Punya Krishnappa '11 Joins President Clinton's Global Initiative

July 22, 2011

My part in a global initiative

By Punya Krishnappa '11

I had the extraordinary privilege to work with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) during its inaugural meeting of CGI America.

In any given population, 80 percent complain or become passive and 20 percent get their hands dirty and try to make the world a better place. CGI America was the top 1 percent of the 20 percent who made commitments over the two-day conference to take action.

The ultimate goal of CGI America was to have executive directors, CEOs and a variety of companies work together to make commitments. These commitments were discussed and submitted during multiple working group sessions that members attended and geared toward a specific area such as veterans affairs or healthcare.

More than 500 people applied to work at the event, 200 of whom were selected to kick-off CGI America's inaugural events.

I worked with a few different committees throughout the conference, doing a variety of things from registering members of the press for the event -including CNN anchor for The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer- to assisting attendees and members of CGI. 

In addition, at the close of the first day I had the opportunity, along with a few other volunteers, to attend the evening reception. I met a few CGI members and speakers at the event, including Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte.

I also had the chance to work at the Green Exhibit in Pioneer Court where four different models of electric cars were displayed, each designed by Ford. During that time President Clinton came by for the hour to speak with the representatives about what this means for the future development of electric cars.

Aside from working at the event, to my surprise I had the opportunity to attend most of the plenary session that focused on a number of different areas including the economy and the workforce, climate change, and education.

President Clinton led some of the plenary sessions and speakers included both current and former mayors and governors, professors from the University of Chicago, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner.

Each panel focused on a specific issue, and presented developments in that field. The sessions I attended discussed climate change issues and retrofitting buildings and homes, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Education, and the current financial issues facing the country.

I learned during each of these sessions about how simple ideas had been implemented to begin to make significant differences, most of which had seen results within one or two years.

President Clinton said it best at the close of the conference. "I hope you go home with your heads full of ideas and your hearts full of hope."

Being a part of the inaugural meeting for CGI America was incredible. I learned so much more about the problems our country is facing, but more importantly I had the chance to meet the people creating tangible solutions to these problems. I hope that this is only the beginning of the work I do with the Clinton Global Initiative.