MMF Alumni Across Spain Engage in New GMF Programs
From December 12-18, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) held several notable events in Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid.
On December 12, eight Barcelona-based alumni of GMF’s leadership development programs gathered for a reception and dinner with Kevin Cottrell, director of Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives (TLI). Lively conversation kept participants engaged well into the night. Many alumni spoke to the uncertain political times for Catalonia following the region’s declaration to hold a referendum on independence in November 2014.
Also in Barcelona, Mateu Hernandez (MMF ’06), Director General of Barcelona Global and recipient of one of TLI’s inaugural Alumni Leadership Project grants, addressed the group about Barcelona’s civic and business leadership strategies for greater global engagement. Hernandez’s project aims to build a network of alliances among civil society, business, and government leaders to raise awareness about the importance of cities as places of economic and social development and global ties. His project will launch in January 2014 in partnership with local MMFs. A sample of Barcelona Global marketing can be found in the Apple App store. According to Hernandez, it is a “Barcelona Global project aimed at suggesting authentic places to shop, eat, and visit, and the suggestions come directly from Barcelona’s leading business executives, lawyers, designers, journalists, and hoteliers. The aim of this tool is to showcase the real Barcelona to our friends or the friends of our friends visiting the city from abroad.”
On December 15, GMF announced the launch of the Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues (BUILD), which will take place June 11 – 14, 2014 in Bilbao, Spain. Deputy Mayor Ibone Bengoetxea and Craig Kennedy introduced the conference details at Bilbao City Hall. BUILD will be GMF’s first conference focusing exclusively on urban policy and leadership issues, and it provides a unique opportunity to engage the networks of local leaders GMF has developed within these programmatic areas over the past 30 years. GMF’s Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives team is partnering with GMF’s Urban and Regional Policy program, led by Geraldine Gardner, to develop BUILD for June 2014. GMF is pleased to partner with the Bilbao City Council and Bilbao International on this event, which will gather 100 local leaders from the U.S. and Europe to discuss strategies for leading transformative change in cities. The conference will center on two thematic pillars: sustainable and equitable urban transformation and global engagement for cities.
On December 16, GMF also brought together a local advisory group to discuss the strategic goals of BUILD and other GMF activities. The advisory group is comprised of political, civil society, and corporate leaders from Bilbao city and the surrounding Basque Country, several of whom are MMF alumni who have been instrumental in forging this collaboration. The group refined strategies that will lead to an outcome-oriented conference that best enables the creation of a transatlantic network of leaders and an exchange of innovative practices related to the two thematic pillars.
Following the advisory council meeting, twenty Madrid-based MMF alumni gathered for a reception and dinner featuring GMF president, Craig Kennedy, on Tuesday, December 17. The reception and dinner featured special guest, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and Principality of Andorra, James Costos. Ambassador Costos expressed his appreciation for both the transatlantic exchange and the local network of leaders that the MMF program facilitates. Aitor Esteban thanked Craig Kennedy for his vision for GMF throughout his career and support of the MMF program, notably for the expansion of the program to include American Fellows. Warm conversation continued over dinner and beyond, and the passion for continued exchange and learning both across the Atlantic and within Europe was clear among this alumni community.
In February, Madrid will be the site of the 2014 Spanish MMF Selection Committee, which rotates annually among Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao.