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

Peace

Building bridges across troubled waters

Chinese Taipei

“We were hoping that they would fall in love with Taiwan, and they did.” – Harvey Chang (Chinese Taipei ’02)

Harvey Chang (Chinese Taipei ’02) runs the largest news station in Taiwan, and is passionate about his work because of the role that media plays in society to foster democracy. “Taiwan is in a unique position because our relationship with China is very peculiar…I want us to play a very neutral role in this,” Chang says.

At the end of World War II, the Republic of China was overthrown by the Communist Party of China, and then fled to the island of Taiwan. At that time, the rest of the world recognized the Republic of China as the rightful governor of China. The ROC made Taiwan its base, and has remained there since 1949. The relationship between mainland China and Taiwan (now recognized by EF as Chinese Taipei) has historically been challenging. Both it and mainland China see themselves as being the true government. The U.S., however, has maintained a One-China Policy since 1972, asserting that Taiwan is a part of China.

For those who have lived through the political upheaval of China during the Cultural Revolution and beyond, and those who have lived through the legacy of such political times, it is no surprise that tensions persist. In the true Eisenhower Fellowships spirit, Chang and several EF Chinese Taipei Fellows founded the Cross-Straits Leadership Camp in 2010 for youth from both sides. The summer immersion exchange program annually involves 100 youth in leadership training. Approximately 50 youth from China go to Chinese Taipei, and 50 youth from Chinese Taipei travel to China. As with the Eisenhower Fellowship experience, it is the belief that personal relationships in a cross-cultural setting can transform one’s worldview, leading to a more peaceful, prosperous and just world, said Chang.

Peace

Working towards peace based on trust

Pakistan

Farzana Yaqoob (Pakistan ’16)

“That is what we are working towards – building trust.”

As the former Minister for Social Welfare & Women’s Development in the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Farzana Yaqoob represented the needs of women and children. In 2017, she founded the Asia Institute for Public Policy, a think tank that through its “Futures Index” polls the public on social, economic, environmental and political issues with the goal of offering this information to government policy makers.  

The think tank is regionally focused to the countries of South Asia, and seeks to overcome cross-border challenges.

Additionally, she is involved in establishing a scholarship fund at Harvard University in the name of Benazir Bhutto, a former Pakistani Prime Minister who was assassinated in 2007.

Farzana Yaqoob

Video Interview with Farzana Yaqoob