By Frank Shatz for The Virginia Gazette | May 17, 2016

The Presidential Precinct is an educational partnership among the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier, James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland and William Short’s Morven.

It had recently conferred its inaugural Young Leader Award on Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, the first female editor of Nigeria’s largest newspaper, Punch. The award is given to acknowledge the contributions of exceptional up-and-coming leaders around the world. Ogunseye is an award-winning journalist who was a member of the first class of Mandela Washington Fellows, the U.S. government’s Young African Leadership Initiative, as part of a group hosted by the Presidential Precinct.

Recently, at the University of Virginia, a signature event took place. Sponsored by the Presidential Precinct, with the support of the U.S. Department of State and the Institute for International Education, young leaders from dozens of countries around the world were brought together with leading professors from UVA, William and Mary as well as State department officials.

“Our goal was to provide the participants with academic perspectives and practical engagement with key global problems facing their countries. We focused on four key themes: promoting democracy and good governance; addressing issues related to global growth, inequality, and entrepreneurship dealing with the consequences of global climate change and fostering the inclusion of women, youth and minorities,” said Stephen Hanson, Vice Provost for International Affairs at William and Mary and Director of its Reves Center for International Studies, in an interview with the Gazette.

Connected with the Presidential Precinct event, but organized independently of it, UVA awarded its first-ever Edward Stettinius Prize for Global Leadership to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“Secretary Albright, dazzled the audience with her reflections and insights drawn from a lifetime of exemplary public service,” Hanson said. “She shared the stage with another prize winner, Olowatuyosi Ogunseye.”

Hanson noted that it is an exciting experience to see the Presidential Precinct become a place where the distinctive global leadership contributions of outstanding individuals are recognized and promoted.

“I can’t imagine any two people more deserving of these inaugural awards than Secretary Albright and Ms. Ogunseye,” Hanson said. “Indeed, Secretary Albright, as a refugee from East-Central Europe and later as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. particularly embodies the principles for which Secretary of State Stettinus himself long fought. And Ms. Ogunseye represent a new generation of dynamic African leaders who are part of an exciting transformation of politics, economics, and societies all over the continent.”

He continued, “William & Mary is proud to be an important part of this exciting new consortium of historic universities and presidential sites, which is truly becoming a global meeting place for discussions of the rule of law, democracy, and citizenship in today’s interconnected world.”

Albright, in her acceptance speech praised Stettinus for his role as administrator of the Land-Lease program, in which the U.S. provided aid to Allies during World War II. “It reminds us of what true American leadership was about,” she said.

During the last three years the Presidential Partners and the State Department have hosted more than 275 emerging leaders from more than 100 countries in various programs.

“Our goal is to empower the next generation of Change Makers,” proclaims a consortium-issued statement. The forum held in Charlottesville, in which emerging and established leaders from more than 25 countries participated, did just that.

The original article can be found here.
Shatz, a Williamsburg resident, is the author of “Reports from a Distant Place,” a compilation of his selected columns. The book is available at the Bruton Parish Shop and on Amazon.com.