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Each chapter in the best selling book, Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference, focuses on different aspects of the cause-driven career field, from inspirations to overcoming challenges.
Path With A Heart. The intent of this chapter is to raise readers’ awareness of the cause-driven workforce and inspire them to explore compassionate careers.
Overcoming Social Stigmas. This chapter speaks to the challenges often associated with working in the field, including lack of respect and compensation.
Change Begins With A Spark. Chapter 3 talks about people’s inspirations to be involved in causes, including role models, community, and “aha” moments.
Turning Angst Into Action. This chapter reflects the experiences of people who have dealt with serious adversity and have found their purpose in a compassionate career.
Explore Your Options. Chapter 5 offers recommendations for how to enter a cause-focused career, including the essentials of acquiring skills and identifying opportunities.
Navigate By Choice Or Chance. This chapter emphasizes the professional development and encourages you to be deliberate in creating your own career path.
Jobs Without Borders. This chapter draws upon the experiences of people working internationally and is written for people who are yearning to go global.
The River Keepers. Chapter 8 concludes with invitations from extraordinary change-makers about finding passion and purpose in one’s profession.
A Step-by-Step Guide. This final chapter contains practical exercises and resources to help you take your next step toward a Compassionate Career.
…But you don’t have to take our word for it! Here are some inspirational testimonials from the book.
We need to usher in and embrace a new wave of social entrepreneurs, visionaries and change-makers. The authors take on this challenge by providing an inspiring and practical, research-based guide for people seeking both purpose and a paycheck. I encourage you to check it out!
If you seek a higher purpose, if you feel an emptiness about marketing some consumer good no one really needs, if you ache to lend both your voice and your passion to a cause, you’ll find the answers you seek in this book.
BRAVO! Your book is FANTASTIC! Congratulations! This will be an extremely valuable resource for me and for a lot of people I know.
This is the book I wish I had read before graduating from college as it would have inspired me to take a more direct route into a career in the nonprofit sector. The profiles of social change makers provide compelling glimpses of how their purpose evolved, what inspired them along the way and how they overcame challenges. Each section provides valuable information for both recent grads as well as seasoned professionals. A great read and a great resource.
In curating an admirably diverse set of testimonials, the authors offer us a roadmap for living a more intentional and meaningful life. Aimed at the so-called 'Millennial Generation,' this book has something for everyone. Compassionate Careers is an inspiring book that comes to us at precisely the right time.
Gain insights from personal interviews with 100 world icons and everyday heroes.
Stories are augmented by six years of in-depth background research.
Build your profile and see which organizational culture best suits you.
Get a start on understanding how you can find work with both a purpose and a paycheck.
Further explore your options via pages and pages of cool websites to check out.
We want you to do what you do because you find it deeply fulfilling!
Take a look inside and read excerpts of the book.
Ashok Regmi: Minding the gaps
We’ve all experienced the phenomenon. Someone enters the room and you feel their dynamism—not because they’re arrogant, but because they’re competent and confident. Ashok Regmi is such a person. “The question is, do you work outside the system or within the system to change the system? You can work as an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur. That’s a choice people have to make,” he says.
Ashok is always looking for the gaps. And it’s this ability to look at what’s missing in society and take steps toward reform that characterizes Ashok’s particular brand of leadership.
Ashok was born and raised in Nepal. His parents’ ethics—combined with various school-based opportunities—led him to an interest in global social change. The harsh reality that his parents faced as activists fighting for democracy, and his father being jailed as a dissident, sparked a fire in him. “The concepts of freedom of expression and social justice were inherent in my family and instilled into my childhood.”
The schools he attended in Nepal provided opportunities to sharpen his skills. He took the initiative to join various clubs and leadership programs, all with the focus of being active in the community—and to avoid being a hostage to circumstance. In his late teens, he pioneered the first FM radio channel in Nepal designed to engage the community. The station offered programs that were tailored to young people— entertaining, but also meant to inspire the social consciousness of listeners.
