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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Number Of Polio Cases Globally Drops To 1 Per Week; How Do We Get To Zero?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The polio virus is in its death throes.

While it has been infinitely more difficult than the optimists hoped it would be 30 years ago, those who said polio couldn’t be eradicated will soon be proven wrong.

In the mid 1980s, there were about 350,000 to 400,000 cases of polio each year around the world, despite the disease having been effectively eradicated throughout the developed world.

In 2014, there were just 359 cases of polio, reflecting a 99.9 percent reduction over 30 years. On average, that number reflected a rate of about seven cases per week. So far, in 2015, the average number of cases per week has dropped to just barely above 1.

We are, however, now in the heat of summer in much of the world, including in Pakistan and Afghanistan where the disease remains active. Polio thrives in the summer months and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, led by Rotary International and its partners the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is working feverishly to prevent any spread of the disease.

Dr. Hamid Jafari of the WHO praises Rotary’s leadership in the effort to end polio, “The world is closer than ever before to eradicating polio, thanks to the tremendous efforts of Rotarians worldwide. A lasting polio-free world will be Rotary’s gift to all future generations. No child need ever be paralysed by this terrible disease.”

Jafari notes that the work is not yet done, adding, “But to achieve ultimate success, we need the ongoing support of all Rotarians, to push the effort across the finish line.”

Despite the progress, there are a variety of important questions that remain in trying to understand how this virus will be eradicated once and for all.

A recent outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus in Madagascar with eight reported cases so far, demonstrates the challenge. As immunization rates fall in countries where the disease has not been a threat in years, rare cases of vaccine-derived polio can spread. A shift away from the oral polio vaccine to the injected inactivated vaccine used in the developed world for more than a generation appears to be key. Making the switch isn’t going to be easy.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Dr. Jafari and his colleague Dr. John Sever, the Vice Chair of Rotary International’s PolioPlus Program, will join me for a live discussion about the efforts to finally put an end to polio in 2015. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the World Health Organization:

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is spearheaded by national governments, Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and supported by partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Since its launch in 1988, the GPEI has reduced the number of polio cases by 99%, from 350,000 annual cases in more than 125 endemic countries. to 3 endemic countries in 2015.

More about Rotary International:

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. In 1988, Rotary was joined by the WHO, UNICEF and the CDC to launch the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Hamid Jafari, WHO

Hamid Jafari, WHO

Jafari’s bio:

Dr. Jafari is currently the Director, Global Polio Eradication Operations and Research at WHO, Headquarters, Geneva. Before this appointment in March 2012, Dr. Jafari served as the Project Manager of World Health Organization’s National Polio Surveillance Project in India (2007-2012). As Project Manager of NPSP, he was the main technical advisor to the Government of India in the implementation of the nation’s large scale polio eradication, measles control and routine immunization activities and directed WHO’s extensive network of more than 2000 field staff.

Before his assignment in India, Dr. Jafari served as Director of the Global Immunization Division at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, USA. He has also served as the Medical Officer for Polio Eradication in the Regional Office of WHO for Eastern Mediterranean on assignment from CDC.

Dr. Jafari obtained his MBBS degree from Sind Medical College, Karachi University. He completed his residency training in Pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and his Pediatric Infectious Disease fellowship training at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. He has been certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in the sub-specialty of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. Dr. Jafari also completed a research fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jafari has published over 80 scientific papers and book chapters on polio eradication and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

John Sever

John Sever

Sever’s bio:

Dr. John L. Sever is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Immunology, Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at the George Washington University, Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Previously he served as Chief of Infectious Diseases Research, National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Diseases and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He now serves on the Institutional Review Boards of the Pediatric Central IRB of the National Cancer Institute, NIH, The HQ US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command IRB and the Chesapeake IRB.

