UC San Diego News Center


UC San Diego Organizes Second Annual Global Empowerment Summit


The inaugural Global Empowerment Summit took place in 2015, and UC San Diego is underwriting the second annual summit set for Oct. 22, 2016.

Attendees urged to ‘Be the Source of Change’ to catalyze social change and combat human trafficking

Following its creation of a senior position to expand the university’s focus on social impact and innovation, the University of California San Diego is organizing the 2016 Global Empowerment Summit jointly with the nonprofit Alliance4Empowerment.

“Our goal is to share best practices, connect, brainstorm and come up with solutions for social challenges that we face,” said Naila Chowdhury, who recently became UC San Diego’s first Director of Social Impact and Innovation. “We believe in collective action, and based on our experience at the first summit last year, we anticipate that the insights, experience and compassion of our speakers and the broader community will result in new ideas and programs that offer actionable and impactful solutions that can be implemented locally and globally.”


Naila Chowdhury joined UC San Diego in June to be the university’s Director of Social Impact and Innovation.

Chowdhury founded the Alliance4Empowerment, which organized the first Global Empowerment Summit in 2015. For the upcoming summit, UC San Diego is underwriting all costs associated with the 2016 event, which will take place on Saturday, October 22 from 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (located at 2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive in La Jolla, CA).

The day-long meeting will be cochaired by UC San Diego’s Chowdhury and Amanda Caniglia, President of the Alliance4Empowerment. Registration is free, but seating is limited. Attendees who would like to make a contribution in lieu of admission are invited to donate directly to the cause on the Alliance4Empowerment (A4E) website at All contributions go directly to fund social credit projects, helping to provide economic empowerment to women and youth in San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico border region.

“A4E was created to empower underserved people with the universal opportunity to live with dignity, self-esteem, respect and love in the San Diego region and beyond,” said Chowdhury. “We partner with existing community organizations to help make San Diego one of the most compassionate cities in the United States through our collaborative efforts.”

Chowdhury joined UC San Diego in June after working closely for 17 years with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, whose Grameen Bank in Bangladesh pioneered the microfinance movement in developing countries (for which Yunus was honored by the Nobel committee in 2006). “Our goal is to create inspired, innovative and inclusive communities that are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally,” added Chowdhury. “By engaging thought leaders in the area of social impact and innovation, we also hope that they will help us develop platforms for fuller participation of women and youth in the San Diego region and in developing countries.”


Attendees at the 2015 summit participate in team-building exercises and other activities.

The Global Empowerment Summit starts from the assumption that economic empowerment cannot be a one-way street. “We believe in providing a hand-up instead of a hand-out,” said summit cochair Amanda Caniglia. “Rather than relying on charity, the power of small ‘sustainable credit’ loans allows hard-working women and youth to thrive by developing their existing skills into profitable, self-sustaining small businesses in a nurturing, loving and supportive environment.”

The 2016 summit will explore themes including the Power of Collaboration, Social impact, Global Connection, Human Triumph, Recognition, and the Power of Collective Minds. “Be the Source of Change” will be the ever-present admonishment on signs and posters in the conference hall, and to ensure that such lofty ideals and themes are integrated into a post-summit action plan to catalyze social change, organizers selected to focus on one prevailing challenge: to combat human trafficking, including sex trafficking, at the local, national and international levels.

The lineup of 30 speakers at the 2016 Global Empowerment Summit includes politicians including Congresswoman Susan Davis and keynote speaker Toni Atkins, Speaker Emeritus of the California State Assembly. Representatives of international development institutions will include UN Women’s Economic Empowerment Chief Meg Jones is on the agenda, as is Maya Brahmam, Senior Communications Officer at the World Bank. The role that technology can play in addressing challenges such as human trafficking will be discussed by experts ranging from Martin Cooper, the inventor of the portable cell phone (in 1973), and Ramesh Rao, the UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor who directs the Qualcomm Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. Other speakers include UC San Diego professors Anita Raj and Jay Silverman, who cofounded the university’s Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH), and cultural anthropologist Jamie Gates from Point Loma Nazarene University, who has done groundbreaking research on sex trafficking in the San Diego-Tijuana border region.

Summit attendees will also hear from local and grassroots community leaders, and in addition to the plenary sessions, there will be breakout sessions as well as a vendor fair.

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