Justice, Peace

Building tolerance in Ireland through laws and public policy

In Ireland, Eisenhower Fellows Salome Mbugua (Ireland ’10) and Oonagh McPhillips (Ireland ’16) work in separate (and sometimes opposite) areas of advocacy and government respectively.  But they have recently come together to work on developing an important new law to combat hate speech.  

Oonagh McPhillips (Ireland ’16) and Salome Mbugua (Ireland ’10) featured together at an event in Ireland.

A researcher, gender equality activist and human rights advocate, Salome was born in Kenya and has lived in Ireland since 1994. She founded AkiDwA (Swahili for “sisterhood”), The Migrant Women’s Network, in 2001 to address isolation, racism and gender-based violence.  Salome holds a master’s degree in Equality Studies from University College Dublin and is finishing her doctorate at Trinity College Dublin. In 2018 Salome was the first African woman to be appointed to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. 

From a working class background in Dublin, Oonagh started work as a temp at 17. Having worked her way through the ranks in the Irish civil service, she holds a master’s degree in communications and is currently deputy secretary general in the Department of Justice and Equality. Oonagh heads up the Department’s criminal justice pillar with responsibility for security, policing, prisons and criminal law. 

Part of Oonagh’s work is a review of Ireland’s outdated law on hate speech, which includes consulting the public about, among other issues, how the law might be improved and what the responsibilities of publishers should be. Salome supported the launch of the consultation and is promoting it across her network. This is one element of a series of measures across all areas of government designed to address hatred and intolerance, spanning across policies, operational areas, law enforcement and educational measures designed to support a safe, fair and inclusive Ireland, where expressions of hatred and prejudice are not tolerated, and can be dealt with swiftly and effectively where they occur. 

Salome Mbugua (Ireland ’10) plays an active role in giving public feedback to the Department of Justice and Equality.

Salome’s support is vital to this work, as is her expertise and first hand experience. “Hate speech has a chilling effect on people, particularly women, and we need to make sure that our laws support people in combatting this while balancing our constitutional right to freedom of expression,” she says. Salome’s leadership is allowing the government to hear from people who have real world experience which will be vital in helping to construct an effective, balanced law in this complex area.

Justice, Peace

Thirty years in the making: keeping the peace on the Island of Ireland

Securing and preserving the peace between the governments of Northern Ireland and the Ireland Republic (Fellows and their spouses from the 1989 Island of Ireland program)

2019 marks 30 years since EF’s historic Single-Area Program brought together Fellows from Ireland’s North and South. Choosing cross-community conciliation in a divided society, they played key roles in the negotiations that produced the Good Friday Agreement and the efforts to preserve the peace on the Island of Ireland since then.

Watch pioneers from the Good Friday Agreement and Eisenhower Fellows from the 1989 Island of Ireland program share their story here.

Northern Ireland Fellow Tom Frawley (’89) shares his life lessons learned and how he made an impact after his Eisenhower Fellowship here in an interview conducted by Eisenhower Fellow Rabia Garib (Pakistan ’07).

2019 Island of Ireland Fellows while on fellowship in the U.S.

Listen to 2019 Northern Ireland Fellows experts Katy Hayward and Stephen Rusk discuss what Brexit means for Northern Ireland in this podcast conducted by our partners at Knowledge@Wharton.

Read Trudy Rubin’s article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on how Eisenhower Fellows were involved in building the Good Friday Agreement.

Justice, Peace

Building racial and economic equity in the U.S.

United States

Rhonda Broussard (USA ’14) is founder and chief executive officer of Beloved Community, a leading consulting firm on diversity, equity and inclusion. At the time of her fellowship, she led an association of language-immersion charter schools in St. Louis. She traveled to New Zealand and Finland in 2014, and her aspirations were to see how two countries known for their equitable education systems could inspire her to do more for her community back home in the United States. But before she left, Mike Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, outside of St. Louis.

Brown’s untimely death sparked an entire movement to address excessive use of force by police in communities of color across the U.S., and got Broussard thinking differently about equity. She realized that schools alone cannot fix the racial and economic divide in U.S. communities that were driving the violence and pain felt in St. Louis and many other U.S. cities.  She sought a full, comprehensive approach to dismantle systemic racism and injustice.