He received a B.A. degree from the University of Chicago, and B.S., M.S., M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University. Dr. Sever has taught at the medical schools of Northwestern, Georgetown, and the George Washington Universities. He has been a medical advisor or consultant for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the March of Dimes, and Boy Scouts and has published over 600 scientific papers. He has been president of several medical research societies and has served on the editorial boards of several medical research journals.

A Rotarian since 1964, he has served Rotary as Club President, District Governor, Assembly Instructor, Legislative Council Member, Committee Member and Chairman. A long-term member of the 3-H and Programs Committee of The Rotary Foundation, Dr. Sever has monitored and advised on the development of Rotary’s PolioPlus Program, and has visited numerous projects to help assess the impact of Rotary’s support. As the Vice Chair of the International PolioPlus Committee, Dr. Sever not only helps to develop implementation policies but also articulates Rotary’s support for global polio eradication. As a member of the United States Rotary Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force he has testified before the U.S. Congress in support of funding for polio eradication. He has also met with many Senators and Representatives to support international polio immunization programs. He has represented Rotary at meetings of WHO, UNICEF and the CDC. He is actively involved in Rotary Programs for Safe Blood and HIV/AIDS in India and Africa.

Nurse Seeks End To Infant And Maternal Mortality

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

When Arlene Samen was invited to meet with the Dalai Lama, she couldn’t imagine how it would change her life. Ultimately, she left her position as a nurse as the University of Utah School of Medicine to found One Heart World Wide, an organization that works to end infant and maternal mortality.

One Heart World Wide is making remarkable progress. After a temporary effort with great success in Tibet, Samen moved the organization to Mexico and now Nepal.

Samen says she’s learned a few lessons over the years and summarizes them as follows:

  1. I believe it is “relationships that save lives”, that by working together with others we can serve so many more.
  2. No matter what you face in life, never give up.
  3. The ripple effect knows no boundaries.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Samen will join me for a live discussion about her remarkable work to end maternal deaths. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about One Heart World Wide:

Twitter : @oneheartww

One Heart World Wide is a non profit organization empowering communities to save the lives of mothers and newborns during childbirth in the most remote areas of the world. We work within existing health infrastructures to prevent maternal and newborn deaths by promoting safe clean deliveries, training community health workers, and upgrading existing health posts to meet national standards of care for birthing centers.Through an elegantly simple approach of training and equipping the right people in the right way, One Heart saves lives efficiently, sustainably, and cost effectively. As the “Network of Safety” is culturally adapted for the people by the people, these systemic changes have a ripple affect, that saves lives now and into future. We deliver scalable solutions, safe pregnancies, and we deliver results.

Arlene Samen

Arlene Samen

Samen’s bio:

Twitter: @arlenesamen

Arlene Samen, has been a Nurse Practitioner in Maternal Fetal Medicine for over 33 years. In 2004, she left behind her clinical practice at the University of Utah School of Medicine to dedicate her life to serving pregnant women living int he most vulnerable conditions int he most remote places of the world. In her travels she learned about the plight of pregnant women and newborns in Tibet, where one out of ten newborn babies died due to preventable causes. She organized a fact-finding mission to understand the local traditions, religious and cultural beliefs of women giving birth. Arlene spent over ten years in Tibet working and living side by side with the local government to bring a safe motherhood project to women who were poor, uneducated, and living in the most remote areas on the roof of the world. She brought the “Network of Safety” model to women who face death in order to give life. In 2009, One Heart World-Wide brought its life saving model to remote villages in Nepal, the Copper Canyon in Mexico, and deep into the amazon jungle in Ecuador where few dared to go. To date over 60,000 women have been touched by the “Network of Safety”. She has endured political uprisings, being held at gunpoint, the SARS epidemic,and earthquakes to make sure women had a safe clean delivery. No matter what the challenges she faced, she followed the Dalai Lama’s advise to never give up. Arlene has received many awards, including Unsung Heroes for Acts of Compassion in 2001, the Soroptpmist Women Making a Difference Award, CNN Hero, and the Stevie Awards “Women helping Women.” She has been a presenter at TEDxSF, BIF10, and Catalyst Creativ amongst being a guest lecturer at Standford and UCSF.

