Clarissa Mackay with Obama Future Leader Nic Marches from Orange Sky, which offers a free mobile clothes washing service to homeless people.

Waiheke resident Clarissa Mackay has been selected as one of 200 Asia Pacific leaders in the Obama Future Leaders programme.

Clarissa is chief executive of non-government organisation Eat Right Be Bright, and is focused on making a difference to child poverty in New Zealand by having school lunches available to all children.

In December Clarissa attended a five-day conference in Kuala Lumpur, run by the Obama Foundation. Clarissa says she wanted to be part of the programme because Michelle Obama has advocated for school feeding in the United States and created momentum on the issue. 

The young leaders are all aged under 40. They heard speakers in the  morning including Barack and Michelle Obama, Julia Roberts and Allbirds footwear company co-founder New Zealander Tim Brown. This was followed by breakout groups and afternoon sessions where discussions centred around developing leadership and the kind of leadership that is ideal. There were also question and answer sessions with the speakers.

The leadership programme reaches beyond the conference and, now back from Kuala Lumpur, Clarissa says the work continues.

“It’s a year long programme. We are in a group of 12 leaders and we support each other. Once a month there is a video speaker and everyone communicates by WhatsApp,” says Clarissa, who was amazed by what other young leaders were up to. • Erin Johnson

Full story in this week’s Gulf News…Out Now!!!

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