Every year, the John P. McNulty Prize celebrates leaders tackling critical challenges across the globe. Named for John P. McNulty, the $100,000 award is given to fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network whose ventures have made a profound impact on the world. Anne Welsh McNulty, an Institute trustee and the prize’s founder, says, “The remarkable accomplishments of these individuals and their organizations are a call to action to private-sector leaders to step up and to bring their leadership abilities, entrepreneurial spirit, and resources to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.” This year’s honorees—announced at the Institute’s 35th Annual Awards Dinner (see “Faces,” page 64)—are addressing citizenship, conflict trauma, the vision gap, and fake news.
The 2018 McNulty Prize Winner
Mehrdad Baghai | High Resolves | Henry Crown Fellowship
“I remember my family being assaulted,” Mehrdad Baghai says of his childhood in Iran. He grew up hearing words like “unclean” hurled at him and his family; it was part of the persecution he endured as a member of the Baha’i faith. Instead of becoming cynical because of these childhood experiences, Baghai was determined to unravel a puzzle: how could otherwise smart and well-meaning people be infected by such hate?
This personal history drove Baghai’s graduate studies with Nobel Laureate Tom Shelling on cooperation; informed the ideas in his international best-selling book, As One; and continues to fuel his deep fascination with collective action. Even as the global head of growth for McKinsey, where he gained critical skills in scaling, Baghai never lost sight of the possibility of “immunizing” people against hate. He realized that the current education system was falling badly short when it came to instilling people with the skills necessary for a complex, inclusive, and globalized society. Baghai and his wife, Roya, decided to change that. They founded High Resolves, a social enterprise dedicated to citizenship education, as part of Baghai’s Henry Crown Fellowship in 2005. Since then, High Resolves’ learning simulations and curricula have taken off in Australia and are expanding globally.
In an era of rising nationalism and hate crimes, it can be difficult to share Baghai’s optimism. But, Baghai says, the United States has faced down even more virulent threats in the past and survived. He even thinks that maybe, one day, hatred can be vanquished like polio.
About High Resolves
- High Resolves was founded in 2005 to teach citizenship, leadership, and critical-thinking skills through immersive, experiential educational modules.
- High Resolves has reached over 200,000 students and 350 schools in Australia and is on track to engage 50 percent of the Australian student population by 2022.
- High Resolves operates on a fully self-funding basis in Australia.
- High Resolves has recently launched in the United States, Canada, China, and Brazil.
- High Resolves has pioneered the idea of a “Citizenship Quotient,” or CQ, which measures a person’s skill set for participating in a pluralistic democracy.
The 2018 McNulty Prize Laureates
Ubumuntu Arts Festival
Africa Leadership Initiative-East Africa
Hope Azeda has led Rwanda’s efforts to use the arts for reconciliation. With the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, Azeda has brought artists from dozens of countries together to present original performances on the trauma of conflict and the human experience, turning the Kigali Genocide Memorial into the center of a global movement for transformative theater and healing.
Henry Crown Fellowship
Through his company, Warby Parker, Dave Gilboa has created a public-private partnership with New York City and Baltimore public schools to provide free in-school eye exams and glasses to students who cannot afford them, bridging the vision gap and giving kids an indispensable tool for effective, lifelong learning. What’s more, Gilboa is working with Johns Hopkins University to conduct a longitudinal study to better understand the correlation between the intervention of vision treatment and reading scores, and the benefits of ensuring access to glasses for children in urban settings.
IndiaSpend, BOOM, and FactChecker
Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship
Journalist and executive Govindraj Ethiraj is transforming India’s media landscape by using a trio of ventures to improve public discourse and transparency. IndiaSpend publishes critical, data-based, public-interest journalism; FactChecker keeps news organizations and politicians honest; and BOOM debunks viral hoaxes and misinformation that can have deadly effects. In the world’s largest democracy, transparency and government accountability are critical to preserving the rights and welfare of the community.
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