UN Says We Can End Extreme Poverty, Hunger, Global Warming and Gender Bias By 2030

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

At the outset of the current millennium, the United Nations led an effort to set a group of goals to be achieved by 2015.

UN Secretary-General reported in 2014, that “the MDGs have made a profound difference in people’s lives. Global poverty has been halved five years ahead of the 2015 timeframe. Ninety per cent of children in developing regions now enjoy primary education, and disparities between boys and girls in enrolment have narrowed. Remarkable gains have also been made in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, along with improvements in all health indicators. The likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half over the last two decades. That means that about 17,000 children are saved every day. We also met the target of halving the proportion of people who lack access to improved sources of water.”

Today, the world is looking forward to what we can accomplish over the next 15 years. The UN has established the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Amina Mohammed is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning.

Mohammed notes, “The sustainable development agenda addresses the root causes of poverty, inequalities and environmental degradation. It looks at the links between the social, economic and environmental agendas, and it presents more opportunities than the MDGs, which largely focused on the symptoms only.”

In an effort to broaden the impact of the U.N.’s efforts, she says, “The sustainable development agenda looks at the links between the social, environmental and economic agendas so it presents more opportunities than the MDGs, which focused purely on the social agenda.”

She notes that the new goals are not simply updated outcomes for the old goals, but that the UN is seeking to incorporate all that has been learned. “The sustainable development goals will continue the unfinished business of the MDGs, build on their lessons learned and go well beyond to address new and emerging challenges. Sustainable development is a universal agenda that applies to all people, in all countries and will leave no one behind.”

She adds that the Secretary-General said it best in his Synthesis Report, “The Road to Dignity by 2030: We must transform our economies, our environment, and our societies. We must change old mindsets, behaviors, and destructive patterns. All in pursuit of international peace and stability.”

On Friday, July 10, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Mohammed will join me for a live discussion about the new goals. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the United Nations:

Twitter: @UN

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States. The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter.

Mohammed’s bio:

Twitter: @AminaJMohammed

Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria is the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning.

Ms. Mohammed was previously Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals after serving three Presidents over a period of six years. In 2005 she was charged with the coordination of the debt relief funds ($1 billion per annum) towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria. From 2002-2005, Ms. Mohammed served as coordinator of the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project.

Can You Make A Difference And A Profit? Estee Lauder Does

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The Estée Lauder Companies, working through its MAC’s VIVA GLAM Lipstick, has become one of the leading funders in the fight against HIV/AIDS around the world, donating over $350 million total over 20 years reaching over $40 million per year recently.

Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship, explains the company’s passion for working so diligently to end AIDS, “We can only end AIDS if we test and treat everyone at risk of and actually infected with HIV. As only half of the people in the world who need HIV testing and treatment can get it, and funding for the epidemic is declining… we desperately need corporation’s business acumen and resources — including the ability to market and sell ideas — to tackle the world’s biggest problems, including ending AIDS.”

“The people behind many corporations are incredibly skilled at defining and efficiently solving many of the key business and resourcing issues, which also stand in the way of issues like equitable access to medical care.,” she continues.

“While science has now made it possible to end AIDS, it’ll only become a reality if we get a realistic and achievable business plan in place,” she concludes.

On Friday, July 10, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern, Mahon will return to my show here to talk about measuring return on investment for The Estée Lauder Companies in leading the fight against AIDS. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about The Mac AIDS Fund:

Twitter: @macaidsfund

The MAC AIDS Fund (MAF), the heart and soul of MAC Cosmetics, was established in 1994 to support men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally. MAF is a pioneer in HIV/AIDS funding, providing financial support to organizations working with underserved regions and populations. Recently recognized by Funders Concerned About AIDS as the top corporate giver in the arena, MAF is committed to addressing the link between poverty and HIV/AIDS by supporting diverse organizations around the world that provide a wide range of services to people living with HIV/AIDS. To date, MAF has raised more than $340 million (U.S.) exclusively through the sale of MAC’s VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass donating 100 percent of the sale price to fight HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit www.macaidsfund.org.

