Youth Activism, Community Engagement and the Reality of Global Interdependence

March 16, 2021

This event explored the OneShared.World model and, in particular, the role that youth are playing to advance initiatives that embrace the interconnectedness of people and the need to collaborate on the complex challenges confronting us all. Young people from diverse backgrounds and countries shared their experiences of activism on some of the most critical issues of our time. They discussed what spurred them into action, who inspired them, the kinds of obstacles they face and meaningful moments in their journeys.

Participant Bios

Sonali Anderson ’21

Sonali AndersonSonali Anderson is currently a junior at Brandeis University. She plans to double major in Environmental Studies and Business, with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Ultimately, her goal is to help advance corporate commitments towards better sustainable alternative-practices within companies' innovative development, manufacturing, production, and distribution processes. While a Brandeis student, she is devoted to advocating for marginalized voices on campus as the Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees and as one of the co-authors of the Black Action Plan, which aims to dismantle exclusive structures on campus. Outside of this passion, Sonali is a collegiate track and field athlete.

DeBorah Ault '21

Deborah AultDeBorah Ault is a junior at Brandeis University, double majoring in education studies and business. During the summer of 2020, in response to several acts of police brutality that took the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, she worked with her partner, Sonali Anderson, to craft a plan of organizational accountability called the Black Action Plan. DeBorah is also one of the co-presidents of an organization named Brandeis Bridges which helps to create spaces for Black and Jewish students at Brandeis to build relationships and have essential conversations on topics related to race, identity, culture, and religion. In her free time, she enjoys socializing with friends, dancing, and going for walks. In the future, she hopes to open a school that teaches students through their passions.

Sandi Gendi

Sandi GendiSandi Gendi co-leads the OneShared.World coordinator group and manages its communication outreach. Sandi's interests lie at the intersection of law, business, and globalization. Armed with her own experiences, Sandi wishes to do her part in raising awareness about innovative and creative solutions that are needed to combat the global issues we face.

Sandi is a graduate from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, graduating with a Joint Honours degree in Law with Business and Management. Sandi has utilised her academic and professional experiences to become an advocate for vulnerable communities. Sandi has been an active member of community legal clinic, StreetLaw, in advocating for members of the homeless community and ethnic minorities suffering with homelessness, against a piece of legislation that targeted these communities. In addition, Sandi has been an active member of the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, acting as an ambassador to the Youth Assembly conferences.

Jonathan Goldman ’19

Jonathan GoldmanJonathan Goldman is the Executive Director of the Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice (SCIJ) and an advocate for immigrant justice. Born in Denmark and raised in the US, Jonathan's outlook on immigration has been shaped by this foundational part of his identity. He previously co-founded The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII) and was one of the youngest elected members of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee. Jonathan Goldman is committed to creating a better world through collaborative approaches, community engagement, and innovative solutions.

Jonathan also has more than five years of experience in community and advocacy organizing with multiple campaigns across Massachusetts on the local, state and federal levels. Jonathan has raised $100,000s through his work at SCIJ, TRII, Northampton Arts Council, and political campaigns. Through his experiences as a multilingual, dual-citizen young adult fighting to create a better tomorrow, Jonathan draws on his background to engage people in making a difference.

Anna Khandros ’11

Anna KhandrosAnna Khandros works for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and lives in northern Iraq, where she manages an education program for conflict-affected children. Previously, she worked with CRS in Laos, American Councils for International Education in Ukraine, and the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. in Washington DC. Anna served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco and a Fulbright English teacher in Tajikistan. She graduated from Brandeis University in 2011 with a B.A. in politics and a double minor in legal studies and Peace and Conflict Studies, and holds a Masters in Global Human Development from Georgetown University.

Jamie Metzl

Jamie MetzlJamie Metzl is a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. He is a Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council, Singularity University faculty member, and Founder and Chair of OneShared.World. He is a novelist, blogger, syndicated columnist, media commentator, technology and healthcare futurist, and expert in Asian affairs and biotechnology policy. He previously served as Executive Vice President of the Asia Society, Deputy Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senior Coordinator for International Public Information at the U.S. State Department, Director for Multilateral Affairs on the National Security Council, and as a Human Rights Officer for the United Nations in Cambodia.

