amazon facebook_32 gplus_32 linkedin_32 pinterest_32 tumblr_32 twitter_32 website_32 youtube_32 email_32 rss_32

 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.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe


This category includes stories about philanthropy, typically covering the generosity of individuals, families, groups of individuals and foundations (nonprofits primarily in the business of funding other nonprofits.

Autism Nonprofit Generates Revenue 7 Ways

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Dr. Julian Maha founded KultureCity about three years ago, shortly after his son was diagnosed with autism. The diagnosing physician, Maha says, told him his son would likely have to be institutionalized. Motivated by that challenge, Maha set out to create a nonprofit that would actually drive greater impact in the lives of those affected by autism.

Maha really believes he is completely reinventing the model for nonprofits. Last year, Microsoft MSFT +1.03% launched Windows 10 with the #UpgradeYourWorld campaign I covered here. KultureCity was one of ten nonprofits recognized by Microsoft as part of that campaign, suggesting that Maha has created something different from typical nonprofits.

Maha asserts that the innovations he’s implementing at KultureCity make him “a true social entrepreneur.” He says, “ We are on a mission to fundamentally change the culture of how autism is viewed by society and to show the world that these individuals not only have potential but the means to achieve that potential.”

One of the key innovations that Maha has created is a diversity of revenue sources. He identifies seven different revenue sources:

  1. Angel Donations: large donors who fund overhead and provide an operating budget.
  2. Public Donations: funds raised from ordinary individual donors.
  3. Cause Marketing Products: KultureCity works with companies that create specific products that give back to the organization.
  4. Corporate Partnerships:  Maha explains, “We collaborate with companies that have products used by the special needs community. These partnerships then make us the de facto nonprofit partner of the companies.”
  5. Marketing Placement: KultureCity provides children with autism with “lifeBOKS,” a kit to help prevent wandering and related tragedies, like drowning. Marketing offers are packaged with the kit, providing the sponsoring companies with targeted branding opportunities that tend to garner good social media results, according to Maha.
  6. Business Incubator: The organization is now incubating businesses that help create jobs for people with autism and other special needs individuals. “Donations are used towards taking an idea from concept to market,” Maha says.
  7. Sensory Friendly Initiative: KultureCity helps make tourist attractions, businesses and community organizations sensory friendly. In return, these places hold fundraising events.

While it is clear that you could describe each of these as being a form of donation, there are seven distinct strategies for these donations.

Dr. Julian Maha with his wife Dr. Michele Kong, courtesy of KultureCity

Dr. Julian Maha with his wife Dr. Michele Kong, courtesy of KultureCity

KultureCity generated almost $500,000 of revenue last year, more than double the $183,000 it reported in 2014. The organization raised only $20,000 in 2013, its first year of operations.

There is a lot of work to do, Maha acknowledges. “For instance, work environments are not optimized for their success, and the culture is one that limits them because of their diagnosis. We are trying to change that by inspiring the community to see their potential and also to give the right tools to autistic individuals to help them not only succeed but be accepted fully by society.”

Maha sees the reinvention of the nonprofit model as being key. “The biggest challenge is to help society understand that the traditional nonprofit model is broken and in dire need of revitalization. Nonprofits need to be judged on their impact and also their ability to empower the populations that they serve. In addition, nonprofits also need to utilize their resources in a way that maximize impact and decreases organizational overhead.”

KultureCity’s social media presence suggest the company is playing above its weight, that is it may be having more impact than its revenues suggest it would. As of this writing it has almost 33,000 Twitter followers and 41,000 likes on Facebook, significantly larger numbers than most nonprofits of their scale in my experience covering the space.

Maha never loses sight of the fact that his purpose isn’t to remake nonprofits for its own sake, but rather to change the world for people with autism, giving them a “chance at a brighter future.”

On Thursday, April 7, 2016 at noon Eastern, Maha will join me for a live discussion about his innovations in nonprofit management and the impact that is having on his constituency of people affected by autism. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.


Hint Water Founder’s Passion For Health Drives Unsweetened Success

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Kara Goldin talks about sugar as if it were a bad thing–a very bad thing. Goldin, the founder of $30 million beverage company hint®, launched the company in 2005 after developing the unsweetened flavored water in her home kitchen as a healthy alternative to the sweetened juices she had been buying for her kids.

Goldin approaches the subject of sugar and sweeteners with the subtly of a presidential stump speech. “People ask me ‘who’s your biggest competitor?’ It’s the sugar and sweetener companies. They will use any food or beverage to sell their ‘drug.’ And use any language to make it seem healthy,” she says.

The former AOL executive doesn’t like diet sweeteners much more than sugar. She proclaims, “Almost 1/2 of Americans have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. That’s up 27% from a decade ago! And what are we drinking over the past decade? Diet sweeteners. You be the judge.”