Ashok then came to the United States to attend the University of Bridgeport where he got a dual degree in international political economy and diplomacy before earning a master’s in public policy from Johns Hopkins University. In graduate school, he founded the Cooperative Learning Exchange Group and then took an internship at the International Youth Foundation (IYF), which led to a full time position. He’s now their Director of Social Innovation. One of the key focus areas of IYF is to support social entrepreneurs in their 20s to fully realize their potential. The program he leads operates out of 19 locations around the world and covers a network of more than 1,000 young social entrepreneurs from 90 or so countries.
IYF invests in young people who have founded social movements or enterprises. The organization expands their leadership potential, and helps magnify the impact they have in their communities. “What’s exciting about this work, is that it also allows us the space to be both creative and analytical, and bring our own ideas to fruition,” Ashok says.
Below is just a sample of the accomplishments of the young people who are supported by Ashok’s work.
– Donnie Seet, 30, from Singapore, founded the Youth Enterprise Academy, which, to date, has provided education and life skills instruction to 10,000 children in Singapore and China.
– Gitanjali Babbar, 28, founded Kat-Katha, which provides support, counseling, education, and skills training to sex workers in India so they can alter their circumstances.
– Adam Camenzuli, 26, launched KARIBU Solar Power to make affordable solar lamps available to low-income families in Africa.
– Kellen Ribas, 30, co-founded Cicla Brazil, which helps waste picker organizations to develop business plans and strengthens communication with businesses in order to lift this marginalized group into the formal economy.
– Kevin Morgan-Rothschild, 25, launched VertiFarms, which builds low-water usage aeroponic gardens on rooftops in New Orleans.
– Lee Crockford, 30, created Soften the Fck Up in Australia, which is redefining masculinity and raising awareness of suicide among young men—and how men at risk can access the support they need.
– Basant Motowi, 25, co-founded Aspire,a program that combats sexual harassment of young women in Egypt.
– Patricia Barrios, 28, recruits and trains young volunteers to support nearly a million patients in hospitals around Peru through her organization, Voluntariado Kúrame.
– Anna Sowa, 28, co-founder of Chouette Filmsin London, produces award-winning movies about social justice, and international development issues and organizations.
– Naomi Chepchumba, 25, founded the Street Level Initiative Kenya, which offers training to musicians and DJs so they can help -prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Ashok works to support young social entrepreneurs with the specific aim to help fill several big gaps in the social sector. One of these is the lack of flexibility in educational systems around the world. Another is the lack of support for young people to carry their innovative ideas forward after they’ve launched something with promise. He also sees the need for the world to steer away from antiquated perceptions about the distinction between sectors. In other words, he doesn’t believe in trading passion for paychecks. “People shouldn’t have to chose a certain sector in order to be relevant to society,” he says.
“Our education systems are not very agile. The students themselves are changing faster than the style and content of our teaching,” Ashok continues. He believes there’s a power shift happening in any learning environment because everything is changing so quickly. “Young people now have easy access to massive amounts of information that previous generations did not. As such, our teaching models need to become more flexible in order to make education more relevant. Considering the pace of change we are witnessing in the world today, we don’t even know how the world will look in the next 30 years. One of the biggest things that we need to be equipping this generation with are the life skills to manage this rapid change and the ability to analyze complex situations,” he points out.
“There’s a mismatch between what is being taught and what’s needed in our ever-changing world. The unemployment rate among young people is huge—but, at the same time, employers are saying they don’t have enough young people with the right skills. I think we can fill that gap by making curricula more relevant, driven by current global realities—while at the same time providing experiential learning opportunities. You learn by doing, not just sitting in a classroom.
“We need to provide real opportunities for students to practice leadership, to connect theory with project design, to fail and try again. We need to equip young people with management, analytical and creative skills, along with teaching empathy and ethics. But you don’t just sit and teach ethics—you allow young people to practice ethics and to reflect upon that.”
Ashok is also concerned about the lack of resources for young social entrepreneurs to move their ideas forward in a significant way. He feels there are many young people who have great capacity and skills, but people don’t take them seriously. He also sees a need to change perceptions around what defines good work. “Families should be proud of their kids—not for the extra dollars they make, but because they’re changing the lives of a hundred other people. We need to give these jobs credibility and overcome the challenge of hesitancy by parents, the extended family, and society overall.“We also need to improve the value of social entrepreneurship and social innovation so that young people will want to be involved. Social innovation is exciting. Change-making and change-makers should be seen as cool,” he says.
“This journey can be very lonely. Parents don’t understand, friends don’t understand, people don’t understand. Just making money may be easier than trying to create an impact on society while at the same time earning a living. But if you’re driven by ethics and values and you want to do something, you can.”
According to Ashok, compassionate careers also represent a journey to find work that, on most days anyway, fascinates you and holds your interest, and that you find meaningful. “I read somewhere that about 70 percent of your waking time in life is spent at work, and only about ten percent of people are happy in their work. If you’re spending that much of your waking time doing something that is not meaningful, that’s something you should be thinking about. I believe it’s important to look at your own existence in this world as beyond just self-interest. For myself, I have found that work that brings deeper meaning to my life is very fulfilling.”
Ashok stresses that, for the most part, young people today really do want to make a living by making a difference—and that this school of thought need not be confined to the nonprofit sector alone. Any young person in any sector can be a catalyst to create change. However, he also points out that working for social change should not equate to less pay. Among the young social entrepreneurs that Ashok’s work supports, many of them are utilizing income generating approaches to sustain their impact. “We don’t want to sit and beg for money all the time—we want to make our own money and create change. That’s why I like the concept of social entrepreneurship, because it looks at social impact as the bottom line, innovation as the strategy, and systems change as a goal.”
It is also critical to bring in a global perspective and to carefully consider the full scope of what it means to be an ethical decision-maker across all aspects of an enterprise—at every juncture. In today’s world, a product that’s conceived of in California might, for example, have its parts assembled in Taiwan, be sold in France and recycled in India; at every step of its development, production and delivery, there are decisions to be made. “How do we create talent within systems that will ask the right questions, do the proper analysis, and also be ethical and empathetic in decision-making?” he asks. “What’s exciting is that there’s an external environment that’s pushing the systems through this thought process! I’m very, very excited about that.”
Young people are often driven by a dual sense of idealism and practicality, and Ashok wants the world to capitalize on that. As globalization makes the world smaller, opportunities for change on a broad scale are greater, and young people are often at the forefront—regardless of whether people fully recognize and appreciate their contributions—in large part thanks to technology and new forms of communication.
Ashok feels there are specific skills young social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs need in order to be more effective and impactful. The curriculum he uses for his work outlines six distinct types of leadership skills:
1. Personal leadership. “Be the change. If you understand yourself, have personal core values, a sense of purpose, and behave ethically, you are able to motivate others.”
2. Visionary leadership. “You have to understand the system. It’s now so complicated that you can’t just have one solution, because that won’t connect to the different parts of the system. People need to understand complex systems and utilize design thinking to create innovative solutions.”
3. Collaborative leadership. “This is the ability to identify and manage successful and diverse partnerships among people and/or organizations.”
4. Political leadership. “This has nothing to do with politics—and it has everything to do with politics. It’s about developing the public’s will to solve social issues.
5. Organizational leadership. “This type of leadership is about designing organizations that are both effective and ethical.”
6. Societal leadership. “It’s important to grow and sustain your broader societal impact, not just your organization. You can grow your impact without necessarily growing your organization.”
When we started on the quest to write this book, we mapped out a path in compassionate careers that starts with early inspirations and leads throughout life. As you know, we like to refer to this as taking the path with a heart. We also identified a number of distinct gaps in this path, so we especially appreciate Ashok’s perspective. His underlying point is that we as a society need to acknowledge the power of this generation and address systemic gaps in order to harness the abilities of young people to affect positive change. He offers, “We need a paradigm shift to view young people as assets and as the largest demographic dividend human history has ever seen. This is vital to our future. It is our future.”
