It takes a diverse network of innovators to tackle the challenges facing people living at the world’s margins. Over the years we’ve been fortunate to build a formidable one — it includes Western policymakers alongside experts from developing countries, representatives from public and private sectors, and people of different backgrounds, life experiences, genders, and generations. We’ve learned that the meaningful differences in our perspectives have helped us generate meaningful change. That’s why we’ve recently chosen to identify ourselves as The Aspen Global Innovators Group.
The Aspen Global Innovators Group is linked by one common aspiration: We want to widen the access to health and prosperity for people living at the world’s margins.
The Aspen Global Innovators Group is concerned with the issues right under our noses that are not getting enough attention. Our charge is to get closer to those issues and contribute to making them more apparent to others. As Bryan Stevenson reminds us, “When we’re not proximate, we cannot change the world.”
Each of the initiatives of the Aspen Global Innovators Group brings an overlooked challenge in health and development into plain sight:
- The New Voices Fellowship develops voices of innovators we might not normally hear from – experts, women, and young leaders in developing countries
- The Aspen Management Partnership (AMP) for Health supports health care leaders in the overlooked public sector in under-resourced countries who are advancing community health care systems at the last mile
- The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise recognizes underserved craftspeople disconnected from formal economies who are creating jobs and preserving cultures
- The Aspen Ideas Incubator brings the best minds in global health to uncover priorities that we cannot afford to overlook
New Voices fellows have secured more than 2,500 global media placements, including TED and TEDx, New York Times op-eds, NPR, and the BBC. AMP Health has strengthened the management capacity of Ministries of Health in Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Kenya. The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise has grown from an idea to a community of over 130 members in 100 countries, and has been recognized as one of the top public-private partnerships at the US Department of State. Spotlight Health began with a conversation, and has become a go-to health conference.
Our work calls for us to bring more than our genius to bear on a problem, but to bring our fullest human selves in relationship with one another.
The trust we place in one another inspires us to give your best selves, which can trigger the forces of good in others to create real impact.
I remember seeing the power of it, sitting under a tree in Malawi with Precious Phiri, along with the AMP Health team and a community health worker. Precious was taking the time to praise that health worker for saving six people and their families from malaria. The support system was in plain sight right under that tree — that community health worker showed up for the sick—Precious was there to support the health worker — and the AMP team was there to support Precious.
And then there’s Heshima Kenya, an organization that protects the lives of refugee girls in East Africa. Through the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, they were connected to UNHCR Livelihoods, and are now extending their work to Kakuma, a refugee camp in northern Kenya. They will provide training and help foster an income-generating program for another 50+ displaced refugee artisans.
Our relationships are the circulatory systems for our work. And we need the lifeblood they provide to support each other.
Bringing out our best selves depends entirely on discovering the power we overlook in ourselves. We each have to reconnect with the intuition we already carry deep within our souls—that our greatest hope for the future is being human with one another, in community. And that takes a disciplined mind, an open heart, and a willingness to be generous with one another.