The Innovators - 2005 onwards




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Jun 23, 2017
by Oscar Tollast and Nicole Bogart
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The Innovators - 2005 onwards

Salzburg Global Seminar’s mission is to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. We bring next generation change-makers to Salzburg to share their own experiences and also to gain insights from peers and potential collaborators and mentors from around the world. But the going out of our gates is more important than the coming in. Salzburg Global aims to turbo-charge these outstanding young leaders in their work to transform their institutions, communities and countries.

Listed below are short profiles of Salzburg Global Fellows identified as part of "The Innovators" group. These Fellows have attended sessions since 2005 and have shown great potential to achieve positive change in their communities.

Bao Chau Nguyen


At 19, LGBT activist Bao Chau Nguyen is one of our youngest Fellows, but he’s already a key change-maker in his country and field. Turbo-charged by the connections he made in 2016 at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Nguyen founded the Hanoi International Queer Film Week, Vietnam’s first legal queer film festival, featuring films from a number of LGBT Forum Fellows. He is now working to expand the reach of NextGEN – an organization working for the LGBT community in Vietnam – out into the wider Asia region. After taking part in the LGBT Forum, Nguyen said: “I was always the one who followed; I was never the one who leads. After this, I have become the leader of something.”

Navras Jaat Aafreedi


A Fellow of the Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention program, Navras Aafreedi is a trailblazer in India. The assistant history professor has launched the course, “A History of Mass Violence: 20th Century to the Present” at Presidency University in Kolkata – the first of its kind in South Asia. The Master’s degree program was developed in part thanks to Aafreedi’s 2014 participation in Salzburg. Fellows are now creating a similar program in Morocco, which will be the first of its kind in the Maghreb. Courses such as his are important says Aafreedi because: “Political regimes can't succeed in carrying out their evil designs if scholars do not give them the backroom support for petty gains.”

Ayman Sabae


Multi-time Fellow Ayman Sabae is pushing for better health care in Egypt. Sabae first attended a Health and Health Care Innovation session in 2012 while completing his Master’s in international healthcare systems management, and has since attended a further three sessions. Following his participation, he has formed an in-country group on healthcare governance and contributed to a detailed plan for palliative care in Egypt. Today he is CEO of Shamseya, an Egyptian social enterprise focused on creating sustainable community-based solutions for health care challenges. Returning to the Schloss time and again, Sabae says: “It’s always this pivotal moment that either turns very broad ideas into something tangible or that it takes something tangible that you are already doing to the next level, and this for me is the big leap forward that makes it worthwhile to attend every single time.”

Doreen Toutikian


Solving social issues through design thinking and co-creation, Doreen Toutikian first came to Salzburg in 2014 for a session on Conflict Transformation through Culture. Toutikian directs the annual festival Beirut Design Week, and after winning a post-session grant in 2016, she brought in a Thai Fellow to share his ideas from South East Asia with the Middle East. Toutikian has also served as a facilitator for the Salzburg Global Young Cultural Innovators Forum, helping participants with problem solving while fostering creative innovation and entrepreneurship. At the YCI Forum, Toutikian urged participants to be patient in their work: “If your heart is in it and you just take your time and you keep on doing it, somewhere down the line it will work out.”

Deanna Haggag


Described by Vogue as the “woman leading the fight to protect the arts in Trump’s America,” Deana Haggag attended the Young Cultural Innovators Forum in 2015, when she was the director of The Contemporary Museum of Baltimore. She then worked with local YCI Fellows to support the Citizen Artist Baltimore project, leading to the city’s first ever Mayoral Forum on Arts and Culture. She was recently appointed president and CEO of United States Artists, a nonprofit organization that provides fellowships to America’s most accomplished and innovative artists. Haggag told Vogue that the arts are vital to help bridge divides: “If you can’t meet someone day to day who is different from you, if you don’t have that in your life, then you can find that through music and the arts and books. That’s why we exist.”