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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How One Young World’s Ella Robertson McKay Illuminates the Path for Global Youth Advocacy

Ella Robertson McKay, managing director of One Young World, is redefining the landscape of global youth advocacy one day at a time. With an unparalleled commitment to fostering fresh leadership, Robertson McKay has emerged as a pivotal figure championing the causes of inclusivity and planetwide change. Her stewardship is guiding and empowering a new generation to build a fairer, more equitable world.

“Being [in] 190 countries, that does a lot of the work for you,” Ella Robertson McKay says. “What we really try and focus on is not just identity, but intersectionality, and to make sure that if we are hearing from LGBT voices, where are the LGBT voices with people who are disabled? Where are the LGBT voices from Indigenous communities?

“And to not reduce people to labels, but to amplify people to all of their multifaceted identities that they feel that they can come to One Young World and advocate from a place of lived experience and for that to be seen as an added value rather than something that people don’t want to hear about in a professional environment.”

The Essential Ways One Young World Is Building a Better Tomorrow

One Young World connects with aspiring leaders from every corner of the globe and aims to inspire them, hone their skills, and provide a platform for them to shine and share ideas.

“We want to talk about how the movement for Black lives affects the workplace, and how people are doing things about racial justice in the workplace,” Robertson McKay adds. “Most of our business clients do want to talk to us about Israel-Palestine at the moment -— they want to understand what role they can play in supporting affected populations but also the tremendous cultural impact of the conflict.

“We want people to talk about how climate change is affecting them. We are very open about mental health and neurodiversity, and that’s what [Generation Z] wants.”

Organizations such as One Young World are opening a transparent discussion about formerly untouchable topics — and Ella Robertson McKay says it’s long overdue.

“If you go on TikTok many people are talking about how they have ADHD or autism, whatever it might be, whereas even five years ago, that was probably quite taboo,” she explains. “We want to be more than inclusive; we want to be encouraging … We want to be truly encouraging of everyone to show up at One Young World as their truest selves. And part of that is by leading the market in terms of accessibility. We work really hard to ensure that all delegates have parity of experience, regardless of physical or other disabilities. We always have more improvements to make but we strive really hard to be a conference which celebrates disability.”

Why Ella Robertson McKay Is Paving the Way for Aspiring Leaders

At the core of Robertson McKay’s philosophy is the belief that young people may be the architects of tomorrow but they’re also the changemakers of today.

“We get to work with the most inspiring young people from every single country in the world,” she notes. “So when you come to our event, on one hand, you’ve got someone from Vanuatu, the other side, Vietnam, Venezuela, the Vatican.

“We don’t get many young people from the Vatican, but literally every single country in the world. And so our ability to have insight into who’s changing the world, what ideas change the world, we have been able to develop really strong fluency around [that]. By working with young people, it’s incredibly forward-looking.”

Her reflection on One Young World’s early engagement with themes such as the #MeToo movement and countering violent extremism ahead of the broader public discourse exemplifies the organization’s pioneering spirit.

What sets Robertson McKay apart most is her profound understanding of the transformative power of youth advocacy. “If you move a young person’s trajectory by just a degree, the impact it has over the course of their lifetime is really exponential,” she says.

This philosophy underpins the initiatives and programs launched by One Young World, like the global summits that bring bright-eyed visionaries together with world-renowned figures and mentorship programs that provide guidance and support.

“Attending One Young World has increased my credibility and garnered trust from others,” Tabotabo Auatabu said in One Young World’s 2022 impact report. “Despite residing in a small country with a population of 120,000, the recognition received from One Young World has elevated my status as an ambassador for young people, allowing others to have confidence in me.”

Auatabu hails from the island of Kiribati and, because of his difficult childhood, has focused on the rights of children, women’s empowerment, and family development.

One Young World ambassador Carolina Garcia Arbelaez said the organization helped her find her voice. “Building a regenerative future is a massive challenge,” Arbelaez shared. “One Young World gives you a community of like-minded, stubborn optimists, leaders that share common values. With them by your side nothing seems impossible.”

United Kingdom-based businessman Olu Odubajo, the founder of advisory service KPMG’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurs Award, describes his experience with One Young World as a conduit for essential growth.

“The One Young World platform gave me exposure to a wider network,” Odubajosaid. “It gave me the ability to use that network to create a podcast, it gave me the ability to speak on stages including One Young World, and again that gave me a platform to just explain my story.

“I use the assets that One Young World has developed to support the positive stories I want to create.”

Odubajo continues to share uplifting stories on his “Not Your Everyday Podcast,” where he speaks to other business leaders and uses the art of storytelling to elevate the world. “You’re not a leader by status,” Odubajo said during his One Young World summit speech. “You’re a leader by action.”

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