The Obama Foundation Leaders: Europe program is a six-month, virtual leadership development and civic engagement program that seeks to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders from across Europe.
The Leaders: Europe program identifies emerging leaders working in government, civil society, and the private sector who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the common good. It aims to build a growing network of innovative and ethical changemakers who seek to drive change in their communities while developing and supporting one another. Through a core set of shared values and leadership skills, the program seeks to lift up a new generation of civically active, positive role models who are prepared to create tangible solutions to the challenges in their communities, countries, Europe, and the world.
Obama Leaders are emerging leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the common good. Their Leaders tackle a diversity of issues, but they have a lot in common—they have all driven positive change for their communities, are guided by core values, and share the Obama’s Foundation’s vision of leadership rooted in service to others.
One Young World is pleased to announce that 3 OYW Ambassadors were selected for the 2022 Obama Foundation Leaders: Europe cohort this year: Jana Degrott, Bjørn Ihler, and Veronica Almedom.
Jana Degrott, Luxembourg
Co-founder, We Belong
Jana Degrott is a co-founder of We Belong, an initiative to inspire next-generation leadership for young European women of color to create a future pool of role models. We Belong brings women of color together in healing spaces, free of hatred and discrimination, to share and reflect on their experiences, examine their histories and identities, and construct their own life narratives. Jana’s work has led to a popular podcast that focuses on building a more inclusive and tolerant Europe. As a believer in the importance of youth voices in government, Jana is also a local councilor in her hometown of Steinsel and one of the youngest elected officials in Luxembourg.
Bjørn Ihler, Norway
Co-Founder and Director, The Khalifa Ihler Institute
Bjørn Magnus Jacobson Ihler is the co-founder and executive director of the Khalifa Ihler Institute. He works to counter and prevent radicalization and violent extremism by designing healthier communities on and offline. Bjørn is also a member of the group Extremely Together, an initiative of the Kofi Annan Foundation that empowers young people to challenge violent extremism in their local communities and work against radicalization around the globe. He serves as the inaugural chair of the Independent Advisory Committee of the Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism. Bjørn believes that violent extremism is the violent denial of diversity. In response, he promotes democracy and rights-based approaches that strengthen diversity, equality, and human dignity.
Veronica Almedom, Switzerland
Founder, Information Forum for Eritrea
Veronica Almedom is the founder of the Information Forum for Eritrea (IFE). This Geneva-based organization aims to humanize the tragedies and human rights violations that Eritrean refugees are subject to in Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean. In 2016, Veronica was appointed as one of the youngest members to serve on the Swiss Federal Commission of Migration. Now in her second term, she continues to advise the Swiss government on migration policy and to represent the Eritrean community’s interests. She coordinated a historic demonstration in Geneva in 2016 that drew over 16,000 individuals from all around the world to support the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea. Veronica is passionate about the process, design, and delivery of effective public policies.