Distinguished Global Leaders-In-Residence

Welcoming global leaders to campus is a long-standing tradition at the University of Pennsylvania.

Building on that legacy, the Global Innovation Program invites internationally-recognized dignitaries for short-term visits ranging from two weeks to a full semester. Invitees include current or former heads of state, cabinet officials, Nobel Prize winners, multi-lateral institutions’ senior leadership, eminent thought leaders and public intellectuals. During their time on campus, these visitors meet frequently with members of the Penn community, and share unique insights drawn from their work on the front line of global affairs.

The presence of these high-profile guests provides exceptional opportunities for students, faculty and members of the public to learn from and with individuals at the vanguard of current global policy debates. The Distinguished Global Leaders become an integral part of the vibrant interdisciplinary, intergenerational, international exchange of ideas that distinguishes Perry World House. Moreover, Distinguished Global Leaders inform cutting-edge research and help disseminate Perry World House’s research findings to key audiences around the globe becoming a permanent part of the Perry World House network.

2021-22 Distinguished Global Leaders-in-Residence

Carl Bildt headshot
Former Prime Minister of Sweden
Carl Bildt

Carl Bildt is co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He served as both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden. A renowned international diplomat, he also served as E.U. Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, United Nations Special Envoy to the Balkans, and Co-Chair of the Dayton Peace Conference. Bildt was Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance, and sits on several boards, among them as a Trustee of the RAND Corporation in the United States.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf headshot
Former President of Liberia
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Known as "Africa's Iron Lady," former President of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won international acclaim for leading Liberia through the Ebola crisis and through reconciliation and recovery following her nation's decade-long civil war. As Africa's first democratically elected female head of state and Liberia's first female president, she is credited with achieving dramatic economic, social, and political change, culminating in Liberia’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in 73 years. On stepping down from the presidency in 2018, she became the first woman honored with the Mo Ibrahim Prize, considered the most prestigious award for African leaders.  In addition, she was invited to join The Elders, an organization founded by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. She remains a leading promoter of freedom, peace, justice, women’s rights, and democratic rule within the international community.

Anote Tong headshot
Former President of Kiribati
Anote Tong

Anote Tong is a former President of the Republic of Kiribati, serving three terms from 2003 to 2016. During his terms in office, he was responsible for drawing international attention to the human dimension of climate change by highlighting the existential threat faced by his people and those of other vulnerable countries on the frontline of the impacts of climate change, many of which are in the Pacific Region. On leaving office, he joined Conservation International as a Distinguished Fellow from 2016 to 2018, and continues to speak at conferences and institutions worldwide. He was responsible for declaring what was then the largest marine protected area when he closed off more than 400,000 sq. km of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in 2008 from any extractive industries. PIPA has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. For his advocacy work on climate change and ocean conservation during his terms in office and since retiring from office, Tong has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, was awarded the Sun Hak Peace Prize in 2015, the Peter Benchley Award, the Edmund Hilary Award, and several other awards. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Canterbury, N.Z., his Master’s in Economics from the London School of Economics, U.K., as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from The National Pukyong University, South Korea, and an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

Past Distinguished Global Leaders-in-Residence

Otto Sonnenholzner
Former Vice-President of Ecuador
Otto Sonnenholzner

Otto Ramón Sonnenholzner Sper served as the 50th and current constitutional Vice President of Ecuador until July 2020. He is an economist, businessman, and broadcaster, and was elected Vice President on December 11, 2018, by the National Assembly with 94 votes in favor, after President Lenin Moreno included him as one of the three official candidates for this position. As Vice President, he coordinated the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in order to align the international agenda with the Ecuadorian National Development Plan. He also worked to pursue the National Strategic Investment Plan and its strategies at the international level, including promotion, attraction, and maintenance of investments.

Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 until August 2018. He previously served as Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2000 to 2007, and again from 2010 to 2014. He was Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States between 2007 and 2010. Zeid played a key role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), chairing the negotiations over the elements of individual offences amounting to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. 

Felipe Calderon headshot
Former President of Mexico
Felipe Calderón Hinojosa

Felipe Calderón is a Distinguished Global Leader In Residence at Perry World House. Felipe Calderón served as President of Mexico from 2006 to 2012. Prior  to his presidency, Calderón was Secretary of Energy (and in that  capacity Chairman of the Board of PEMEXand CFE) and director of BANOBRAS (Public  Works Bank). He was also a Congressman, leader of the National Action Party (PAN)  in the Congress, and Secretary General and National President of PAN.

paolo gentiloni
Former Prime Minister of Italy
Paolo Gentiloni

The hon. Paolo Gentiloni is the Former Prime Minister of Italy. He is a professional journalist and has a degree in Political Sciences. Since 2001, he is a Member of Parliament and was Chairman of the Broadcasting Services Watchdog Committee. He was one of the founding members of the Italian Democratic Party. Between 2006 and 2008, he served as Minister for Communications in Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s government. In 2014, he became Italian Foreign Minister in the government led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In December 2016, he was appointed Prime Minister of Italy, serving until June 1, 2018.  In 2018, he was re-elected for the fifth term to the Chamber of Deputies and he is currently member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. His most recent book is La sfida impopulista, Rizzoli, 2018.