut50’s Empathy Network. Jessica has led not only on the national level, but was also elected the youngest-ever Mayor of Mill Valley, California where she focused on affordable housing. Today, she now helps lead the REFORM Alliance, an organization where she is continuing her work to end mass incarceration and mass supervision. Jessica continues to take clemency cases as well, working on both the federal and state level to secure a second chance for individuals who have lengthy prison sentences. Jessica turned her hopelessness into hope for millions.
Mr. Kaufmann is the Head of Private Investments and a Portfolio Manager for Viking Global Investors, LP, a global investment firm that manages over $40 billion. He is also a member of the firm's Management Committee. From 2010 to 2016, Mr. Kaufmann was a public equity Portfolio Manager and Investment Analyst responsible for investment ideas in the healthcare and life sciences sector. From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Kaufmann was an Associate at TA Associates, where he was responsible for originating, researching and executing private equity investments in the healthcare and business services sectors. From 2003 to 2005, he was an Investment Banking Analyst in Merrill Lynch's Mergers and Acquisitions Group. Mr. Kaufmann is a graduate of Harvard Business School, where he received an MBA and was a Baker Scholar, and of Cornell University, where he received a B.S. in applied economics and business management, magna cum laude.
Conrod Kelly is an award-winning marketer and industry leader, as well as a published author and sought-after speaker. Conrod’s tenure at Merck includes commercial leadership of the Diabetes, Anesthesia, Surgery, and Alzheimer’s Franchises. He is currently serving as Merck’s first Executive Director of Health Equity, leveraging data, digital solutions, partnerships, and policy frameworks to improve health outcomes and driving sustainable business and societal value. Prior to joining Merck, Conrod held roles at Johnson & Johnson in diabetes and GlaxoSmithKline in vaccines. In 2020, Conrod was recognized by Medical Marketing & Media’s inaugural 40 Under 40 in Healthcare. His work on the film A Touch of Sugar was a finalist for 33 industry awards and winner of 15. He also received the United Nations SDG Media Award and Top Black in Healthcare Award from the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. Conrod serves on the SDOH Taskforce and the Global Futures Council at the World Economic Forum. He received his MBA and BS from Florida A & M University and has continued his executive education at The Wharton School at UPenn and Duke University.
Ibram X Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor. Kendi is the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. He is the author of many books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest ever winner of that award. He also authored three #1 New York Times bestsellers, How to Be an Antiracist; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. His newest books are Be Antiracist: A Journal for Awareness, Reflection, and Action; and Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, co-edited with Keisha Blain. In 2020, Time magazine named Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Haley is a Global Sustainability Director at Dow with 15 years’ experience creating new circular business models and products that integrate social, environmental and commercial goals across CPG, retail, and plastics sectors. She’s found the intersection of business and impact by using her job for good. As a courageous-leader in sustainability, she has shaped one of the largest company risks into growth opportunity. She frequently speaks about plastic waste issues and solutions at Green Biz, USAID, and SXSW and has been published in Sustainable Brands, WEF and the Guardian. Over the years, Haley has held roles in marketing, competitive intelligence and sales at Dow. During her undergraduate degree, Haley worked for Nike focusing on competitive analysis. Haley holds an MBA from the University of Texas. Most recently, during COVID 19, she catalyzed a movement for financially supporting waste pickers, among the world’s most marginalized, but critical to delivering a circular economy for plastic waste. She is passionate about using business as a force for good to solve social and environmental challenges and has completed Harvard Business School’s Creating Shared Value Leadership Program.
Lukas Autry Nelson is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and philanthropist who began his career playing shows with his father, country music singer Willie Nelson, in the early 2000s. He joined his father's band at the age of 13, touring as his rhythm guitarist and learning the logistics of tours and being on the road. Nelson attended Loyola Marymount University, where he formed the band Promise of the Real in 2008. The band produced a pair of full-length LPs in 2010 and 2012 while touring; on the side, he worked with his father on his 2012 album, Heroes, which featured a number of father-and-son vocal-and-guitar duets. For his next project, Nelson and Promise of the Real collaborated with Neil Young on 2015 album The Monsanto Years and toured together. In 2016, Nelson and his band produced another album, Something Real. That album was followed in August 2017 by the album Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.
