Finalists for Inaugural John P. McNulty Prize Announced

July 7, 2008  • Institute Contributor

Finalists for Inaugural John P. McNulty Prize Announced

$100,000 Award to Be Given to Outstanding AGLN Fellow

ASPEN, CO. – July 7, 2008 – The Aspen Institute’s Aspen Global Leadership Network and Institute Trustee Anne Welsh McNulty are pleased to announce the finalists for the inaugural John P. McNulty Prize. Meant to celebrate the spirit and memory of John P. McNulty, the $100,000 prize supports extraordinary young leaders making creative, effective, and lasting contributions to their communities. It will be awarded for the first time in November 2008 to an Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) Fellow to help further his or her outstanding initiative.

On Saturday, July 5, McNulty and her children appeared before an audience of more than 700 people at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, CO, to discuss the prize and unveil the names of the five finalists.

“John was a person overflowing with vitality, a person with vision, a person with drive to do things better, faster, stronger, and with the energy and ability to make it happen,” said Anne Welsh McNulty, co-founder and managing partner of JBK Partners and trustee of the Aspen Institute. “Johnny, Brynne, Kevin, and I created the John P. McNulty prize to remember him and to celebrate his vision and spirit by recognizing high-impact leadership by young people. This $100,000 prize will be awarded to the very best of the exceptional community leadership projects launched by Fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.”

The five finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

Patrick Awuah, Ashesi University, Ghana
After studying at Swarthmore and making his fortune at Microsoft, Patrick returned to his native Ghana and founded Ashesi University, the first liberal arts college in Ghana dedicated to educating a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders. Five years after its inception, it has quickly gained a reputation for innovation and quality education in Africa.

Mehrdad Baghai, High Resolves Initiative, Australia
A venture capital entrepreneur and author, Mehrdad has created a hands-on educational initiative to teach high school students about leadership, resolving conflicts, justice, and becoming purposeful global citizens. To date, the Initiative has engaged over 5,000 students and is still expanding.

William Bynum, Hope Community Credit Union, Mississippi
Bill founded Hope Community Credit Union to serve the “unbanked” of the Mississippi Delta Region, helping address the significant housing and other credit issues following Hurricane Katrina. Hope offers commercial loans, mortgages, and rebuilding assistance to over 9,600 members, 75 percent of which are in low income communities.

Sylvia Gereda, Switch, Guatemala
A founder of the first independent newspaper in Guatemala, elPeriodico, Sylvia created a special weekly magazine insert called Switch. Edited by teenagers, Switch features cover stories on young community leaders and a forum to express views, and now has more than 125 published issues.

Jordan Kassalow, VisionSpring, New York
A successful New York optometrist, Jordan devised an innovative way to deliver affordable reading glasses to some of the world’s poorest and hardest to reach communities: the creation of franchise partnerships to use a “business in a bag” model. VisionSpring (formerly Scojo Foundation) now has 1,100 “vision entrepreneurs” and has sold nearly 100,000 pairs of glasses in India, Mexico, Central America, and Africa.

These finalists will be reviewed by the panel of judges, each courageous and inspiring leaders in their own right: Virgin Group chairman and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson; Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Olara Otunnu, the President of LBL Foundation for Children and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The panel of judges will select a winner from among the finalists and that choice will be announced in November at the Institute’s annual dinner in New York.

“Even though this was our first year, Aspen Fellows from 26 countries lined up to submit their projects in which they used their big ideas to change the world,” said Johnny McNulty. “The five finalists are a group diverse in their backgrounds and professions but united in their passion and dedication.”

To have been considered for the award, the applicant must have been an AGLN Fellow with an active project underway for at least two years that had a demonstrated record of success, and must have applied at before the April 15, 2008 deadline. All AGLN Fellows had to be between the ages of 25 and 50 at time of selection, have proven themselves through success in their respective fields, and have spent weeks in dialogue with others in their cohort on leadership, values and “the good society.” And all had to have participated in one of the following AGLN member initiatives:

  • Henry Crown Fellowship Program (US)
  • Africa Leadership Initiative (East Africa, West Africa, South Africa, Mozambique)
  • Central America Leadership Initiative
  • India Leadership Initiative
  • Nigeria Leadership Initiative Senior Leaders Program
  • Liberty Fellowship Program (South Carolina)
  • Catto Fellowship Program (Environment)
  • Aspen Institute-NewSchools Fellowship: Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program
  • Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership

For more information about John McNulty’s legacy of leadership, a film featuring projects that reflect the spirit of the annual prize, and the latest news, please visit

The Aspen Global Leadership Network is a worldwide community of entrepreneurial business, government and civil society leaders committed to values-based leadership. Through its programs, the AGLN is spurring these leaders—Fellows—to move from success to significance and from thought to action by tackling the foremost societal challenges of our times. Collectively, the more than 800 Fellows from 38 countries that currently comprise the AGLN have the potential to make a measurable impact on some of the world’s most intractable issues. More information on AGLN is available at

The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The Institute is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Its international network includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Bucharest, and leadership initiatives in Africa, Central America, and India.

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Myers, Deputy Director of Communications
The Aspen Institute

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