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Obama Foundation Summit

Three people sit in plush chairs on stage. Two men sit on either side of a woman. Behind them is a screen with the words "Obama Foundation Summit"

November 18-19, 2018

The 2018 Obama Foundation Summit has concluded. Thanks for tuning in! You can see video highlights below.

Video Highlights from the Summit

Obama Foundation 2018 Summit Highlights

This year’s Summit was a tribute to President Obama's longstanding belief that, no matter our backgrounds, we all share a desire to build a better future. Across three sessions, we were joined by incredible speakers including Advocate & Actress Janelle Mo

Author Dave Eggers in Conversation With President Barack Obama

President Obama is interviewed by author, publisher and philanthropist Dave Eggers. Born in Chicago, Eggers has turned literary success into social change, launching a national network of literary tutoring academies called 826, as well as the human rights

Obama Foundation Fellow and Founder of Anseye Pou Ayiti Nedgine Paul Deroly

Obama Fellow Nedgine Paul Deroly hosts the closing session exploring the power of place and how our roots matter, sharing how her identity as a proud daughter of Haiti shapes her work.

Advocate and Actor Diane Guerrero and WBEZ Host Jenn White

Jenn White, a current host at WBEZ and the voice behind their remarkable podcast, “Making Obama,” will be interviewing immigration advocate and actor Diane Guerrero in a powerful conversation about honoring and respecting our roots.

Obama Foundation Scholar Fatima Zaman

Obama Foundation Scholar Fatima Zaman shares her moving personal story about encountering violent extremism and her commitment to counter it.

Spoken Word Performance by National Youth Poet Laureate Patricia Frazier

Bronzeville native Pat Frazier lifts up stories and experiences from the South Side of Chicago, performing “71st and Wabash” and “I am Windy City.”

Chicago Resident and 826 Participant Esperanza Rivera

Chicago resident and high school sophomore Esperanza Rivera talks about the impact the writing academy 826 has made on her life, before introducing 826 founder and author, Dave Eggers, and President Barack Obama.

Obama Foundation Fellow Nedgine Paul Deroly and Obama Foundation Ceo David Simas Close the Summit

Obama Foundation Fellow Nedgine Paul Deroly closes out the 2018 Summit with Foundation CEO David Simas. They reflect on the inspiring experience of bringing young leaders from all around the world together, in Chicago.

The Obama Foundation Global Girls Alliance

See the transformative impact education can have for young girls in India through a short film. Then watch the subjects of the film, Laxmi Nishad, Kiran Sahu, and Dr. Urvashi Sahni, share their stories about adolescent girls’ education in India and their

Psychotherapist and Queer Eye Host, Karamo Brown in conversation with author Tara Westover

Psychotherapist and Queer Eye Host, Karamo Brown, sits down with the author of “Educated,” Tara Westover, for a conversation about how sharing one’s own complex identity can help break through to others who hold an entirely different set of beliefs.

Obama Foundation Africa Leader and Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer David Sengeh

David Sengeh shares his thoughts on the prevailing narrative of who exactly is allowed to be an innovator by discussing the transformative power of tech and data to help the government of Sierra Leone serve its people.

Community Leadership Corps Chicago members Emily Nordquist and Alexandra Perez-Garcia

Young leaders Emily Nordquist and Alexandra Perez-Garcia take turns discussing the impact that existing narratives can have on progress. Emily discusses the necessity of financial literacy, especially among young women, while Alexandra talks about the sti

Minding the Gap Filmmaker Bing Liu

Chicago-based director and cinematographer Bing Liu discusses the responsibility of documentary filmmakers, after screening a clip of his film Minding the Gap, which explores race, class, friendship, and manhood in America’s Rust Belt.

A conversation between authors Zadie Smith, Yaa Gyasi, and Courtney Martin

Authors Zadie Smith, Yaa Gyasi, and Courtney Martin sit down for a conversation on representation through literature, and how they write the fiction they hope to see in the world.

Obama Foundation Fellow, artist, and deaf advocate Melissa Malzkuhn

Stories create who we are and define how we understand our shared humanity. Melissa Malzkuhn speaks on her work championing literacy in the deaf community, her family history with storytelling, and gives an introduction to American Sign Language.

Singer and actress Janelle Monáe in conversation with Community Leadership Corps members

Janelle Monae interviews Community Leadership Corps members Anna Dong and Danny Flores on how their communities have helped them find their voices.

Community Leadership Corps Member Chanelle Bell

To kick off the Summit, Chanelle Bell offers a brief reflection on the Community Leadership Corps Capstone and introduces the common hope that has brought all attendees to our community of Chicago.

Obama Foundation Scholar Ana Maria Gonzalez-Forero

Ana, Obama Scholar at Columbia University, speaks on the importance of community ownership in her home country of Colombia and beyond.

MBK Alliance Executive Director Michael Smith in conversation with winners of the MBK Alliance Community Challenge Competition

A conversation exploring how local communities have taken up the mantle of change to support boys and men of color.

