President Cabrera Introduces Influential Young Thinkers to Mason Students

Posted: April 2, 2014 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: April 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

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By Sudha Kamath

Young Global Leaders alumni in the latest session of President Ángel Cabrera’s Freedom and Learning Forum.

Young Global Leaders alumni joined Mason students for roundtable discussions on the world’s pressing problems, part of President Ángel Cabrera’s Freedom and Learning Forum. Above, Young Global Leader alumnus Erik Charas, a newspaper founder based in Mozambique, leads a discussion. Photo by Evan Cantwell

“We can solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Quoting Albert Einstein, George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera launched the latest session in his Freedom and Learning Forum interactive series in a roundtable discussion on March 27. Cabrera introduced more than a dozen fellow Young Global Leader (YGL) alumni  from the World Economic Forum to about 40 undergraduate and graduate students.

The event was hosted by the Office of the President and the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Office, and moderated by Gregory Unruh, the Arison Chair in Values Leadership and co-author with Cabrera of “Being Global: How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World.”

Students sat side-by-side with the YGL alumni, engaged in intense conversations for about 30 minutes, confronting the world’s most challenging issues, including climate change, poverty and hunger, species extinction, economic development and global conflicts. One student from each group then presented the group’s ideas to all participants.

Above, x engages students in conversation. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Above, Rodney Hood, national director of Multi-Cultural Partnerships at JPMorgan Chase, engages students in conversation. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Eric Charas was honored as a YGL in 2006. The founder of The Truth newspaper and website in Mozambique told the students in his group about his struggle to inform fellow citizens about government actions. “It’s really great to have powerful minds here at George Mason,” he says. “The students were so inquisitive. With this level of intelligence and confidence, it was such an amazing opportunity to interact.”

Beverly Harp is a freshman from New Jersey studying global affairs. “It was so inspiring to hear the story of Eric Charas facing opposition,” she says. “We were in awe of his leadership skills. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity at Mason.”

Darys Estrella was honored as a YGL in 2008. She served for five years as CEO of the Dominican Republic Stock Exchange after working as a vice president at Goldman Sachs. “We learned as much from the students as they learned from us,” says Estrella, who now lives in Santo Domingo. “They were engaging, interactive, dynamic. The students made great presentations. It was a win-win situation for everyone.”

“It was so phenomenal meeting the YGLs,” says Ryan Thornton, a sophomore from Pittsburgh studying government and international politics. “Mason is what you make of it. This is why I came to Mason, to have these kinds of opportunities. It was amazing to discuss solving global problems with the YGLs.”

“Students established networking connections with some of the most influential people from around the world and looked at how leadership values impact leadership style and decision-making,” says Lisa Snyder, LEAD associate director.

The in-depth conversations continued during a reception that followed.

The YGL alumni’s visit to Mason was part of what Estrella describes as a “whirlwind two-and-a-half-day trip” to the Washington, D.C., area by about 30 YGL alumni. Hosted by Mason, the Power and Politics Symposium featured visits to the White House, Capitol Hill and embassies.

Distinguished Mason faculty members served as speakers or panelists during the symposium’s stop at Mason’s Arlington Campus, including Provost Peter Stearns and faculty members Steven Pearlstein and Mark Rozell. A dinner presentation was delivered by David Rubenstein, the co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, who is scheduled to deliver the 2014 Commencement address at Mason.

x was one of the participants. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Thomas Crampton, global managing director of Social@Ogilvy – Ogilvy & Mather based in Hong Kong, was one of the Young Global Leader alumni who participated. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Write to Sudha Kamath at

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