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Millennial Week Innovators’ Brunch

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Gosh, what an honor it was to learn that we were finalists for the Millennial Week Millennial of the Year Award. The inaugural event for young leaders kicked up a firestorm of media attention, even from the likes of The New York Times. (Since when was it a faux pas to be a young entrepreneur, Old Gray Lady?)

The week-long conference had some incredible events, from the a day of service to a food and wine party to an awe-inspiring political forum at the Washington Post. The closing event for the week was the Innovators Brunch, and we were delighted to be invited to host.

Cori Sue had a bachelorette party that weekend, so I was flying solo. No big deal, I thought, procrastinating on looking at the agenda until the day prior. It was then, in my slight horror, that I realized I was moderating a panel of honored guests who are quite literally changing the world.

Innovators Brunch

So I reached out to each of them, and I learned a ton of incredible things about these four young movers and shakers. Their journeys to success have been very different, but each of them has made a significant difference by providing opportunities for young people around the world.

I was inspired, and I was ready. The brunch was held at the City Club of Washington, which is a wood-paneled country club-ish restaurant and event space that is strangely in the basement of a downtown office building. The guests arrived and mingled over coffee and mimosas for an hour of power networking.

Once we were seated, brunch was served. It was a three-course beauty, with a plate of appetizers, chicken and grits, and a rather large assortment of oversized desserts. I didn’t really touch the food, as my nerves were preparing to take the stage.

Innovators Brunch

Natalie Moss, the week’s founder and organizer, and one of those women who you look at and wonder, ‘How does she do it all?’ kicked off the morning by introducing me. Natalie had mostly single-handedly pulled off the entire Millennial Week event at that point, and I was in awe of her incredible hard work.

I got to the podium, and we jumped into the program. Two of the honored guests were in attendance that morning and two others joined via video conference, because, you know, it’s the future. The brunch attendees really made the conversation fantastic–people were asking tons of questions and each of the honored guests had a chance to talk about their work.

Anastasia Dellaccio was the first to be introduced. Anastasia is true millennial. She owns an artisan, all natural food business, called Dolci Gelati, which makes, in my opinion, the best gelato in the city. She’s involved with so many worthy organizations, including the Millennial Action Project and The Truman Project. But she also works full-time at the United Nations Foundation‘s public affairs department, where she is, essentially, the megaphone for millennial voices around the world.

Innovators Brunch

The second brunch guest, Prince Cedza Dlamini, joined via video conference from South Africa, where it was dinnertime, not brunchtime. He is a humanitarian, a youth activist, a co-chair for the World Youth Peace Summit, and the founder of the Ubuntu Institute for Young Social Entrepreneurs. He’s also the grandson of the King of Swaziland and the step-grandson of Nelson Mandela.

It was incredible to hear Prince Cedza talk about his work around the world–and the audience had so many questions for him he eventually had to stop us (it was dinnertime, after all). His work promotes future international cooperation by initiating and supporting global networks of young leaders. Truly inspiring.

Innovators Brunch

The next brunch guest unfortunately had a travel conflict pop up at the last minute, so we missed Patrick Dowd, founder of The Millennial Trains Project. That being said, the organization’s chief of staff joined and was a phenomenal speaker–and clearly very passionate and well-versed about the project.

Let me give you a little background on this incredible endeavor that Patrick started. The Washington Post called the Millennial Trains Project a “rolling business and leadership incubator,” and that’s exact what it is. The nonprofit organization leads transcontinental train journeys that empower diverse groups of creative, entrepreneurial, and civic-minded millennials to explore America’s new frontiers. So cool.

The last, but certainly not least, guest joined via video conference from New York. Jake Horowitz is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of PolicyMic, a website that offers news, analysis, and perspective tailored to 20-somethings. More than 19 million people read PolicyMic each month for its stories about everything from global affairs and politics to arts and music to technology and science. A little of everything!

Innovators Brunch

Jake manages PolicyMic’s editorial team, leads content strategy, and oversees all of the site growth. The audience had a few great questions for Jake, and I certainly had a few of my own, my career being in publishing and audience development afterall.

The brunch was a success, and attendees had plenty to chew on with the great conversations and questions (not to mention the City Club of Washington’s great brunch food). Natalie got back to the podium and closed the event with a teary eyed tribute to the week’s supporters and attendees. It’s clear she put her heart and soul into the event, and I was proud to be a part of it.

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