Obama Foundation Fellow Ashley Hanson

Obama Fellow Ashley Hanson reflects on her work to reweave the fabric of civic life in rural communities through art.

American Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and Chicago Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein in conversation with ESPN’s J.A. Adande

Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, Chicago Cubs’ Theo Epstein, and ESPN’s J.A. Adande sit down for a conversation about sports and society, and how they represent their communities on the piste and the field.

Obama Foundation CEO David Simas

David Simas welcomes attendees to the Summit and speaks on the impact of Foundation programming, the future Obama Presidential Center, and the power of building community over conversation. After the session, Summit attendees dined at restaurants across t

Performance by songwriter and jazz vocalist Queen Esther and guitarist Jeff McLaughlin

Common Hope. Uncommon Stories.

Though we may come from different backgrounds and hold different beliefs, we are all bound by a shared desire to build a better future for our communities.

Community Leadership Corps: Meet Dejah Powell and Black & Well

Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps participant Dejah Powell started Black & Well with her two best friends to integrate wellness into the black community in Chicago and create a space to talk about health issues together as a community.

Community Leadership Corps: Meet Hazel Bridges and Further Together Columbia

Further Together is an outreach initiative that brings younger and older adults together to get to know one another and to create deep connections in hopes of reducing the divide younger and older generations experience. Through service projects and other

Community Leadership Corps: Meet Katie Gentry and Street Sense Solutions Phoenix

As a part of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps, Katie, Erin, and Rachel teamed up to address the all-too-often stigmatized issue of homelessness. Get a closer look at the Street Sense simulation that walks people through the complexities, th

Africa Leaders: Meet Robert Katende and the Som Chess Academy

Rooted in the belief that people have the potential to change their communities for the better, they simply lack the opportunity to do so, Africa Leader Robert Katende started the Som Chess Academy in 2004 to restore hope and transform the lives of childr

Scholars: Meet the 2018 Class of Scholars

The Obama Foundation Scholars program gives rising young leaders around the world who are already making a difference in their communities the opportunity to take their work to the next level through a newly designed curriculum that brings together academ

Updates from the Summit

I would be nothing without my community.

Diane Guerrero

We are in a space where at the end of the day, we see each other, we love each other, and we really do all want the same thing, which is love.

Karamo Brown

I can be anything I want to be. Education has changed my life. I believe that all girls should fight to get an education.

Kiran Sahu, A Member of the Global Girls Alliance

I’ve always had that feeling inside that I was fighting for anyone who has been told no.

Olympic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad

It doesn’t come easy. You have to fight for it. And none of us have to do it alone.

Janelle Monáe

A man with a medium skin tone is shown outside in front of boats looking forward toward the camera.

November 17, 2018

A Day in the Life: Harry Grammer

Obama Fellow Harry Grammer founded New Earth to help justice system-involved youth build a brighter future for themselves.  See how he does it +

Hong Hoang smiles at a man as they walk down the sidewalk together.

November 16, 2018

A Day in the Life: Hong Hoang

For 20 years, Hong Hoang has mobilized youth leaders to push for environmental preservation. See how she’s taking her work to the next level as an Obama Foundation Scholar.  Read more +

Asa Singleton

November 15, 2018

A Day in the Life: Asa Singleton

See how Asa Singleton, Youth Ambassador for MBK Houston and Summit attendee, is working towards a brighter future through boxing and community involvement.  Read the full story +

November 12, 2018

Tell Us: How are you working towards a better future?

The theme of this year’s Summit is Common Hope. Uncommon Stories. Take a moment to think about how you’re working towards our shared hope: a better future for communities around the world.  Add your voice

King Gyan plays soccer with one of his students.

November 13, 2018

A Day in the Life: King Gyan

Take a peek into the life of mentor, footballer, Africa Leader, and Summit attendee King Gyan.  Read more +

Obama Foundation Summit Speakers and Attendees Include

President Obama speaking on a stage
President Barack Obama

44th President of the United States

A man with a light skin tone takes a picture in a background full of nature
Dave Eggers


A professional headshot of a man with a medium skin tone
Harry Grammer


A man with a deep skin tone takes a picture smiling
Karamo Brown

Host, Culture expert

A picture of a woman with a light skin tone and long hair
Lilly Singh

Comedian and YouTube Creator

A woman with a light skin tone takes a close up picture smiling
Hong Hoang


A man with a deep skin tone takes a picture smiling while wearing business casual clothing
Asa Singleton

Youth Ambassador, MBK Houston

A woman with a light skin tone takes a close up picture
Zadie Smith


A close up picture of  a woman with a medium-deep skin tone
Janelle Monáe

Singer-songwriter, Advocate and Actress

A male with a light skin tone takes a picture in front of a pride flag and the flag of Mexico
Danny Flores

Community Leadership Corps Columbia Member