The Conference will focus on connecting different organizations for a greater social purpose
Although the 150 young professionals descending on Minneapolis this weekend for the Global Shapers North America conference will cross the Stone Arch, Lowry and Hennepin Avenue bridges while exploring the city, they will also be creating their own metaphorical bridges — those that span the gap between generations, the public and private sectors, and between leaders with different identities.
The Global Shapers is a global network of young professionals ages 20 to 30, organized by the World Economic Forum. Each year, approximately 450 Shapers meet at regional conferences. The Minneapolis hub won the bid for this year's conference, which they have spent 8 months planning and commences this Friday, July 22 and will wrap up on Monday, July 25. Their theme is Bridging Purpose, a nice nod to the many rivers and pathways around the Twin Cities and also to their goal of connecting communities and leaders that historically have not joined forces.
"As Global Shapers, we're in an interesting position of doing grassroots, social and environmental things, yet we're tied with the World Economic Forum, so we're a bridge between those powerful voices who are heard and those whose voices are being ignored," says Joy McBrien, outgoing curator with Global Shapers Minneapolis and founder and CEO of Fair Anita, her for-profit, fair-trade social enterprise that connects talented female entrepreneurs with conscientious consumers to aid women in developing countries.
The weekend schedule is filled with events that connect the Global Shapers of North America with the Minneapolis community. Friday and Saturday features talks on identity-focused leadership, design thinking, community organizing and stakeholder management. Saturday's skill-building workshops connect early stage grassroots organizations from Minnesota with the young professionals to think through strategic challenges like pitches, brainstorming and how to integrate into a community. Sunday includes a session devoted to exploring and expanding the World Economic Forum's mission. "We have a session exploring the mission of the World Economic Forum which is this big broad lofty idea of 'improving the state of the world.' How do we as young people further that mission?" says McBrien. "That's one thing we want to explore. We need to better understand the other side's priorities in order to work better together. Especially bridging public and private sectors. There are all these stereotypes about people in the for profit or the non profit sectors, but in reality that is all preconceived notions. We need to have open, honest conversations in order to collaborate."