2019 JCI TOYP Honorees
Along with the final judging panel, JCI members and active citizens around the world voted online to select the 2019 JCI TOYP Honorees. After 61,876 votes were cast and the judging panel reviewed the top 20 finalists, ten young active citizens have been selected to receive this honor for exceptional service, creativity and the positive change they have created in their communities and the world.
Malak Al Akiely
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments
Malak Al Akiely experienced hardship at a very young age due family difficulties. While her brother lives with visual impairment, her mother suffered from severe multiple sclerosis causing her to be paralyzed, eventually leading to her death. As children, her mother taught Al Akiely and her siblings to better understand how people with different abilities felt and developed their empathy by imagining themselves in other people’s shoes.
Her unusual upbringing taught her to embrace humanitarian values and become an entrepreneur for change, ultimately earning her MBA Management from German-Jordanian University. She founded Golden Wheat for Grain Trading—a company that establishes food security by trading oil and grains, ensuring no one goes to bed hungry. Based out of Jordan, the company works to meet regional demand to grain-scarce countries in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Her company makes an effort to build a team of people who have ethical and moral values, establishing a tolerance between cultures. While Golden Wheat was established for trading strategic commodities, she is also a partner and co-founder for Golden Kayan that works in marketing and consulting for oil and energy companies, including work as a consultant to two of the biggest oil trading companies. As one of the only female business owners in her region and sector, she began the Women BeeBuzzers project which aims to introduce beekeeping as a primary or secondary source of income to empower women in rural areas. In addition to her enterprises, Dr. Al Akiely is a humanitarian and environmental activist who explored the Arctic with other brilliant people engaging in the most important discussions of our time, making her the first Jordanian to cross 80° at the North Pole.
Believing we must teach our children how to provide for our communities, Al Akiely has developed projects to protect humanity. She has successfully built a company despite working in an intensely competitive male-dominated sector. Al Akiely is not only a female businesswoman trading oil and grains, but also an activist working on unconventional solutions for building a sustainable future.
Jose Enrique Arias Chiu
As an artist, Jose Enrique Arias Chiu sees art as self-expression and a universal way to communicate with different cultures. He is considered one of the outstanding young artists using murals to develop community morale in Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, Peru, Spain, the Middle East and southern California.
Arias Chiu has participated in more than 500 exhibitions, 80 cultural festivals and is currently working on a mural that is gaining attention from the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest mural in the world. The Mural de la Hermandad (Mural of Brotherhood) was inspired by the current immigration issues taking place at the border of Mexico and the United States of America, transforming a boarder wall into a work of art.
Covering 18,000 square meters, this mural runs down the Pacific Ocean in Tijuana and been created with contributions from over 3700 people who share the same desire to unite two nations. On the Mexico side of this boarder mural, you can see messages of hope and peace. Arias Chiu is working to get permission from the United States to allow their citizens to share their same messages of everlasting world peace on the other side of this inspiring wall.
He has used his art for campaigns like Todos Somos Migrants (We Are Migrants) to support migrant communities by informing them of their rights and connecting them with organizations that provide food and shelter to new migrants. He paints community centers and hosts art workshops at the Museo El Trompo for children, benefitting more than 1000 children.
“People think the American dream can only be lived in the United States,” Arias Chia says, “…but on this side of the border, there are dreams too. On this side, you can also create. On this side, you can also change the world.”
Dr. Hala Asslan
Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment
Disheartened by the damage done to historical buildings and landmarks throughout Syria from years of war and violent conflict, Dr. Hala Asslan has made it her mission to rehabilitate her community. Just seven days after the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, she received her PhD in the Archaeology of Historical Buildings.
Shortly after, Dr. Asslan started organizing and participating in campaigns that advocate for the preservation of cultural heritage. She wrote articles, proposed solutions and urged young people to create the positive change community’s need in order to preserve history. Her peaceful community-building advocacy motivated her to take an assignment on the advisory delegation for the old city of Homs once it was declared a conflict-free zone. Dr. Asslan’s identified the status and needs of this historical city by documenting and providing recommendations on how to restore the damage done throughout Homs.
In 2015, Dr. Asslan became a consultant for the Aga Khan organization, which was focused on restoring the city of Aleppo. Her input on the plan for rehabilitating the of historical locations in Aleppo gives hope for this critical historical Syrian city that has been intensely damaged by the war. Due to her involvement with rebuilding these two historical cities, Dr. Asslan has worked to restore the history that has been destroyed by war and conflict in Palmyra, Salah el-Din Castle, Old Damascus and Jerusalem.
She has since continued to work in the rehabilitation field, using her personal experience and archaeology knowledge to study domed houses in the south of Aleppo, while encouraging women to play a role in rebuilding Northern Syria. She empowers rural women to preserve rural styles, traditional architecture and crafts historically associated with the landscape of the region.
