Yale World Fellows Tell Stories of Social Change
The Yale World Fellows are a group of mid-career leaders from across disciplines and around the world who come to Yale for a semester of intensive leadership training. They also share rich leadership lessons with current Yale students. At an event on September 24, organized by the Net Impact and Business and Politics clubs, Yale SOM students were able to hear from and ask questions of seven of the current fellows about their experiences working for social change.
The event was moderated by Rodrigo Canales, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM who studies economic development. Canales asked each of the fellows to tell a story drawn from their professional lives about "social change and leadership coming from an unexpected place."
Sisonke Msimang, the executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, talked about the moment when in 1998, a young woman was stoned to death on World AIDS Day after publicly announcing that she was HIV positive. That tragedy prompted the creation of the Treatment Action Campaign, which helped to reduce the intense stigma of AIDS by creating now-iconic "HIV Positive" t-shirts. Many of the changes in HIV-related law and policy since, Msimang said, can be attributed to the decision to declare that "HIV positive is not something that is against us but something that is a strength."
Ruchi Yadav, a senior program officer for India's Hunger Project, recalled when the organization realized that it had to take its voter participation campaign to the worksites where rural Indian women spend their days. "You should always listen to people on the ground who are actually dealing with the local reality," she said. "You can have a very grand strategy and a grand blueprint about how things should work, but you have to continuously listen to people."
The panelists also included Kamal Amakrane, head of the Office of the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur; Réda Oulamine, president and founder of the Moroccan legal reform organization Droit et Justice; Patrick Struebi, founder and CEO of Fairtrasa, a company that links farmers in Latin America to international markets; Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, co-founder and publishing director of the Nigeria-based publishing house Cassava Republic Press; and Ayush Chauhan, co-founder and managing director of Quicksand, a design and innovation consultancy in India.