October 3, 2008
DAI’s Kristi Ragan, Ed Rackley Facilitate Talks at Clinton Global Initiative
Major corporations and leading philanthropies such as the Bill & Melinda Gates, Nike, and Google foundations were just a few of the organizations drawn to last month’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the annual aid- and development-focused gathering hosted by former President Bill Clinton in New York City. The more than 2,000 attendees included current and former heads of state, world leaders, CEOs, and celebrities. Also in attendance were DAI’s Kristi Ragan and Ed Rackley.
Ragan and Rackley guided separate table discussions among the guests—recording ideas, prompting comments, and forwarding recommendations. Ragan, DAI’s Chief of Party on the Global Development Alliances Strategic Support Program, led her tables in brainstorming sessions about alleviating poverty by promoting microfinance, addressing food security, and utilizing communication technologies. Rackley, who joined DAI in July after a 20-year career specializing in African relief operations, served as a facilitator at tables that probed global education issues.
The CGI places a premium on moving beyond talk to secure firm commitments, said Ragan and Rackley, and this year’s meeting was no different. PepsiCo Foundation pledged $4.1 million to WaterPartners to promote sound water practices in India, for example, while Swiss Re and Oxfam America teamed up on a project to address climate change and its effect on farming in Ethiopia. Wal-Mart, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs also made commitments at this session. So far this year, the CGI has finalized more than 250 commitments worth $8 billion, focusing on health partnerships that reach diseases beyond HIV/AIDS.
Invited to attend the event by Gene Sperling, President Clinton’s former national economic advisor and one of the CGI leaders, Rackley said DAI’s 38-year history of tackling global development issues gave him great traction in steering the participants’ discussions.
“For me, the most obvious thing was that we can broker these public-private partnerships,” Rackley said. “We have a lot of best-practice knowledge, while these are people who do not have a lot of in-field experience. If we can bring our insights to their decisions about what type of projects to support, that’s a definite added value of us being there.”