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A memorable afternoon at the Forbes Galleries

What would it be like to sit in a room with world leaders in business, media, technology, and culture? Exciting, and maybe a little intimidating. But, that’s exactly what I did at the Global Citizen Summit at Forbes Galleries in New York City.

Industry experts came together to celebrate and offer advice to 3 of the 4 Waislitz Global Citizen Award finalists: Anoop Jain, Nargis Shirazi, and David Auerback (sadly, Swapnil Chaturvedi, the fourth finalist, could not be with us.)

The event kicked off with a welcome from Randall Lane, Chairman for the Advisory Board at the Global Poverty Project and editor of Forbes Magazine. Shortly after Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans took the mic and talked about Global CItizen by sharing a favorite quote of his. He cited French Marshall Lyautey, who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected saying it would take the tree 100 years to grow, but the General responded “In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!”

To Hugh, this story was a great metaphor for the sense of urgency we feel at Global Citizen- if we work together it will take 15-20 years to eliminate extreme poverty, so there is no time to waste.

Following Hugh’s presentation, Alex Waislitz spoke to the group briefly about his involvement with Global Citizen and what the award means to him.

He said, “I promised myself that If I found myself in a position where I could do a little bit then I would do that little bit,” and continued by saying that while the Global Citizen Festival is a wonderful event, we must think beyond it. He found that supporting social entrepreneurs was one way to promote social change, which is how the award came about.

Finally, we had the opportunity to hear from the nominees themselves.

Anoop spoke of his work at Humanure Power, saying “We believe toilets should be a right and not just a privilege.” He talked about the importance of creating behavioral change, something we firmly believe at Global Citizen.

Nargis discussed her Wo-Man Foundation, and talked about Africa’s huge potential because of its large youth population. “We’re not tomorrow’s leaders, but today’s.”

Lastly David talked about Sanergy, and shared some interesting advice: “If you build it, they will not necessarily come.” He explained that building toilets isn’t enough to encourage use, and for that reason Sanergy provides their toilet operators with extensive business support, echoing what Anoop said about behavioral change.

After each of their brief presentations, the entire group divided into 3 so that each nominee would have the opportunity to solve critical problems with the help of those in attendance. Then, the award winner was finally revealed as Alex Waislitz let Anoop know he had been chosen by Global Citizens to collect the $100,000 prize to go towards Humanure Power and help put an end to open defecation in India. Here's Anoop with Hugh:

I couldn’t be happier for Anoop, and cannot wait to see how many lives he transforms with the help from the Waislitz Global Citizen Award.

However, I know he’ll be in good company as the rest of the finalists continue to do amazing, life changing work in the movement to end extreme poverty.


Christina Nuñez