Keren Raz '10 attends achievement summit in South Africa

Keren Raz ’10 spent six days this past July rubbing elbows with the likes of Jeremy Irons, Amy Grant, Jane Goodall, Desmond Tutu, and Chris Matthews when she joined 26 other graduate students from around the world who were invited to the Academy of Achievement’s 2009 International Achievement Summit, held in Cape Town, South Africa. The event, which Raz called a “life-changing experience,” convened a who’s who of international notables to exchange ideas and learn about South Africa’s unique history. “I left South Africa feeling complete happiness and a newfound confidence in myself, my dreams, and my ideas,” said Raz, who was invited as an NYU Reynolds Graduate Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.

Raz and her peers attended talks by luminaries such as Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, and writers Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka, all Nobel laureates and anti-apartheid activists; journalists Sam Donaldson and Chris Matthews; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; primatologist Dame Jane Goodall; former Distinguished Global Fellow Albie Sachs, a justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court; Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union; Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and author Alexander McCall Smith. Topics included South Africa’s difficult racial history, the creation of sustainable medical facilities in impoverished communities, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the reconciliation of science and religion, opportunities to address modern challenges facing urban environments, the defense of civil liberties, social entrepreneurship, and the international economic crisis. Attendees also enjoyed performances by actor Jeremy Irons and by musicians Amy Grant, Vince Gill, and Joshua Bell, and had the chance to leave the city to visit a rural school, an orphanage where many of the children were infected with HIV, and a game reserve.

Raz, who is a Root-Tilden-Kern Jacobson Public Service Scholar and co-founder of the Law and Social Entrepreneurship Association, says she was impressed by her fellow student delegates, one of whom had studied violin with Itzhak Perlman, and by an exchange she had with Catherine B. Reynolds, the summit’s host chairman and an NYU trustee, and the ACLU’s Romero: “We touched on topics such as state laws and the tax codes and the complicated legal structures that innovative social ventures devise. It was a rich conversation that continues to inspire me to work at the intersection of law and social entrepreneurship.”

Posted on September 25, 2009