Amit Paley is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. He began as a counselor on The Trevor Project's 24/7 TrevorLifeline in 2011, and since then he has answered hundreds of calls from LGBTQ youth in crisis. Amit is the first volunteer counselor to become the CEO of the organization in its 22-year history and he still continues to answer calls on TrevorLifeline. Under Amit’s leadership, the organization has dramatically expanded the number of LGBTQ youth that it serves and the breadth of programming that it offers. During his tenure, The Trevor Project built and launched a new, integrated crisis services platform, expanded its chat and text services to 24/7, and more than tripled the number of youth served each month. The organization has also transformed its TrevorSpace platform into the largest safe-space social networking site for LGBTQ youth and expanded the Trevor Project’s research initiatives. Trevor also now operates the largest grassroots campaign in the world to end conversion therapy. Amit is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College with an MBA from Columbia Business School and a Master’s from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Emily Serazin is a Managing Director and Partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Emily is a core member of BCG’s Health Care and Social Impact practices. Within health care, Emily’s focus is on vaccines and global health across the value chain. She also has expertise in digital health and in the formation and optimization of public-private partnerships. Examples of Emily's experience in the commercial health care sector include developing growth and product launch strategies for players in the global vaccines market, leading due diligences, and supporting post-merger integrations. In the realm of global public health, Emily has worked across leading global health institutions such as Gavi, UNICEF, WHO, and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to define investment strategies, coordinate multi-stakeholder efforts, prioritize portfolios, and identify key levers to drive uptake in low- and middle-income countries. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Emily has worked extensively with public, private and social sector actors to accelerate the development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
Nourishing families and communities is part of Liam Sobey's DNA. He is a value-driven leader with a passion to feed the world. He is Vice-President of Merchandising at Sobeys. Sobey's drive to create impact can be seen through his involvement in countless food-drives throughout his career. Being an active member of his family business, Sobey ascribes to its 113-year tradition of giving back to the community. His motivation to support fairness and equality among communities led him to be the only non-aboriginal executive member of NaMeRes, a not-for-profit group that supports Aboriginal men fighting homelessness and addiction in Canada. Sobey is a member of the company’s governance and business committees. He has founded two educational investment groups that help next-generation family members learn about the financial markets and the positive impact of investing responsibly for a sustainable future. Sobey's passion for family and community has also led him to attend multiple family business seminars, including the Scone Project.
Vasudha Vats has grown several multi-billion dollar businesses in pharma and currently manages one of the highest selling small molecule medicines in the world. Her mission is to not only help patients by delivering high-quality medical therapies, but also to improve care delivery across the entire patient experience. As a leader in healthcare, she has forged and led partnerships across the industry to deliver better outcomes for patients, including patient advocacy groups like the American Diabetes Association, technology (Fitbit), pharmacy (CVS and Walgreens), and government (National Institutes of Health). She is an advocate of supporting emerging thinkers to fuel future societal improvement, actively mentoring emerging biotechnology firms with the New York City Entrepreneurship Lab and having helped to co-found the Chandini Foundation, a charity designed to provide underprivileged youths in developing nations with mentoring support to become ethical, impactful and entrepreneurially minded leaders.
Hitesh Wadhwa is a Sales Leader at Tech Mahindra, the IT arm of the Mahindra group. He runs various strategic accounts and initiatives in the Communications, Media & Entertainment (CME) vertical and has grown Tech Mahindra's revenues by $30Mn+ in the last 3 years. He is part of the company’s Global Leadership Cadre and Shadow Board program, and runs various impact programs panning across digital transformation, diversity, culture and sustainability.
Hitesh believes Technology can solve world's biggest problems if used in the right way. Having worked with/for various Fortune 500 clients such Verizon, Oracle, UnitedHealth Group, AT&T and Facebook, he has helped companies achieve digital transformation, growth and agility by leveraging cutting edge technologies, such AI, RPA, IOT, AR/VR and Blockchain etc. Today, he is in a leadership position at Tech Mahindra’s CME vertical, a $2.5B+ business annually. He has been chosen for the company's "Shadow Board" (https://bit.ly/2WdSLrs) program twice, which is a highly selective and rigorous program (only 6 people out of 130K+ employees make it every year to shadow the board of directors). As part of that, Hitesh has been instrumental in a) defining company's vision for 2024; b) running initiatives to help TechM be an organization with purpose, and a company that practices inclusiveness in all aspects of diversity; c) building a strategic roadmap on how to strive during Covid-19; d) globally representing Mahindra as a brand for millennials; e) building an effective talent supply chain management and optimizing resource utilization.