The Global Leaders Program (GLP) is an experiential program designed to give domestic and international students real-world practice in problem-solving, cross-cultural communication, and organizational support throughout their undergraduate career. This is a cohort-based program that students begin during their first year at the University.
Applying a human-centered design framework, students, guided by mentors, develop innovative solutions to social challenges posed by local and global organizations. Challenge prompts range from the holistic integration of refugees into their host community to the interplay of public health and social equity.
The objective for each semester is identical: develop mutually beneficial relationships between the students and participating community partners. Students provide research and professional support to organizations and, in turn, develop the critical skills necessary to be impactful leaders in the global marketplace.
For more information, contact Nikia Brown, associate director of intercultural & global learning, international student experience.
vermiCUlture is an environmental organization focused on addressing climate change issues related to food waste management. It was founded by students at the University of Illinois. Their focus is on educating communities to develop better day-to-day practices, which can lead to reduction in food wastage, and to find better ways to process the waste food into energy, such as vermicomposting.
Food waste is not just limited to losing access to limited resources—it has multiple indirect impacts on the environment and public health. Since 2021, vermiCUlture has gifted 75 starter kits to their participants to kickstart their vermicomposting journey.
Their main focus now is to reduce food waste issues within the University of Illinois.
Eco-Justice Collaborative is a non-profit organization launched in 2008. The core mission of Eco-Justice Collaborative is to spread awareness and prevent policies that adversely affect the environment or create public health hazards. Eco-Justice Collaborative also proposes strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating carbon sinks in the Midwest via regenerative agriculture.
Eco-Justice Collaborative has organized to pass the groundbreaking Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. This bill puts Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050, boosting Illinois' economy along the way. The bill's jobs training and jobs creation programs will help workers and coal communities transition from fossil fuels while building equity and wealth in communities of color.
Prairie Rivers Network's mission is to protect water, heal land, and inspire change. Using the creative power of science, law, and collective action, they protect and restore rivers, return healthy soils and diverse wildlife to our lands, and transform how we care for the earth and for each other.
Prairie Rivers Network works to protect water from the ravages of pollution and restore the beauty and power of naturally flowing rivers. They hold polluters accountable, have created advanced policies to allow river ecosystems to thrive, and promote practices that keep waters clean and abundant.
Land and water form a system on which the entire community of life depends; to care for land is to care for water. Prairie Rivers Network works with people to restore the lands along and between our rivers, repair the earth that provides our food, and ensure that animals have the habitat needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Learn about our FA22 mentors
Laura Adiwasito is an impact-driven senior strategist with over 11 years of experience in creative communications, design thinking, consulting, and project management in multiple subject matters including: social innovation and entrepreneurship, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development.
Laura has worked with organizations in the nonprofit, multi- lateral, public, and private sectors in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and South Asia. A political scientist and is based in Bogotá, Colombia, she is passionate about working in international and multi-cultural environments, particularly with social impact initiatives that drive change.
Richard (Richy) Bikko's initial work experience was an internship at TASSC International, a human rights organization in Washington, D.C. He moved back to Kenya in 2012 where he joined DIPAD, a peacebuilding and development organization that works at the intersection of restorative justice, trauma healing, and leadership development. His initial work experiences gave him a deeper understanding on the liberating and transformative power of both formal and informal education.
In 2013, Richy joined Global Minimum Inc. (GMin) as a volunteer and was captivated by the organization’s vision of engaging and inspiring young Africans to be at the forefront of creating a more just and equitable world through unique learning experiences. Since then he has been instrumental to the growth of the organization and played a key role in development and facilitation of workshops on Design Thinking, Project Based Learning, as well as leadership and social entrepreneurship. He has also played a key role in the development of GMin programs to be more accessible and inclusive for all young leaders. Mentoring young leaders at GMin is one of his most treasured moments as he gets to see firsthand the impact and transformational journey the youth are making towards creating social change in their communities.
Richy’s education journey led him to attain a B.A. degree in Justice, Peace & Conflict Studies from Eastern Mennonite University. His education strengthened his resolve to champion social justice and exposed him to a multidisciplinary and multicultural educational environment.
Samantha Lindgren is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership in the College of Education at UIUC. Her work focuses on youth-oriented sustainability education, including environmental education and education for sustainable development, and its impact on decision-making in the home, both in the United States and abroad. Her work is situated in topics of household energy and sustainable agriculture. She examines youth and their ability to affect change in their homes and communities through purposeful sustainability education programming in formal and informal settings.
Internationally, Lindgren's work has focused on the introduction of efficient cookstoves and sustainable agriculture practices in resource-limited settings and the role that education and youth play in strengthening community resilience. Domestically, she examines environmental education programming that addresses access and equity, as a way to connect youth and their households to their local environments. Lindgren is affiliated faculty in the department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering and the Technology Entrepreneurship Center in the Grainger College of Engineering, as well as the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives program.
Michelle Ngure is a learning experience designer who has contributed to the development of STEM curriculum in primary and secondary schools. She has led an afterschool STEM program serving over 700 marginalized youth in low-resourced schools at Global Minimum, a non-proﬁt organization that provides youth with the opportunity to harness their potential as changemakers. In her role as East Africa - Regional Manager, she established STEM learning centers in Kampala and Nairobi or STEMCafe. She is a member of the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN), a program led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where her experience in immersive human centered design, through training engagements and coaching, has facilitated learning and project development for diverse groups of teams in Africa.
In her most recent role as a Project Lead at inHive, a non-proﬁt organization that strengthens access to youth’s social capital strong networks and relatable role models), she advised on the structure and operations of the Mastercard Foundation Alumni Network. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Nairobi and is pursuing a Master of Education in Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology at Harvard University.
Lucas O’Bryan graduated from the University of Illinois in 2019 with his degree in materials science and engineering. After graduating, he remained in Champaign to work full time as a design fellow at the Siebel Center for Design. As a design fellow he developed curriculum for integrating human-centered design into courses across the university while also leading several projects focused on community engagement with partners such as Carle, the University of Illinois Foundation, and STEM Illinois.
The devastation of COVID-19 and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement jump-started a radicalization process that brought him to Seattle in 2021 to pursue a Master of Social Work at the University of Washington. Outside of school, he’s a writer, lover of hip hop, and voracious listener of podcasts.
Shira Babow is a training specialist for an international development consulting firm based in Washington, DC. She specializes in working with international clients to design and deliver trainings, workshops, and events in the fields of biodiversity conservation and international education.
Shira holds a masters in development Studies with a concentration in environment and sustainable development from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. In her free time, she enjoys cooking mediocre food, catching outdoor concerts from local bands, and tending to her ever-growing urban jungle.