Take a handful of ambitious, young, 20-somethings who want to make an impact on their community. Put them together in one spot for three days, and you get MCON 2016.
What is MCON? Put simply, it’s a leadership conference for millennials. Whether they want to work in non-profit, social change, technology or entrepreneurship, millennials from around the country have traveled to D.C. to attend this conference. The website proclaims, “MCON is for people who give a damn about social change and want to turn their interest into action.”
The auditorium at the National Geographic Society buzzed with silent energy and excitement as Jean Case (CEO of the Case Foundation) and Gary Knell (President and CEO of The National Geographic Society) began their opening remarks about this year’s MCON. On top of their eagerness to host this year’s MCON in Washington, D.C., Knell explained that MCON is so important for aspiring young leaders because millennials are next in line to make a difference in our world, by striving to protect our environment and by trying to understand the human condition.
Knell added that it was only appropriate that this year’s MCON be held at The National Geographic Society because, “It is an awesome place of discovery and exploration.”
Needless to say, I was interested to see what MCON’s day one lectures would discuss and explore. But as someone who is not particularly interested in politics, I was impressed with MCON’s day one speaker series because it did more than just talk about current issues — it created open discussion about why politics matter, and how it’s up to millennials to continue the conversation in order to see change in the world.
One of the most powerful things discussed during the Political Town Hall, hosted by The Washington Post, was the idea of “staying woke” as introduced by Angela Rye (Co-Founded of IMPACT). “Staying woke” is the idea of staying on top of current events and being aware of issues going on in the public sphere and media. Rye explained, “Knowledge is power,” and how important it is for aspiring young leaders to be on top of tending topics and debate.
Rye went on to explain how politics does not have to be black and white. “I don’t let anyone put me in a box,” she said. She continued to explain that we should not be defined by the singular aspects of ourselves, and how as a young generation, we should expand and explore all different areas of both politics and things that interest and inspire us.
MCON 2016 is the perfect place for millennials to learn and ask questions of driven industry leaders. Derrick Feldman, the first moderator of the day, explained in his introduction onto stage that there would be about 20,000 people who would be taking part in the conference online at some point in the day. Feldman continued to say that, “It is powerful and sexy to do good.” If learning how to do good for the world is going to make me powerful and sexy, count me in.