Ana and Danny Dodson: One heart at a time
Hogar de Niñas is an orphanage located outside of Cusco, Peru. It sits high in the Andes Mountains at 3,400 meters, or about 11,200 feet. Ana Dodson was adopted from Peru as an infant and brought up the Continental Divide to be raised in to the Rocky Mountains.
Ana was just 17 when we met with her and her brother, Danny, at their office in Evergreen, Colorado. She’s the founder and Danny is executive director of the organization that sprang from Ana’s imagination: Peruvian Hearts.
The organization focuses on supporting girls and young women, because they—if healthy and educated—can play a critical role in ending Peru’s cycle of poverty. Since Ana conceived of Peruvian Hearts in 2003, the organization has supported girls at several orphanages with everything from suitcases full of vitamins to skills development in the areas of agriculture, business, handicrafts, and computer literacy. With support from Peruvian Hearts, orphaned girls live in caring home environments and attend private schools. The organization has also sponsored much needed building renovations, a clean water filtration system, solar panel water heaters, and more. All of this helps the girls at the orphanages become strong, independent leaders in their own lives and in the community.
Ana first visited Hogar de Niñas when she was 11, accompanied by her adoptive mother. In planning for her trip, Ana imagined that children at the orphanage didn’t have parents to cuddle and read with, so she decided to collect books and stuffed animals to take with her to Peru. With the help of her adoptive father, she approached a Rotary Club to raise money for the gifts.
“It was pretty terrifying to speak in front of this group,” she remembers. “I told them where I was going, and what I wanted to raise the money for. Right on the spot, they passed the hat and I got $700!”
They also gave her a standing ovation. “They had so much confidence in me. That was really the point where I felt like, ‘Wow, I can really do this.’”
When Ana and her mother brought the teddy bears and Spanish books as gifts for the children at Hogar de Niñas, 30 girls were there to greet them—their first foreign visitors, ever. Ana was particularly drawn to a girl close to her own age, named Yenivel. As Ana and her mother were leaving, Yenivil began to cry. She hugged Ana and said, “I know that you’ll never forget us. And I know that one day you’ll come back and help us.” That moment changed Ana’s life.
For one moment our lives met, our souls touched.
Stateside, Ana couldn’t stop thinking about the children and Yenivel’s words. “Her premonition of my life,” Ana calls it. “The girls at the orphanage were wearing clothes that were all torn. They were malnourished, and had no education. It hit me that I could have been living in that orphanage. That girl could have been me. And I wanted to do something to help them.
“There were so many things in my life that I had taken for granted. I was blessed with a wonderful, loving family that always supported me, and I’d had amazing educational opportunities,” Ana continues. “I wanted these same advantages for the girls in Peru, but they had nothing. They needed more than books and teddy bears. And I believed that if I tried, I might be able to really help them.” She talked it over with her family, and it all unfolded from there.
Ana had $100 left over from her original “Book Buddy Bears” project to get underway. She sent a letter to all of her family and friends, sharing her desire to start the organization, and she mailed a letter to the nuns at the orphanage asking what they most needed. The nuns responded that they needed vitamins, because the children were so malnourished that they weren’t able to concentrate during the school day—they’d fall asleep in class, or they wouldn’t go at all. From there, Peruvian Hearts has evolved to supporting Hogar de Niñas and other orphanages with wide-ranging assistance, including improved housing, education, nutrition and healthcare.
We ask Danny about his own pursuit of a compassionate career, and he admits that he’d never thought about it until he finished college. “When I realized I wasn’t going to be a major league baseball player, my heart was shattered,” he says. “Then I thought I’d make a lot of money on Wall Street. I was an economics major, but then the economy tanked. I interviewed with Morgan Stanley, but they went on a hiring freeze and laid off a bunch of people.
