Working at the Aspen Institute, I witness daily the incredible work that our programs do to develop values-based leadership and the important conversations on crucial issues. But while recently travelling in rural Honduras and Guatemala, I saw the true global impact of our work on leadership.
During the trip, sponsored by the humanitarian organization CARE, we visited nutrition initiatives and cooperative farms and businesses. We were joined by Lisa Kubiske, the US Ambassador to Honduras. When she found out my Institute affiliation she told me of the powerful and important impact the Central America Leadership Initiative (CALI) is having on Honduras. CALI fellowships are offered to effective and successful leaders across Central America, who learn important skills to help guide their countries as they cope with social and economic demands of the region.
Several CALI Fellows have stepped up to serve in public office in Honduras, including the country’s President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, elected in 2013. Hernandez has made stemming the spread of narcotrafficking and violence his highest priorities. CALI Fellow Anaís Henriquez is opening up public spaces with her project “Soñando con Parques” (Dreaming with Parks), which creates urban parks and public spaces. Racked by drug violence, Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world for a country not at war, and the majority of this violence is taking place on the streets of Honduras’ cities. By organizing a corps of volunteers to beautify their city, Henriquez is helping to make the streets safer and provide opportunities for recreation for families.
According to Kubiske, there are numerous other examples of CALI Fellows making critical impacts on the social and economic wellbeing of their fellow Hondurans. “The [Fellows] who have participated in this Aspen-associated program truly have gone on to greater public service in Honduras,” she said. “Leadership training is what is sorely needed in Honduras, and I thank Aspen for having promoted this project. It is unique and valuable.”
To nominate a Fellow for CALI or any of the 13 other Aspen Global Leadership Network Programs, please visit http://www.aspeninstitute.org/leadership to learn more about our Fellowship Programs. Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis.