COVID-19 Alumni Response Initiatives in Central Europe: Online Network Meeting

Especially in times of crisis, we think it important to recognize everybody who has helped in their own way to tackle the problems arising. Many of the Alumni of the Aspen Young Leaders Program have reacted to the current pandemic by launching new initiatives and ideas responding to the situation and demonstrating values-based leadership in practice. The Aspen Institute Central Europe finds it of the utmost importance to continue sharing and inspiring new and potent ideas that will help shape strategies and skills that are much needed to get through the challenging times of the global COVID-19 pandemic imposed on us.

On 8 April 2020, we organized an Online Network Meeting for Alumni to reconnect with the Aspen community and learn about the best practices, initiatives and experience across the network, inspire one other and raise hope.

About 20 professionals came together to share their views. The kick-off remarks were made by Jan Lukačevič, who launched the grassroots movement #EnergiiLékařům (Energy for Doctors) to collect food with high nutritional value and distribute it to the medical staff who are under extreme pressure, recognizing that they need a great deal of energy and support to fight off their own fatigue and illness.

The next speaker was Robert Sovík who is the CEO and founder of  USA Sport&Study, a development organization which helps young students realize their full potential. To continue in the students’ preparation and development, Robert and his team have leveraged their own online tools. They are offering an online educational platform for free to educators and consultants to create their own courses to work efficiently with their students, who are also encouraged to spend their time more efficiently with their Academic English work and personal development.

The last kick-off speaker was Yemi A.D., a multi-disciplinary creative and a member of the 2019 Class of Henry Crown Fellowship within the Aspen Global Leadership Network, who talked about his Dance Academy Prague that adapted to the situation by offering their lessons online. Yemi shared the new realizations and moments he and his team discovered while connecting with their students online from their homes. Additionally, in response to the depressing media coverage increasing panic, Yemi decided to increase hope and positive impact instead. He organized a unique two chamber interactive conference The Anti-panic Conference at which business leaders, strategists and creatives debated about positives examples in the business sphere.

In the following debate, we discussed the role of leaders in the COVID19 pandemic and how to use the momentum. Are these initiatives going to be only short-term patches on the current situation or do they have a transformational impact for the future? Which values and questions should we revisit in the post-crisis times?

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