“That was the beginning of the end—or maybe it was the beginning. With zero success in the financial market, I came back home and started helping out with Peruvian Hearts. Luckily, everything happens for a reason. Having realized the value in doing this type of work, the money is much less important to me now. I make enough by my standards. And when you visit these girls, you can’t help but put things in perspective.”
Both Danny and Ana emphasize the need to be culturally aware, as well as open to learning what works in terms of providing support. For example, girls that participated in one of Peruvian Hearts’ school-based programs, Nutrition for Change, were walking more than two hours over rough terrain and mountain passes wearing only sandals made from tires—so Peruvian Hearts facilitated a donation of 200 pairs of shoes. “I have pictures of the kids, and there’s a cool juxtaposition between the rugged mountains, the girls in their bright-colored native outfits, and these bright white tennis shoes on their feet,” says Danny. “But when we went back six months later, they were all wearing their sandals again. The kids said the tennis shoes weren’t comfortable…they liked their sandals better.”
Ana says, “We don’t even know what happened to those shoes, but what we’ve learned is that we can’t impose our western philosophy onto their culture. And we shouldn’t assume that our way of doing things is the right way, or the right way for everyone.”
Peruvian Hearts has faced many challenges over the past decade, including the perpetual need for fundraising, dealing with corrupt government officials in Peru, and the reality that poverty continues to take a toll on so many children. Indeed, Peruvian Hearts pays special attention to children who suffer from serious physical and mental health conditions. Still, Ana remains optimistic.
“Peruvian Hearts has taught me that no situation, however discouraging, is beyond hope. I know that I can’t change the world in a day, and I know that I cannot do this by myself—but I believe that kids and adults, working together, really can make a difference,” she says.
Both Ana and Danny wish to show young people how easy it is to get involved. Starting with only a few hundred dollars, they’ve impacted the lives of hundreds of girls in Peru. “After you visit the girls, there’s no reason to want to do anything else,” says Danny. “Our goal is to change the world, one heart at a time,” says Ana.
Since the time of this interview, the siblings’ mission has expanded. They now run a women’s empowerment program called Peruvian Promise. Both Ana and Yenivel, the girl Ana first bonded with, have gone to college.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu rocks! Literally, he rocks on his feet, swaying back and forth as his luminous energy fills the room. The “Arch,” as people in South Africa call him, is short in stature…and he speaks softly, at first. You have to lean in to see and hear him, but he instantly warms crowds with his innate charisma. He smiles broadly, his eyes grow wide, and his voice escalates as he implores his audiences to work for social justice.
In 2004, Tutu served on the Advisory Board of EducoAfrica, an international nonprofit that Jeff was involved with while teaching social sector leadership at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa. One day, the Archbishop was there presenting awards to young people for their outstanding work on social issues, particularly the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over half the population at the time lived below the poverty line, a third was illiterate and unemployed, and a quarter had no electricity or clean water. Nearly 10 percent of South Africans were HIV positive.
Tutu’s message was aimed at encouraging young people to become involved in cause-driven organizations. Jeff asked him why he focused on young people, in particular. “Because if we don’t refresh the face of civil society, we will not have a civil society,” Tutu declared. He then encouraged Jeff to write this book.
Since Tutu’s call to action, we have completed more than five years of intensive research, including scouring hundreds of reports and articles on this topic, engaging several classes of graduate and undergraduate students from around the world, holding more than 50 discussion groups across the United States, and conducting numerous broad research studies.
We also conducted hundreds of interviews, because we did not want to simply tell the story ourselves. Instead, we wanted you to hear directly from people involved in cause-driven work. The voices in this book come from scores of individuals—both celebrities and everyday heroes—who share their insights and experiences. You’ll hear from Jane Goodall, President Clinton, Oscar Arias, Al Gore, Carlos Santana and Dave Matthews, and from the leaders of Habitat for Humanity, The Nature Conservancy, Teach for America, and CARE International. Other stories come from foundation leaders and nonprofits that serve the needs of our communities. They come from engineers and accountants looking for meaning beyond the numbers. They come from young people yearning to make a difference.