Jamie appears regularly on national and international media discussing Asian economic and political issues and his syndicated columns and other writing on Asian affairs, genetics, virtual reality, and other topics is featured regularly in publications around the world. He has testified before Congress outlining emergency preparedness recommendations after 9-11 and on the national security implication of the biotechnology and genomics revolutions. Metzl’s most recent book, Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity, was published by Sourcebooks in April 2019.

A founder and Co-Chair of the national security organization Partnership for a Secure America, Jamie is a board member of the International Center for Transitional Justice and the American University in Mongolia, a member of the Advisory Board of the 92Y Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact, and a former board member of Park University and of the Jewish refugee agency HIAS. In 2019, Metzl was appointed to the World Health Organization expert advisory committee on developing global standards for the governance and oversight of human genome editing. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former White House Fellow and Aspen Institute Crown Fellow, Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Asian history from Oxford, a JD from Harvard Law School, and is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University. He has completed 13 Ironman triathlons, 30 marathons, and 15 ultramarathons.

Ángela María Pérez Mejía

Ángela María Pérez MejíaÁngela María Pérez Mejía is a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. She is Chief Cultural Manager of Banco de la República, Colombia’s central bank, which has a network of 28 cultural facilities around the country. She leads the cultural national initiative “Let peace speak up,” a series of physical and digital cultural products intended for use by peacebuilding agents working to transform Colombian communities. The project includes a team researching how cultural networks impact social change, and has been included in the projects led by Culture Plex Lab.

Pérez Mejía has represented Colombia in several international academic events, speaking about culture as a tool for social transformation. She has been a member of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University for 10 years and recently joined the ICAA Ideas Council at the International Center for the Arts of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Pérez Mejía was an associate professor of Latin American literature at Brandeis University, where she taught for 10 years. She has a degree in journalism from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, and she has a Master's from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York.

Her book, La Geografía de los Tiempos Difíciles, received the Casa de las Américas Prize in 2000. She has published on travel writing, buccaneers in the Caribbean, gender in Latin American literature, and cultural management. She co-authored the screenplay for the film Rodrigo D, winner of the Latin American Film Festival in New York in 1998 and selection for the Cannes Film Festival the same year. She has recently written critical editions for the Manuel Uribe Angel travel narrative De Medellin a Bogota, published by la Universidad de Antioquia (2012) and Una Geografía Hecha a Mano, published by Santiago Cortés (2013).

Rasheed Peters ’20

Rasheed PetersRasheed Peters was born and raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and moved to the US in 2016 to attend Brandeis University. He has since graduated with a business degree and minors in studio art and social transformation. His personal struggles and growth as a Black man with a foreign accent in the US have inspired his love for storytelling. It has motivated his work as a conduit for the journeys, experiences, and activism of those often overlooked and unheard by society. Rasheed has made several art pieces, created and hosted a web series, directed a few short films, and produced smaller storytelling projects all with the intention of amplifying the voices of those who look and sound like him. He is excited to continue doing this and equally passionate about working to shape a creative industry that is more reflective and conducive to the inclusion of marginalized folks and their messages! Learn more about his work

Jessica Alejandra Rivas Sánchez

Jessica Alejandra Rivas SánchezJessica is a public administrator and entrepreneur with an interest in raising environmental awareness and action in the sphere of national politics. She has developed her professional skills through coordinating projects in leading humanitarian institutions, where she also expanded her ability to empathize and carry out sincere and committed work.

After receiving training on urban gardening and composting, Jessica founded, along with her partner and now husband Gabriel Torres, the first company in Colombia to efficiently manage the organic waste of households in the city of Bogotá - Más Compost Menos Basura (“More Compost Less Garbage”). Acting as Executive Director of Más Compost, Jessica is in charge of development, promotion, and consolidation of the company of her dreams. She loves the challenges involved as well as each of her employees, and is committed to the company’s promise to “compost the world one home at a time!”

