Courage in Action: A Plenary featuring the 2023 John P. McNulty Prize Winners

At the Resnick Aspen Action Forum, we celebrate breakthrough leaders who have turned their talents and resources toward dismantling our toughest problems. 

Tune-in: On July 26 4:00-5:00PM MT (Denver/Aspen) / 6:00-7:00PM ET (NYC/DC), join the McNulty Foundation and Aspen Global Leadership Network community for a livestreamed program where we will hear from breakthrough leaders working to address some of our greatest generational  challenges — the 2023 Winners of the McNulty Prize.

Learn from Breakthrough Leaders: From revolutionizing mental healthcare, to pioneering a holistic solution to plastic pollution, to restoring the promise of economic mobility, these leaders are transforming major parts of societal infrastructure for the better. This livestream is an opportunity to hear their bold visions and how they are creating change.  Read more on their work below.

During the 60 minute program, you'll see:

  • A keynote from Bill Bynum, Chief Executive Officer, Hope Credit Union, McNulty Prize Winner, Henry Crown Fellow, and Aspen Institute Trustee on pivotal moments in his leadership journey serving economically distressed areas of the Deep South;
  • Remarks from Anne Welsh McNulty 
  • The premiere of three short videos, each telling the story of the Winners’ leadership and impact; 
  • And a panel ranging over the critical moments that catalyzed each to step up and take action and how their leadership journeys have evolved.

#AspenAction #McNultyPrize



Democratizing Mental Health Care Through Grandmothers 

Dixon Chibanda, Aspen Global Innovators Fellow, started Friendship Bench after witnessing the fatal effects of scarce mental health resources in his community. In Zimbabwe, where he is one of only 19 psychiatrists for over 14 million people (World Health Organization, 2022), not only are mental health issues stigmatized, but those struggling cannot easily access affordable and timely care. 

Friendship Bench addresses this gap by equipping community health workers, more fondly called "grandmothers" to provide primary level care for individuals experiencing depression or anxiety. These trained grandmothers use culturally appropriate screening tools and talk therapy sessions, proving that basic mental healthcare can be a community-based health service. Since 2016, more than 200,000 people have received treatment through Friendship Bench, with 78% showing improvement. The impact of grandmothers has been proven in over 100 peer-reviewed publications: "This is a potential solution that can close the mental health gap around the world,” said Chibanda. 

Water Wheels, Advocacy & Education: A Model For Ending Plastic Pollution

Mirei Endara de Heras, Central America Leadership Initiative Fellow, has dedicated her career to addressing environmental challenges from establishing the Nature Conservancy in Panama, to serving as the first Minister of the Environment. She launched Marea Verde in partnership with her community to tackle the issue of plastic waste, particularly in rivers—a leading cause of ocean plastic pollution. 

“At Marea Verde, we see everything interconnected,” Endara says. “We are very aware that one action will not solve the problem.” Their holistic approach includes Wanda Diaz, a hydraulic and solar-powered water wheel that collects over 12,000 pounds of trash per month; advocacy and policy reform with local government, the UN, and other stakeholders; and community outreach programs to drive education and behavior change. Marea Verde demonstrates to Panamanians and the world that this seemingly intractable problem can be combated at the source.

Closing The Last Gap: Ensuring Low-Income Graduates Get Quality First Jobs 

Aimée Eubanks Davis, Pahara Fellow, launched Braven after witnessing her former students work their way from humble economic backgrounds to college, only to find it extremely challenging  to land strong first jobs upon graduation like their higher-income peers. Braven provides the skills, experiences, networks and confidence necessary to land a job worthy of their degrees, through credit-bearing programs at large universities like Rutgers University-Newark and historically Black colleges like Spelman College. 

The evidence is clear: Braven’s over 7,400 Fellows now outpace peers nationally in strong job attainment and receive higher salaries, and 75% of Braven graduates make more in their first job out of college than either of their parents did at the same age. “Together in partnership with institutions of higher education and employers, I believe that we could see the wealth gap in this country shrink, and restore the American Dream,” Davis says.