Summit to include civic leaders, artists, and business leaders in main stage sessions, and breakout sessions on a diverse range of topics

Today, the Obama Foundation announced additional information on the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago on October 31 and November 1. The Foundation will welcome approximately five hundred civic leaders from around Chicago, the United States, and the world for a two-day, immersive event. During this inaugural Summit, young leaders will come together for a hands-on exchange of ideas to inspire and empower participants with tools to create positive change in their communities.

Summit participants will attend five main stage sessions with talks on topics ranging from motivating young people to choose a civic path to technology’s role in creating equitable and inclusive communities. Main stage sessions will be open to pre-credentialed media and livestreamed on Obama.org/Summit.

Artist, Theaster Gates

The Summit will also include breakout sessions, providing attendees with the opportunity to dive deeper into these topics, engage directly in conversation, and learn new skills. Breakout session topics range from communicating across differences to art and culture’s role in creating productive cities to understanding race in relation to one’s civic identity. Select breakout sessions will offer details on the Foundation’s upcoming programs and initiatives, and provide participants with an opportunity to give input and help shape the Foundation’s path forward.

An initial selection of main stage speakers and breakout facilitators includes:

  • His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales;
  • Matteo Renzi, Former Prime Minister of Italy;
  • Whitney Kimball Coe, Director of the National Rural Assembly;
  • Hamdi Ulukaya, humanitarian and Founder of Chobani;
  • Bahia Shebab, artist;
  • Brian Alexander, journalist and author;
  • Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Obama Presidential Center architects;
  • Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Laboratorio para la Ciudad;
  • Eric Liu, CEO of Citizen University;
  • Elizabeth Alexander, poet and author;
  • Theaster Gates, artist.


The Summit will also feature social spaces for attendees to interact and share ideas in an informal setting. The spaces will include local and international art, immersive digital experiences connecting attendees to locations around the world, and participatory installations.

Summit participants are civic leaders with backgrounds in diverse sectors. The Foundation has highlighted participants including: Sheldon Smith, founder of the Dovetail Project; Emily May, co-founder of the People’s Supper and Hollaback; and Trisha Shetty, Founder and CEO of She Says. The Foundation will continue to feature participant stories in a video series through the Summit. The Foundation received over 20,000 applications through Obama.org to attend the Summit.


“The Obama Foundation Summit will bring together young community leaders from Chicago, across the country, and around the world to share ideas about how to inspire and equip people and communities with the tools to make positive change. We look forward to welcoming them to Chicago and delving into the important dialogue about how best to foster and empower civic engagement,” said David Simas, Chief Executive Officer of the Obama Foundation.

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