Champions of Change: Connecting the Americas

Uploaded by whitehouse on 27.07.2012

Kyle Lierman: My name is Kyle Lierman, I work in the White House Office of
Public Engagement, and I run the Champions of Change program.
So first, just a big welcome to all of you.
Thank you for coming, and thanks to those of you who are joining
in online.
To kick things off, I just want our Champions of Change to come
up to the stage, grab your seats,
or stand behind the podium.
So Champions, why don't we give them a round of applause.
Grab your seat if you're -- so, each week we bring in a
different group of ordinary Americans who are making a
difference in their communities across the country.
This week, we are celebrating Champions that are connecting
the Americas, so it's a particularly special group,
and we're really excited to have them here today.
To kick things off, I'm going to introduce Ricardo Zuniga,
who's the Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs in
the National Security staff.
So Ricardo, come on up.
Ricardo Zuniga: Thanks, thanks very much.
Well, first of all, I think we all want to get to the main
event, which is a celebration of the Champions of Change,
but I wanted to say welcome to the White House, bienvenidos,
and we're really happy to have you.
It's actually very fitting that we're doing this now.
This is a president who's really dedicated himself to building
partnerships throughout the Americas.
And the people who are here, what we're commemorating here,
are the people who've taken that and turned it into a reality,
turned it into concrete projects that affect real
people's lives.
I think that's the most important element that they
bring to the table, in addition to the energy, the drive,
the commitment to improving the lives of ordinary citizens of
the United States, and in their countries from which their
families come and from which many of them come themselves.
We see our job in government as creating an enabling environment
that allows these kinds of leaders, these kinds of groups,
these kind of committed individuals to thrive.
And the beauty of it is that we're seeing results right away,
because of the work that they were already doing and because
of the environment and the energy, again,
that they're bringing to their communities here and abroad.
What I would say is probably the most important single element is
something that the President's very dedicated to,
which is having citizens feel like protagonists in their own
home countries, in their own communities,
in their own, basically, international environment,
which is what this really is now,
and what we're really bringing to the fore.
So I'm going to introduce Kris Balderston,
who has a very long and distinguished history of doing
exactly this kind of work in Congress, at the White House,
and at the State Department.
And without further ado, Kris, please come on up and carry on.
Kris Balderston: Thank you.
Ricardo Zuniga: Thanks so much.
Kris Balderston: Thank you, Ricardo, and thanks everyone.
How many people here were at the State Department Diaspora Forum?
I'm just trying to -- I always wonder if I want to repeat
our message.
But, you know, it's always an honor to be in this building.
It's historic.
I got to work here for six years,
and I always remember every single day I walked in here,
it was a very special place, and you should all kind of wander
out slowly and take a look at the building and think of the
decisions that have been made here over, you know,
the last hundred years.
It's an amazing place.
And it's wonderful to be here to help celebrate this outstanding
group of diasporans who've contributed so much to
our country.
They're truly amazing individuals that are promoting
progress and prosperity in their communities.
You know, this week we had our second annual Global Diaspora
Forum with the Secretary hosting it,
and we brought together 500 people --
that's more than we had last year --
from 50 different countries.
And I wrote a note to the Secretary the day after she
spoke, and said, you know, it's hard to believe that the State
Department in its 220 year history hadn't thought of doing
this before.
And thank goodness, though, we have a secretary and a president
that incentivize us to do this.
And I think that is very important.
There are subtle things in this building you learn.
We were just talking about the, you take on the attributes of
the leader of an organization, and the fact that President
Obama has created this Champions of Change program and Secretary
Clinton has created this Diaspora effort is not a
small item.
And, you know, I use these numbers,
and you've heard them all before.
Over 60 million first and second generation Americans who are --
who should be part of our process of new state craft,
they should help us shape the development, agenda,
and emerging frontier markets, and they win the hearts and
minds of people around the globe.
The problems we're facing are far too big for any one
department, any one country, any one foundation or company to
work on and solve.
We have to bring everybody together,
we have to collaborate.
You know, one of our things that --
one of our items that we set up to collaborate,
Ricardo mentioned, mentioned the President setting up an
enabling environment.
The enabling environment that we really wanted to create at the
State Department this past week --
and we announced it last year and we're moving forward with it
this year -- is this something called IdEA.
The International Diaspora Engagement Alliance.
And I keep repeating it over and over,
and I hope you go back and repeat it at home.
Because we have to find more people to get involved in this.
This is a public-private platform where people can come
together -- Kathleen Newland from the migration policy is in
the back, talk to her if you're interested.
We need to create this public-private platform for
people in this room, Champions of Change,
to be able to access other Champions of Change.
We cannot get this done in the government alone.
Those days are over.
We need to bring everybody together with a platform where
they can do entrepreneurship and volunteerism and innovation and
all of the things that we're trying to do at our
Diaspora effort.
So through the Alliance as an example,
what we did was we created an IdEA.
We had a Caribbean IdEA marketplace.
And it's a business competition sponsored by our friends in
Canada and the United Kingdom and the United States,
along with a number of private sector people.
The Inter-American Development Bank, Scotiabank, Digicel,
and other partners.
And it came up, we're offering a million dollars in matching
funds to finance innovative entrepreneurial proposals from
the Caribbean Diaspora -- I might add,
there are more Caribbeans living in the United States than in the
Caribbean, and it's true.
And we need to mesh that.
And we want them to create jobs and economic growth in
the region.
And by the way, we're accepting applications in that program
until July 31st of this year.
So you just have a couple more days to do that.
And on Wednesday, we announced in conjunction with this effort,
the creation of La IdEA, our Latin American marketplace.
And we want medium-sized entrepreneurs with the support
that they need to grow into successful businesses to create
jobs and value throughout the region.
This competition's a result of a partnership, again,
of people who see that this change can make a difference.
United States Government, Univision,
the Inter-American Development Bank, Accion, Wellspace,
and Boom Financial.
So there's no shortage of opportunities for collaboration
on the horizon.
Our future depends on how well we translate good ideas
into action.
We could all have wonderful ideas,
but until we come together, you know,
I often joke that the State Department has been known for
200 years for our ability to translate between languages.
You know, that's still a wonderful thing,
but we need to start translating between business and government
and government and business and NGOs and foundations.
You know, we've put people in the same room,
they don't quite understand each other.
They don't understand each other's motivations.
So we have to create platforms like this to bring people
together in a trusted network to feel comfortable working with
each other.
You know, we have to take advantage.
I've said this over and over, we were at the MALI event last
night, we have to take advantage of the diversity of America.
This is our big strength.
You know, again, I said yesterday, last night,
I've had the chance to travel around the world in this job,
and I'm thankful for that.
The most interesting places in the country are most --
in the world are the most diverse places,
and they're the most innovative and creative.
And, you know, Raul and others could give you statistics on how
many of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are foreign born.
Nearly half of the CEOs.
So, you know, this is something we want to encourage.
You know, in the end, I have to say, being in this building,
the Obama Administration and Secretary Clinton,
they are leaders who want to bring more people into
the process.
They are inclusive.
The more people that participate in the decision making,
the better.
And that's not always the case with a lot of Presidents.
And you can look down the halls and look at some of
their portraits.
But, you know, but it's true.
We want to be inclusive.
And these are the new technological ways to do it.