What we and all these people from different walks of life share in common is that we have found great joy and professional fulfillment in dedicating ourselves to something beyond our own self-interest—and we invite you to join us!
—Jeffrey Pryor and Alexandra Mitchell
Adeeb Khan, Mile High United Way
Alexis Owen, First Western Trust Bank
Amanda Nichols, PeaceCorps volunteer
Ana & Danny Dodson, Peruvian Hearts
Ashara Ekundayo, Oakland HUB
Ashley Hollister, JBFC Foundation
Ashley Shuyler, AfricAid
Ashok Regmi, International Youth Foundation
Bill Clinton, Clinton Foundation
Bill White, C. S. Mott Foundation
Bob Pilon, ONE Foundation
Brad Corrigan, Dipatch
Brent Daily, RoundPegg
Brett Dennen, The Mosaic Project
Brian Griese, Broncos & Judi’s House
Carlos Santana, Milagro Foundation
Chris Gates, JBFC Foundation
Christa Brelsford, Haiti Partners
Christina Spicer, Teach for America
Crystal Bowersox, American Idol
Daniel Epstein, Unreasonable Group
Daren Jones, ACH Child & Family Services
Dave Matthews, Dave Matthews Band
David Bowker, WilmerHale
David La Piana, La Piana & Associates
Dawn Engle, PeaceJam
Derek Trucks, Tedeschi Trucks Band
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop
Dick Celeste, Peace Corps Director
Dikembe Mutombo, Mutombo Foundation
Doris Kester, S CO Community Foundation
Doug Jackson, Project C.U.R.E.
Elisabeth Gore, UN Foundation
Elizabeth Bintliff, Heifer International
Emily Davis, Emily Davis Consulting
Erick Ochoa, Palapa Society
Ernie, All American Boxing Club
Fernando Rosetti, GIFE Brazil
Gail McGovern, American Red Cross
Gerry Salole, European Foundation Center
Grant D’Arcy, Google
Grant Jones, African American Health Center
Hans Blix, UN Arms Inspector
Ivan Suvanjieff, PeaceJam
Jamie Laurie, Youth on Record
Jane Goodall, Roots & Shoots
Jeff Coffin, The Mu’tet
Jessica Bynoe, Variety Children’s Charity
Jessica Clendenning, Heifer International
Jimmy Carter, Carter Center
Jo Luck, Heifer International
John Godoy, Vision For All
Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity
Julie Butterfly Hill, Environmental Activist
Karen Gerrity, Broomfield Cultural Affairs
Kathleen Enright, GEO
Kinoti Meme, Regis University
Krista Powers, Adaptive Sports
Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International
Kurt McManus, Engineering student
Lindsay Coates, Interaction
Liz McCartney, St. Bernard Project
Mark Tercek, The Nature Conservancy
Michael Franti, Do It For The Love
Michael Kang, String Cheese Incident
Michelle Monse, King Foundation
Nick Blawat, Feeding America
Nick & Helen Forster, eTown
Oscar Arias, Costa Rican President
Paul Leopolis, THEA Foundation
Raul Pacheco, Ozomatli
Richard Bangs, Adventure Travel
Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation
Richard Cross, Eye Health Institute
Rick Hodes, CNN Hero
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Prize
Robby Rodriguez, Kellogg Foundation
Robert Egger, D.C. & L.A. Kitchen
Robert Redford, Sundance Institute
Romain Vakilitabar, Watson University
Rosetta Thurman, Happy Black Woman
Sandra Day O’Conner, U.S. Supreme Court
Sarah McLachlan, Music Education
Scott Curran, Clinton Foundation
Sebastian Africano, Trees, Water, People
Stefka Fanchi, Habitat for Humanity
Stephen Brackett, Flobots
Stephen Heinz, Rockefeller Fund
Steve Hollingworth, Freedom From Hunger
Stuart Conway, Trees, Water, People
Susan Tedeschi, Tedeschi Trucks Band
Suzanne Roller, Wilderness Education Institute
Terry Wollen, Heifer International
Tim Wolters, RoundPegg
Trista Harris, MN Council on Foundations
Vicky Escarra, Opportunity International
Wendy Kopp, Teach For America
Zack Rosenburg, St. Bernard Project
Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference is a central component of a larger campaign to mobilize young people to dedicate their talents and energy to making the world a better place. It rests on the core belief that our future greatly depends on the inherently connected and mobile nature of the Millennial Generation, because they will be the first group of people that will actually have the tools and breadth of knowledge to fix the many global challenges they’ve inherited.
