MCLP graduation speaker saved 1,200 lives; public invited and tickets are on sale now

Eighteen years ago, a 100-day genocide in the central African nation of Rwanda left 800,000 people dead.  In the midst of the chaos and slaughter, Paul Rusesabagina sheltered more than 1,200 refugees within the walls of the hotel he managed.

Rusesabagina’s courageous story of leadership became the basis of the Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda.”  On March 31, he will speak in Bloomington at the Multicultural Leadership Program Graduation Dinner Celebration.  The public is invited.

Paul Rusesabagina

“Mr. Rusesabagina is a true servant leader who epitomizes the core principles and values on which MCLP was founded,” said Leslie Harding, an MCLP alumna and current member of its Board of Directors.

The MCLP Graduation Dinner Celebration begins at 7 p.m., with social hour at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 31, at the DoubleTree Conference Center, 10 Brickyard Drive, Bloomington. Ticket may be purchased here.

About Rusesabagina

Rusesabagina was portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the film “Hotel Rwanda.” Rusesabagina served as special consultant to United Artists and Lion’s Gate Films’ production of Hotel Rwanda, which also starred Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte.  His popular autobiography, An Ordinary Man, was published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc. in April 2006.

In 2005, Rusesabagina formed the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation to help provide voice to victims of genocide and support peace efforts in Rwanda and throughout the world.  What started as a personal mission to teach the lessons of Rwanda has become an international movement to fight genocide throughout the world.

To further the mission of his foundation, Rusesabagina now tours the world speaking about social justice, human rights activism and the lessons learned from this terrible and tragic Rwandan genocide.

In his speeches, Rusesabagina describes his experiences during the horrific genocide, the terror and the helplessness of the people he sheltered, and the ways in which governments, non-governmental organizations and ordinary people can work together to prevent genocide throughout the world.

In addition to hearing Mr. Rusesabagina speak, those who attend the MCLP graduation on March 31 will have an opportunity to see and experience a little bit about the Multicultural Leadership Program.

About the Multicultural Leadership Program

This year marks the third MCLP graduating class.  The Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) was established in McLean County in 2009.  Its goal is to Develop Diverse Leaders.

“As much as possible, each class consists of emerging leaders from different economic, age, gender and cultural backgrounds in McLean County.  We believe that teams and leaders who appreciate diverse perspectives will generate more innovative solutions,” said Sonya Mau, executive director of MCLP.  “So far, MCLP has graduated two classes, nearly 50 leaders, who are making a difference.”

MCLP consists of an intense, leadership development curriculum that provides a framework to those with an interest and potential to step into leadership roles within our communities. Each class of about 25 individuals meet bi-weekly for eight months.

MCLP participants’ hands-on project work reinforces community involvement. It also tests participants’ ability to deliver valuable results while working on teams with differing decision-making styles. Participants learn how non-profit organizational structures and nuances compared to those for-profit corporations.

“MCLP was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said Harding.

Many local organizations and businesses support MCLP, including Visionary Sponsors: Verizon and State Farm Insurance, Platinum Sponsor: COUNTRY Financial, Gold Sponsor: City of Bloomington and Silver Sponsor: AFNI. Additional support is provided by the MCLP Advisory Council, headed by Rob Fazzini and the MCLP Board of Directors, led by Phani Aytam.

MCLP is accepting applications for the next class from the community at large, businesses and organizations. All ages (over 21 years), socio-economic and cultural background are welcomed.  For more information about MCLP or to apply, go to