From Cornell: Why Young Global Leadership Today is So Critical

By Kumar Nandanampati, 2019 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient

Ithaca, N.Y. Young global leadership is so critical today because young leaders are uniquely positioned to understand, empathize, and tackle the inequalities and oppressions that society faces. As the number of global issues rises, from climate change to income inequality, it is important for young leaders to be proactive in finding ways to tackle global issues and be knowledgeable about what is happening throughout the world.

Kumar.Nandanampati 600Kumar Nandanampati, 2019 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient, at Cornell.

Young leaders have both an advantage and an obligation to take up the mantle of leadership. We have an advantage because ignorance is no longer a justification for inaction. Through technology and social media, we have grown up aware and cognizant about problems that are happening around the world. One quality hour spent on Instagram can teach anyone a surface level understanding about issues faced by hundreds of communities across the world.

We have an obligation because it is our generation and onwards who are going to be the most affected by the issues that the world currently faces, even if we did not directly contribute to them. If we remain inactive and apathetic and expect older generations to solve global problems, the change will never come and doom will become inevitable. We need to become the frontrunners and spearhead solving the issues that we see around us.

40449306_2235938533102079_2441499048746680320_oKumar Nandanampati and Cornell University’s South Asian Council
at Balch Hall with Hansika IyerAnekha GoyalSmita Bhoopatiraju,
Aashka PiprottarShikhor WahedShivani ParikhAliza AdhamiGauri
Anuush VejallaRachel George and Katha SikkaPhoto: Savanna Lim.

That being said, I do not think this means that every 20-year-old needs to prioritize finding a cure for HIV or discovering how to stop carbon emissions. While pursuing academic education in these fields is great, there is no reason to equate true leadership with immediate global change. I am a strong believer that change starts at our own doorstep and the path to global leadership begins by being a local leader and by addressing the issues you observe around you.

For example, I am currently a 21-year-old college student in Ithaca, NY. While it is objectively true that my campus and my community afford me more luxuries and privileges than many do not have, it would be foolish and incorrect for me to say my local community is also void of inequalities. I see these inequalities with communities I interact with on a day to day basis.

19884151_881078395388892_7533506395196763924_n (1)Kumar Nandanampati on holiday in Alaska.

Growing up in this country as a Desi (South Asian including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) man with many clashing identities, I have never been in a space where I have felt fully comfortable being my authentic self. In college, I realized that I was not the only Desi who felt like they were at the margins of the community

Despite the American Desi community being small in itself, it also frequently centers North Indian, Hindu, upper-caste high-income, straight, cis individuals.  When I noticed this, I decided things needed to change. Not only did the South Asian community need to become more inclusive, but people at the margins of the South Asian community needed a space to develop, grow, and find mentorship where they could find support from people like themselves.

58756877_2244521898960833_7569392874333143040_oCelebrating Holi with the Cornell University Hindu Student Council.

In order to reach this goal at my college level, I worked with a team to create the South Asian Mentorship Program (SAMP)SAMP is a peer-run mentorship project created to support South Asian underclassmen students through an intensive 20-week series that focuses on cultivating underclassmen through personalized academic, professional, and social support.

The program focuses on supporting South Asian students from marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds within our own community: this includes but is not limited to first-generation, LGBTQIA+, non-Hindu, and low-income students. SAMP focuses on providing a support system for marginalized South Asian or Desi students by carefully pairing each underclassman with an upperclassman that shares similar professional or academic goals. We have developed extensive tools and resources to support mentors throughout their mentorship journey.

  1. “not limited to first-generation, LGBTQIA+, and low-income students” à

23434992_950078011822263_3780770285264351821_nKumar Nandanampati and friend celebrate Diwali at Cornell in 2017.
Sponsored by the Hindu Student Council, the
 annual Diwali Dhamaka
featured Indian food, henna, music, and diya painting on the campus of Cornell.

Alongside, all mentors and mentees attend weekly sessions catered towards a range of leadership goals including developing professional skills, researching South Asian activism, listening to South Asian professors on campus, and finally, putting together a campus-wide event to support national South Asian non-profit organizations. SAMP has paved a pathway for a group of marginalized students who are often forgotten.

While SAMP is realizing this mission of tackling systematic inequality on a micro level, it does not mean it has not prepared me to be a global leader as well. Working on SAMP has inspired me and taught me the lessons to pursue a variety of other different leadership roles and projects as well including Chai and Chats, First Generation Students Union X SAC, Interfaith Mock Shaadi, Alok Menon at Cornell, Lassi for SAALT amongst more.

11050726_463826770447392_1890641628601588299_nKumar Nandanampati attending LIMUN 2015 at Imperial College London.