Because in the end, more inclusion brings more
innovative ideas.
So thank you all for your service.
We're really looking forward to hearing about real, live,
innovative catalysts for change.
You know, we heard if you have a --
I always plug Bill Drayton the from Ashoka,
look up his website.
He was at our conference, he talked about the importance of
change makers in the world.
He's got 3,000 of them now.
Take a look at it, and try to link up with them.
And now, I would like to introduce a great change maker
at the State Department.
Roberta's laughing at me, but it's true.
When I came to the State Department,
I'm a political appointee, and, you know,
you meet the career officers, foreign service officers, and,
you know, Roberta immediately made you feel welcome.
And she is our new Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs, and, you know, she --
I'm not going to go through her long résumé of all the other
things she's done at the State Department, but, you know,
she is an example of a creative leader at the State Department.
And, you know, I see Marta here, we would have never had MALI,
the Mexican American Leadership Initiative, which we created,
without Roberta.
I remember sitting in the room with Roberta and Fabiola and
Scott, and, you know, we didn't know where we were going the
first day we met in that meeting.
I can close my eyes and remember it.
But, you know, at least Roberta came to the table and said let's
figure it out, you know, let's move on.
That does not happen in a lot of bureaucracies.
So we want to try to find this constellation of activists,
and everything you do and we do, and we want to connect them
through ideas like IdEA.
So thank you very much, and Roberta Jacobson.
Roberta Jacobson: Thank you so much, Kris.
Good morning, everyone.
I'm so grateful to Kris for skipping the biography.
It gets longer and longer, and all that means is I'm older
and older.
Let me start by just welcoming everyone here,
and saying that for me, it is really a great privilege to
honor such remarkable Champions of Change from Latin America and
the Caribbean.
This is an unusual event for many of us who work in
foreign policy.
We don't often get the opportunity to talk with,
to honor, and to showcase people who are working directly with
counterparts, directly with people-to-people diplomacy every
single day.
And I am fortunate to serve President Obama and Secretary
Clinton as the Assistant Secretary in this hemisphere at
a remarkably promising moment in the Americas,
that I think gets lost a little bit in today's news sometimes.
I'd like also to welcome here our Ambassador to Jamaica,
Ambassador Pam Bridgewater, and her husband Alfred Awkard.
Thank you so much for being with us today and for all the work
you do every day to bring change.
These last few decades have been remarkable and a very special
period in the western hemisphere.
Periods of transition, transformation within countries,
how they relate to each other, and how they relate to the
United States.
Our engagement in the region is deeper and broader than at any
time in our history, and it involves civil society,
the private sector, and just about every U.S.
government agency.
Secretary Clinton likes to talk often about the three legs of
foreign -- of the foreign policy stool, and what she talks about
is government actors like ourselves,
the private sector and its catalytic effect,
and civil society.
And what she says very clearly is that without all three of
those acting together, we can't succeed in improving the
relationships among our countries.
This hemisphere has a remarkably positive narrative these days,
and you all know that because you're part of that narrative
and you're part of achieving what's happened over the last
couple of decades.
Secretary Clinton also talks about the power of proximity,
and she's talking partly about geography,
but she's also talking about the proximity and the closeness that
we have of shared values, all the more significant for all of
us because of the diversity in the Americas.
And those shared interests and the practical cooperation that
we are achieving in this hemisphere,
we focus around about four issues,
four large themes: And they are greater inclusion,
so that society can benefit from the contributions of all
citizens, something where we still have, frankly,
a long way to go in this hemisphere.
Security for our people on the streets, in their neighborhoods,
in their homes, something that we know from public opinion
surveys is among the most important concerns of citizens
around the hemisphere.
Effective and open institutions that meet our society's needs.
The transformation and democratic growth in this
hemisphere has been remarkable and has led the world in many
respects, but it isn't over, and we have work to do in that area,
too, and also guarding to do against backward movement,
unfortunately, that we've seen in the last few years.
And finally, economic growth and greater trade,
creating that opportunity that affords more people dignified
and successful lives.
But the most important throughout all of those themes,
and the most precious aspects of that power of proximity are
really the ones that each of you embody in the work that you do
every day.
The profound human links between our societies and the power of
exceptional individuals, one and many,
to accomplish so much good and benefit so many people.
Lest anyone ever think that one person cannot make a difference,
today is designed to reassure us and inspire us again.
The human ties in the Americas enrich our societies in so many
ways, and our human links are vehicles for the transmission of
values and cultures in both directions on a huge scale that
shapes our societies and our futures.
Across the Americas you are leveraging those ties,
along with your own dignity, compassion, commitment,
and imagination to produce practical results for people.
And that includes the most vulnerable among us,
which matters a great deal, because as Secretary Clinton and
the President have recognized many times,
our futures are increasingly interdependent.
For the United States to succeed,
our neighbors must succeed, too.
And as our societies join forces and our cooperation grows,
we are building this platform that Kris talked about in which
our shared competitiveness and success can be broadcast
throughout the world.
A world where our human capital, resources,
solidarity and values represent our greatest comparative
advantage, and each of you are part of that chain that links
the local and the global in one of the most compelling and
promising dynamics of our times.
Other people throughout this day and previous have saluted your
work for its human value, which is its most important measure.
But as a diplomatic practitioner,
I think it's also important to emphasize the impact that you
and the communities that you represent have on the foreign
policy stage, on the work that we try and carry out every day.
Because your examples and your accomplishments are lighting the
path for the future, and not only making our job easier,
but blazing new trails where we have not even been able
to go yet.
So I salute each and every one of you,
and I thank you so much for being here today.
We'll take one round of applause or everybody up here,
and then I'm going to introduce them.
I'd like now to introduce the folks who are our Champions of
Change today, and I'm going to introduce the folks who are here
with us, and up here on the stage,
as well as a couple who couldn't be here today.
So if I -- I'm not sure if everyone can read placards,
and some folks don't have placards,
so I'm going to ask that folks at least identify themselves
with a wave when I get to you.
Luis Aguirre-Torres is the founder and CEO of Green
Momentum and Cleantech Challenge Mexico,
organizations that strive to promote,
develop and implement clean technology and green jobs in
Latin America.
The organizations have created a new ecosystem of collaboration
and more than 1,000 green jobs.
Claire Nelson is the founder of the Institute of
Caribbean Studies.
Under her leadership, ICS has fostered stronger U.S.-Caribbean
relations via partnerships with the U.S. public and private
sector, mentoring Caribbean-American leaders,
and promoting Diaspora engagement in the development of
the Caribbean.
Andres Elmer Arias is the President of the Foundation for
Educational and Cultural Development,
which teams up with hometown Salvadoran associations in the
United States and private companies to help public schools
in poor areas in El Salvador with computers and
basic infrastructure.
I don't think he's going to have to raise his hand,
but Greivis Vasquez, everyone knows,
is a professional basketball player for the NBA's New
Orleans Hornets.
Greivis has devoted much of his free time over the years to
youth sports camps in Venezuela and partnered with the U.S.
State Department Sports Diplomacy Program.
Alvaro Maldonado is the founding director of Ballet Teatro
Internacional, a nonprofit organization that generates
dance training programs in the U.S. and in Central America.
These programs are aimed to inspire neglected,
low income and undereducated youth.
Ana Moraga.
Upon graduation from college, Ana moved back to Guatemala and
founded MuJER, Mujeres por la Justicia,
Educación y el Reconocimiento, Women for Justice, Education,
and Awareness.
For five years, Ana led the organization's efforts in
opening spaces of empowerment for Central American women
sex workers.
Raul Hinojosa is an Associate Professor at the University of
California Los Angeles.
Dr. Hinojosa founded the North American Integration and
Development Center at UCLA, dedicated to projects empowering
Diaspora groups and development in home communities.
Dr. Hinojosa also founded SF Global, LLC,
which facilitates low cost, secure and accessible financial
services to the unbanked and underbanked populations in the
United States Diaspora and their home countries.
Not with us today -- and I'm sorry they can't be here --
are two more of our Champions.
David Ayón.
David Ayón helped found the Mexican American Leadership
Initiative, a program of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation that
enlists bi-national support to strengthen civil society
in Mexico.
MALI and the USMF have launched a people-to-people program
assisting community projects and organizations in
southern Mexico.
David Ayón serves as co-chair of MALI.
And Patricia Janiot is the President of the Fundación
Colombianitos, which is dedicated to helping Colombian
kids who are living in poverty.
Patricia has led the growth of Colombianitos from 42 children
in 2001 to approximately 4,000 in several Colombian cities.
These are all remarkable leaders,
remarkable for the achievements that they have already
accomplished, and what we know is still yet to come.
They are all very young.
So another round of applause, please,
for our wonderful Champions.
I don't want to keep you any longer from what are going to be
great conversations with our leaders today,
so I will thank you very much for your attention,
and I look forward to hearing from everyone today.
Thank you again.
Kyle Lierman: All right, so our Champions who are standing, take their seats,
they're on the second panel.
I welcome Fabiola to the stage to moderate our first panel.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Good morning, everyone, I am Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli,
I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy
for the Western Hemisphere, and I have the honor to work
under Roberta.
So right now we're going to start the new,
the panel to (inaudible).
It's an honor to be here because I have been honored as well to
know some of these people for some time.
Dr. Nelson, Elmer, some day I'll tell you the story about how
Nelson saved an important event for us in Northern Virginia.
I wanted to start by discussing the activities you do,
Dr. Nelson.
You and I have been talking a lot lately about how to work
more in the Caribbean, and tell us a little bit about your
research at the Institute of Caribbean Studies.
What types of investments in the Caribbean should be promoted in
order to build stronger ties with the U.S.?
And I know you have a very specific project in mind that
you and I have been talking about recently.
Dr. Claire Nelson: Well, thank you very much for having me,
I'm really delighted to be here.
Actually, the Institute of Carribean Studies is 19 years
old and we have spent most of our formative years doing
advocacy to create a space for the Caribbean-American Diaspora.
During that time, let me full disclosure,
I had a full-time job at the Inter-Development Bank,
and I was also very engaged there in promoting the agenda on
bringing to the fore issues of exclusion and making sure that
the visibility of people of African descent in the Americas
were at the development table.
Having said that, at ICS we have been trying for the last 19
years, I think we have succeeded now,
in getting the Caribbean-American community to
recognize their role as Americans.
Many Caribbean people feel like they're going back home,
so they've not been engaged in the policy process.
So over the years we've been able to develop, for example,
an annual forum capital here, and more importantly,
seven years ago we were able to get the U.S. government to
declare June as Caribbean-American
heritage month.
So moving forward to actual work,
one of the things we're very interested in is answering the
question, who owns the Caribbean Sea?
We believe that answering this question and looking at the
future economics of the Sea and all economic actors of the
Caribbean Sea will ensure sustainability in the future.
We want as Caribbean people to have a role in leading that
conversation, and we believe that it's timely,
as people begin to do more undersea exploration,
for example, and this is a conversation we are having.
And we're also talking now to universities in the Caribbean
and universities here about creating partnerships to do the
100,000 points of light conversation that the
President launched.
So this is one of the activities that we're engaged in right now,
which I'm very excited about.
And bringing actors around the sea, the Caribbean Sea together.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Doctor, what are some examples of the development projects that
the Institute of Caribbean Studies is engaged with right
now, and what impact will they have for future generations of
Caribbean entrepreneurs?
Dr. Claire Nelson: We are right now working on something called Life SEED,
stands for Skills, Empowerment, and Entrepreneur Development.
We are developing a project with a deaf village in Jamaica,
we've been working with them for two years.
We've allocated five acres of land for use.
We are developing a partnership with Gallaudet University,
and the idea is to get the Caribbean Diaspora to invest in
these deaf youth who, although they've been trained,
they don't have jobs.
And so I'm very excited.
We're now at the stage where we have talked about the products
we will launch.
We're going to be doing crops that can do iced teas,
and I have my eyes on a company called Honest Tea.
So anybody who knows the guy at Honest Tea, please hook me up,
because I want him to kind of precontract my youth to buy the
sorrel and the herbs and the marengo that they are growing
on the land they own.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: It's very interesting that you mentioned Gallaudet University,
because as you mentioned, we're also working with the 100,000
Strong in the Americas initiative that President Obama
launched, and Gallaudet University has been very
aggressively pursuing opening centers in different countries
in the region, because in the countries in the region there
are no services, there are no higher education institutions
like Gallaudet.
So I believe in Central America they're already in conversations
with the government in Panama, they will be visiting Brazil in
the future, too, the President of Gallaudet,
and I'm very happy to hear that you're working with them,
because the work they do is really very important,
and they can make a change as well.
They can make some change in the region.
Now I'm going to turn to Andres, and Andres,
you created a Foundation for Educational and Cultural
Development to partner with private companies in order to
improve public schools and basic infrastructure.
What recent successes in your native El Salvador have you been
achieving through this foundation?
Andres Arias: Good morning.
Thank you very much for this award,
and I'm so grateful to be here.
I want to start saying the -- several years ago, I went to the
school where I used to go, and they started having a lot of
problem with the gangs, and I was thinking how can I
help the school?
So I started thinking, helping the schools with the computer
labs, and that's how we started.
I started working with a bank, which is Banco Agricola,
from El Salvador, and there was another foundation, BADF,
that had some funds from USAID to invest in education,
and we went and talked to the bank,
and tried to see if they can match the funds.
And we started doing it, and it's been so successful that we
start working with all the communities nationwide.
There is about 500 organized communities in United States,
and so far we have been working with --
170 communities nationwide in the United States.
And the way we do it, they put -- actually,
the Foundation FUPEC put 67% of the funds to build libraries,
laboratories, and computer labs.
The communities in the United States has to raise 16%,
the other 15% has to be the community back home,
but they do it in labor, because there is no money over there,
so they do it with the labor.
And it's been so successful that we have done over 174 schools
nationwide, which benefit more than 150,000 students.
And then in 2001 I organized the Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce
here in the metro D.C. area, which, you know,
there's a lot of Salvadoran here owned businesses,
so my idea also was to get the business people involved with
the community.
Because it's not easy for the community to raise money doing
the, you know, selling pupusa and carne asada, so --
The business people start supporting these programs.
And we started also productive projects, culture projects,
something that can generate jobs,
and also bring money to their home towns.
And because in El Salvador, one of the biggest problems we have
is most of the young people, they just wait to finish high
school to come to United States.
And that's wrong.