Mahon’s bio:

Twitter: @nancy_mahon

Nancy is Senior Vice President, Global Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship, for The Estée Lauder Companies and Global Executive Director of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. In this role, she is responsible for Estée Lauder’s global corporate citizenship strategy, encompassing all philanthropic, cause-marketing, employee engagement, and product donation programs. Nancy also oversees the strategic direction and day- to-day operation of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. Currently, the Fund gives away $44 million annually throughout the world, particularly in the 72 countries in which M·A·C has affiliates.

In December 2011, Nancy was appointed as the Chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). PACHA provides advice and recommendations to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on programs and policies intended to promote effective prevention of HIV disease, and to advance research on HIV disease and AIDS.

Prior to joining M·A·C in June 2006, Nancy was Executive Director of God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of life-sustaining nutritional support services for people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses.

Nancy is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University and New York University’s School of Law, where she was an editor of the Law Review. She and her partner reside in New York City with their two children.

Artist, Activist Lives Among The World’s Poor To Understand Them First Hand

Artist and activist Phil America focuses his work on social issues like class, gender and race.

“Art is a language everyone can speak,” Phil says about his work.

As an activist, he is philosophical, “The biggest criminal is the one who puts the laws of the land above their own morals.”

Having lived all around the world and having seen all sorts of poverty, Phil says, “Living in poverty does not make you poor. What makes you poor is being complacent and having poor character.”

On Friday, July 10, 2015 at 5:00 Eastern, Phil will join me for a live discussion about his remarkable work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Phil America

Phil America

Phil’s‘ bio:

Phil America (b. 1983) is a California-raised artist, writer and activist. He has worked and lived throughout the US, Europe, Asia and Africa, and concentrates on issues with class, gender and race. In his work he uses performance, photography, writing, video and sound installation and sculptures, searching for a better understanding and connection to his subjects. He also helps with the development of DEAR Burma, a free school for migrants with an attendance of over 1200 students per semester and recently gave his second TED Talk as well as having spoke at numerous universities and events. In 2014 he collaborated with United Nations, International Labor Organization, World Vision, United States Department of Labor, and other agencies and organizations to create art projects around the globe and is currently working on his 4th book.

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Devin D. Thorpe

Deloitte’s RightStep Innovation Prize Goes To Social Venture Reasoning Mind

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Deloitte recently announced the winner of its RightStep Innovation Prize, Reasoning Mind, a nonprofit social enterprise that implements an interactive online math curriculum in public school districts.

Reasoning Mind CEO Alex Khachatryan explained, “Our mission is to provide a first-rate math education for every child. Over the last five years, we’ve seen not only tremendous growth but also tremendous impact on student mathematical achievement. With Deloitte’s support, we know that we’ll be able to provide the benefits of our program to more students than ever.”

Co-founder and Senior Vice President George Khachatryan said, “Reasoning Mind studies and reverse-engineers the teaching practices of some of the world’s best mathematics teachers. We design online lessons that reproduce some internationally-successful instructional methods—but you can’t deliver a full educational experience online. That’s why we train and support classroom teachers in these practices, too; so they will be empowered to use the program in the most beneficial way possible.”

On Thursday, July 25, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Alex and George will join me for live discussion about the RightStep award from Deloitte and the work they are doing in schools. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Reasoning Mind:

Twitter: @reasoningmind

Reasoning Mind is an educational nonprofit with a mission of providing a first-rate math education for every child. The organization studies and reverse-engineers the instructional practices of some of the world’s most effective math teachers, and then reproduces these practices in online lessons. Reasoning Mind also trains and supports teachers in using these instructional materials in their classrooms. The result is a blended learning program that has increased classroom engagement, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement in mathematics.

