Young Leaders From Chicago and Around the World Gather for Summit


Several members of the class of 2018 Global Youth Ambassadors

This July 21–28, Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) again brought together 25 young women ages 14–16 from Chicago and around the world for its Global Youth Ambassadors Leadership Summit. Now in its third year, the Summit encourages teenage girls to become active leaders in their communities and develop solutions to the challenges girls face around the world. The Summit is presented in partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Throughout the week, youth ambassadors participate in workshops, discussions, and presentations on advocacy, activism, and leadership, giving them the tools to be leaders who create positive change. 

“The Global Youth Ambassadors Leadership Summit is a life-changing program for these young leaders,” said Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of World Business Chicago. “By connecting young women from neighborhoods throughout Chicago with their counterparts from our international sister cities, the Summit provides an enriching global education while developing an international network of young leaders.”

Highlights from the week included:

  • Youth and Activism Panel featuring A Long Walk Home, March for Our Lives Chicago and Gather
  • International Diplomacy Discussion at Microsoft featuring diplomatic representatives of foreign governments in Chicago and the Highest Lord Mayor of Birmingham, United Kingdom, Councillor Yvonne Mosquito
  • Conversations with Women in STEM at Motorola Solutions featuring Dima Elisa, CEO and founder, VisMed-3D; Rose Afriyie, Executive Director, mRelief, and Juanita Garcia, CEO and founder, BIM for Better
  • Featured discussion with Women in STEM, an organization dedicated to empowering and inspiring girls to actualize equitable representation in the STEM fields; Women in STEM was founded by 2017 Global Youth Ambassador Ananya Asthana and is operated with fellow 2017 ambassadors Antoinette Raggs (director of development) and Ema Takahasi (director of community outreach), among others
  • Featured discussion with Emily Graslie, chief curiosity correspondent of The Field Museum and YouTube influencer
  • Immigration and Migration Panel at the National Museum of Mexican Art featuring immigration experts and advocates
  • Women in Communications and Media Panel at ABC7 Chicago featuring Cheryl Burton, anchor, ABC7 Chicago; Leah Hope, reporter, ABC7 Chicago; Alessandra Martin, reporter, Univision Chicago Local Media; Yoko Noge, Chicago Co-Bureau Chief, Nikkei; and Melody Spann Cooper, chairman, Midway Broadcast Corporation
  • Featured Discussion with Professor Yayoi Hisasue of Osaka City University, who traveled from Chicago’s sister city of Osaka, Japan, for the Summit; 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of Chicago’s sister city relationship with Osaka
  • Women in Leadership Luncheon at Accenture featuring Joni Duncan, chief human resources officer, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Liz Kammel Tilatti, co-founder and CEO, ZipFit Inc.; Dorri McWhorter, CEO, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago; and Tracey Seward, managing director, Accenture
  • Closing Ceremony at City Council Chambers featuring keynote address by Anna Valencia, City Clerk and final project presentations from the 25 youth ambassadors

WHO Are the Youth Ambassadors?

“The Summit stands as the centerpiece of our global education programming, while promoting our mission to bring people from different cultures together under the banner of citizen diplomacy,” said Leroy Allala, executive director of CSCI. During the week-long program, participants met with women leaders in Chicago representing a diverse cross-section of industries. Check out the Chicago Sister City’s Instagram to see more highlights of the week’s events. 

“As the largest and most active sister cities organization in the U.S., CSCI is committed to strengthening ties between Chicago and its sister cities around the world,” continued Allala. Ten girls from Chicago and 15 from its sister cities participated. The girls from Chicago live in Brighton Park, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Lincoln Square, Near North Side, North Center, Rogers Park, Roseland and West Ridge. This year the young women hailed from the following Chicago schools:

  • Benito Juarez Community Academy
  • Chicago Waldorf School
  • Lincoln Park High School
  • Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School
  • Northside College Prep
  • Lane Tech College Preparatory High School
  • University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
  • Walter Payton College Prep
  • Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
  • Young Women’s Leadership Charter School

The 15 international participants are from Chicago’s sister cities including:

  • Amman, Jordan
  • Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Lahore, Pakistan
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Paris, France
  • Petach Tikva, Israel
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Shanghai, China
  • Toronto, Canada

As a new addition, this year the Summit had an official Host Committee, comprised of a diverse group of Chicago’s women leaders:

  • Elizabeth Coolidge, UBS
  • Regine W. Corrado, Baker McKenzie
  • Lori Healey, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
  • Mary H. Houpt, Peoples Gas
  • Sandee Hurse, GCM Grosvenor
  • Nila R. Leiserowitz, Gensler
  • Lisa Ouzounian, Comcast-NBCUniversal
  • The Honorable Patricia Maza-Pittsford, Consulate General of El Salvador in Chicago
  • Raquel Realmo, SafeSpeed, LLC
  • Diana L. Sands, The Boeing Company
  • Dona T. Scott
  • Andrea L. Zopp, World Business Chicago

The Global Youth Ambassadors Leadership Summit was sponsored by United Airlines, Motorola Solutions, Accenture, Comcast-NBCUniversal, SafeSpeed, LLC, Baker McKenzie, Dona and Sam Scott, EY, GCM Grosvenor, JLL, Mesirow Financial, Microsoft, Peoples Gas, PNC Bank, The Boeing Company, Chicago Sky, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Shoreline Sightseeing, and UBS.

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