The book is based on hundreds of interviews. It includes a foreword written by Desmond Tutu, and a diverse set of testimonies from Jane Goodall, Bill Clinton, Dave Matthews and Carlos Santana, the heads of the world’s largest cause-driven organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace and Red Cross, and scores of lesser famous, yet equally fabulous every-day heroes. These stories are diverse and real. They capture spirit, intelligence, imagination and heart. Compassionate Careers also contains practical exercises and resources for young people who are moved to pursue cause-driven work. In addition to its core focus on the incoming generation, the book also serves as a valuable asset to the main influences of these young people, including parents, grandparents or other caretakers, teachers, school and career counselors, and organizational leaders in the cause-driven field. Compassionate Careers is for anyone who feels that sitting on the sidelines is not enough. It’s for anyone who is thirsty for change.
Jeff Pryor’s initiation to a compassionate career came in the third grade when Joyce Kobiyashi refused to go trick or treating with him unless he also collected coins for UNICEF. The thought of abandoning the primary goal of candy was beyond him, but Jeff was even more interested in Joyce’s hand. So he went trick or treating for UNICEF, and it changed his life.
Jeff also attributes his lifelong devotion to civil society to his parents, and a host of teachers, professors, and mentors. His high school and college years were filled with volunteerism. He got involved in migrant farm workers’ protests and the Civil Rights movement, and joined the Peace Corps in Jamaica. He later helped launch a handful of cause-driven organizations and social enterprises, including the first rafting company in the American West dedicated to people with physical, mental, and social challenges. He also ran an award-winning national youth mentorship program, and was recognized as a volunteer firefighter of the year by Inter-Canyon Fire Department in Colorado.
Jeff earned a doctorate in management psychology and has helped create several nonprofit degree programs in various countries. Additionally, he served as executive director of the Anschutz Family Foundation for 20 years, and won Colorado’s highest honor for strengthening community-based organizations. He now dedicates his energy to the next generation of civil society leaders as Co-Founder and CEO of Pathfinder Solutions. All because Joyce insisted that he do something for somebody else. Jeff Pryor Resume
Alex Mitchell’s story begins with her birthday, which she proudly shares with Martin Luther King, Jr. She was raised on the anti-war movement, feminism and the CBS news with Walter Cronkite. One of her earliest memories is of Dr. King’s assassination. She was 5 years old, and it was nearly midnight when her mother woke her to tell her the news. It was Alex’s first recognition of the depths of inequity and discrimination…the acute sense that she was born to honor Dr. King’s life with a compassionate career.
Alex studied history and philosophy in college, where she was employed by the student union and was very much a community activist. She backpacked solo around India for a year, walked across America for global nuclear disarmament, worked for organizations like Greenpeace and the League of Conservation Voters, and then became an inner-city high school teacher. She directed several award-winning youth development programs, taught English as a Second Language, and got her Master’s in Public Administration.
Alex has since served as a social and environmental policy researcher, as well as a program evaluator, university instructor, and organizational development trainer and advisor. Most of her work has been dedicated to youth, the elderly, social justice, and the environment. Currently, she’s Co-Founder and President of the nonprofit organization Pathfinder Solutions, the research and advisory firm that she and Jeff created. The vision of their work is for people from all walks of life to find joy and fulfillment in their work, and to feel empowered to create the world they want to live in. Alexandra Mitchell Resume
For more information about the authors’ publications, presentations and nonprofit work, please visit Pathfinder Solutions.