Announcing our New Managing Director: Ms. Abigail Kelble

After two and a half years of visionary leadership and creative direction as Program Director, we are thrilled to announce the promotion of Ms. Abigail Kelble to Managing Director of the Millennium Campus Network.

“The past two and a half years as Programs Director have been incredible,” she shares. “It is an absolute honor and joy to support university students as they become a new generation of leaders.”

Abigail meeting with Under Secretary Richard Stengel, Special Advisor Andrew Rabens, and MCN Executive Director Sam Vaghar at the US Department of State in Washington D.C.

Abigail meeting with Under Secretary Richard Stengel, Special Advisor Andrew Rabens, and MCN Executive Director Sam Vaghar at the US Department of State in Washington D.C.

In her new role, Abigail will take on more leadership towards MCN’s programmatic and organizational operations and strategy. “In addition to our strategic and programmatic impact, I'm most looking forward to building out our operational sustainability, to guiding our staff as we all grow, learn, and enjoy our work together, and to finding new ways to promote and celebrate the many talents of young people as they begin their careers advancing global development.”

Since joining MCN, Abigail has been critical to the organization’s programmatic growth, leading the development and implementation of the Millennium Fellowship (now in its third year), the Annual Millennium Campus Conferences, and Global Campaigns (now in their first year). Her leadership has transformed thousands of young leaders and their student organizations. "While the exposure we gained from participating in the MCN Fellowship program assisted in [our organization’s] transformation [ . . .] If it wasn't for the training and mentorship we received from Ms. Kelble, Mbadika would not exist," Millennium Fellowship alumna Netia A. McCray reflects.

Abigail has also been an essential voice in building out MCN’s mission, vision, and philosophy, rooted in her past experiences in the Peace Corps, City Year and beyond. “Abigail is rooted in the realities - the barriers and opportunities - in the work and takes a practical approach to partnering with students, universities, and international institutions,” reflects Board of Directors Chair Alexander Alvanos. "Abigail is one of the boldest leaders in our sector,” adds Executive Director Sam Vaghar. “Over the past two and a half years, she has taught me about the role of social identities in this work and made me more effective as a result. I'm thrilled to see Abigail's influence expand within our organization and growing network."

“As MCN grows its impact across the US and around the globe, world class leadership is critical to our success,” adds Board of Directors Chair Alexander Alvanos. “Abigail is a bold leader whose focus on empowering student leaders is contagious, helping thousands of university students have tangible impact on extreme poverty right now. That is why we are thrilled that Abigail Kelble has been promoted to Managing Director.”

Please join us in congratulating Abigail on her new role!

Havana, Cuba

The United States of America and Cuba | Forging Meaningful Relationships for a More Productive Future

by Zachary Thomas


Today, August 14 2015 marks a key point in history: today, Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Havana, Cuba to inaugurate the first U.S. embassy in Cuba in 54 years. This formally marks the establishment of a new found relationship between the United States of America and Cuba. Throughout the late twentieth century until today, the United States enforced an embargo on Cuba and ceased maintaining relations with the Cuban Government under the Castro regime, aside from Guantanamo Bay. Because of this embargo, the United States had difficulties maintaining relationships with the Latin American region. At the Summit of the Americas, many countries refused to join the summit unless Cuba was recognized by the United States, barring many opportunities for discussion and collective action.

 Recently, it has been revealed that the Cuban government has reached out to the United States Government for years after the initial embargo, trying to forge a new bond with each successive Presidency. All of them failed, some through unwillingness to change and some through unforeseen events such as assassination attempts. All of these proved fruitless attempts at trying to salvage broken ties. However, our current President Barack Obama has been able to forge a new, solid relationship.  And this event is extremely appropriate to context of the Millennium Campus Conference because we at the Millennium Campus Network feel that relationships are the foundation for successful global development and social justice initiatives. 

Relationships are the keystone of global development. If improperly set, they can be the downfall of any progress. The relationship between the United States of America and Cuba over the last 50 years only served to hurt progress. The embargo set upon Cuba never accomplished its goal (flush out the Communist Party) and it severely damaged the United States' relationships with the rest of the Latin America. Countries refused to meet at the Summit with the United States as long as the U.S. continued to maintain the embargo on Cuba. However, if they are forged well, they have the power to reconstruct the current paradigm. Now the United States and Cuba will be able to work in conjunction with the other nations in the Summit of the Americas. Without this new found relationship between Cuba and the United States of America, nothing innovative or revolutionary would have happened. Instead, after over 50 years, the United States and Cuba have reestablished ties.

We at the Millennium Campus Network feel that relationships drive change in the world. With relationships, there are more resources, more perspectives and more opportunities. All of those involved in global development are trying to have a positive impact on the world and through collaboration our efforts can be deliberate, more specialized and more effective. Fighting each other to vie for credit does more harm than good, especially when we look at the effects this mind set has on those we are trying to assist. With this in mind, we encourage all youth leaders to continue to forge meaningful relationships with one another so that youth can have the largest possible collective impact. As is evidenced by this historic moment, relationships are the key to moving forward and to promoting global development, global health, environmental conservation, and social justice.

International Youth Day

International Youth Day, August 12 2015

by Zachary Thomas

In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.
— Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

This year, International Youth Day takes place on Wednesday, August 12 which happens to be the same day as the first official day of the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. International Youth Day was started to recognize that “The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development.” This year’s theme is ‘Youth Civic Engagement’ which happens to be a most convenient coincidence since that is what the Millennium Campus Network is all about. Youth Civic Engagement is one of the main goals of the United Nations ‘System-Wide Action Plan on Youth’, also known as Youth-SWAP, a program that aims to “promote young people’s effective inclusive civic engagement at all levels.” As the United Nations prepares itself to adopt the post-2015 agenda, it continues to emphasize youth’s role in the proliferation of these Sustainable Development goals and in the overall success of global development and social justice efforts.

We at the Millennium Campus Network are taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate International Youth Day 2015 because we, much like the United Nations, see the role youth have in the outcome of not only the post-2015 agenda the United Nations is proposing but additionally numerous efforts being made for social justice, global development and global health initiatives. Youth are the vehicles for change in our complex and diverse world. We encourage youth to reconstruct paradigms that perpetuate the inequality that they see, to build solidarity amongst each other, and from this, to incite action as a collective force for change. By working in solidarity as sidekicks, supporting those we aim to assist and ensuring that their needs are met on their terms, youth can initiate change in the world around them.

The millennial generation is a generation of the passionate, of the driven and of the unified. The millennial generation does not have all the answers; what it does have is a vision on how the world ought to be. These youth continue to dream, to be inspired, to have passions, and to act on them. The goal of the United Nations (and of MCN) is for “young people [to] be empowered and bring a full contribution to society, development and peace.” Happy International Youth Day!