At the British Council, we are committed to developing future leaders. To prepare for the world ahead of us, the next generation of leaders must be skilled, innovative and globally connected people, able to make and respond to change with effective policymaking. 

As a member of Future Leaders Connect, you will travel to the UK for nine days of advanced policy and leadership development, in partnership with the University of Cambridge. You will discuss today’s biggest global challenges in the UK Houses of Parliament, meet inspirational leaders and visit world-renowned institutions. Following your time in the UK, you will have worldwide connections, a policy action plan for change and the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to be an influential leader in your country and beyond.

The 2017 Future Leaders Connect Cohort

To kick off the Future Leaders Connect program, the British Council selected four young leaders in the United States. Their areas of expertise included gentrification and immigration, using arts and education to inspire policy recommendations in the UK and the US.

Imani Jacqueline Brown and Sonia Guiñansaca

Imani Jacquline Brown

Imani Jacqueline Brown is a New Orleans native, artist, activist, and researcher. She believes that art can drive policy and orients her practice toward the ever-elusive flicker of justice on the horizon, knowing that our world cannot find balance until social, ecological, and economic reparations are won. Imani is Director of Programs at Antenna, Co-Founder of Blights Out, and a core member of Occupy Museums. Through three years of experiential research into the system of housing development, Blights Out has discovered the legal lynchpin of gentrification in New Orleans and is calling for policy change to redress our city’s housing crisis. In 2017, Occupy Museums’ project, “Debtfair” was featured in the Whitney Biennial. Imani is Artistic Director of Fossil Free Festival, which will take place in New Orleans, April 7-8, 2018. In 2014, her paper, Performing Bare Life, was named best in her substream at LAEMOS in Havana, Cuba. Her writing has been published in Pelican Bomb, Krytyka Polityczna, and Shelterforce Magazine. Imani received her BA in Visual Arts and Anthropology from Columbia University in 2010. She will pursue her Master’s at the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, in Fall 2018.

Sonia Guiñansaca 

Sonia Guiñansaca is a migrant poet, cultural organizer, and activist from Harlem, NY by way of Ecuador. Guiñansaca a VONA/Voices alumni has performed at El Museo Del Barrio, the NY Poetry Festival, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and featured on NBC, PBS, Latina Magazine, Pen American, and the Poetry Foundation to name a few. She has presented keynotes, workshops, and panels at universities throughout the country on issues of immigration, LGBTQ, and power of arts/culture. She’s been named as 1 of 10 Up and Coming Latinx Poets You Need to Know by Remezcla, one of 13 Coolest Queers on the Internet by Teen Vogue, and the 2017's Artist in Residence at NYU's Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. She has emerged as a national leader in migrant artistic and political communities. Co-founded and help build some of the largest undocumented organizations in the country, coordinating and participating in groundbreaking civil disobedience actions. She has also founded some of the first creative artistic projects by and for undocumented writers/artists.  Recently named as the Managing Director of CultureStrike. Her global vision for change is to shift culture and narratives about migration so that we can truly address the political, systemic, and social needs of migrants and refugees.

Juliana Ospina Cano and Tada Vargas

Juliana Ospina Cano 

Juliana Ospina Cano operates at the intersection of education and social justice. She is a visionary with an unwavering commitment to positively influencing the academic and socio-emotional success of immigrant students. For over ten years, Juliana has worked tirelessly to transform the lives and opportunities of first-generation American students. Based in Washington, D.C., she spearheads UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) work in shaping, accelerating and broadening access to STEM education for underserved students across the United States. To date, her bold approach to education programs has touched over 2,000 children and youth. Before UnidosUS, Juliana held leadership positions in public schools in Tennessee and Georgia which served to foster and solidify her global commitment and vision towards the development of intentional and inclusive environments that promote high quality and equitable educational opportunities for students and families from all backgrounds. At STEM Preparatory Academy, Nashville’s first STEM-focused public charter school, she developed systemic and sustainable practices which served to create a welcoming environment for all families and advanced student achievement. Juliana holds a BA from Kennesaw State University and an MS in Education from Johns Hopkins University where she is also pursuing a Doctoral degree in Education. Juliana’s research focuses on the cognitive development of immigrant adolescent youth.

Tada Vargas

Tada Vargas is an enrolled member of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She is currently pursuing Bachelor Degrees in Chemistry and Conservation Biology at Oglala Lakota College, a Tribal College composed of eleven centers across the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  She also has three Associate Degrees in Tribal Law, Life Sciences, Science, Engineering, and Math. Tada has been a leading voice for her college center for three consecutive years. She promoted events that tackled issues like obesity, suicide, and global warming.  Her most successful events incorporated traditional values, such as the “Canteyuke” (Generosity) Drive.  At a recent conference, Tada was struck by the fact that on average a US household wastes up to 40 percent of groceries each year.  Coming from, and actively involved in, a community which experiences some of the highest poverty rates in the country, Tada will focus on policies which address food sovereignty and obtaining food security in communities like hers.


Policy Incubator Event (March 2018)

The British Council in the United States and Mexico joined efforts to organise the ‘Policy Incubator,’ a project by which we aimed to empower young people to develop alternative narratives as means to influence public migration policy. The Incubator participants included members of the 2017 Future Leaders Connect program from Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Policy Incubator built on the knowledge and skills these leaders developed last year, and will accompany them on their journey to become agents of social change through concrete Social Action Projects (SAPs). The workshop took place in Mexico City from 7-9 March 2018, and engaged participants in: 

  • Understanding and recognising the role of narratives in public policy, and encouraging the application of such knowledge to engage youth in social change;
  • Providing tools and knowledge on how to develop alternate or counter narratives aimed at young people that strengthen positive, inclusive and constructive ideas about migration;
  • Emphasising the importance and value of evidence-based decision making in public policy on migration for the countries involved;
  • Supporting participants from Mexico, the USA, Canada and the UK to create a Social Action Project (SAP) aimed at challenging existing narratives and diffusing the tools to influence public policy.

 Additionally, the project aimed to reach new audiences and empower young people throughout Mexico. In collaboration with local universities, the British Council organized one workshop entitled "The role of narratives in policy making,” with the aim to drive participant interest in public policy processes and contribute to evidence-based decision making. The project appealed to the importance of open and strategic dialogue as a way to understand complex issues such as migration.

Watch a video about the event here.

See also

External links