“It’s criminal that we have allowed the word ‘water’ on labels to be used to define a drink that is sweetened. Water means health to most people and unfortunately many of these water drinks with sweeteners are not so healthy,” she continues.

The science, however, may not be quite as clear as Goldin’s passion. The American Diabetes Association describes the statement “Eating too much sugar causes diabetes” as a myth on its site.

Still, Goldin’s zeal seems to come from a genuine desire to improve health. That’s why she created the product in her kitchen over a decade ago, and it seems to be the driving force that propels the company forward.

Not only is the company’s water available in stores across the U.S., but in Silicon Valley, the company distributes the product directly to corporate campuses including Google and Facebook, Goldin says.

hint® is a member of the Social Venture Network and Goldin will be a keynote speaker at the spring conference on April 14 to 17 in San Diego, where, I expect, members will hear her stump speech.

On Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Goldin will join me here for a live discussion about hint®. 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 hint®:

Twitter: @hintwater

hint® is the leading unsweetened flavored water in the US today. We make it easier for people who don’t like the taste of plain water to drink water with just a little bit of real fruit flavor without sweeteners. In doing so, we help people get healthy and hear that in addition to helping them drink water, hint® is always helping people get healthy in their own way.

Kara Goldin, courtesy of hint®.

Kara Goldin, courtesy of hint®.

Goldin’s bio:

Twitter: @hintwaterceo

Kara Goldin is chief executive officer and founder of San Francisco based hint Inc., which produces the leading unsweetened flavored waters, with nothing artificial. Since its launch in April ’05, hint® has received numerous accolades from national publications including “Best Flavored Water” (in Health, Men’s Health, and SELF in both 2010 and 2012), “Best Enhanced Water” (BottledWaterWorld and BevNET) and “Top 25 New Products”. Kara started hint, Inc. to make it easier for consumers to lead a healthy lifestyle. Flavored only with natural fruit, hint delivers refreshment without unnecessary additives and sweeteners. hint’s latest brand extension is the introduction of hintfizz, a carbonated version of hint Water, that received the 2012 Better Homes and Gardens “Best New Product Award” as well as the 2012 Silver Stevie Award for “Best New Product or Service of the Year.” Kara has been a contributor to national outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, MORE, The Huffington Post,, Reuters and Businessweek as well as appearances on national programs including CNBC and Fox News. Kara was formerly the Vice President of Shopping and E-commerce Partnerships at AOL, where she grew AOL’s shopping business from startup to more than $1 billion in revenue in less than 7 years. In 2015, Kara was selected as winner of the prestigious Marketers That Matter award for Brand Building Small Company. Kara was also selected among only 10 other women as Fortune’s 2011 “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs,” and in 2012 as one of Ernst and Young’s “Entrepreneurial Winning Women.” She was honored with the 2012 Gold Stevie Award Winner for “Female Entrepreneur of the Year” & was listed as a “CEO to Watch in 2013” by And finally, Forbes recently named her as one of the “40 Women to Watch Over 40.” Kara is also an active speaker and writer as well as a member of SFBay YPO.

‘2 Ordinary Blokes’ Cross Atlantic In Row Boat For Charity

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

When I first heard the story of the Tempest Two, the two Brits who crossed the Atlantic in a row boat, I imagined that they were competitive athletes who had spent years training for the adventure. Instead, they describe themselves as “two ordinary blokes” who founded a company for great adventure and to raise money for causes they care about.

The founders of The Tempest Two say their motivation for the trip was manifold, but it certainly included social objectives like raising money for the Make-a-Wish foundation and to fund brain tumor research.

Tom Caulfield, one of the two–I’m not sure whether to say “rowers” or “blokes” here–explains his passion for Make-A-Wish, “I am trying to give young, terminally ill children the chance to touch and feel their dreams, like I have been lucky enough to do. Make-A-Wish Foundation makes those dreams come true, so raising money for them is something I care deeply about.”

James Whittle, the other one, says, “The problem is brain tumours. My mum suffered from a severe brain tumour in 2012 and has made a great recovery. I want to raise support to help fund the research further to benefit others.”

Caulfield explains the accomplishment. “James and I have completed a transatlantic row, 3000 miles across The Atlantic, totally unsupported. Neither of us had ever held an oar or sailed a boat, so we hope we have proved that ordinary people can achieve incredible things.”

Beyond raising money for charity, Caulfield has another mission. “Our goal is to inspire people to set goals, back themselves and achieve amazing feats, whilst raising money for good causes along the way.”

Tom Caulfield and James Whittle, courtesy of The Tempest Two

Tom Caulfield and James Whittle, courtesy of The Tempest Two

Whittle adds, “Having currently raised £12,500 between Make-A-Wish and brain tumour research, we aim to raise more money along the way through continuing to do extraordinary adventures.

