Victoria Crawford is a project consultant in APCO’s Chicago office.
Last week, the Clinton Global Initiative hosted its third America-focused meeting bringing executives, thought leaders, celebrities and innovators together for two days of collaborative thought to solve the country’s most concerning challenges, including economic recovery, workforce training, community development and energy security. I had the opportunity to work with the APCO and CGI teams to take the discussion beyond the walls of the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago.
On the first day of CGI America, the hotel was buzzing with potential—potential for gained knowledge, potential for new partnerships and, above all, potential for change. Just 48 hours later, with a total of 74 new commitments, that potential was achieved. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will affect more than two million lives, create more than 10,000 jobs, build more than $1.4 billion of new capital, give more than 212,000 students access to STEM education opportunities, invest more the $190 million of new capital in green initiatives and avoid more than 1.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.
Here are just a few highlights from the event:
- Almost 1,000 participants joined together in various working groups to brainstorm ideas and make commitments. The commitments made at this year’s CGI America are valued at more than $1.6 billion. Working group topics included early childhood education, renewable and distributed energy and STEM education.
- Plenary sessions brought conversations between movers and shakers to the main stage, including Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury and Eva Longoria, founder of the Eva Longoria Foundation. In the closing plenary session, President Clinton sat down with Chris Christie, Governor of the State of New Jersey, to discuss natural disaster reaction strategies and learned lessons from Superstorm Sandy.
- Further stimulating the creative atmosphere, this year’s CGI America utilized the artistic genius of Chicago’s Inkfactory to create visual representations of the various discussions being had during the meeting (see above).
- Hillary Rodham Clinton made a splash with her first private citizen appearance at a CGI event by launching the Too Small to Fail Initiative—a campaign dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children ages zero to five.
- President Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton took the stage to announce renaming of the William J. Clinton Foundation to The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. They also announced next year’s CGI America will be held in Denver.
As announcements and commitments were being made, the APCO team was on-site connecting media to commitment-makers, sharing our communications knowledge with members, managing the press room and occasionally indulging on the vegan snacks provided. Our joint efforts with the CGI team resulted in over 100 unique stories, including CNN, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and the Huffington Post.
While the meeting will travel to Denver next year, I have no doubt that it will succeed in bringing the same inspirational spirit and impact it has brought to Chicago for the past 3 years.
*APCO joined CGI in 2008. As part of our CGI Commitment to Action, APCO provides communication counsel, training and media relations support pro bono for CGI America meetings.