Transformative Leadership in Action

October 30, 2014

At The Hunger Project, we dare people to think. And now, we dare ourselves to rethink. Because we know that when opened to possibility, people are capable of creating whole new futures for themselves. We invite them to challenge themselves and challenge the world around them. We instill a mindset change from “I can’t” to “I can” to “We can.” We invest in the transformation of individuals into leaders. And then, in partnership, we make dreams reality.”

– Åsa Skogström Feldt, President & CEO, The Hunger Project

On October 18, 2014, Hunger Project investors, partners, activists and friends gathered in New York to celebrate our Annual Fall Gala. This year’s theme “Rethink World Hunger: Transformative Leadership in Action” invited guests to challenge themselves and the world around them and to experience how leadership can transform entire communities and our world.

Åsa Skogström Feldt, The Hunger Project’s new President & CEO gave an inspirational keynote address reminding us of our charge to be disruptive and to enable hope and opportunity for others by daring to dream big and invest in the power of transformative leadership. Åsa reviewed the once unimaginable success that the Millennium Development Goals have had in putting issues of hunger and poverty on the agendas of governments worldwide. She invited the audience to open ourselves to the opportunity that the Sustainable Development Goals have for aligning the world behind the goal of achieving the end of hunger by 2030.

Åsa spoke of The Hunger Project’s core contribution of empowering transformative leaders to lead their own change. She dared us to keep asking, “What’s missing?” to create a breakthrough for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In closing, Åsa said, “In facing this opportunity we must be absolutely fearless. Together, we must do whatever it takes to end hunger once and for all.”

Watch President & CEO Åsa Skogström Feldt’s keynote address.

Watch the 2014 Annual Gala Gala Highlights

The special feature of the evening was the demonstration of Transformative Leadership in Action. Facilitated by eloquent and engaging Hunger Project-Malawi Country Director Rowlands Kaotcha, eight transformative leaders from around the world shared their exceptional stories and unwavering commitment to a world free of hunger and poverty.

Speakers - Fall Gala 2014

  • Hema Kabadwal heads Hunger Project partner organization SARAL Sanstha in Nainital, India and has been working on women’s empowerment and ensuring women’s full participation in social development for 19 years. “Our vision is, over the next 15 years, every girl and woman in our communities kindles the fire of transformation so they can claim and reach their birth right,” said Hema. Watch Hema’s remarks.
  • Joris Lohman chairs the Slow Food Youth Network, which seeks to build an inclusive, good, clean and fair food system. “Being a part of such a powerful movement is inspiring. But, to really make an impact, we need to involve the brightest minds, we need to educate ourselves, and organize ourselves,” said Joris. Watch Joris’ remarks.
  • Namugga Sarah Kasule is the District Councilor of the Namayumba and Masulita Town Councils in Uganda and a local government partner of The Hunger Project. She shared, “I want to see every single person in Uganda free from hunger by 2030. For this to happen I will keep on challenging myself. I will keep strengthening my leadership skills. I will work even harder to be a true representative of my constituents.” Watch Sarah’s remarks (via video message).
  • Enrique Lomnitz founded Urban Island to work with low-income communities on sustainable rainwater capturing in Mexico. He partners with The Hunger Project to bring rainwater harvesting systems to our village partners. “I believe that our fullest wellbeing is actually collective; that people thrive when their communities are healthy, and I don’t think it’s irrelevant to my own life when people are hungry,” Enrique shared. Watch Enrique’s remarks.
  • Freja Ljungdell Kristensen, Sweden co-founded baby carrier company, Najell, and seeks to run her business in a sustainable way so that it has a positive impact on the world. Freja shared, “My goal is to be able to sit on the chairs that you are doing right now and write a huge check and feel proud that I built my company in a sustainable way from the beginning to the end, knowing that it isn’t just the check that will help, it’s the whole way of how we run our business.” Watch Freja’s remarks.
  • Chris Joy is an alumni of the FeelGood chapter at the University of Vermont and presently serves as a Changemaker Ignitor for new teams looking to establish social enterprises on their college campuses. “I am committing myself today, to continue my efforts to not only spread the word about ending hunger and poverty, but also equip youth across the United States to step up in their leadership and change the game through social enterprise,” said Chris. Watch Chris’ remarks.
  • Claire Blanchard is the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Network Coordinator, based at Save the Children in the United Kingdom. “As a member, I believe The Hunger Project has much to offer both in terms of expertise in participatory democracy, decentralisation and active citizenry and fostering cross-learning between countries and helping us scale up nutrition efforts through its reach in numerous countries and community presence towards making this vision a reality,” said Claire. Watch Claire’s remarks.
  • Yohane G. Kamgwira manages partnerships at the National AIDS Commission of Malawi. After sharing how he was raised by his single grandmother with food as a daily struggle, he remembered one Christmas when his family had no food. Yohane said, “Ever since I have made a commitment that where possible, I don’t want to see anybody going hungry, and especially during Christmas…I am inspired when the vulnerable people take charge of their lives, putting food on the table, sending kids to school and ask to be taken seriously when they raise issues that affect them with authorities.” Watch Yohane’s remarks.

Mary Ellen - Fall Gala 2014The evening also included a special recognition of former Hunger Project President & CEO, Mary Ellen McNish. In acknowledging Mary Ellen, Global Board Chair Steve Sherwood said, “We celebrate Mary Ellen as someone who worked diligently to strengthen our global organization, as a leader in the international community, for her role among the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, for her devotion to women’s leadership both abroad and at home, and for her dedication to having The Hunger Project be a leading voice in the development community.”

We were honored that Hannah Salwen, student, entrepreneur and co-author of The Power of Half, closed the evening with an invitation to invest. Hannah shared, “Everyone at heart is an entrepreneur…My goal is to tell you that without my parents — my investors, my supporters — my dream remains a dream. And that is true for every singleHannah Salwen - Fall Event 2014 person who does not have an investor… yet.” She continued, “There are people living in Africa, India, Bangladesh and Mexico who also have a dream. Just like all of us, they too have innovative, disruptive, and brilliant ideas. THEY need investors who can see their potential. They need supporters. They need people who believe in them like my parents believed in me.” Watch Hannah’s remarks.

Watch the entire playlist from the Annual Fall gala here.

Our weekend of events was gratefully supported by 11 corporate partners: 2130 Partners, Advanced Solar Products, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Cisco, Citi, CWS Capital Partners LLC, Deloitte, Gap International, IBM, Newmark Holdings and Scotiabank. In addition, the event was made possible by amazing teams of volunteers and staff as well as partners at our venues and vendors, who frequently supported us with in-kind support.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that through our corporate sponsors, ticket sales and cash and pledges for 2014 and 2015, we raised over $1.5 million for the end of hunger!

Thank you to all of our investors, activists and friends who participated!

See more photos from the amazing evening and don’t forget to download your personal portraits!

Other Weekend Events

On Saturday, October 18, Hunger Project Executive Vice President John Coonrod facilitated a panel discussion entitled “A Framework for the Future: The Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.” Speakers included:

  • Claire Blanchard, Save the Children
  • Rajiv Joshi, The B Team
  • Mpule Kwelagobe, Institute for Endogenous Development
  • Manisha Bhinge, BRAC

Participants enjoyed inspiring presentations about the bold post-2015 agenda and why citizen support is critical over the next 12 months.

On Sunday, October 19, Hunger Project investors and guests joined for a brunch entitled “The End of Hunger: A Dialogue with Leaders,” where they were updated by members of our Global Board, engaged in deeper discussions with our featured Transformative Leaders from the evening gala, and had the opportunity to ask questions of new President & CEO Åsa Skogström Feldt.

At the event, we launched our new animated video. Watch it now!