Shagun Sethi

Shagun SethiShagun is a consultant for social responsibility and human rights. Her interests lie at the intersection of social development, globalization and business. She holds a Masters in Global Affairs from Columbia University as a merit fellow and has studied political science and sociology at The University of Delhi for her bachelors. At OneShared.World, Shagun is the Managing Editor of the Newsletter, a part of the core team of the Communications Group and Strategic Planning Group, and is a co-leader of the Coordinator Program.

Shagun currently works as a consultant for corporate social responsibility and not-for-profit work at Grant Thornton. Shagun has experience as a researcher and consultant on social impact and development projects and has worked for consultancies, policy think tanks, government bodies and nonprofits in this capacity. She is passionate about women’s rights and gender and has started her own non-profit initiative in India entitled "Be A Man", aimed at creating curricula and curating fundraising programs to fight gender inequality on the subcontinent. She was also invited to give a TedX talk about gender.

John Shattuck

John ShattuckJohn Shattuck is the Chair of the International Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. He is a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he directs the project on Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities in the United States. Shattuck's career spans more than four decades in higher education, international diplomacy, foreign policy and human rights. He served as president of Central European University from 2009 to 2016, where he defended the university against attacks by the Hungarian government, and oversaw the introduction of international interdisciplinary programs, including cognitive science, network science, religious studies, and public policy. In 2016, CEU renamed its Center on Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery the "Shattuck Center" in honor of his leadership and as a tribute to his lifelong dedication to human rights and civil liberties.

Before coming to the Central European University, Shattuck was CEO of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a national public affairs center in Boston; and Senior Fellow at Tufts University, where he taught human rights and international relations. Shattuck served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor under President Clinton, playing a major role in the establishment by the United Nations of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia; assisting an international coalition under UN authority to restore a democratically-elected government to Haiti; and negotiating the Dayton Peace Agreement and other efforts to end the war in Bosnia. Subsequently he served as US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, working with the Czech government to assist in overhauling the country’s legal system, and with Czech educators to support innovative civic education programs in the country’s schools and universities.

In recognition of his human rights leadership, he has received the International Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of Boston; the Ambassador’s Award from the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative; and the Tufts University Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Prior to his government service, Shattuck was a Vice-President at Harvard University, taught at the Harvard Law School, and was a Research Associate at the Kennedy School of Government. His career began at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he served as Executive Director of the Washington Office and National Staff Counsel and helped enact federal legislation to protect individual privacy and to enforce civil rights in the election process. He also handled a number of prominent civil rights and civil liberties court cases, representing persons who had been targets of illegal surveillance during the Nixon administration.

Melissa Stimell

Melissa StimellMelissa is the Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. She is a Professor of the Practice in the Legal Studies Program at Brandeis University and the Academic Program Director of ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation, which is a national expansion of an initiative she spearheaded at Brandeis with her course "Advocacy for Policy Change." She also is chair of the Program in Social Justice and Social Policy. She currently teaches Advocacy for Policy Change, Conflict Analysis and Intervention, and Global Justice and Societies in Transition. The class in Global Justice is an extension of her work as Academic Program Director of Brandeis Summer in The Hague

Melissa received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her law degree from Boston University School of Law. She has been a public interest attorney for over 30 years, focusing on the representation of vulnerable populations in such areas as, criminal law, discrimination of individuals with disabilities, and child welfare.

Gabriel Torres Sierra

Gabriel Torres SierraGabriel is a public administrator, entrepreneur and manager of the first organic waste collection company in Colombia, Más Compost Menos Basura (“More Compost Less Garbage”).

An enthusiast for green business and a promoter of high impact actions for daily life, Gabriel is leader of the team that currently allows the City of Bogotá to handle 40 tons of organic waste. He is working to make Más Compost a replicable model for any urban setting that wishes to manage its waste in a practical, simple and efficient manner.