He continues, “Our success will not only raise funds, but will also raise awareness of these two fantastic charities and the work they undertake, hopefully encouraging others to raise funds and donate to these causes.”

Whittle also echoes Caulfield, noting, “We also aim to inspire people to get off the sofa and get exercising, we proved that two ordinary blokes could achieve something extraordinary and hope it inspires others to take on challenges themselves.”

On Thursday, March 10, 2016 at noon Eastern, Caulfield and Whittle will join me for a live conversation about their remarkable journey and the causes they support. 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 Tempest Two:

Twitter: @thetempesttwo

The Tempest Two is made up of James Whittle and Tom Caulfield, two normal friends who have broken the mould of the 9-5 to seek adventure around the world, raising money for charity as they go. Two friends that decided to row 3,000 miles, unsupported, across the Atlantic Ocean in aid of Brain Tumor Research and Make a Wish foundation.

Tom Caulfield and James Whittle, courtesy of The Tempest Two

Tom Caulfield and James Whittle, courtesy of The Tempest Two

Caulfield’s bio:

Twitter: @tcaulfield89

Tom Caulfield is a 26 year old marketing professional by day, and aspiring adventurer by night. In July 2014, Caulfield decided to break the mould of the 9-5 and asked close-friend James Whittle to join him on what is known as the toughest challenge on Earth. Since then, he has become a trans-Atlantic rower, crossing the worlds wildest Ocean in 54 days, totally unsupported. Having tasted adventure, he now has his sights firmly set on another challenge in the near future.

Whittle’s bio:

Twitter: @jtwhittle10

James was born in Milton Keynes in England on 23rd May 1990. Born and raised in the rural town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, he attended school until the age of 18 and then attended the University of Northampton to study Sports Marketing and graduated in 2012. Alongside the studying James snowboarded around the wold, on a semi-professional basis in Austria, Switzerland, USA and Canada. Having previously been a competitive gymnast to GB national level at a younger age.

James graduated university, and his work as a student brand manager for Red Bull, and went on to work for the coconut water company Vita Coco, heading up the events and field marketing team out of London, England. Tom approached James with the far out question of rowing across the Atlantic in July 2014, neither having any previous rowing experience, and James immediately agreed. It was here that The Tempest Two was formed, as a pair of friends who would take on the Atlantic on a 3000 mile voyage, completely unsupported. Raising funds for Brain Tumour Research and Make a Wish Foundation along the way. With the voyage complete, the pair look forward to the next trip in what they hope will be a long list of adventures.

Unicorn Launches Anti-Cancer Campaign With $1M Gift

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Qualtrics, a 2002 startup that since raised a total of $220 million in venture capital in 2012 and 2014 and considered by many to be a unicorn, recently made a $1 million donation to the Huntsman HUN -3.80% Cancer Institute.

While Qualtrics isn’t a social venture, it is interesting to see such an entrepreneurial company embrace corporate social responsibility so enthusiastically.

CEO and cofounder, Ryan Smith, says, “Everyone has been impacted by cancer in one way or another – whether they have fought it or they have a friend or loved one who is fighting. Our goal is to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth. We are honored to partner with Huntsman Cancer Institute to raise funds for cancer research — research that is changing the way cancer is treated, diagnosed, and fought.”

The company didn’t stop with its $1 million donation; that is just the beginning, Smith explains.

Qualtrics and Huntsman Cancer Institute partnered to launch Five for the Fight, a campaign inviting everyone, everywhere to give $5 to the fight against cancer and then to invite five of their friends to do the same. People write on their hand the name of someone who has fought cancer and pledge their $5 to the fight in honor of that person. They then post a photo or video to social media using the hashtag #fiveforthefight, tagging the five friends they are challenging to join the fight against cancer. They then head to to donate.

Smith added that the donation was presented to Huntsman at the annual Insight Summit in Salt Lake City last week, where Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Mario Capecchi joined Smith on stage to present the check to Peter Huntsman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

Smith is serious, it seems, about curing cancer. “When cancer is eradicated, the world will be a very different place. When we look around and see how many children have lost a parent to cancer, or parents who have lost a child to this dread disease or people who have lost a spouse … the list goes on and on. With so many people fighting cancer and so many more impacted by it, we are eager to help in any way we can to support the amazing research being done to fight cancer and to find a cure for it,” he concludes.

On Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Smith will join me here for a live discussion about Qualtrics’ #fiveforthefight CSR campaign. 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 Qualtrics:

Twitter: @qualtrics

Qualtrics is a rapidly growing software-as-a-service company and the provider of the world’s leading enterprise survey platform. More than 8,500 enterprises worldwide, including half of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 business schools rely on Qualtrics technology. Our solutions make it fast and easy to capture customer, employee, and market insights in one place. These insights help our clients make informed, data-driven business decisions. Global enterprises, academic institutions, and government agencies use Qualtrics to collect, analyze, and act on voice of the customer, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, 360-degree reviews, brand, market, product concept, and employee feedback. To learn more, and for a free account, please visit

Ryan Smith, courtesy of Qualtrics

Ryan Smith, courtesy of Qualtrics

Smith’s bio:

Twitter: @ryanqualtrics

Ryan Smith co-founded Qualtrics in 2002 with the goal of making sophisticated research simple. As CEO, he has grown the company from a basement startup to one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the world. Qualtrics has more than 8,500 enterprise customers including half of the Fortune 100, 1,600 colleges and universities worldwide, and 99 of the top 100 business schools. In 2012, Qualtrics received a $70 million investment from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital, the largest-ever joint investment by these two firms. Additional funding was secured in 2014 to support the company’s continued product innovation and rapid international expansion. Insight Venture Partners led this $150 million round of new investment, with significant participation from original investors, Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Ryan was named one of Forbes’ “America’s Most Promising CEOs Under 35” for 2013, is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, TechCrunch and USA Today. He has also appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and FOX Business. Ryan is sought after for his business acumen and as such is a frequent guest lecturer at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Dean Ornish Partners With HealthWays To Expand Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a social entrepreneur at heart, has spent his entire career working improve health through lifestyle changes. Now, he’s partnered with Healthways to implement a program to reverse heart disease without surgery or medication. This radical approach to cardiac treatment is proving the value of collaboration for social entrepreneurs.

Dr. Ornish, who is a familiar name and face in the media, highlights some of the problems with the American health care system. He notes:

  • Most of the $3.0 trillion spent annually on health care in the U.S. is spent on sick care
  • A shocking 25 percent of the adult population, 60 million people, are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs

“My colleagues and I have partnered with Healthways to help create a new paradigm of real health care by addressing the personal lifestyle choices we make that are often an underlying cause of many chronic diseases,” Dr. Ornish notes.

Bob Porter, the Managing Director for the new Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversal of Cardiac Disease at Healthways, commented specifically on heart disease, “Chronic disease, and specifically cardiac disease, is a growing clinical and financial crisis in the US and other parts of the world.”

Porter adds, “Through decades of rigorous research, Dr. Dean Ornish has proven that adoption of a healthy lifestyle rooted in four, integrated elements – diet, exercise, stress management, and love and support – can not only prevent the onset of chronic disease but actually reverse the progression of disease process.”

Porter notes that the collaboration between Healthways and Dr. Ornish is spreading the approach across the country to implement the program. This will allow people to “transform their health status and quality of life by reversing their disease.”

Porter points out the bottom line impact of this approach. “There is a direct and dramatic impact on health care costs by averting in many cases the need for medicine, surgery, and other expensive interventions used to treat the effects of chronic disease.”

Dr. Ornish’s program is designed to create lasting change, Porter explains. “The delivery model for the program is unique in that cohorts of 10-15, together, go through 18 four hour experiential sessions during which they “live” the Ornish Reversal Program guidelines. This approach has proven to be highly effective in creating sustained behavior change so that this is more than a program that stops and starts. It is the first stage of a permanent change to a new and healthier lifestyle.”

Ornish explains his vision for what he calls “lifestyle medicine.”

We are empowering millions of people with information and support that help them transform suffering into healing—including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and early-stage prostate cancer—and helps turn on protective genes and turn off ones that promote prostate, breast & colon cancer. Lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes that control aging—reversing aging at a cellular level. Lifestyle medicine.

Porter concludes, “Most importantly, this program has proven to transform the quality of health, and life, for the individuals who participate in the program and for their loved ones. Over and over again we are inspired by the stories of program “alumni” who express their gratitude for having been given a second chance at life.”

On Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Porter and Dr. Ornish will join me here for a live discussion about this partnership and its potential to impact the lives of people suffering from at at risk of heart disease. 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 Preventive Medicine Research Institute:

Twitter: @DeanOrnishMD

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF. He is also a LinkedIn Influencer.

For over 35 years, Dr. Ornish directed research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Recently, Medicare began covering his program, the first time that Medicare has covered a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes. He directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may stop or reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer. His current research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease, as well as increasing telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes which control aging (in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009).

Dr. Dean Ornish, courtesy of Preventive Medicine Research Institute

Dr. Dean Ornish, courtesy of Preventive Medicine Research Institute

He is the author of six books, all national bestsellers, including: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; Love & Survival; and The Spectrum.

He has written a monthly column for Newsweek and Reader’s Digest magazines and is currently Medical Editor of The Huffington Post (45 million unique readers/month).

Dr. Ornish was appointed by President Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and he was appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. He is a member of the boards of directors of the SF Food Bank and the J. Craig Venter Institute. He established an integrative medicine clinic in the Saint Vincent de Paul homeless shelter in SF which will be replicated throughout the country. Dr. Ornish chaired the Google Health Advisory Council 2007-2009.

