New York — University for a Night 2104 brought together more than 300 leaders from around the world to share ideas and inspiration about how we can work together to overcome poverty and create a more sustainable, prosperous world.
The evening featured recognition of Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, the Honorable Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance of Nigeria, and the Honorable Simão Jatene, Governor of the State of Pará, Brazil with the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards. Due to an emergency, Governor Jatene was not able to attend; he was represented by Helenilson Pontes, Vice Governor of Pará.
The Bridging Leadership Award is named for David Rockefeller, its first recipient. The award recognizes leadership that brings together people and organizations who might not otherwise work together to improve their societies, countries, or the world.
Other honorees include Fazle Hasan Abed of BRAC; Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi of the African Women’s Development Fund (also of Nigeria); Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations; Richard Branson of Virgin Unite; Jennifer and Peter Buffett of the NoVo Foundation; Bill Clinton, former President of the United States; Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and William H. Gates Sr. of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa; Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International; and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.
University for Night concluded with dinner discussions exploring a wide range of innovative approaches to poverty, environmental degradation, malnutrition, poor health, and other critical global challenges.
Peggy Dulany, Founder & Chair of Synergos, describing David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award
“The award that we're gathered here tonight to give out is called the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award. It's named after my father, who is about to turn 99 and who has inspired me and the work of Synergos, and many other people including, I think, some of you in this room.
The award recognizes leadership that brings together people and groups that otherwise might not work together so well, in order to improve our societies and the world. And we're very fortunate this year to have three honorees who exemplify this approach, and are also real systems thinkers, finding new ways to address major challenges. “
Peggy Dulany, Founder & Chair of Synergos, introducing Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
“Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has demonstrated tremendous leadership on development, not only in Nigeria also in Africa and also globally. She's been a force for real sharing of ideas on overcoming poverty and improving people's lives. Today as Minister of Finance of Nigeria, she is striving to improve transparency and promote broad-based economic growth in one of the most dynamic economies of the world. “
Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, upon receiving award
“We are one of those countries that have this reality day after day of having a large number of poor people, and even though yesterday we had the historic honor of better measuring economies so that Nigeria is now the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of $510 billion - twice the size we thought - we still have the challenge of millions of poor people. The challenge of inequality, and the challenge of creating jobs, and we know we cannot solve this unless we pursue the same kind of path that Synergos just outlined. Working with individuals, working with communities, bringing the private sector in, and creating viable partnerships that will literally lift people out of poverty and improve their livelihoods. It matters that Nigeria should do this, it matters in Africa, it matters around the globe. “
University for a Night is organized each year by Synergos, a global nonprofit organization that helps solve the complex problems of poverty and inequality by promoting and supporting collaborations among business, government, civil society, and marginalized communities. Synergos creates the conditions for these partnerships to be successful by building trust, designing and implementing change processes, enhancing the effectiveness of bridging leaders and institutions, and sharing our knowledge and experience.
Its major partnerships are improving education in Brazil, agriculture in Ethiopia, maternal and child health in Namibia, the lives of vulnerable children in Mozambique and South Africa, and child nutrition and girls’ empowerment in India.
Synergos is headquartered in New York with staff and representatives in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. Over the course of more than 25 years, Synergos has supported innovative initiatives in more than 30 countries and regions.