Because we have to create jobs so they can have
the opportunity.
So we're doing it through education,
we're doing it through productive cultural projects,
and we're also helping the communities.
And that's how, you know, I've been working for many years.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Thank you so much, Elmer, and the fact that you were able to
engage almost 200 of the 500 plus communities in El Salvador
is a testament to what we call in Spanish your
"poder de convocatoria", which I have witnessed personally.
I can tell you, this guy, he picks up the phone and he'll
get, you know, half of the northern Virginia community,
Salvadoran community in a room for you.
And so, Elmer, tell us a little bit more about what kind of
impact have the computer labs had in the students in the
communities in El Salvador?
How are the societies and the communities changing thanks to
the better equipped schools?
Andres Arias: Well, you know, with the globalization,
and this is small towns, the students,
they never have a chance to even touch a computer.
And now they have computers, so they can go to Internet,
and they learn how to use a computer.
And not only that, there is a lot of schools,
what they're doing is promoting these classes,
computer classes with the parents.
So now we have the students using this computer lab during
the daytime, and the parents using it at nighttime.
So that's really helped the students.
And also, I'm going to give you an example.
One of the biggest schools in San Miguel is called
el Instituto Nacional Isidro Menéndez.
It has about 2,200 students.
Because the problem with the gangs that we have in
El Salvador, there were a lot of students that didn't want to go
to that school because they were saying that that school has so
many gang members.
So when we did the computer lab for the school,
it was so beautiful, the room with the new computers,
that the students started coming back to the same school.
So that the impact on the students is to have the
opportunity to learn computers.
In our country they are still working,
and I know I'm going to continue working very hard because there
are so many schools that they need computer laboratories
and libraries.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Thank you so much.
Very impressive work.
I'm now going to turn to Greivis, who,
as I've said before, he needs no introduction,
and he has been kind enough to give some of his time to the
Department of State to the sports program as well,
and to go to his native Venezuela and do some sports
clinics with underprivileged children.
So what life lessons have you learned through basketball that
have inspired you to serve the younger communities in
your country?
Greivis Vasquez: Well, first of all, I just want to thank everybody for being
here, thank you for having me here.
It is such a privilege to be here,
sitting with all these Champions over here.
Well, basketball is my life.
It's my passion.
It's almost everything, (inaudible) is both, all that,
but I've learned a lot.
And one of the things I learned is that everything is
possible in life.
When I was young, I remember growing up in
Venezuela, Caracas.
Caracas, Venezuela.
I used to tell my friends, my boys,
I'm going to play in the NBA one day, I'm going to get a degree.
And you know, when you're back home, you don't have that,
you don't have too much access, and people laugh.
My friends were laughing -- "Por favor."
"I don't think you're gonna make it at all."
So I wasn't mad at all, so, but I was motivated,
and I left my family when I was 17.
I left my mom and dad, came here to the States to, you know,
to reach my goals.
And I went to University of Maryland,
I had the greatest four years of my life.
Never thought I was gonna go through all,
everything I went through, good and bad.
And, you know, I proved to myself that when you want to
reach your goals, when you want to be somebody in life,
you can do it, and you're the only person that can block
yourself to get there.
So therefore, I kept working so hard,
and I knew I was close to my dream,
which was making it to the NBA.
You know, unrealistic.
I'm not the most talented -- you know,
I'm not the most talented player, you know,
the guy that can jump high or anything like that,
but I'm a hard worker.
So one thing I learned about basketball, if you,
if you do the right thing when nobody's watching,
if you work hard, if you're a good person,
if you go to school, get your education,
good things gonna happen to you.
So in my senior year, I have the greatest senior year in school,
you know, we beat Duke --
So I got drafted.
I got drafted to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Now, then, you know, I had a great year,
played in the playoffs, and then I went to --
then I got traded to New Orleans.
So now I'm playing for the New Orleans Hornets.
And it's so great, going back home and having contact with
young kids in the community.
Because now I'm, my boys call me almost every day, it's like, G,
can you send me some shoes, can you send me some shorts,
can you send me a jersey, you know, and I do it,
but I know when the next kid will tell them or any other
boys, hey, I want to be in the NBA, they ain't gonna laugh.
They're not gonna laugh.
They're going to say I know a guy that made it.
So I'm sure, you know, I'm sure you're gonna make it and you're
gonna be even better than that guy.
And that's just who I am.
That's why, you know, I do clinics.
I go back home.
I have contact with kids, especially kids,
because I want to change their minds.
You know, my life, wasn't, it's not easy still.
You know, my father's here, he knows, you know,
we went through a lot.
We haven't spent Christmas together since I came here
because I was going to school, I couldn't really speak English at
all at the time.
So it's a long story, I don't want to,
I don't want to say all of that.
But, you know, it's just who I am.
I want to give back to the community,
whether it's in Venezuela, here in D.C., Maryland,
Virginia area, because, you know,
I want to live in a better world.
And it's important to people, it's important for people to
know that, you know, by working hard, by doing the right thing,
you can help others, too.
So that's what life is all about.
That's what basketball, you know, have taught me,
almost my whole, you know, my whole life.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Thank you.
I think I'm canceling my son's hockey lessons and putting him
in basketball.
But, also, you know, tell me, Greivis,
what are the kids' reactions when you talk to them,
when you have been in these trips back to your home country?
You know, I know you talk to them about living healthy lives,
about the importance of education,
what are their reactions?
What kind of questions do you get from them?
And have you had an opportunity to go back and see a kid,
you know, one year later, what kind of change has happened
in their life?
Greivis Vasquez: Well, I've seen it, I've seen them, and the reaction,
the reception is great, because sometimes when I started doing
this, they were like, you know, I don't have to go to school.
I don't have to -- you know, you on TV every day,
you in magazines, everybody talks about you.
You know, you're the best.
You're the best.
And I tell them, you know, it's more than that.
Getting an education is very, very important.
Because it gives you, it give you a knowledge of life.
You know, being in the NBA, sometimes can go, you know,
in a different direction because you make money,
you have a high lifestyle, you know, you have access,
and if you don't get an education,
sometimes you can't really handle all that and deal with
all that, so you need some type of knowledge,
you need some knowledge.
So school give you that.
And plus, you know, school always gonna be there for you.
Like I can only play basketball for ten years.
I'm 25 years old right now, so I'm going to be 35 and I want to
have a family, and what's after that when you done playing?
So you need a backup plan, which is your education.
So that's what I'm trying to tell the kids, you know.
Yes, in school, I mean, I'm in the NBA, I play against Kobe,
LeBron, D-Wade; the best players in the world,
but more than that, I'm more proud that I got my degree at
Maryland, because I know, you know,
I can live the rest of my life.
So that's the main message, you know.
That's what I want to get across.
That you got to go to school, you got to study,
you got to sit first -- in the first --
in the first line of class, you've got to pay attention,
you've got to ask.
Because if you don't do that, you won't make it to the NBA.
There's not that many LeBron James and Kobe, guys that,
you know, come out of school and just make it right away.
No, it's only three or four.
So everybody else got to go through the process and go to
school, study, pay attention, and just, you know,
living a healthy life.
And one thing I learned also is just basketball,
it's not everything.
It's a game.
So at the end of the day, you're a human being, you know.
You want to -- you want to hang out with your friend.
You want to hang out with your family.