Each of these events required months of planning, coordination with hundreds of people collectively, and organizing tens and thousands of dollars. On top of all this, my leadership for the South Asian and queer community in college has inspired me and given me the spark to start my own upcoming projects which I know will have a more global reach and impact for marginalized Desi people around the world.

The reason why I use my own example here is to emphasize the point that global leadership starts from local leadership. Tackling the problems, you are most familiar with at home teaches you fundamental qualities of leadership and how to navigate the technical and operational difficulties that being a leader entails. Local leadership also provides a platform and a support system to quickly move up the ranks to make changes at a more global level as well. Finally, and most importantly, making changes at these global levels is crucial because if we do not do it, then who will? If we do not act on it now, then when will we?

Kumar_Nandanampati_2 600


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Ticket(s) in advance are available at $48 each, tax-deductible and may be paid online via: (or TEXT “Luce24” to 91999). Checks payable to The J. Luce Foundation may be sent to 540 Main St. #418, New York, N.Y. 10044. If you are unable to attend, please consider donating a ticket to sponsor one of our Young Global Leaders.

About The J. Luce Foundation
The Mission of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Inc. ( is to support young global leadership impacting positive social change, particularly in the fields of the Arts, Education and Orphan Care. Related charities include Orphans International Worldwide (OIW) and The New York Global Leaders Lions Club, both founded by Jim Luce, born July 24, 1959. 

 July 24th, J. Luce Foundations 20th Annual Summer Soirée (7/19)
‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Summer Soirée Set for July 24 at the China Institute (6/19)
J. Luce Foundation Announces First ‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Awards (5/19)
J. Luce Leadership Team Lauded by Forbes, Gates, Ford Foundation (9/18) 


Whereas, the Mission of the J. Luce Foundation is to support Young Global Leaders, and its annual Leadership Awards are presented to young adults working to uplift humanity and who embody the characteristics of Honor, Intelligence, Benevolence, and Integrity; and

Whereas, the Purpose of the “Luce 24 Under 24” Program is to identify and support two dozen Young Global Leaders annually who have the potential to alter the trajectory of our earth and humankind if presented with the opportunity, network and resources; and

Whereas, this Award recognizes the brightest young global leaders – innovators and game-changers twenty-four years of age and younger – who demonstrate the potential of changing our world for the better; and

Whereas, Orphans International Worldwide was created to Raise Young Global Leaders in 1999, The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation was established to Support Young Global Leaders in 2009; and its Young Global Leadership Initiative was created to empower young global leaders wishing to better humanity to think, write, speak, organize, and utilize social media more effectively; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati is a rising senior at Cornell University working towards a Bachelor’s of Science degree with minors in South Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, and Entomology with a 3.8 grade point average; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati has been admitted to the Quill & Dagger Senior Honor Society, and placed first in the Deloitte Undergraduate Case Competition, Oliver Wyman Case Competition, Teach for America Case Competition; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati was Runner Up in the Deloitte Startup Case Competition, Deutsche Bank Powering Progress Case Competition, and Big Idea Case Competition; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati was awarded the James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial and Intercultural Peace for making the most significant contribution to furthering the ideal of university community while respecting the values of racial diversity; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati has attended conferences at Harvard Business School, Summer Venture in Management Program, and South Asian Millennials Conference; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati has had professional internship experience with Millennium Management, Wells Fargo Securities and Cornell Consulting; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati has leadership experience with The South Asian Council of Ithaca, where he connected over 500 students through social media and developed the South Asian Mentorship Program, an intensive 20-week series that focuses on cultivating South Asian underclassmen into campus leaders through personalized academic, professional, and social support; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati serves on the Executive Board of the Hindu Students at Cornell where he has helped shape the undergraduate chapter to create a space where Hindu students could collaborate and develop a sense of comradery and community through various group bonding activities and excursions; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati developed “Cornell Holi,” a cultural and religious event with over 2,000 students attending raising over $10,000 and established Diwali Dhamaka, a multicultural dinner showcasing Hindu celebrations with over 500 students attending; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati’s interest are South Asian Advocacy, Melittology (branch of entomology concerning the scientific study of bees) Languages, Theatre, Percussion, Policy Debate, Telugu and Sangam Literature; and

Whereas Kumar Nandanampati embodies the required characteristics of honor, intelligence, benevolence and integrity; therefore

Be it known to all gathered here and connected around the world that the James J.D. Luce Foundation hereby confers its opportunity, network and resources – And Calls On All Others Of Goodwill To Do Likewise – to Kumar Nandanampati as Luce 24 Under 24 2019 Awardee at the 20th Annual Summer Soirée at The China Institute, New York City this 24th day of July, Two Thousand and Nineteen.

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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