More about Healthways:

Twitter: @healthways

Healthways is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at

Bob Porter, courtesy of Healthways

Bob Porter, courtesy of Healthways

Porter’s bio:

Robert (Bob) Porter joined Healthways early in 2013 after a long and distinguished career in health system leadership, predominantly with SSM Health Care. While with SSM, Bob served in a variety of roles including hospital Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer for a 550 bed hospital in suburban St. Louis. In 2002 he moved to leadership roles with SSM’s St. Louis based regional network, serving first as Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development and ultimately as President of the 6 hospital, 280 physician network.

Bob’s career has been characterized by a deep commitment to exceptional performance through engagement of staff, physicians and community members in designing innovative solutions centered on the patient experience. He led the development of a “hospital of the future” project for SSM and the resulting facility which opened in 2009 has been widely recognized for its innovative design and impact on performance. He most recently led the ACO development effort for SSM St. Louis, pioneering the design of an integrated platform prepared to navigate the journey from traditional payment to assumption of increasing levels of financial risk. His transition to Healthways was driven by his desire to continue to work toward the badly needed transformation of the US health care system, improving care and reducing cost by focusing on improving well-being.

A frequent speaker and author on a variety of leadership topics in and out of health care, Bob has been an influential player in the movement toward population health management. He holds an MBA and JD from Stanford University, and his proudest achievement is having had the status of “lay affiliate” bestowed on him by the community of the Daughters of Charity in recognition of his work in Catholic health care and in the broader social ministry of that Vincentian order.

At Healthways, Bob leads the growth, development and operation of the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversal of Cardiac Disease following acquisition of Dr. Ornish’ intellectual property by Healthways. Responsible for all aspects of leading this start-up business line including defining and executing sales and market strategy, building the organization structure and team, managing operational performance to achieve customer focused, reliable performance.

Generation Ubuntu’s Critical Impact

This is a guest post from Julia Lindau, news producer and volunteers for Generation Ubuntu.

There’s a fair chance you know someone in the US living with HIV. More than a million Americans are positive. But you may not be aware your friend, neighbor or colleague has the virus, because medicines like ARVs are widely available and easily accessible in the US, and they allow people with HIV here to live long, healthy lives.

In South Africa it’s a different story. There are more people living with HIV/AIDS there — almost 7 million — than in any other country. Many of them do not have access to the crucial lifesaving drugs that make the disease manageable. That’s especially true for disadvantaged children: orphans, kids whose parents are living with HIV, and children living in poverty.

This is where Generation Ubuntu comes in. The organization improves the health and well-being of children and teens living with HIV in South Africa through a comprehensive care model of health and nutrition, psycho-social support, HIV and life skills education, and community engagement. At Generation Ubuntu, HIV is no longer a death sentence; it is a manageable condition. We enable children to live full, successful and meaningful lives.

Whitney Johnson started the organization a decade ago. She studied abroad in Cape Town and saw a critical gap in HIV services for young people in the city’s townships (slums). No one was helping them; they had nowhere to go to help themselves; and to exacerbate their dire situation, their community often excluded them. Whitney returned to the US to finish studying, but went back to South Africa as soon as she graduated to serve the children who desperately needed someone to champion their cause.

I was Generation Ubuntu’s first fellow in 2009. When I arrived, we served 30 children in the back of a crumbling church with weeds growing through the floorboards. Even with limited resources, I witnessed Generation Ubuntu’s incredible power. Yes, its social workers and caregivers go out into the community to make sure they are reaching the most vulnerable children. Yes, its health and education professionals ensure the kids take life-saving drugs. Yes, the cooks serve a full, nutritious meal to children who may not otherwise eat all day. But what I witnessed at Generation Ubuntu was more profound than that. It gives young people living with HIV a safe, supportive community, and it shifts their mindset from “I’m doomed to live a short, unhappy and sickly life” to “I can do absolutely anything I want because I am strong, smart, and healthy”. Through love, Generation Ubuntu transforms kids. They start believing in and loving themselves.

Today, Generation Ubuntu helps more than 200 kids and teenagers a year. It’s still doing the same incredible work, just in a nicer building with a few more resources. And the impact is clear. Every single child who has regularly attended the program is not only living, but healthy and thriving.

That’s why I’m back, helping the organization 6 years later. I have been involved with non-profits for almost a decade, but none impacts the community it serves like Generation Ubuntu. Saving lives and spreading love — it’s what “Ubuntu” is all about.

Julia A Lindau with Generation Ubuntu child in South Africa OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Julia A Lindau with Generation Ubuntu child in South Africa

About Julia Lindau:

Julia Lindau is a news producer and volunteers for Generation Ubuntu.