You want to spend time with your family.
So family, parents are very, very important in, you know,
kids' growth.
Mom and Dad always got to be there for them and, you know,
guide them, because we are like, I'm just like my dad,
like, I'm his mirror, you know.
And that's why I think the reason where I'm at right now is
because my family, my mom and dad.
And that's important.
So that's another message that I'm trying to get across.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Thank you.
Thank you so much.
That's a great message for young people in challenging situations
in particular.
I'm going to turn now to Alvaro Maldonado.
We have representatives from all fields here.
And Alvaro has, you know, based on your experience with dance
schools in El Salvador and other countries,
tell us what kind of impact can dance have in the lives of
youth, and particularly, as Elmer was saying,
gangs is a big problem.
Alvaro Maldonado: Well, thank you for having me.
It's an honor for me to be here.
I'm a dancer, but I'm not dancing today so don't worry.
Unless they start playing some music.
The impact that this programs are intended to have is the same
impact that arts, education and dance had in my life.
And that's how I drive the programs and that's how I
designed the programs.
I grew up in the middle of a Civil War in El Salvador.
So it's unimaginable that I will be sitting here with you today
when I was eight years old thinking and hiding from
bullets, dreaming about a dance career.
So it is unimaginable that I will be sitting here for you
enjoying a fulfilling career as a dancer.
When I -- many nights I didn't think that I was going to make
it to the next day, because we were hiding from bullets for
months and months at a time in a war that I didn't understand.
So for me to dream that I wanted to be a dancer and for me to be
able to even imagine to help anybody else,
I had to have something that other kids didn't have.
And that was the passion for arts and dance.
And it was a role model.
When I was about eight years old,
I was a beneficiary of a USAID program,
but it was an arts program, it was a very short program.
It was probably about two days program.
And that made me realize that somebody out there somewhere in
the world, somebody cared about me.
Somebody was investing time and money and effort on telling me
that I was important and that I was valuable.
So I grew up in one of the most dangerous areas in El Salvador
where the more gang activity is reported all the time.
So my friends were gang members.
Some of my high school mates are in jail or they have teenage
pregnancies or any other kind of difficult lives.
And I just remember thinking, this cannot be my life.
This cannot be my life.
I have to do something that can get me out of here.
So I started dancing, not thinking that that was going to
be a way out.
But I got a contract with an international dance company when
I was 14 and since I was 14 I have never stopped receiving a
paycheck as a dancer since that time.
And I'm so proud of that.
Thank you.
Thank you.
So one of the main things that this programs do is
exactly that.
It's, we use the power of dance to transform the lives of
these teenagers.
We try to use dance as a tool for education,
to tap into the power in believing in themselves.
And we are targeting students in populations that are not the
regular students.
These are people who do not respond to is the regular
educational systems.
Dance and music, it's a straight way to their hearts and
to their minds.
When you're talking to these people,
it's important for them to know that I know how they feel.
I know how they felt.
I know the despair.
I know the fear.
I understand how they feel.
I understand how they think.
So we use the dance classes not for them to become dancers.
To be dancer unfortunately you have to go to school for eight
years and you have to dance for eight hours and even like that,
you still can't get a job.
So it's not a matter of creating dancers.
It's a matter of using dance as a tool of education.
And it's very difficult for us to make policy makers to
understand that arts, it's a good way to educate people.
We not -- we don't learn in the same way all of us.
We all learn in different ways.
So when I was 23, I was in New York.
And I read a report that says that central America was the
most dangerous area in the world,
where one out of three teenagers between -- or,
young men between 15 and 24 years old were dying every day.
So I thought, that could be me.
That could be -- that could easily be me.
I could be one of them.
What did I have and what could I do to --
what did having me to -- not to be one of them and what could I
do to help.
So my programs are different than probably their programs.
And this is the message that I want to do are very small.
But if you think about what can a dancer in New York,
a ballet dancer can do to change lives.
And there's a lot that you can do, actually,
just to empower people and to tell your story.
It's a good thing to do.
But I approached USAID and they founded the first program for me
to do transformational dance training programs in
El Salvador.
This programs that were about eight weeks long and it was
about connecting and partnering with other nonprofit
organizations who work with youth at risk and for us to
bring Americans -- teachers and dancers --
as an international cultural exchange between El Salvador
and the U.S.
I believe that arts have the ability to transcend geographic
and linguistic barriers.
And it's a very easy way for us to communicate with each other
regardless of where we come from or what language we speak.
This programs are intended for us to achieve behavioral changes
in these people and this youth and for them to
continue working.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli: Thank you so much.
I think it's, you know, impact of your program is amazing and
obviously we thank our partners at USAID who are cosponsoring
this event with us today, because they --
the work they do along with us has tremendous impact in youth.
And as you know, youth is one of the most important populations
in our countries, in the countries in the region.
Because we have at least 30% of youth demographics in the
countries in the region.
And some of them are living in very dire circumstances.
The progress, the efforts, the kind of efforts that you guys
all have for the region are making an impact and helping us
reach out civil society and do things that sometimes,
as Chris said, governments cannot do alone anymore.
So I thank you all for being here.
I can guarantee you that you're going to be hearing from some
other countries interested in doing those programs,
as well as (inaudible).
Thank you so very much, and we're moving to the next panel.
Kyle Lierman: All right.
So now we're going to welcome our second panel of Champions up
to the stage.
And we're extremely lucky we have Oliva Lopez,
who's special assistant to the assistant administrator over at
USAID who is going to be moderating our panel this time.
So Oliva, come on down, as well.
And we'll just go ahead and kick things off.
Oliva Lopez: Thank you.
Thank you, Kyle, for the introduction.
It's a pleasure to be here.
I wanted to start by asking first,
Luis Aguirre a question -- Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres.
Based on your experience and business development and the
green business base, what kind of advantage --
what kind of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs
in the region and here in the U.S. who are trying to build
companies and develop innovative technologies in Latin America
and the Caribbean, what would you say to them based on
your experience?
Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres: Well, first, first of all, let me say I'm very grateful for the
opportunity to be here.
I am honored and humbled by this opportunity and especially
sitting next to these brilliant people, inspiring people.
And it is always hard to follow after, you know,
the kind of conversations we just had.
So I'm going to try to make sense.
But the question, what I would tell entrepreneurs that want to
enter this space.
And I guess the question goes, because I get it often,
the question goes to the fact that in Latin America we tend
not to develop technology.
We tend to believe that everything has to come from
countries like the United States,
where everything happens and we just use what they develop.
And what I would tell them is that, first of all,
it is possible.
I mean, we have great minds in Latin America.
We have great people.
We have people who can see the difference between right and
wrong and people who want to make a change.
In the last three years, I've been fortunate enough to meet
several of those people.
I have met a lot of people that all they need a little time is
money, a little -- and sometimes they need a little push.
Sometimes they just need somebody to inspire them.
Just like Elmer was mentioning.
I mean, sometimes they just need to hear your story and when they
hear your story, they realize that it is possible.
There comes a time, I mean, for me it happened a few years ago
when, I mean, I was one of those people that was
always complaining.
Because when I was a kid, I always thought that the future
was going to be different and then my present is the future
of that kid.
And I'm like, man, this isn't what I signing for, you know.
I want something different.
But I was just saying that.
