ISF 2014 | The Family: Backbone of Development

The 11th edition of the International Solidarity Forum (ISF), WYA’s annual training event for its active members, will take place in New York City from March 31 to April 4, 2014. It will bring together WYA members from around the world, expert speakers and diplomats.

Why “The Family”?

The UN has declared 2014 as the International Year of the Family. WYA joins the international celebrations in order to examine the relationship between healthy families and the development and flourishing of societies and nations.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: ‘The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’. In order to advocate for the protection of the family in policy and culture, young people need to clearly understand the crucial role families play in economic development and human flourishing. As the fundamental unit of society, the family provides an invaluable contribution to society and nations through the nurturing and education of children, and as a school of solidarity.

Conference Speakers

W. Bradford Wilcox

W. Bradford Wilcox is director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. Previously, he has served as a fellow at Princeton University and Yale University. His work on marriage, child well-being, fatherhood, and cohabitation is regularly featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Slate, and other media outlets. Professor Wilcox blogs at Follow at @WilcoxNMP

David Lapp

David Lapp is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for American Values, and co-investigator of the Love and Marriage in Middle America Project, a qualitative research inquiry into how working-class young adults form relationships and families. Along with his wife, Amber, he is writing a book, tentatively titled Love Like Crazy: Looking for Marriage in Middle America, which tells the stories of the young adults they interviewed. Lapp blogs at and, and his work has appeared in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Online, and First Things.

Sherif Girgis

Sherif Girgis, born in Cairo, grew up in Delaware. He majored in philosophy at Princeton, where he won several academic prizes, including the 2007 Dante Prize for the nation’s best undergraduate essay on Dante. His senior thesis on sex ethics won the Princeton prizes for best thesis in ethics and best thesis in philosophy. Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude in 2008, he went on to earn a master’s degree in moral, political and legal philosophy at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He is now a philosophy PhD student at Princeton and a law student at Yale Law School, where he is an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Sherif has written on social issues in academic and popular venues, including Public Discourse, National Review, Commonweal, the New York Times, the Yale Law Journal, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and the Wall Street Journal. He is coauthor of the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, on which he has spoken at more than 50 lectures, conferences, and debates.

Alana Newman

Alana Newman began speaking publicly about her negative experiences with 3rd Party Reproduction when she was 23 years old. Being conceived from an anonymous sperm donor, and being a former egg donor herself, she discovered that shame and privacy concerns were major barriers to honest testimonies in the public debate on family and bioethics. So in 2011 she founded The Anonymous Us Project—the world’s first story-collective for people affected by 3rd Party Reproduction, especially donor-conceived people.

Cristián Rodríguez R.

Since 2010 Cristian holds a teaching and research position at the School of Psychology of the Universidad de los Andes (Chile). His academic areas of interests include Social and Political Psychology, Philosophy and History of Psychology, Political and Moral Philosophy. Recently, he has been selected for a Fulbright Scholarship for doctoral studies in Social Psychology. Between the years 2009 and 2012 he worked as Executive Director of the Instituto Estudios de la Sociedad (IES), a Santiago-based think tank dedicated to intellectual research on social issues from the perspective of human dignity. Since 2012 he is a member of the Board of Directors in IdeaPaís, a think and action tank dedicated to educate and promote young leaders in the cultural, social and political debates.He majored in Psychology and Philosophy 2010 at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. He also studied German at Leipzig (2006) and Heidelberg (2008), granted by DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) and by the Baden–Württemberg Stiftung.

Cristina Napolitano

Cristina Napolitano is the main representative for IFFD -International Federation for Family Development- an NGO with general consultative status at the United Nations. She is also the President of Family Enrichment New York, an organization dedicated to provide parenting education with the main goal of helping parents learn a solid and effective methodology to examine scenarios relevant to family life. She is originally from Spain, but has lived in NY since 2002. She is married to a New Yorker and they are both parents of four children.

Vincent Ogutu

Vincent Ogutu, a Fulbright scholar from Kenya (2009-2014), is a final year PhD candidate in the Management and Global Business Department at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His dissertation seeks to explain how social entrepreneurs develop a calling orientation towards their work.

Passionate about impacting the African continent, Vincent helped form future leaders as the Deputy Principal of one of Kenya’s best high schools. He then moved on to influencing current leaders when he became the founding Director of the MBA Program at Strathmore Business School in Nairobi. Through the business school programs, he interacts with current political and business leaders in Kenya. Vincent plans to return to Africa and impact the family and society through teaching in executive training programs, and by promoting social entrepreneurship.

Through the Fulbright organization, Vincent volunteers in One to World’s Global Classroom program where he occasionally teaches inner city kids. He also gets invited to give motivational talks, the latest being to inmates in Upstate New York. Like many Kenyans, Vincent has a passion for long distance running. Hopefully by the time you read this, he will have run the New York Half Marathon in March 2014.

Anna Halpine, WYA Founder

Anna Halpine is the founder of the World Youth Alliance and was the WYA president from 1999 to the spring of 2007. She has her Masters in Philosophy of Religion from Yale University (2009), and a Bachelor of Music, cum laude, from Mt. Allison University in Canada (1999). She has studied piano at the Taubman Institute and voice at the Juilliard School. As Founder and past-president of WYA, Anna has traveled and lectured extensively.

Meghan (Grizzle) Fischer, Esq., Research and Policy Specialist

Originally from Orange County, CA, Meghan graduated from Harvard College with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Linguistics in 2007. She then spent a year teaching English on a Fulbright at a high school in Berlin, Germany. In 2011, she graduated from Harvard Law School. Her passions are defending religious liberty and the culture of life, traveling, and learning languages. Meghan lives with her husband, Nate, in Tampa, FL. She is licensed to practice law in the State of New York.

Declaration: Declaration on the Family and Economics