2024 NextGen Leaders’ Summit at Australian Embassy in Washington DCs

Written by Chelsea Carruthers, Washington Internship Program intern, 2024

As part of Flinders University’s Washington Internship Program, myself, Charlotte Kavanagh and Phoebe Edwards are staying in Washington, D.C. for two months working on Capitol Hill. I am interning in Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office (Texas), Charlotte in Congressman Jim Costa’s (California), and Phoebe in Congressman Juan Vargas’ (California). We are enjoying our time here on the Hill, writing papers of interest to ourselves and the Congressmen, attending special events and briefings, and meeting many incredible people through a variety of networking opportunities, one of them being Mr Jim Heller, the Director of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands at the U.S State Department.

Most recently on Friday 9th February 2024, we were invited to the Embassy of Australia in Washington to take part in Global Citizen’s first Next Gen Leaders’ Summit, which was co-hosted by the Embassy. This event was at the newly re-opened, re-built, spectacular Embassy!

Scholars and NextGen Leaders during the Summit at the Australian Embassy Washington 2024

The day was filled with insightful roundtable discussions on navigating our rapidly evolving future and addressing global challenges head on, and how we as future leaders can rise to meet these. Five megatrends we looked at were:

1. More people
2. Less water
3. Energy upheaval
4. Technology disruption
5. Geopolitical Competition

We also discussed the intricacies of the Pacific region, global alliances, and the significance of United States-Australia relations.

In the company of nearly 40 other scholars and Next Gen Leaders from around the globe, we were privileged to engage with esteemed individuals such as Ambassador Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia; Michael Sheldrick, Co-Founder of Global Citizen; Professor John Blaxland, a professor in intelligence studies and international security; Eric Palomaa, director of the Hess Center for New Frontiers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Dr Gordon Peake, a senior advisor for the Pacific Islands in USIP’s Asia Center, along with representatives from Congress and the Administration, and various think tanks, diplomatic, NGO, multilateral, and academic communities.

Chelsea with Ambassador the Hon Kevin Rudd at reception following the Next Gen Leader’s Summit February 2024

The summit was further enriched by a keynote address from Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Shah, a former government official and health economist who served as the 16th Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), shared invaluable insights on philanthropy and its pivotal role in shaping a better future for our planet.

This event was a nice capstone. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunities we have been presented with so far undertaking the Washington Internship Program, and eagerly look forward to the rest of our time here on the Hill.


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