Renowned Speaker Offers Tips To Women Entrepreneurs

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

As member of the Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame and a a Certified Speaking Professional, Pegine Echevarria is at the top of her game and the top of her industry. Her multi-million business, Team Pegine, contracts with both the world’s largest companies and governments. Pegine has provided me with some tips to help Latinas and other women succeed as entrepreneurs.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Pegine and later heard her speak. She isn’t ordinary. She isn’t average. She isn’t boring. She is, in her own words, “Feisty, Fearless, Focused, Fun.”

As the head of a multi-million dollar business and with such an track record as a speaker, I asked her for some insights for women who, like her, are running their own businesses or hoping to.

Here are the three tips she gave me:

  1. Exude confidence and credibility everywhere you go. You have 30 seconds to influence others. In business you must exude confidence and believe in yourself to buyers, investors, supporters and advisors. Act “as if.” Know that if you waver people will pick up on it immediately. Practice standing tall, speaking with a smile, asking questions. Always have five questions ready to ask anyone to engage them, assess them, and to be prepared to ask them for introductions, help or advice. Beware of relying on your woman owned status; to gain deals, you need more than that. Your confidence, credibility and competency to deliver is what closes deals.
  2. Be in control of you time and money. Have financial partners come to you. Know your banker, your accountant and your advisers. Know what different financial partners can offer you. Hold financial speed dating days. Invite 5 banks to pitch their services to you. Give them an idea of your business beforehand, inform them they will have 20 minutes and make sure they know that four other banks are coming that day. Have a panel of your advisers. Each should have questions that are important for you to know. Think Shark Tank for bankers/accountants/planners and you are the sharks. You might stay with your old bank or find a new one. Remember this is your business.
  3. Stay steady. Be focused on your company’s vision and mission. You direct your business and your career. The bottom line is that you are the driver and the determinator. You are the one who must take the big risks and be confident that you will thrive. It might take longer than you think, be harder than you think, however you have to think and believe that you can do it, you will do it and no one is going to stop you from doing it. Know people will advise you what to do. However, late at night when things go south (which happens), what happens will be 100 percent up to you. Just own that and be proud that you can do this.

Fortunately, there is more. On Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Echevarria will join me for a live discussion about these tips and more. 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 Team Pegine:

Twitter: @PegineMotivateU

Team Pegine, Inc. is an award-winning leadership development, training and marketing firm that educates leaders in a diverse world through extraordinary interactive experiences. Team Pegine works with corporations and government as well as military and corporate leaders to engage, train, develop and market, both internally and externally, to women and multicultural leaders.

Pegine Echevarria, courtesy of Team Pegine

Pegine Echevarria, courtesy of Team Pegine

Echevarria’s bio:

Pegine is one of only 8 women and the only Latina inducted into the 58 member Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame (Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield are also inducted). Named 1 of the 100 Global Thought Leaders on Diversity and Inclusion by SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management). is a leadership, inclusion success expert. Using interactive experiences both in her speeches and large scale live situational exercises, Pegine creates memorable lessons providing leaders techniques that they can use during high stress, high value moments, gaining influence and confidence in a diverse world. Her company,, was named North Florida’s #3 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Company. She is a Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women in Business Champion of the Year. Hired by Fortune 500, government and the military, Pegine offers clients fresh ideas to leaders to engage diverse markets to help them achieve their goals, presenting her ideas vividly with unusual stories and metaphors, captivating listeners. Politicians, executive leaders, entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executive hire her coaching service that include role players and live situational exercises to increase their effectiveness, charisma and confidence communicating in a diverse world. Companies use Team Pegine to engage and nurture diverse leaders. Pegine is one of fewer than 700 speakers worldwide to earn the designation of Certified Professional Speaker® less than 1% of professional speakers worldwide hold the designation. The DoD awarded her company the rarely given CPAR rating of excellence for contracts over one million dollars. Pegine thrives on big ideas and big productions. She designed, led and implemented a live simulation leadership cultural negotiation training exercise with 50 role players, 12 villages, with over 12,000 officers participating, from all branches of the military and 12 ally countries. Pegine holds an MSW in group and organizational behavior and has authored several books. Her book “Sometimes You Need to Kick Your Own Butt” was a SHRM Best Seller four years in a row. On the cover of Minority Business Entrepreneur as a “Women in Business Who Rocks” she is also quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Hispanic Business Magazine.

Warriors Heart Founders Offer Help To Struggling Veterans

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Every day, an average of 22 veterans take their own lives. This tragic reality motivated Josh and Lisa Lannon and Tom Spooner to do something.

They founded Warriors Heart, an addiction treatment center that provides peer-to-peer solutions to help veterans, law enforcement and first responders who struggle with addiction and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Josh Lannon took the time to explain the challenges that veterans face, what Warriors Heart is doing and what he hopes will come of their efforts.