And then one day I had opportunity to meet the
undersecretary of the U.N., who is also a director of the
(inaudible) program and I said the same thing.
Like, man, this sucks.
And he was, yeah, well, do something.
And I was like, oh, sure, that's a good point, you know.
And that's when I started thinking,
I can do something here and I can make a change.
And I started promoting the development,
the use of (inaudible) in Latin America and I started trying to
inspire people join me and create something bigger than
what it was and we've been fortunate enough to get some
people to follow and to grow these communities.
So what I would say, it's like, half the job is to be there
and try it.
The other half is going to come with hard work.
Oliva Lopez: And you've been involved in a green business competition in
Mexico, I understand, with other partners.
And you are trying to basically serve as a mentor and someone
who provides technical assistance to people who are
trying to develop green technologies and be innovative.
Can you tell us some of the success stories you've
encountered through the challenge?
Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres: Yeah, I have encountered amazing people.
I mean, you never know what you're going to need,
you know, (inaudible).
But I think that the number of people that have come to these
business competition without having any clue about business,
but with a desire to do something different,
especially in the space we're in which a very novel space where
people really want to do good, want to do something different,
but a lot of the time they lack the business skills.
So they come in and we talk to them.
A lot of the time what we try to identify is the passion they
have for what they do.
And once they have the passion, then the rest is going to be
easy, because it's all about teaching them something that
they're going to learn if they're passionate enough about
what they do and how they can do it,
then they're going to learn it.
We have some cases that are for me very, very important.
Some people let -- and the first year that we did this,
a guy came saying that, I mean, he couldn't come to the place
where we were, he was expected to present his proposal because
he didn't have any money for the bus.
I mean, a bus ride from where he was,
which was the other side of Mexico city, which as you know,
it's a huge city.
But I mean, it was something that shocked me personally.
Not the fact that a guy had a dream and he wanted do something
and he just couldn't make it because he didn't have money
for the bus.
So we talked to him.
We persuaded the guy to come to the next round and we would help
him, not only with the money for the bus but also help him
because he didn't have a computer also to put the
presentation together.
So we started working with him on how to use the computer,
how to put his ADS in the computer,
and how to present them to people.
And I think he learned more than business.
He learned more than what he want to do,
whether it was viable or not.
I think what he learned was that he needs to try and he needs to
rely on people who have been there before and that can help
him and there are a lot of us, thank God, in Mexico with this.
Oliva Lopez: That's great.
Thank you for sharing that story.
And now I want to turn to Ana, and we were talking yesterday
and I was learning more about your work and it
sounds fascinating.
Ana Moraga: Thanks.
Oliva Lopez: But you came to the United States when you were 13 and you
studied here and then decided to go back to Guatemala to address
issues of gender violence and women's education.
Can you tell us more about how you started your
organization, MuJER?
Ana Moraga: Yes.
So at age 13, I became very aware of the Civil War
in Guatemala.
I'm a baby of the Civil War.
I was born during the worst years of the war.
Yet I was in a cocoon.
My parents really struggled to keep my brother and I away from
the violence that was going on during that time.
And when I came here and I realized where I was from.
It was funny, my first day in a public school in San Francisco,
the teacher, as a new comer, he asked, so where are you from?
And I had to think really hard that I was actually
from Guatemala.
I had never really gotten out of my country to really think that
I was from a different country.
And here I was.
And so it was my senior year of college.
I had done a lot of social justice type service through
Loyola Mary mount, a Jesuit university,
and I had studied abroad in India,
and one of my professors said I heard a story on NPR about a
group of women sex workers, and they were playing soccer.
I had played soccer throughout high school.
I grew up playing soccer in my neighborhood.
And so I thought, I want to meet these women.
I want to go back home.
That's when I thought, I really need to go back home because I
felt hypocritical doing work abroad but not where I was born
and not where I come from.
So I went back to my room and I told my roommate the story that
my teacher had told me.
And she's like, I'm going to go with you.
And Tanya Torres and I moved that summer,
we worked three jobs, one of them was with amnesty
international where I learned a lot.
And then we took our savings from that summer,
went in August and we were committed for one year to get to
know the women sex workers of the Relly [phonetic] district of
La Leña [phonetic] in the city.
Oliva Lopez: That's very impressive.
And can you tell us more about the kind of impact and the kind
of change you've seen in these women and perhaps tell us a
little bit more about how you work with them and the kinds of
advice and assistance that you provide?
Ana Moraga: So we committed one year.
One year for me became five years.
I realized that I went down there with a very
Western mindset.
I said, I want to teach these women how to read and write,
because that's what Susie Sika, a 40-year-old mother of eight
children, said in the NPR interview.
I got there, and that was not a major need for the women.
They were worried about housing, about food,
about health care for their children,
about their children's education, about violence.
And there was a lot of rivalry in the women.
They were all competing for the same market in the red
light district.
So I decided to drop that idea and Tanya and I started to visit
the women, just room by room.
There are 250 rooms alongside the train tracks in the city.
And so we just dropped by and said, hi, how is the weather?
Things are great.
And then little by little, we were like,
they started to share about their partners,
we started to share about our love stories, as 22-year-olds,
about immigration, I, as an immigrant to the U.S.,
Tanya as a first generation Mexican American in the U.S.
And so those stories were the foundation for the trust that we
developed in the community.
And so little by little, when they started sharing more,
they also started to share their dreams.
And some of those dreams were about learning how to do hair,
going to beauty school.
So we got two scholarships.
And the deal that we made with the community was that two women
were going to go to a beauty school,
come back and teach their co-workers what
they had learned.
And so that's how we started our first project.
And then somebody else said, I want to learn how to
read and write.
And we were like, wow, that was like our first idea and now here
it is coming -- being a reality.
Yet those classes, the educational and the vocational
classes, are really for us, the hook.
The hook for political empowerment,
the hook for self esteem and emotional development.
And so that's how we do it.
And now we have an empowerment center,
about eight to ten blocks from the red light district and the
women come and chat with each other and just develop
the community.
And most of our staff are now women sex workers.
So it's all about teaching each other.
It's all about popular education and having a (indiscernible)
type of methodology at the red light district,
where we recognize that the women are agents of change and
that we recognize that they have -- they make a choice also.
And we are open to whatever choice that they want to make
for themselves and we just support and facilitate the
context of that.
Oliva Lopez: Thank you very much for sharing your story with us.
That's very inspiring.
Thank you.
And finally, Dr. -- Professor Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda.
You founded the North American integration development center
at the university of California in Los Angeles.
And you focus your research in trying to develop pilot
projects, working with Diasporas communities trying to go back to
their home and making an impact there.
And I wanted to hear from you.
What do you think is the biggest challenges that these
communities have -- face sometimes and how do they
overcome them?
Professor Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda: Well, you know, I've first got to say, I'm really,
really moved and inspired by today.
And I think we all should be.
Because in many ways, the answer to your question started when I
worked in a little closet up on the fifth floor up here when 20
-- 19 years ago, when the North American free trade agreement
was being discussed.
And basically at that point, with President Clinton,
a number of us were brought in.
And our research back then was essentially the same thing
as today.
The real issue is that we're having this massive movement
of people.
And that there's a lot of trade going on,
but there's these human movement that are bringing massive talent
and value.
And in fact, the reality of it is now, 20 years later,
the biggest Latin American economy in the world is right
here in the United States, all right.