She connects her experience as a person of color in the United States with the indigenous Maori community in New Zealand and its effort to counter oppression by taking back control of and celebrating its culture. After her fellowship, she moved to New Orleans, her hometown, a city that is experiencing a rich language and heritage movement. She is linking this movement with the development of her own work on community well-being through diversity, equity and inclusion strategies.

Today, Broussard strives to live in a world with “real shared humanity without war,” a peaceful solution built on the attainment of racial and economic equity. She consults with cities, schools, companies and legislators to embrace racial and economic equity in a deep, long-term way. Broussard even works with Eisenhower Fellow Susan Patrick (USA ’16) on education reform across the U.S., lending her deep expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion to their work together to transform U.S. systems of K-12 education, both using their fellowship journeys to New Zealand as a point of reference and inspiration.

Rhonda Broussard

Justice, Peace

Bringing humanitarian relief to the heart of the village

Sri Lanka

Chevaan Daniel (Sri Lanka ’17) oversees News 1st, Sri Lanka’s largest independent news network of TV and radio stations. It is a subsidiary of the Capital Maharaja Organization, which includes renewable energy, national security and infrastructure businesses. While on fellowship, he studied effective ways to address humanitarian crises and natural disasters.

With his media colleagues, he began to expose what poverty has looked like throughout Sri Lanka because it had not been reported before by major media in the country. His group partnered with local universities to present comprehensive data and statistics on poverty levels, providing it as a resource to the government and the United Nations. But unfortunately, neither the country nor the United Nations took action. This was when they decided to take matters into their own hands with Project Gammadda (Heart of the Village), an initiative that Daniel created to address poverty and suffering in Sri Lanka. One such project, out of Project Gammadda’s 2,000 micro-projects, was completed recently in Matara, rural southern Sri Lanka. The project brings clean drinking water to the 100 students of the Aparekka Kanishta Primary School, which had operated for 80 years without access to clean water. EF president George de Lama spoke at the project’s inauguration in February.

Click here to learn more about the project at the Aparekka Kanishta Primary School.

Listen to Daniel tell his story here.

Change & Innovation, Peace, Prosperity

Healing a nation through hope and reconciliation

Sri Lanka

Nathan Sivagananathan (Sri Lanka ’14)

As chief growth officer at MAS Holdings, Nathan Sivagananathan is charged with generating new businesses that will be valued at $2 billion goal by 2020. A 2014 Eisenhower Fellow, his goal was to foster small business development in post-civil war Sri Lanka. After his fellowship, Sivagananathan worked with Eisenhower Fellow Harsha de Silva (Sri Lanka ’11) to launch an online platform that connects entrepreneurs with investors. They enlisted investors to provide $5 million to a total of 20 companies.

This year, their goal is to find investors for 25 entrepreneurs, including one company that will employ approximately 4,000 people.  In April, Sivagananathan opened a 70,000 square foot accelerator/incubator that provides 700 seats for entrepreneurs, 300 of which had already been filled prior to the opening of the space. This $3.5 million project will be not just a co-working space, but will include connections to investors, back office and technical support for the daily needs of an entrepreneur. To target parents, particularly women entrepreneurs, the space will be child-friendly and have adequate play areas.

Having lost his sister to cancer, Sivagananathan has been active in raising money for cancer research in Sri Lanka. In 2011, to raise funds for the treatment centers, he launched ‘Trail’, a walk spanning 27 days across the country, which engaged over 200,000 Sri Lankans to develop a cancer hospital in the previously war-torn northern region. The walk, which harnessed the power of social media and crowdfunding, raised over $2.5 million from across the globe. In 2016 he launched Trail – The Walk Back, this time going from north to south, and raising millions to establish the country’s third public cancer facility, which will be completed in 2020.

His vision is to promote “One Sri Lanka”, a country that is not divided by religion or region, but that is united. Listen here to learn more about his next steps to continue the work of reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

nathan sivagananathan