Alex Khachatryan’s bio:

Alex began his career as a researcher in artificial intelligence and expert systems, before serving as President of Russian Petroleum Consultants Corporation, a consultancy he founded and managed together with his wife, Julia. Alex, Julia, and their son, George, started the work that would eventually lead to the founding of Reasoning Mind in 1999, and in 2003 they launched the organization’s first pilot project. Twelve years later, Alex runs an organization of over 200 employees that has dramatically improved math achievement—and enjoyment—for teachers and students alike. Alex holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in applied mathematics from the Moscow Oil and Gas Institute, along with a doctorate in physics and mathematics from Moscow State University, Russia’s leading research university. Alex enjoys reading, theater, and long walks in the mountains.

George Khachatryan’s bio:

George began working for Reasoning Mind as a high school student, assisting in content development, recruiting volunteer editors, and writing informational materials. He continued working for the non-profit throughout college and graduate school, before completing his studies and officially joining the company full-time in 2011. All of George’s degrees are in pure mathematics—a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, a master’s from the University of Cambridge, and a doctorate from Cornell University. George enjoys literature and traveling with his wife, Marcela.

FB Heron Foundation Leads Foundations Toward 100 Percent Impact Investment

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

When people hear about impact investing, a light goes on. People immediately begin to see the potential. Once they do, they often assume that foundations must be doing the bulk of impact investing. In fact, relatively few are actively doing it.

The FB Heron Foundation has made a bold, public commitment to move 100 percent of its assets to impact investments by the end of 2017.

In her President’s letter issued last month, Clara Miller wrote, “In 2014, we continued to push forward on our core operating principle that “all investing is impact investing,” meaning that we believe that all investments (spanning the range of debt, equity, cooperative shares, warrants, and hybrid instruments) have social as well as financial repercussions. These social and financial repercussions can be positive or negative and vary over time. Bidden or not, intentional or unintentional, all of the enterprises that we invest in have impact that goes well beyond a financial return to an individual investor.”

On Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Miller will join me for a live discussion about the Foundation’s remarkable commitment to deploy its investment capital 100 percent toward its mission. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the FB Heron Foundation:

Twitter: @HeronFdn

The mission of the FB Heron Foundation is to help people & communities help themselves prosper, especially those that are economically disadvantaged. Heron is looking for ways to help rebalance the economy so that it ensures opportunity for all, which is a critical responsibility not only of philanthropy and government, but of business and investors. Heron invests in enterprises as if people matter.

Heron is uniquely investing all its assets for mission. Its funding is tax-status agnostic (for-profits and nonprofits) and utilizes all forms of capital.

clara_miller-1940x1940

Clara Miller, President, FB Heron Foundation

Miller’s bio:

Twitter: @ClaraGMiller

Prior to assuming the FB Heron Foundation’s presidency in 2011, Miller was President and CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund which she founded and ran from 1984 to 2011. NFF serves as a “philanthropic bank” for both social sector organizations and their funders, and has invested and managed more than $1.5 billion in financing for social sector organizations.

In addition to serving on The F. B. Heron Foundation’s board, Miller is on the boards of Family Independence Initiative, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, StoneCastle Financial Corp., and The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. She is a member of the Social Investment Committee of the Kresge Foundation and the U.S. National Advisory Board to the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force. In 2010 Miller became a member of the first Nonprofit Advisory Committee of the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Miller was the inaugural laureate of the Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy awarded in 2014 by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Tocqueville Foundation-Institute of France. She was named to The NonProfit Times “Power and Influence Top 50” for the five years from 2006 through 2010 and received a Bellagio Residency in 2010 by The Rockefeller Foundation.

In 1996, Miller was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Treasury’s first Community Development Advisory Board for the then-newly-created Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. She later served as its Chair. She was a member of the Community Advisory Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for eight years, and she received the “Shining Star Award” in 2014 from New York City performance space PS122.

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