Dr. Asslan builds beauty and peace back into neighborhoods by creating sustainable cities and communities that have faced years of darkness and animosity during war.
Dr. Gözde Durmuş
As a child, Dr. Gözde Durmuç suffered from long-lasting resistant urinary tract infections that took three years of hospital visits, lab tests and antibiotic shots to overcome. This frustrating experience with slow speed and insufficient accuracy of the tests her doctors used to diagnose her condition paired with growing up in a family of teachers, engineers and doctors led Dr. Durmuç to developing an interest in biology and engineering from a young age.
During her PhD research at Brown University, she used her frustration to find solutions that would benefit both patients and their doctors. Dr. Durmuç worked to develop new tools and technologies to solve important medical problems, including the growing healthcare challenge of antibiotic resistance. She developed superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION), showing her peers an alternative that could eradicate biofilms better than conventional antibiotics currently being used. Dr. Durmuç has showed it is possible to detect and monitor the behavior of many cell types under different physiological conditions. With this discovery, she has been able to reduce some test times from as much as three days to one hour.
Her innovative work has presented the medical world with numerous medical advances in cancer biology, diagnostics, drug screening, tissue engineering and bio-space research—promising to make great impact on the future of engineering and medical devices. Dr. Durmuç’s resilient fight against antibiotic-resistant infections has broad impact, advancing the medical industry for doctors and patients around the world.
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments
Fascinated with the way technology and digital innovation can be revolutionary, Kaspar Korjus was determined to change the way the world thinks about business.
In 2014, he began developing an idea that would become known as e-Residency, which is the first transnational digital identity platform in the world. E-residency allows business owners to register for an EU-based company online using digital signatures for documents and provides access to banking as well as online payments for worldwide transactions.
Korjus, as founding Managing Director of Estonian e-Residency (2014–2019) and CEO of Borderless Nation States (from 2019), helps governments worldwide to serve location independent entrepreneurs. His work globally is known for its unique leadership style: combining technology, entrepreneurial dare and public policy, the last of which is often known to be slow to innovate. He has led a growing team patiently, having the moral courage and vision to push against unnecessary limitations and disrupt the system from within. Such delicate balancing between competing priorities calls for not only a first-rate mind, but also a huge heart and leadership that inspires, energizes and galvanizes—all of which he possesses in abundance.
In 2017 and 2018, Korjus became the most quoted Estonian national in the world and was awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau by the King of the Netherlands, His Majesty Willem-Alexander, in recognition of his notable contributions for the betterment of societies worldwide. Korjus has empowered and inspired global citizens to accelerate digital innovation using an entrepreneurial mindset.
Moral and/or Environmental Leadership
After participating in a design competition for eco-friendly houses, Maher Maymoun discovered his passion for innovation, renewable energies and sustainable building practices to design a more sustainable planet. Combining his passion with a background in energy engineering and several global certifications in environment and energy Maymoun created the best recipe to explore ideas to create efficient green innovations. His work proves to the world that young people have the innovative mindset and drive to make the world a better and more sustainable place.
After years of pursuing his master’s degree and working in the energy services sector in Chicago, Maymoun returned to Jordan to apply what he’d learned in the United States to his home community. He became intrigued by solar panels and how collection of dust can cause them to lose up to their half of their efficiency. Cleaning the dust can be doubly challenging in communities suffering from water scarcity. To provide a solution to these challenges, Maymoun invented a revolutionary self-cleaning technology that uses a thin transparent film installed on top of solar panels, and once activated vibrations from sound waves remove dust from the panels. With this invention, he founded Solar PiezoClean, a green high-tech startup that provides the world with state of the art, dry and self-cleanings solutions for PV projects. This discovery impressed the eco engineering community due to its huge impact on regions facing severe water scarcity.
Maymoun currently works as an Energy and Sustainability Consultant and has worked as a consultant for a national green buildings’ world bank project. Believing in the importance of sharing environmental and human values with young people working to make the planet sustainable by 2030, Maymoun mentors youth, is a motivational speaker on environmental causes, and is a certified Green Entrepreneurship Trainer for UNDP and the European Union. He believes that these two values will make businesses more sustainable and make the planet a greener place.
Personal Improvement and/or Accomplishment
After a severe train accident in 2009, Anish Mohan lost his left leg and right hand, leaving him 65% orthopedically impaired. Prior to his accident, he was working in the technical field, but during his recovery, he felt motivated to begin a career in social work, assisting people who have suffered from similar situations.
