The Game Changers

A Series of Short Essays by Next-Generation Leaders

The next generation of leaders thinks globally, unencumbered by borders and refuses to sit idly when there are problems to be solved.

The Next Generation Game Changers panel at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership, April 19, 2018. (Paul Morse / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

The ritual shift in generational leadership is creating one of the most forceful disruptions across the world. Millennials, who essentially were born between 1980 and 1996, will surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation in 2019. And the Generation X cohort, whose members were born between 1965 and 1982, will surpass Boomers in population by 2028. 

The George W. Bush Presidential Center's recent Forum on Leadership explored this pivotal change with a panel devoted to "next generation game changers." The Catalyst asked the panelists to elaborate on this question:

Each of you came into your field with a new idea and upended the status quo. Please explain how disruption is changing the game in your area of expertise – and how the rest of us should respond to that change.

Diana Mao on stage at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership, April 19, 2018. (Paul Morse / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

Diana Mao
President and Co-founder, Nomi Network; Presidential Leadership Scholars ‘15

"The disruptions we are making in India are causing women to have enough money to open their own bank accounts and send their children to school, essentially decreasing the need for trafficking in areas where various forms of violence against women run rampant."


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The work Nomi Network does to achieve our vision of a world without slavery brings a complete shift to India, a country known for housing approximately half of the world’s slaves and being hugely separated by a strict caste system. Our economic empowerment programs break the stigma that a woman’s worth is based on her skin color or which family she was born into.

The disruptions we are making in India are causing women to have enough money to open their own bank accounts and send their children to school, essentially decreasing the need for trafficking in areas where various forms of violence against women run rampant. In spite of a heavily-enforced caste system, our trainees have learned to see each other as family.

They have pooled their savings to cover medical expenses, educated each other of their legal rights in cases of spousal abuse, and formed community watch groups. In these situations, we have seen barriers broken, discrimination set aside, self-confidence increase, and smiles abound. 

When considering a response to this change, I believe we should be increasingly mindful of the stigmas that need to be broken in our own communities. By being intentional about fighting the injustice that surrounds us, we are making it known that we aren’t giving up until all people are given the same opportunities to succeed.


James “Kassaga” Arinaitwe on stage at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership, April 19, 2018. (Paul Morse / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

James “Kassaga” Arinaitwe
CEO and Co-founder, Teach For Uganda

"The government assigns us a very poor district with high dropout rates and trusts us to improve the learning outcomes in the worst of the worst."


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I have to be humble and recognize that we are just two years in. Teach For Uganda started building the business plan and registered as a non-profit, non-governmental organization in 2016, and now we are in eight schools and impacting the learning outcomes of over 2,000 kids in the Luwero district of central Uganda.

Our major goal is actually in line with the sustainable development goal: to create a movement of leaders working to end education inequity in Uganda.  In other words, we hope that in the next 25 years, Teach For Uganda will be working tirelessly to ensure inclusive quality education for all, while promoting lifelong learning. 

Our student vision is to inspire all Uganda’s children and youth to unleash their creative and innovative potential, as thinkers who communicate with intelligence and clarity, create with vision and purpose, and act with courage and compassion to confidently make a lasting and meaningful difference in their communities, nation, and the world.

Since only the government has the mandate to reach every child, our aim is to support teachers and leaders in government-aided schools and ensure that we reach every child in those schools and communities, provide them with a role model of a teacher to unleash their fullest learning potential.

The government assigns us a very poor district with high dropout rates and trusts us to improve the learning outcomes in some of the most poorly performing schools and districts.

We aggressively recruit recent and promising university graduates into our two-year fellowship program from Uganda’s eight top universities. That includes from the colleges of education, engineering, science, math, and English literature. Our candidates, potential Teach For Uganda fellows, must have a minimum GPA of a 3.0, and we look for those who have been on a leadership track from high school to college.

The response we see is a growing movement, or a pipeline of leaders. We are developing their skills to become effective leaders in Uganda's public institutions, such as the education ministry, and in politics and policy as well as business.  We want leaders who can effect policy in Parliament, where they can advocate for more investments in education, or economic or health policies that are child and family friendly to ensure kids are learning.

Globally, we are partnered with Teach For All.  And, locally, we are gaining the support of corporate leaders as well as multilateral organizations such as the U.S. Embassy and the like.

Across Africa the statistics are staggering. About 70 percent of kids enrolled in elementary school fail to complete due to all those educational challenges rooted in poverty, and lack of proper investment in the rightful, talented and passionate and qualified teachers, who see teaching as leadership.  Our partners and supporters realize this need for young and brilliant African leaders to be involved and be part of the quality of education of their young brothers and sisters.  After all, they too are not far removed from the same challenges they had go through to graduate, so who more to help champion the best learning and teaching innovation than youth themselves.

We now need the support of the minister for education. The challenge is no longer getting these young and promising leaders. The challenge is continuously giving them the remuneration that they need, as well as the health insurance and stipends, and continuous training and support as alumni leaders both to reach more kids in their own communities and to scale this program across the country.


Barbara Bush (left) and Daniela Terminel (right) on stage at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership, April 19, 2018. (Paul Morse / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

Daniela Terminel
CEO, Global Health Corps

"We look at whether fellows have the hard skills to fill the position that our partners on the ground need. But we also look at their leadership potential. We are trying to build the next generation of health leaders."


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We place creative young professionals into influential health care positions in Africa and the United States for one-year fellowships. They are exposed to real-time, real-life problems that non-profits and government organizations face, and fill in their gaps with hard and soft skills. 

Fifty percent of our fellows are from Africa, but the rest come from 40 countries around the world. They represent a diverse pool of people from different skilled backgrounds. Among them are engineers, developers, and communications experts. 

We look at whether fellows have the hard skills to fill the position that our partners on the ground need. But we also look at their leadership potential. We are trying to build the next generation of health leaders. We now have a thousand alums, and 95 percent of our fellows stay in the global health and social justice sector.

The response has been that they continue to drive change from within the systems. Eighty-three percent of our alums are in senior roles in Africa and the United States. 

We also are seeing a response in the partnerships we have made in New York City, Newark, Boston, and Washington, D.C. And we have partners across eastern and southern Africa that want to post one of our fellows in their organizations. Seventy five percent of our partners want a fellow every year. We also have doubled the number of our partners.

This shows that we are helping our partners fill their gaps. More importantly, we are providing access to health care.