The Clinton Global Initiative Continues to Draw CEOs and A-List Stars

After a lengthy hiatus, the high-profile philanthropic networking event is back for the second year in a row.

With attendees as different as Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, UNICEF director Catherine Russell and actor Matt Damon, the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative’s guest list reads like a “who’s who” of the business, nonprofit and celebrity worlds. The conference will take place this September in New York, marking its second edition after a six-year break that started in 2016 during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Hillary and Bill Clinton stand with their daughter on stage
Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton onstage during the 2022 CGI meeting. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Launched in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has long operated as a philanthropic networking event for some of the most powerful names in media and policymaking. Its 2007 edition featured a talk by Rupert Murdoch, while Michael Bloomberg and Lance Armstrong used the following year’s conference to announce a joint anti-cancer initiative between their foundations. In 2013, the event included a sit-down with then-President Barack Obama.

But the primary goal of CGI is to push participants to declare “commitments to action,” often consisting of financial and philanthropic pledges toward various global issues. The conference’s inaugural edition in 2005 saw more than $2.5 billion worth of commitments from 300 attendees, a figure doubled the next year.

The 2022 edition brought in 144 commitments, including pledges to build soccer fields in underserved communities, make bricks out of volcanic ash and provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Last year’s commitments also included some significant financial contributions, with Melinda Gates announcing a $50 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund scholarships at a university in Rwanda, while Matt Damon’s nonprofit unveiled its $1 billion plan to provide water and sanitation access to 100 million people across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

As of 2023, the organization helped launch more than 3,900 commitments to action, serving more than 435 million people worldwide, according to CGI.

“This year’s meeting will focus on what it takes to keep going—to maintain and advance progress, in spite of the difficulties that arise, and increase our capacity to cross the divides and make common cause with one another wherever possible to build a stronger future for all,” said Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton in a statement. “We will examine ways to channel energy and investment to scale solutions already improving lives and explore how tools like A.I. can be responsibly harnessed for good.”

Who is attending the Clinton Global Initiative this year?

Participants will include leaders in the philanthropic sector like Jose Andres, founder of World Central Kitchen, and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. Attending CEOs, meanwhile, consist of HSBC’s Noel Quinn and Whole Foods’ Jason Buechel. Alongside policymakers like New York Governor Kathy Hochul and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, celebrity attendees range from Orlando Bloom, Michael J. Fox, artist Ai Weiwei and Everything Everywhere All at Once directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla will also be at the event.

With sponsors like the Masimo Foundation, Cisco and Pfizer Inc., the 2023 edition of CGI will include sessions on supporting short-term needs in Ukraine and urge diverse groups to take action on global food insecurity. Other key sessions will cover community responses to climate change, the preservation of abortion care, reforms to reward care workers and the benefits and risks of A.I.

The Clinton Global Initiative Continues to Draw CEOs and A-List Stars