And it is actually creating a huge change in this country,
demographically, politically, socially,
and also how it's going to give back.
And in that sense, Chris's comment of, you know,
why hasn't the State Department in 223 years thought about this.
Frankly, we are all the generation of the Champions
by the way.
This generation has changed this country.
We've already changed it.
We've already changed it to now understand its new 21st century
reality that it has to do with its country of origin.
And basically, this center was created in part, a bit frankly,
it's uncomfortable to say this, but the frustration even of
Washington 20 years ago, where there was --
you could talk about trade and trade liberalization but you
can't talk about people liberalization and
liberation, all right.
And the fact that we still, 20 years later,
don't have freedom of movement and we don't have --
we not only have a brain drain, we have a brain loss as people
working here without rights.
And they can contribute so much more to the economy of this
country if we actually go back to the first principles of
liberty and justice for all.
So I think what -- that began a lot of the research that we
needed to now we think our immigration policies as a part
of a transnational perspective, and the fact that why do a lot
of people come here.
Let's think about that.
El Salvador, you know, I'm living in El Salvador right
now, okay.
And you know, you know, (speaking Spanish).
In fact, okay, which is communities where today when we
talk about GDP, 80% of the GDP in that's villages is made right
here, all right, right.
And they'll probably clean up tonight, you know,
when we get out of here.
So creating this value and now unfortunately we need another
reform, not only immigration reform,
but how we deal with remittances.
Billions and billions of dollars that was talked about a lot in
the conference.
But that thought value is not making a difference yet.
It's creating sort of a way to get by.
In many ways it creates the ability for more people
to keep coming.
We have an incredible opportunity.
The close to $90 billion of workers in this country sending
money back home, and AIG does a great job, USAID is awesome,
I love you guys.
But it's a drop in the bucket, right.
So they do the hard work, all right.
How do we turn that into economic development?
That was the other thing we told President Clinton we needed to
focus on as a part of a real transnational,
connecting the Americas approach.
So, you know, we went to create this center.
And it wasn't just enough to do research, okay.
Great research, I love research.
But, you know, after a while you get (inaudible),
you get bored.
You have to do something, okay.
You have to make it work.
And that's where we got into getting out of the classroom.
I take my students out, take them to the hood,
figure out how does an undocumented family live
here and there.
Figure it out, okay, you're so smart.
It's hard, okay.
So that's -- that begins an entire process of thinking about
solutions, all right.
And that's where we started with a number of pilot projects which
have then eventually gone on to create companies,
right, you know.
Somebody said yesterday at the conference that Martin Luther
king said I have a dream.
He didn't say I have a strategic business plan, all right.
You know, that's what we've got to work on.
Oliva Lopez: I'm really glad that you mentioned the issue of
remittances, because I think that's correctly identified as a
lot of potential that's lying out there,
but we haven't necessarily figured out how to tap that and
use it to our advantage to promote economic development in
these communities of origin.
So I wanted to ask you to tell us more about your ideas.
How do you see them playing a role in development?
Professor Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda: Well, you know, a lot of this started, you know,
and I got to say, you're talking about your dad,
okay -- who's here.
I mean, I grew up in Chicago, and we would, you know,
load up the station wagon and drive to Mexico every
summer, right?
And then you can't help but become a transnational social
scientist, just to figure out what's going on, right.
You know, why is this happening?
And then when you get to Wahaka, which, I loved,
you know, and I've spent you know 30 years working there,
you know, how do we do this?
How do we really make this transformation, all right.
Now, with incredible sacrifice that people have made,
doing these transnational lives, in many cases creating
disaggregated families that, you know,
why is it a surprise that we have --
the most violent countries in the world,
the nine months violent countries in the world,
what do they have in common?
Immigration to the United States.
Families disarticulated back home, okay.
Barrios here where, huh-uh, you're not really here,
you're not really part of this yet, okay.
We've got to, you know, got to get a little beat up a little
first, all right.
This is the age old story.
So the question was, but this doesn't make any sense with all
this money going back.
So we started -- and I've got to say,
this took me on a long journey working on --
my business partner, Miguel Kelly is here, who --
this is sort of interesting.
He was born in Chapas from American missionary
parents, and now -- so we're like, you know,
mirror images of this transnationalism, and we've --
Audience Member: (inaudible)
Professor Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda: Exactly.
So we decided to basically create,
we went completely crazy and decided to create a
company, okay?
I, you know, worked at Stanford Berkeley,
so everybody's you know serial entrepreneurs.
So we decided to, you know, get and figure out how do we create
a technology company as if people mattered, okay.
As if transnational people mattered, right.
And that began a process that says these billions of dollars,
you know, why is -- I won't mention any names --
why do they have to make so much money moving what takes a free
on the drop of a computer pad for the billionaires to
move, all right.
So what it took was actually conquering the commanding
heights of software and processing, okay,
was not in the plan at the moment.
But that's what you had to do.
You had to create a technology to enable to allow you to use
this thing, which everybody has got in their hands,
I bet right now, you know.
And everybody in El Salvador and Oaxaca now have in their
hands, as the medium for really low cost remittances.
But not only that, make it a medium for really low
cost microfinance.
And also make it a medium for real low cost government
subsidies to be really targeted, who should be getting it,
in a transparent fashion.
We're working on a project right now in El Salvador with just by
targeting how people get their subsidies through cell phones,
through this software that had to be created in order to make
something like this happen, you can lower the budget deficit by
25% in one country.
I mean, we are on the verge of a fascinating
technological conversion.
And I think that the Diasporas conference, this idea of,
you know, last year everybody showed up and said, wow,
we can't believe we're here.
This is fascinating that it's finely come together.
This year, people are like, all right, how do we make it happen.
How do we use technology in completely new ways.
I'm getting a lot of heads going.
That's good.
So, you know, that's what in a sense we have to do.
We have to grab hold of the technology,
because other people control it.
Technology doesn't happen by itself, all right.
There are social forces creating technology.
Change makers, we have to take that,
burn that midnight oil some more, you know,
do the different -- the difficult work of, you know,
I mean I know we all want to be hippies on the beach,
at least I do.
But we've got to do that hard work, okay.
We've got to do that hard work.
And that includes harnessing this technology for really in
this case I'm just committed to the most, you know,
humble of people that I have always worked with,
indigenous people of Mexico who now live in my neighborhood in
Venice, the Oaxaqueños and the El Salvadoreños that
are all in Pico Union.
And I've got to just say one last thing.
This week, on Sunday, I was in jail.
Not for any reason like that, but --
-- we went to El Salvador, to a prison, all right,
that 18th street gang runs it.
Where is 18th street?
18th street is in L.A., okay.
All right.
Don't forget, 18th street is L.A.
We went to the 18th street prison in Izalco,
the site of the 1932 massacre, by the way, where 30,000
Salvadorians were killed, okay.
The prison is now fascinating thing that's going on there and
people haven't heard about it.
For six months, there's been a peace treaty.
Violence has gone down 70% in the country.
What used to be the number two most violent country in the
world has now dropped and in fact the bond rating is booming,
according to Business Week this week as a result.
I'm not quite sure of the correlation.
But something is happening, folks.
We need to think, it is about, you know,
the people that are the product of this transnationalism are
coming up with completely new lessons also.