Lannon says the VA isn’t the answer. “While the VA (Veterans Administration) has good people, they can’t keep up with the needs of veterans after 14 years of war.”

The program, Lannon says, is holistic in its approach. “We are looking at the “whole body” versus sending a warrior to multiple doctors because so many are dealing with multiple issues including addiction, PTSD and MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury).”

Lannon notes that the focus of the effort is to help those who have helped us. “Our facility specializes in serving Warriors. These are the men and women who are currently active and veteran members from organizations that protect and serve the citizens of the United States, e.g, Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force , law enforcement, fire, paramedics, first responders, hospital personnel and civilian warriors.”

Warriors heart relies on senior veterans to share their insights with those who are suffering today. “ Warriors Heart is a community of elder warriors, healers and support staff united in the battle of addiction and PTSD. Together, we serve and support our warriors who are still suffering and their loved ones.”

He notes, “Warrior’s Heart currently has warriors answering hotline calls 24×7, and anyone can call for help: 844-448-2567.”

“The Warriors Heart program is covered by most insurance,” Lannon says. “A Foundation has also been created, Operation Warriors Heart Foundation, and people can make donations to support a warrior in need of financial support for the healing program. This 501(c)(3) will help supplement the cost of treatment and assist in placing service dogs for free to those who deserve the extra battle buddy when returning home.”

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 5:00 Eastern, Lannon will join me here for a live discussion about the work of Warriors Heart and the effort to help those who have given so much for us. 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 Warriors Heart:

Twitter: @warriorsheart22

Warriors Heart is providing a peer-to peer based solution to help the over 13 million American Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement and First Responders faced with the self-medicating struggles of alcohol addiction, prescription and drug addiction and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). With decades of experience in addiction healing, military service and law enforcement, the 3 Warriors Heart Founders are dedicated to serving warriors. Successful Private Treatment Facility Providers, Josh and Lisa Lannon and former Special Forces Tom Spooner (Green Beret, Delta Force Operator and Mission 22 Co-Founder) are leading the team on this special mission of warriors healing warriors. Warriors Heart has also partnered with Mission 22 (established to raise awareness of the fact that that the US has an average of 22 veteran suicides per day). Warriors Heart Founders’ work has been featured by KENS5 CBS CBS -0.21% News San Antonio, FOX 10 News Phoenix and Addiction Pro magazine.

Josh Lannon, courtesy of Warriors Heart

Josh Lannon, courtesy of Warriors Heart

Lannon’s bio:

Twitter: @JoshLannon

Before going into the behavioral health field, Josh apprenticed with his father in the nightclub industry, eventually running the clubs. Under his leadership, it was common to have nightly door counts up to 1500 patrons. His team led the Las Vegas nightclub to be voted the #1 country nightclub, 5 years in a row. Exciting as the Vegas lifestyle was in his 20s, it took its toll. Facing a divorce and being spiritually broken, Josh checked himself into a rehab center – a decision that would forever change his life. In 2001, Josh dedicated himself to creating a career in sobriety and building businesses that are more socially conscious. He retired from the nightclub industry and, together, Josh and Lisa Lannon launched Journey Healing Centers, a private drug and alcohol treatment center. JHC grew to 6 locations with 100 team members. Then in late 2013, Elements Behavioral Health, a leading nationwide provider, acquired JHC. Josh’s continued passion for building businesses that assists those who are struggling from addiction. This is one of the driving forces behind Warriors Heart.

Former Haitian PM Works For Social Impact In Two Ways

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recently announced the formation of a foundation named in honor of his father, The Dr. Louis G. Lamothe Foundation. The Foundation will fight social injustice in Haiti and complement the work he is already doing through LSL World Initiative.

“The Dr. Louis G Lamothe Foundation is an organization that aims to carry on my father’s work as a socially responsible activist in the fight for an inclusive and united Haitian society,” Lamothe said. “Decades of poverty, squalor, violence, economic insecurity and dictatorship have ravaged our country. As a result, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with a limited capacity to respond to the effects of political and social instability and natural crises. This Foundation is essential and long overdue as it will focus on providing the Haitian people with opportunities to transform their own country – something my father believed in and fought for.”

Lamothe is also a social entrepreneur and impact investor who leads the LSL World Initiative, which works to arrange innovative financial resources for developing countries around the world. The Foundation will give Lamothe another tool for helping the people of his homeland.

He told me, “I started LSLWI to provide solutions for innovative financing based on my personal experience in the private sector as well as former Prime Minister of Haiti where I had to a do a lot with little, and innovative financing helped a great deal.”

He notes that the success of LSLWI will give “governments the resources to reduce poverty and level the playing field for all their citizens.”

