“With democracy under threat in the United States and around the world, the promise and potential of the next generation of leaders is more important than ever. On November 17 in New York City, President Obama will join pro-democracy thinkers, leaders, and activists from around the world to focus on the biggest challenges democratic institutions face today,” states the introduction of the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum 2022, an event Ms. Landisang Kotaro, President Whipps Chief of Staff is attending next week.
Landisang Kotaro, Palau’s first female Chief of Staff and youngest person to fill the post, will be joining former U.S. President Barrack Obama on the stage to talk about strengthening and expanding democracy around the world, representing the Asia-Pacific.
“After I received the call asking if I could go on stage with President Obama, I had to ask if they have made a mistake asking me,” expressed Chief of Staff Kotaro in disbelief that of all the people around the world that were chosen to this Obama Fellowship cohort program, she was asked to join Obama on stage for the Democracy Forum discussions.
Kotaro, who in her college days, went house to house in the U.S. campaigning for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama says, “it is almost like it’s coming full circle,” about joining Obama to talk about issues that are close to her heart such as strengthening civic responsibilities.
As an Obama Leader under the Obama Leaders Cohort Program, Landisang Kotaro had a year of coaching, mentoring, and learning to hone her leadership skills, expand her networks and learn and share with people who were like-minded and share her passion for making a difference.
The program selects young leaders from all walks of life that are passionate about improving and making positive changes in their countries and provides a process whereby they can take their leadership skills to the next level.
“We meet every Saturday for three hours online and share with each other challenges and issues that we’re passionate about. We bounce ideas and solutions back and forth and discuss openly matters like communications and conflicting situations and work through different situations,” explained Landisang, adding that the program highlights “a leadership and service with integrity which I value.”
Experts, firms, and organizations worldwide are brought in to address certain topics. “Our President Surangel Whipps Jr. was a presenter in one of our first cohort sessions,” revealed Landisang.
The three-hour weekly online sessions were never boring and provided a safe place to discuss issues openly, added Landisang. She said it also made her appreciate where she is, as some of her colleagues’ lives could be threatened if they openly expressed their ideas in their countries.
Passionate about instilling a sense of civic duty in the people, Landisang said that is something she has been involved in and continues to advocate for as one sure way to ensure a healthy democratic system.
The event information says, “It will highlight the young leaders in our programs and advocates who are deeply engaged in revitalizing the institutions that support a healthy democracy and modeling the values that have always embodied our best.”