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Celebrating Women's History Month: Tolu Olubunmi

Pete Souza
Official White House photo

Tolu Olubunmi is an internationally recognized social entrepreneur who has spent her career building innovative organizations advancing human and civil rights. She is an inaugural Leadership Institute Fellow at the Center for American Progress and holds a degree in Chemistry-Engineering.

A Nigerian immigrant, Olubunmi was among several other guests who President Barack Obama invited to the White House while highlighting immigration reform in 2013. 

At the White House, the social entrepreneur shared stories of her journey in the United States, and what she thinks is important for immigration reform. "I think what’s important is that this issue goes well beyond the Latino community. Solutions would be better and more well-rounded if we recognize the diversity,” said Olubunmi.

Olubunmi was brought to the United States by her parents when she was 14. Seventeen years later, she is still an undocumented immigrant here. She is unable to use her chemical engineering degree or even leave the country for fear of being banned from re-entry.

When asked why she does what she does, Olubunmi replied with a quote by John Wesley: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” She believes that each of us, in our own way, should aspire to live out these words. Olubunmi says it took her own setbacks to open her eyes to this truth.

In 2015, the World Economic Forum (WEF) recognized Olubunmi as one of 15 Women Changing the World. She is a founding board member of the United We Dream Network and co-founder of Welcome.us and Immigrant Heritage Month. She serves on WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Migration and co-chairs the Mobile Minds Project. 

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About this project: For women’s history month, Programming Assistant Verlisha Taylor and Social Media Intern Lovey Cooper are highlighting women who are making history and shaping the future through their public service and government leadership. 

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