And their lesson is, we've got to stop this.
We've got to stop this violence.
We have to do these truces.
We have to think about economic development.
The gangs in El Salvador we've analyzed make $60 million a year
doing petty extortion.
The country spends $900 million a year in security,
supposedly from these thugs, okay.
We're doing something wrong, all right.
And I think that's where the real challenges are,
if we really think of, you know, the people who really need it
and we make it happen, change, at multiple levels,
it can happen, all Champions.
Oliva Lopez: Well, thank you very much for sharing your story.
And thank you to all the Champions.
I wish we could keep the conversation going and here more
about your stories, but we have our next guest.
He is the Assistant Administrator for Latin America
and the Caribbean at USAID, Mr. Mark Feierstein.
Mark Feierstein: Good morning and buenos dias.
Now, I imagine at the White House,
the hardest thing anyone can do would be to follow President
Obama to the lectern.
The second hardest thing you can do would be to follow the
Champions of Change.
And it's really, really extraordinary,
I'm really speechless in many ways.
But it was just so inspiring to hear your stories and the
stories from the previous panel, just great presentations.
And, you know, my staff and I, I think we've learned so much
today from all of you in terms of the contributions that you've
been providing to society, the businesses you've started,
the innovations that you've been propelling.
And I think that we're going to be able to take so much back to
USAID and figure out ways to replicate what you're doing to
really scale it up.
Now, as you know, this administration has elevated
development as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy.
And the Secretary of State often talks about the three Ds:
Defense, diplomacy and development.
And she's underscored that development is as important as
those other two Ds to advance our national interests.
And to underscore his commitment to development, President Obama,
two years ago, issued a development policy.
He was the first President ever to issue a policy just
on development.
And if you've not read the policy, I urge you to do so.
I'm not sure if the actual policy is available but you can
see his speech online, a speech he gave at the U.N. general
assembly in September of 2010.
And among the things he said in the policy is the purpose of
development is to create the conditions whereby assistance is
no longer necessary.
And that's really exactly what you guys are doing, you know.
What you are doing is not -- it's not charity,
it's not philanthropy.
You're creating local capacity.
You're empowering people to make, you know,
changes for their own behalf and to ultimately be able to advance
on their own.
And Diaspora communities are obviously uniquely placed
to do this.
You have language skills, the cultural traditions,
professional and personal networks,
and the drive to improve things in your countries.
Now, at USAID under Administrator Dr. Shah,
we've instituted a number of new reforms to make it easier for us
to work with organizations like yours.
Because we want to be able to expand the number of groups we
work with, we want to work with a more diverse set
of organizations.
And we recognize that, you know, while there's great expertise in
the (indiscernible) development community,
there is so much expertise beyond and experience.
And you represent all that here.
We want to be able to bring that in and improve on what
Dr. (inaudible) said is our drop in the bucket.
Because the truth is with all of you,
we're very much more than just a drop in the bucket.
You know, we've heard a lot of good examples today about the
kind of work that's being done with USAID.
And I just wanted to mention a couple things we didn't have a
chance to talk about.
In Mexico, for example, we're working with business leaders on
the border in (indiscernible).
Business leaders from El Paso and to (indiscernible) who are
investing in at-risk youth, creating educational
opportunities to take on the crime challenge there that we
just heard about has been so critical in central America
and Mexico.
In Haiti, we're making special efforts to work with the
Diaspora community.
And we have a new program in place where we can recruit the
Diaspora professionals to go back to Haiti and work in
ministries there and them create the capacity and to advance the
reconstruction effort.
And along those lines, I think you heard yesterday the
Secretary announced a new USAID partnership with Accenture and
Cuso International, which, again,
will be designed to bring the skills of Diaspora and send
them to their home countries, you know,
for short and medium term assignments, again,
to work to advance development there.
And the goal of course there, as the Secretary said,
is to try to reverse the brain drain and turn it into
a brain gain.
So I want to thank you again for all of your efforts.
We're looking forward to working with all of you.
And yes, USAID is a tremendous organization.
And, again, you know, with all of you,
we'll be able to really create some extraordinary change in the
United States and abroad.
So thanks again.
And finally, I'd like to introduce Jon Carson.
Jon is the Director of the White House Office of
Public Engagement.
He and his staff have been instrumental in organizing this
event so we really owe a great debt of gratitude to him and
to his team.
Jon Carson: Well, good afternoon, everyone.
And a big welcome to our Champions and the audience and
everyone who is following online.
I'm here to end today with an ask for each and every
one of you.
Before I do, I just want to say, we do a number of these
Champions of Change events here.
But this one personally means a lot to me.
I've been listening to the stories today.
I spent two years in Honduras as a peace corps volunteer and
learned so many lessons, particularly about the
connection and the work that you're doing connecting
the Americas.
I just want to personally thank each and every one of our
Champions for the work that you're doing.
But let me get to the ask.
We need you to help us tell this story.
We need you to tweet about it.
We're using the hashtag #WHChamps.
If you don't know what a hashtag is,
just send me a tweet and I'll let you know.
We need you to blog about it.
We need you to write about it.
We need you to tell three people in the grocery store this
weekend about the story of our Champions,
about the story of your own connection to connecting the
Americas, about your story of what you can do,
if you're following online.
I ask you to do this for three different reasons.
First of all, from our Champions today,
from USAID and from State Department,
I'm sure every single one of you here today, even our Champions,
heard a new idea that you want to share with someone else.
This is the number one way that these good ideas spread,
through the networks that each and every one of us here have.
The second reason I ask you to help share this story is,
you heard some really good examples of what smart
government can do in partnership with organizations with
individuals, and quite frankly, there is a budget debate going
on right now in this country about what are our priorities
and what programs do we want to fund.
And I think, you know, the reason we started the Champions
of Change program is, well, we are having all these debates and
arguments over policies and budgets and taxes here in
Washington, there are Americans and organizations across this
country who are making change happen every single day while we
have these arguments.
But government can be a partner and we win these debates,
not in the abstract, not at the theoretical level.
We win these debates when people hear the real,
concrete stories of how change is being made.
So I ask you to share what you saw today and your involvement
for that reason, as well.
But the third and final reason, I think is the most important.
While we do have thousands of Americans,
thousands of organizations standing up and make change,
I think one thing we can all agree on,
however you fall on the partisan divide of these issues we're
grappling with, one thing we can all agree on is that we need
more Americans believing they can be part of the change.
And when people hear the stories of what our Champions have done,
when they hear the stories of what each of you are doing,
they will wonder, I think I could do that, as well.
I think I could be part of the change.
They can learn from some of the programs that you've
put in place.
And the number one way that people are inspired to take
actions like this is when they hear about someone else who's
been able to make a difference.
So a big thank you to each and every one of you.
Help us spread the word, hashtag #WHChamps.
And before we go, I'll turn it over to Kyle for just a few more
logistical notes as we end today.
But thanks again so much to all our Champions.
Kyle Lierman: All right.
So I just want a reminder, a couple of things.
Our Champions today took some time and they each wrote blogs,
so those will be posted there along with their photos and the
work that their organizations do.
There will be a YouTube video of today's event.
It will be up in about 24 hours.
So for any of you who want to share this event with friends,
you can send that around.
We'll make sure that you all get that.
And just one big last round of applause for our
Champions of Change.