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Leadership Award Presentation | Mainstage

Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States, Chair for the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, George W. Bush Institute
Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Senior Fellow, Harvard University Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs; Concordia Leadership Council Member
Mónica Ramírez, Founder, Justice for Migrant Women
Niels B. Christiansen, CEO, The LEGO Group
Sherrie Westin, President, Sesame Workshop; Concordia Senior Advisor
Anita McBride, Executive in Residence, American University; Concordia Leadership Council Member
Carolyn Miles, Senior Advisor and Executive Fellow, University of Virginia, Darden School of Business; Concordia Leadership Council Member

The Concordia Leadership Award recognizes global leaders within the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who inspire others through their ability to turn vision into impact. This year’s recipients were: Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States (public sector); Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group (private sector); and, Mónica Ramírez, Founder & President of Justice for Migrant Women (nonprofit sector). Read Concordia’s full press release here

Introducing the first awardee, Anita McBride, Executive in Residence at American University, reflected on Mrs. Bush’s deep and lasting impact on literacy and for Afghan Women. Amb. Paula Dobriansky, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs and Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, reinforced Mrs. Bush’s commitment to Afghan women, her enduring compassion, and tireless efforts. Accepting the award, Mrs. Bush expressed concern for the Afghan people and reminded the audience of how fragile our freedoms can be if half of the population is excluded. She urged freedom-loving people to stand in solidarity, accept the common humanity of women and girls, and remain steadfast in our commitments to empowering women.

Sherrie Westin, President of the Sesame Workshop, took to the stage to introduce the next awardee, Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of The LEGO Group. Westin highlighted the LEGO Group’s investment in sustainability and its belief that all children can learn through play and become lifelong learners. Christiansen accepted the award on behalf of the company and of children. It is incumbent on us, he said, to ensure that there’s a tomorrow to build. All children deserve a safe childhood that allows them to play, learn, and be inspired, but too many feel uncertain due to poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic, famine, and climate change. Children need to feel inspired, accepted, and included. Christensen highlighted the LEGO Group’s commitment to driving change through renewable energy and reducing waste and single-use plastics. It takes time to move from decisions to impact, he said, and he appreciates that children continue to push the company to live up to their environmental commitments.

Introduced by Carolyn Miles, Executive Fellow at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, the final award was presented to Mónica Ramírez, Founder of Justice for Migrant Women. Ramírez accepted the award on behalf of migrant women and the women who raised her.

Women are often invisible, she said, but migrant women do the work that sustains us all. They pick and pack the food we eat but are often denied basic rights and lack protection. Ramírez urged the audience to get to know migrant women to understand their priorities and work across sectors to ensure that women have what they need.

Laura Bush’s enduring compassion, dedication, and genuine care for the people of Afghanistan is truly unforgettable.

Amb. Paula Dobriansky

Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture. It’s the acceptance of our common humanity.

Laura Bush

The women whom I serve are often invisible to most people across the U.S. and certainly in different parts of the world. Migrant women do necessary work, critical work that literally sustains us all.

Mónica Ramírez

Children are looking to us—to you, to me, to all adults—to ensure that there is a tomorrow for them to build.

Niels B. Christiansen

Since joining the LEGO Group in 2017, Niels Christiansen has spearheaded transformative work to empower children to become the builders of tomorrow.

Sherrie Westin

Laura Bush has been dedicated to advancing literacy and education and women’s rights around the world.

Anita McBride

Mónica Ramírez is a true fighter for justice here in the U.S. She fights for women, for children, for Latinos, with a particular focus on highly-discriminated women including farmworkers.

Carolyn Miles

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Promoting human dignity worldwide requires a common understanding of, and respect for, those whose experiences are not the same as ours.
  • It is incumbent on those who are in a position to effect change to stand up for those who are excluded from the conversation.