AGLN Fellows Making an Impact on 2020

December 18, 2020  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

During a fraught 2020, around the network Fellows around the network stepped up and addressed the urgent needs of the COVID-19 crisis while building toward a more equitable future. We saw Fellows scale existing initiatives, start new ones, and find new ways to collaborate with one-another – leveraging different strengths to create new solutions. We, as a network, found new ways to connect virtually, sharing insights in real-time as parts of the world experienced these challenges, at different rates. We pivoted to accelerate growth, convened for action, and worked to uplift, codify, and exemplify leadership. Read on for a look back on all the ways we drove toward impact this year.

Understanding Our Impact

The AGLN Impact Report: Understanding 20 Years of Impact

We ask our Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows to look inward, to understand themselves, to challenge their thinking. We ask them to be authentic, vulnerable, and courageous with one another, in community. It only seems consistent, then, that we would want to hold ourselves to the same standard of awareness, self-learning, and growth.

So we started a journey to look into the mirror, and to ask ourselves: How are we doing? How do we understand our story? Are we producing the results we seek? How do we know this to be true? What difference are we making? 

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Supporting Global Efforts to Address the COVID-19 Crisis

When crisis struck and the situation requires the few to respond swiftly to protect the interests of the many, high-integrity, purpose-driven leadership makes all the difference.

To aid Fellow’s efforts throughout the year, the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation, in partnership with the AGLN, launched the Global Response Fund, a rapid response fund to support Fellows leading critical response efforts. Through the Fund, we have supported 68 Fellows’ organizations and ventures, and awarded a total of over $550,000 for their work directly helping vulnerable communities in over 20 countries.

AGLN Fellowships were created to prepare for moments like the one we are living through today. The Fellowship experience guides leaders to awaken the fundamental values and beliefs that underscore their leadership, compelling them to act on the world’s most pressing problems. Through efforts like the Global Response Fund, we are accelerating the impact Fellows have.

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The Value of Leadership Podcast: What makes a values-driven leader?

Here at the Aspen Institute, we believe leadership comes from those whose motivations are grounded in values and whose actions are rooted in purpose. That all sounds nice, but what does a values-driven leader actually look like? How does ‘leading with values’ change their day-to-day decision making? How do they react when they’re tested with a challenge? And how does it make them a better leader than the next person?  

We ask our Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows to look inward, to understand themselves, to challenge their thinking. In the new podcast, “The Value of Leadership,” they’re ready to get vulnerable with you, and share mistakes made, lessons learned, and how the values they’ve honed in on are expressed in their actions when faced with challenges. 

So, if you’ve ever questioned why you’ve done something that way you did or are trying to dig a little deeper and tap into your own values – tune in and learn from leaders who are doing just that.

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Aspen Health Innovators: Behind the Mask

In this three-episode podcast miniseries, go behind the masks leaders wear and explore the values and tensions at the heart of the decisions they make. Join Aspen Health Innovators Fellow Indu Subaiya as she speaks with U.S. health care leaders—all members of the Health Innovators Fellowship—to learn how they’re leading through these turbulent times.

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Accelerating Fellow Impact

Catalyzing Impact to Address Entrenched Inequities | 2020 Recipients of the McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund

This year has had no shortage of critical challenges and has laid bare the entrenched inequities and structural barriers that communities across the world face. In October, the McNulty Foundation and the Aspen Global Leadership Network announced the 2020 recipients of the McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund – all leaders who are fearlessly and uniquely tackling these barriers. 

From working with institutions and individuals to advance an anti-racist and equitable vision in the US to incubating a social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ghana, to creating integrated, place-based healthcare solutions for farmworker communities in California, to galvanizing a performing arts movement to challenge gender norms and advance human rights in Nigeria, to building a pipeline for Latino education leaders across the US, these leaders are working toward creating the change we need now and for generations to come.

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Enabling Inclusive Economic Growth | 2020 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grant Recipients

The Global Inclusive Growth Partnership, a collaboration between the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Aspen Institute, announced the 2020 recipients of the inaugural Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grants in December. The 2020 Grant awards $60,000 in total to four organizations led by Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows from around the world who are leading critical initiatives to reimagine more inclusive economic futures for all.

All four organizations awarded the Spark Grants are building powerful solutions that advance long-term economic recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the current global crisis. Their work tackles issues fundamental to inclusive growth, including promoting financial security and resiliency of small businesses and workers, building economically prosperous communities through place-based ecosystems, and dismantling entrenched inequities within the existing financial system.  They employ different strategies but with the same aim – to confront systemic and structural failures while placing inclusion at the center of their work. From South Africa to North Carolina, from Hong Kong to Atlanta, the recipients are spread across the globe, offering solutions to drive change on a national and international scale.

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2020 Braddock Scholars Announced

This year we announced the selection of the 2020 Braddock Scholars. These Fellows have a big vision to make a transformational impact on society by bringing their venture to a significant scale.

The Braddock Scholars Program is built on the belief that entrepreneurs are great at starting businesses, but the skills needed to effectively scale these innovations are very different. The program serves to bridge the “scaling gap” by channeling the expertise of mentors, all of whom are Aspen Institute Trustees, toward the specific challenge or opportunity the Scholars face.

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Collective Gatherings for Impact

2020 Resnick Aspen Action Forum

The Action Forum convened virtually from August 22 to August 28. Watch our leaders confront the Fierce Urgency of Now brought on by compounding crises across the globe. 

More than 500 Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows and other distinguished leaders from our trusted partners – for the first time ever – gathered virtually to pause, reflect, and recommit to using their talents to make a dent in the universe. The theme of this year’s Action Forum was “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Uncomfortable Leadership” and focused on what it takes to confront the compounding crises we are all facing and take courageous action to meet the moment. 

This year we came together to respond to the unprecedented time in which we live and convene more global leaders than ever before. 

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The Connected Continent

“This is a call to arms,” Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s minister of finance and economic planning, said in his opening remarks at the Africa Impact Forum. “There is no better time than now to rise up to the challenges facing the continent.” Ofori-Atta, a Henry Crown fellow and the founder of the Africa Leadership Initiative of West Africa, was one of more than 100 leaders from across the African continent who traveled in late February to Accra, Ghana, for the second Africa Impact Forum. Held biennially, the forum was inspired by the Aspen Institute’s Resnick Aspen Action Forum as a way for fellows from the Africa Leadership Initiatives of East Africa, South Africa, and West Africa—all members of the Aspen Global Leadership Network—to build and strengthen the connective tissue of their network and create opportunities for collaboration.

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Rapid Response

With a global pandemic and a resulting worldwide economic contraction, we need smart, values-driven, adaptive leadership more than ever. This is particularly true in the health care industry, which has had to create its own playbook during this highstakes crisis.

Members of the Aspen Institute’s Health Innovators Fellowship have heeded this call for leadership. The Institute launched the fellowship in 2015 to create a cadre of leaders committed to addressing the unique challenges of health care in the United States—both individually and collectively. Guided by their values and working as both individuals and a collective, Health Innovators fellows have used the lessons and the support of the fellowship to address the urgent needs of today. Three fellows write here about how they changed their work once Covid-19 arrived in the country and in their professional lives.

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