This morning we’re hosting an array of different sessions and we’ve just had a panel discussion.

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Introduced by our own Akhtar Badhah, the panel included (from left to right) the honorable Norman B. Rice, Asha Sharma, Genevieve L’Esperance, Johnnie Lovett, Adora Svitak, and Wilson To.

Each member of the panel took a moment to share their work and passions.

  • Asha was recently recognized by President Obama for her work creating a nonprofit in Minnesota called the A-list, which provides a cool yet safe environment for teens to hang out and develop themselves personally and professionally in a youth-led environment. She observed that you have to focus on momentum, and how you move towards your goal.  Once you’re successful it creates more momentum. 
  • Genevieve is among other things using Small Basic to teach girls programming skills in Montreal. She points out that there’s always someone older who is pulling you along, but now there are younger people who will listen to the people in this room.  She asked everyone to find a kid who is curious and share what you know. Inspire them, take them under your wing, help them to drive positive change.
  • Johnnie is a social entrepreneur who among other things started the Fresh Connection Brand. He encouraged everyone to make sure they are heard.  Don’t be afraid or shy away from being heard. We all care about many things.  We can’t solve every issue but look at what you’re really passionate about. There are people and organizations out there willing to help you.
  • Adora reflected on the fact that at three years of age she spent her time walking around her neighborhood giving speeches to anyone who would listen, which of course led to her talk at TED.  She’s focused on youth issues from education reform to literacy and believes that one way companies like Microsoft can help the people attending the event today is to connect them to the global network of Innovate4Good events taking place around the world.
  • Wilson has just completed his doctorate at the University of California, Davis and led the team that created the winning Imagine Cup project which detects malaria using a Windows Phone. He pointed out that everyone in the room has incredible stories to tell and that if you want to inspire people then you need to get out and tell those stories.  That is how you can inspire people.
  • Norm was the 49th mayor of Seattle and served two consecutive terms from 1989 to 1997.  He currently leads the Seattle Foundation.  Norm talked about the connection between youth and making positive change and pointed out that if we don’t focus on creating positive change for all youth then we’re simply creating problems we’ll have to solve in the future. He also shared that you should never be afraid of not knowing something. Have the courage to ask questions and find someone to teach you. That lesson changed his life.

The day continues and everyone is now doing some solution brainstorming.

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