So what’s the connection between a grassroots NGO like The Foundation For Tomorrow (TFFT) and the powerhouse World Economic Forum (WEF)?

I grew up in Charlotte and went to the same school for 13 years. At that point I decided I needed to branch out, challenge myself, and see the world. That mentality took me to St. Andrews in Scotland for 4 years of University, introduced me to East Africa, led me to London and New York for my first job out of University, and inspired me to launch The Foundation For Tomorrow. Now, 12 years later, I find myself back in Charlotte. When I first moved back a couple years ago, honestly, I was a little concerned I had outgrown the place. Oh how wrong I was!!

Upon my return to Charlotte, my quest to find opportunities to connect with other driven, passionate 20 somethings led me to apply to be part of Charlotte Global Shapers.

The Global Shapers Community is a worldwide network of Hubs developed and led by promising young leaders who want to build on their achievements and entrepreneurial drive to make a positive contribution to their communities. It is an initiative of the World Economic Forum, and it is independent, neutral, non-political and not for profit. There are over 200 Global Shapers hubs around the world, and there are currently ten individuals in the Charlotte hub. (We are always looking to expand see if you’re interested).

In the 14 months I have spent as a Global Shaper I have felt like a true part of this community. It has given me an outlet to give back locally and to take action on domestic issues I care about! It has given me an opportunity to meet fascinating people in my hometown who are in finance, medicine, politics, education, and even robotics! We are an eclectic mix of Millennials looking for ways to add value. We are not the type to stand on the sidelines—we are movers and shakers. It is in our nature to take action!

(Global Shapers Annual Curators Meeting 2012 © Enrique Pardo)

As one of six Global Shapers from the U.S. invited to participate in the 2013 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos next week, not only will I soak up every ounce of the experience, I will also have the privilege of contributing to and guiding the conversation. WEF has asked me to sit on a panel next Friday, January 25th with the likes of Klaus Schwab (Executive Chair – WEF), Muhtar Kent (CEO, The Coca-Cola Company), Mukesh Ambani (Chairman – Reliance Industries) and Yuri Milner (CEO, DST Global) to answer the question:

How can we ensure that the expectations of nearly 50% of the world’s population are met by today’s leaders?

I will also act as a discussion leader in a session that will explore how the Millennial generation is redefining the rules in business and society.

It’s insane – as I mentioned earlier in the week – the amount of brainpower in this small Swiss town from the 20th – 26th!  It will be exhilarating, and the coolest part is that WEF wants to hear our voice. They recognize that youth are greatly under-represented in global affairs. We are innovators, digital natives, and the ones most impacted by today’s policy decisions. We deserve a seat at the table, and we finally have one thanks to the World Economic Forum!!

Should anyone want to listen to the on-the-record sessions, there will be a webcast live (17:30 CET/11:30 AM EST) :!