10 questions for SDSN Youth's new Global Director Brighton Kaoma

10 questions for SDSN Youth's new Global Director Brighton Kaoma

Curious to learn more about our new Global Director Brighton Kaoma? We are, too! We sat with Brighton (virtually) to get to know about him and his plans for SDSN Youth, read more to find out!

"There is no better resource than a group of like-minded, committed young people working together for good."

That's why we are thrilled to have Brighton Kaoma with us as our new Global Director. Not only does he have an impressive track record of leadership experience working with corporate sustainability, business development, communications and youth empowerment, but he also has the vision, passion and creativity that is essential to leading SDSN Youth's mission - to educate and empower young leaders to advance the agenda for sustainable development.

Earlier this month, we sat down with Brighton (virtually) to get to know more about him and his plans for the organization.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Born and raised in Zambia, I moved to the United States where I graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration with Environmental Science and Policy from Colombia University. I started work at the age of 14 as a radio broadcaster and then served as a UNICEF Child Climate Ambassador. I took up my successive role as co-founder of a non-profit and for-profit enterprise in Zambia.

What motivated you to join SDSN Youth as Director? What are you most excited about with this new role?

There is a clear intersection between my background and the mission of SDSN Youth, and that is why I am excited about working as part of an initiative for young people who are organizing, mobilizing, and creating impact at scale for the sustainable development goals.

In times of uncertainty, what motivates you to advocate for yourself and others? What unique value do you think you will bring to SDSN Youth?

I am grounded by my belief in faith and courage. Faith to me is the ability to believe that is possible to create impact at scale even if we cannot see it. Courage to me is the ability to accommodate others with divergent views and opinions, as well as the capacity to support those that are not engaged in mainstream conversations about issues that matter the most. So faith and courage are the two values I bring with me to the organization.

What do you see as the biggest strengths of SDSN Youth right now?

We are an organization with so many young people who are idealistic, energetic, and innovative, and these are the key strengths that we need to leverage. I believe there is no better resource than a group of like-minded, committed young people working together for good.

And what do you see as the biggest challenges you have to tackle as the new Director?

Working alongside the membership program, we are in a position to bring in more organizations and ensure that the skills we offer within SDSN Youth are replicated at an organizational level globally, but also across universities and communities where our members are doing the most impactful work despite the challenges they face.

How would you describe your leadership style?

A mentor, a friend, a colleague. I want to create an enjoyable platform through which young people, members of our Secretariat, Network Coordinators, and Focal Points, all the way up to the Hub, feel a part of one SDSN Youth.

What are your main objectives as the new Director?

Increasing our fundraising opportunities by strengthening existing partnerships, but also creating new pathways. Across all our programs, we are going to provide equal opportunities to learn, ensuring that we give young people the critical-thinking skills and competencies that are especially needed during this decade of action.

What are some of the upcoming plans (for 2021-2022) you have as the new Director?

On June 14 we will host a webinar where we will launch our strategy and outline SDSN Youth priorities for this year and beyond - I would strongly encourage everyone to follow the event. Additionally, we want to ensure that we are more involved and engaged in all UN processes and that SDSN Youth becomes a critical voice in these spaces.

How would you like to see SDSN Youth grow in the next 5 years?

Building on the successes of the past, SDSN Youth should become a strong brand and a go-to place for young people to access knowledge, skills, and partnerships with like-minded people.

What is your message to SDSN Youth’s community of young people?

At the age of 14, I was a community organizer not aware of who was viewing my work. When UNICEF approached me to become their Child Climate Ambassador, I realized that irrespective of how small your initiative is, other people are watching. So I want to encourage you to continue doing your work in the most diligent way, and remember that you do not have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Want to hear more about Brighton’s plan for SDSN Youth? Find out more in the following webinar:

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