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President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton convene student leaders to drive action at 2023 CGI University meeting at Vanderbilt March 3–5

Posted by on Monday, February 27, 2023 in Events, featured, FutureVU, GHG, Research, Sustainability Competition.

Featured speakers and participants include Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; John Cooper, Mayor of Nashville; Melissa Diamond, founder, A Global Voice for Autism; Pashtana Dorani, executive director, LEARN Afghanistan; Allyson Felix, five-time Olympian and co-founder of Saysh; Sasha Fisher, co-founder and executive director, Spark MicroGrants; Olivia Julianna, director of politics and government affairs, Gen-Z For Change; Yusra Mardini, Olympian and goodwill ambassador, UNHCR; Larissa May, founder and executive director, #HalfTheStory; Ai-jen Poo, president, National Domestic Workers Alliance; Belinda ‘Otukolo Saltiban, associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, Vanderbilt University; Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO, Moms First; Jaylen Smith, mayor of Earle, Arkansas; Sevetri Wilson, CEO and founder, Resilia; and more.

Today President Bill Clinton, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton announced more participants and programming for the Clinton Global Initiative University 2023 annual meeting, scheduled for March 3–5 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. CGI U’s 15th annual meeting’s theme is “Homecoming: Strengthening Community, Leadership and Action,” and its program is lined with aspiring leaders and global experts in business, public service and social impact who will come together to develop innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Featured Vanderbilt participants include Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, who will lead a working session on environment and climate change; Samar Ali, research professor of political science, will participate in CGI U Story Studio, an informal session format designed to ignite action and discuss the nation’s most common challenges; David Owens, Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry, who will moderate a skills session about project planning and organization; and Belinda ‘Otukolo Saltiban, associate vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion, who will be involved in a skills session about inclusive team building and dynamics. Founder of #HalftheStory and 2016 alumna Larissa May will participate in a skills session about how to get a CGI U initiative noticed online.

During the three-day conference, the first in-person CGI U since the COVID-19 pandemic, students will announce Commitments to Action—specific, measurable programs that address an urgent community challenge. During its Sesquicentennial year, Vanderbilt University joins CGI U’s history of host campuses, some of which include the University of Chicago, the University of Miami, Arizona State University, Washington University in St. Louis, George Washington University, the University of California–San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin and Tulane University.

Additional programming at CGI U includes:

  • Day of Action: On Sunday, March 5, at 9 a.m., the CGI U community will bring together students, alumni and other volunteers for a Day of Action—an opportunity to mobilize and provide meaningful community service on and off the Vanderbilt campus. Through partnership with Hands On Nashville, the CGI U community will provide food to families with Second Harvest Food Bank, prepare flashcards and school supplies for students with PENCIL, and clear land for an upcoming cultural center with the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee.
  • CGI U Story Studio: A curated speaker experience where students will have the opportunity to learn innovative ways to create community through conversation. Building on President Clinton’s storytelling legacy, CGI U Story Studio is an informal and relaxed space where students can hear inspirational stories from trailblazers and innovators at the front lines of our biggest common challenges. Participants include: Samar Ali, president and CEO of Millions of Conversations; Zahra Biabani, author and climate activist, In the Loop; Karen Hayes, film producer and director with Ubuntu Motion Pictures; Zulfat Suara, councilmember-at-large with Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County; and Pamela Tom, producer with Ubuntu Motion Pictures.

A comprehensive list of participants follows:

President Clinton, Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton will be joined by leaders in the public, private and philanthropic sectors, including Andrew Aboujaoude, founder and president of Hearts for the Homeless International; Donnel Baird, CEO of BlocPower; Abemelech Mesfin Belachew, co-founder and CEO of GardenMate; Grant Bennett, diversity strategist at Google; Joel Bervell, social media medical educator at Johns Hopkins University; Melissa Bradley, managing partner at 1863 Ventures; Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Natalie Byrne, founder of Blank Space; Dr. Sweta Chakraborty, CEO of North America, We Don’t Have Time; Ben Conard, chief of staff of Fair Trade USA; John Cooper, mayor of Nashville; Danielle De La Fuente, founder and CEO of Amal Alliance; Melissa Diamond, founder of A Global Voice for Autism; Pashtana Dorani, executive director of LEARN Afghanistan; Allyson Felix, five-time Olympian and co-founder of Saysh; Abby Feuer, executive vice president, marketing and growth, of DonorsChoose; Sasha Fisher, co-founder and executive director of Spark MicroGrants; Shadrack Osei Frimpong, founder and CEO of Cocoa360; Jonathan Gilligan, associate professor at Vanderbilt University; Vinny Johl, commitment mentor with CGI U; Olivia Julianna, director of politics and government affairs at Gen-Z For Change; Yusra Mardini, Olympian and goodwill ambassador for UNHCR; Diego Mariscal, founder and CEO of 2Gether-International; Larissa May, founder and executive director of #HalfTheStory; Jacob Mchangama, executive director of The Future of Free Speech; Michelle Morse, M.D., MPH, chief medical officer and deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Amanda Nguyen, CEO of Rise; Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE USA; Love Odetola, Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro; Ryan Ubuntu Olson, CGI U ’10, global manager of diversity, equity, engagement and inclusion at DAI; David Owens, professor at Vanderbilt University and executive director of the Wond’ry; Georgina PazcoguinThe Rogue Ballerina author, disruptor, soloist ballerina with the New York City Ballet and co-founder of Final Bow For Yellowface/Gold Standard Art; Rachael Perrotta, editor-in-chief of The Vanderbilt Hustler; Ai-jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Jordan Reeves, co-founder of Design With Us; Oscar Jorge Romero Jr., chief information officer of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission; Elissa Russell, CGI U ’20, founder and CEO of READI Consulting; Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, CGI U ’21, medical student, health activist, social entrepreneur and founder of Sikh Health Foundation; Belinda ‘Otukolo Saltiban, associate vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion at Vanderbilt University; Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Moms First; Jaylen Smith, mayor of Earle, Arkansas; Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service; Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of AppHarvest; Cynthia Williams, global director, sustainability, homologation and compliance for Ford Motor Company; Sevetri Wilson, CEO and founder of Resilia; Kaakpema “KP” Yelpaala, MPH, chief impact officer of health equity moonshot, StartUp Health; and many more who will be in attendance at the annual meeting.


Founded by President Clinton in 2007, the Clinton Global Initiative University is a community of students who take action together on pressing challenges facing their campuses, communities and the world. Through the Clinton Global Initiative’s power of convening and Commitment to Action model, more than 11,800 students have made an impact in over 160 countries and all 50 states—with the support of more than $4.5 million in funding from CGI U’s corporate and university partners. Now in its 15th year, CGI U’s robust year-round program engages students, alumni, colleges and universities and influential voices in creating new ways to effect change on the topics that matter most to the next generation of leaders.


President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation on the simple beliefs that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, everyone has a responsibility to act, and we all do better when we work together. For more than two decades, those values have energized the work of the foundation in overcoming complex challenges and improving the lives of people across the United States and around the world.

Learn more at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

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