2013 Global Challenges and Opportunities Conference

June 21, 2013

Wheelock College brought together 500 educators, human rights activists, philanthropists, and world leaders from across the social justice spectrum for the College's inaugural international conference—Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth Families—from June 19-22, 2013.

Arts Festival

The Conference opened with a free family arts festival featuring drummers, theater performances, and a photo exhibit. The cultural festival, which was part of a day of educational arts panels and workshops, was Wheelock's gift to the community of Greater Boston. In addition to the free performances, visitors were treated to birthday cake in honor of the College's 125th anniversary.

Keynote Speakers from around the World

The Global Challenges and Opportunities conference featured more than 160 speakers from 40 different countries and 25 states. Participants include national and international educators, practitioners, researchers, philanthropists, students, and policy leaders, all ready to explore pressing issues affecting children, youth, and families in the areas of education, health, and human rights across the globe.

In her opening keynote address, human rights activist Cherie Blair voiced one of the Conference's central themes: that nonprofit groups and their leaders need to collaborate and work together to solve the world's most intractable problems.

"[Before I started my foundation] I would see good work over here and good work over there," said Blair, who founded the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in 2008 to help women build small and growing businesses in developing and emerging markets so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies. "We must work across sectors and share not just our successes—which is easy—but our failures. Otherwise, we're not going to make big solutions to the big issues."

Watch Videos from the Conference

The conference also featured keynote speeches by:

  • Deogratias Niyizonkiza, Founder of Village Health Works, who talked about the challenges of meeting the needs of the world's poorest citizens. Watch a video clip.
  • Simona-Mirela Miculescu, Romanian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Nations, who talked about the UN's progress toward fulfilling its Millennium Goals, which include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and providing universal primary education by 2015. Watch a video clip.
  • Emiliana Vegas, Chief of the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank, who said that making high achievement standards for students inform everything that teachers do would vastly improve education systems. Watch a video clip.
  • Ögmundur Jónasson, Minister of the Interior for Iceland, who addressed the issue of how government policies can work to build a vibrant, sustainable, and just society that promotes the well-being of all of its citizens. Watch a video clip.
  • Desh Deshpande, President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, who spoke about the role of philanthropic organizations and ways to link innovation and project relevance to create maximum impact. Watch a video clip.

Learn more about the Conference at http://wheelockglobalcauses.org.

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