Mohan works as the National Coordinator and Trainer for the Institute for Person Centered Approaches in India (IPCAI), which is an organization that aims to create a society that is more compassionate and inclusive, particularly working for persons with disabilities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. With the aim to foster relationship development between teenagers living with learning disabilities and their parents, Mohan runs a project called Teen IPCAI that provides motivational training, disability awareness and counseling to program participants.
Due to his involvement with the disabled community, Mohan was given the opportunity to serve as the District Ambassador of Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP). SVEEP works to increase voter awareness and participation in the election. Mohan saw this as an opportunity to showcase his petition for the disabled: A Fight for Equal Rights for Differently Abled. The petition’s consistency caused the Kerala State Road Transport Commissioner to establish special parking areas for people with disabilities in all government and public institutions throughout India.
Mohan has turned tragedy into inspiration through motivational speeches to over 350,000 people, instilling hope and reminding people lift up one another, especially those with different abilities. His speeches and articles have given the disabled community a platform to voice their needs, showing his ongoing commitment to achieving social justice for all.
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership
Born in a home with hearing impaired parents, Tomoya Onaka became aware of the challenges faced by the disabled community at an early age. He witnessed many obstacles his parents battled and was determined to innovate technology with the power to change and improve their experiences.
After years observing how his parents utilized nonverbal cues to effectively communicate, Onaka developed Silent Voice — an app that improves the lives of and opportunities for hearing impaired individuals, specifically in the workplace. Wanting to make even greater impact, Onaka developed a corporate training program called Denshin. This program teaches the meaning behind nonverbal cues, giving both those able to hear and those with hearing impairments the tools to effectively communicate through self-expression instead of words with one another. Both the app and training program have created a mutual understanding between the hearing and hearing impaired, while improving communication in the workplace.
Onaka has created employment opportunities for 3000 hearing impaired individuals who have participated in his trainings since in launch of Silent Voice three years ago. He also opened a tutoring school for children with hearing disabilities in Osaka, Japan, giving 70 children the chance to learn nonverbal cues not and to be better prepared for the workforce in the future.
Onaka believes in uniting people of all abilities and that when we foster mutual understanding, we transform people’s consciousness and create an inclusive society.
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership
After visiting Nepal at 22, Stephanie Woollard was inspired by seven disabled women who were making small soaps and candles in a tin shed. She noticed that these women are failing to make a living from their activities.
Woollard used her last $200 to invest in handicraft skill trainers for these women and used her ability to create markets for them to be sold internationally. Together they built an international export manufacturing business, cooking school and guesthouse which generates profits while educating, training and employing over 5500 women. Currently, the products being sold by Seven Women include silk scarves, dressing gowns, knitted scarves, beanies, gloves, puppets and even children’s toys. The cooking school hosts international travelers on a daily basis who learn to cook from our seven women staff. The Seven Women Headquarters also provides tours to international guests who want to take these skills back to their own countries.
Woollard has also developed a travel company that helps young active citizens make a sustainable impact while traveling around the world. This concept challenges travelers to take a different perspective on the community they are exploring. With this program, travelers are given a more in depth experience of the local peoples, culture, and community. Woollard sees her travel company as a huge force for good that can enrich the lives of travelers and locals while encouraging them to develop grassroots change. She published From a Tin Shed to the United Nations: How Everyone of Us Can Make a Difference in 2017, documenting all that she’s learned from these impactful experiences. A documentary was also made about Seven Women and has had screenings all over the world.
Her vision was to economically and socially empower Nepal’s most vulnerable women through education, skill training and economic growth. Woollard is an example of creating a global network using positive change, a clear vision and determination.
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments
After seeing her father use olive seeds to improve his health, Duygu Yılmaz became curious about the benefits this fruit can have on sustainable development. She attended Istanbul Aydin University where she studied food engineering and the effect olive cores have on human health.
With plastic waste being one of the many issues creating negative impact on human health, Yılmaz researched a way to use olive cores as an eco-friendly substitute since they are similar in nature to plastics. This groundbreaking research was the first to note this similarity and led to Yılmaz discovering a biodegradable sustainable plastic alternative using olive seed waste. Her discovery created an environmentally safe and sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics. This bio-based material is a substitute for plastic applications in many industries from food packaging to automotive.
She founded Biolive, a company that develops the technology needed to produce this bioplastic material. This material substitute not only extends the shelf-life of food, but actually utilizes olive seeds as a waste product. This discovery is much healthier for humans than plastic and biodegrades after six months. Her company has received 20+ international awards including Mercedes-Benz and Chobani for its entrepreneurial and environmental contributions to society.
Yılmaz’s mission is to provide awareness on matters of good health and well-being through the protection of our environment. Her studies are making it possible to develop an alternative material that can lead to eliminating plastic waste and bettering our planet.