2014 Commencement Speakers

Hugh Evans, CEO, Global Poverty Project

Hugh Evans is an Australian humanitarian and an internationally renowned development advocate. Evans is the CEO of the Global Poverty Project. His passion for poverty eradication was sparked at the age of 14 whilst on a World Vision trip in the Philippines. Living with his host family in a Manila Slum, Evans was struck by the injustice of a world in which birthplace determines your life prospects. The abject poverty Evans was exposed to in Manila, and his experiences in India the following year, led him to begin his work challenging the status quo of extreme poverty. Following a trip to South Africa in 2002 as World Vision's inaugural Youth Ambassador, Evans co-founded the Oaktree Foundation; Australia's first youth-run aid organization, with a mission to bring young people together to see an end to global poverty. Oaktree’s success under his guidance as Director, led to Evans being named Young Australian of the Year (2004) and Junior Chamber International Person of the World (2005).

Evans then worked to grow the Make Poverty History campaign in Australia, helping to run the 2006 Make Poverty History Concert fronted by U2 singer Bono.   The 2007 Make Poverty History Road Trip saw campaign images projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House. The impact of these campaigns were credited with playing a key role in the Government’s decision to increase its committed foreign aid budget from 0.3% of Gross National Income by 2015 to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015, resulting in an additional $4.3 billion per annum invested in the world’s poorest people.

In 2010, GPP helped launch the million dollar, international fundraising campaign Live Below the Line, and in 2011 Global Poverty Project worked alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to execute The End of Polio campaign which leveraged $118 million in funds to eradicate polio. In August 2012, the Global Poverty Project launched the Global Citizen Festival — a free-ticketed charity music event featuring the Black Keys, Foo Fighters and Neil Young. Coinciding with the UN General Assembly meeting in September, the Global Citizen Festival was held on the Great Lawn of New York City’s Central Park. Those wanting to attend the event had to take action and become active in the movement to end extreme poverty in order to be awarded a ticket. At the Global Citizen Festival, $1.3 billion in new commitments were made to help end extreme poverty with a major focus being put on the eradication of polio. The Global Citizen Festival was repeated successfully in 2013, with a lineup of Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, and Kings of Leon, resulting in 25 policy and financial commitments towards ending extreme poverty by 2030.

David Ushery, WNBC-TV (New York) News Anchor

Emmy award-winner David Ushery is the co-anchor for the weekend editions of “News 4 New York” at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and is the host of “The Debrief with David Ushery.” “The Debrief,” created by Ushery in 2009, has been nominated for an Emmy Award for three consecutive years. “The Debrief” is a half-hour broadcast that provides viewers a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of the news utilizing an unscripted conversational approach interviewing NBC 4 New York’s news reporters as they cover important stories in the viewing area.  The program airs on NBC 4 Sundays at 5:30 a.m., as well as on COZI TV. 

Since 2003, Ushery has been an integral part of NBC 4 New York’s coverage of some of the most noteworthy events, including the devastation and aftermath of both Hurricane Irene and Sandy, the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the emergency landing of US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River and the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Ushery traveled to Rome to cover the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the 2013 papal conclave electing Pope Francis, the current Pope of the Catholic Church.  His reports include extensive, in-depth coverage of the shooting death of Amadou Diallo and the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

Ushery has reported extensively outside the tri-state area, as well as abroad. He was sent to Houston for the space shuttle disaster, to Los Angeles for the O.J. Simpson trial, and to Utah to cover the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart. He traveled on multiple occasions to Haiti for a serious of reports on the island’s political and economic unrest; to Africa and Toronto for Pope John Paul II’s visits to those countries, and to South Africa to cover the United Nation’s conference on racism. Ushery is the recipient of numerous honors and awards that include: 2013 “Excellence in Journalism” award from the Public Relations Society of America;  2012 Emmy Award for Special Programming: Dead Sea Scrolls; 2011 McDonald’s Black Media Legends: Faces of Black History Award; the National Association of Black Journalists Award for his series of reports on children and violence. The Network Journal and Black Professionals Business Magazine named Ushery one of its “40 Under-Forty” for his journalistic accomplishments.