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Lamothe will join me for a live discussion about his work in Haiti and around the world, via both the Foundation and LSLWI. 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 LSL World Initiative:

Twitter: @lsl_wi

LSL World Initiative is a global organization dedicated to the socio-economic empowerment of emerging countries, with a proven track record of results that benefit the most vulnerable populations. We help governments attain their sustainable development goals in line with national needs and priorities.

Laurent S. Lamothe, former Prime Minister of Haiti, courtesy of LSL World Initiative

Laurent S. Lamothe, former Prime Minister of Haiti, courtesy of LSL World Initiative

Lamothe’s bio:

Twitter: @laurentlamothe

Former Prime Minister, Republic of Haiti

President and Founder of LSLWI, Laurent S. Lamothe successfully served as Prime Minister of Haiti between May 2012 and December 2014, the longest tenure of any Prime Minister in the last three decades. During his time in office, Lamothe presided over the design and implementation of an important social policy agenda that targeted the poorest sectors of the Haitian population. Lamothe also presided over the largest infrastructure development in recent memory that included schools, bridges, roads, and which are now clearly visible throughout Haiti.

Additionally under Lamothe foreign direct investment increased to the highest level since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in the mid 1980s. Under his leadership Haiti pursued reforms that made Haiti a safer and more business-friendly country including 15-year tax holidays and tax breaks to companies investing in the island nation, and increasing the police force by 30 percent.

Lamothe brought to the office of Prime Minister an entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism that earned him the title of “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young in May 2008. More recently in November 2014, Latin Trade magazine recognized his innovative skills by naming him the year’s Innovative Leader of the Americas. Latin Trade noted that Lamothe “helped establish a paradigm shift for Haiti as a destination for investment, rather than simply for humanitarian aid.”

Having grown up in a country affected by poverty and lack of resources at all levels, this savvy businessman has developed throughout his life a deep sense of social responsibility and a strong tendency to assist those in need. Lamothe is a pragmatist who throughout his role in the public sector emphasized practical solutions over partisan politics to address the urgent needs of Haiti. Lamothe obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Barry University in Miami and in 1996 earned his MBA with honors from University of St. Thomas. In 1998 Lamothe founded Global Voice Group SA (GVG) considered today a world-leading provider of ICT solutions for telecom and fiscal authorities. He served as CEO of GVG until he stepped down to assume his public sector duties with the government of Haiti.

Profile: Successful Entrepreneur Joins Breast Cancer Battle

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Wheels Up is a membership-based private aviation enterprise founded by Kenny Dichter, a successful entrepreneur. Recognizing the suffering that so many families experience due to breast cancer, Dichter is using a clever campaign to bring more money to the cause.

Dichter explains, “As we all know, breast cancer affects one in eight women in America and that unfortunately means it touches all of us. Statistically, we all know someone’s mother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin or friend who will be diagnosed.”

Wheels Up has launched a program around a pink plane from the Wheels Up fleet to serve as the centerpiece of the campaign to raise funds to fight breast cancer. The program is in partnership with Textron Aviation along with the NFL, Avon and Estée Lauder.

The Wheels Up Pink Plane is the first-ever pink Beechcraft King Air 350i. Proceeds benefit the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. Photo courtesy of Wheels Up.

The Wheels Up Pink Plane is the first-ever pink Beechcraft King Air 350i. Proceeds benefit the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. Photo courtesy of Wheels Up.

“In October 2015, we debuted the first-ever pink Beechcraft King Air 350i as a flying symbol of breast cancer awareness, along with a Fly-A-Thon, our fundraising effort, inviting members and the general public to donate to the cause,” Dichter continued. “The Pink Plane will remain in the Wheels Up fleet indefinitely to continue to raise ‘air-wareness’ all year long among our members, employees, and anyone who sees it; it’s something to see on the tarmac for sure!”

It is notable that Dichter himself appreciates the role of social media in advancing the social cause. “We also sent Wheels Up pink hats and shirts to all of our members and ambassadors and implemented a social media campaign on the Wheels Up Facebook and Instagram pages along with a hashtag to get the word out. So far, J.J. Watt, ESPN GameDay and many of our members have featured the Pink Plane on their social media accounts which helps to spread awareness of the Pink Plane and breast cancer.”

“We partnered with Dr. Elisa Port and Dr. Eva Dubin at the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital, a cutting-edge institution that delivers that highest level of care and serves women of all socio-economic backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay. Through our fundraising efforts, we are supporting research, patient screenings, and daily care to women from all over the world who seek out Dubin’s expertise and innovative model.”

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at noon Eastern, Dichter will join me here for a live discussion about the Wheels Up effort to fight breast cancer. 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 Wheels Up:

Twitter: @WheelsUp

Wheels Up is a revolutionary membership-based private aviation company that significantly reduces the upfront costs to fly privately, while providing unparalleled flexibility, service and safety. Created and led by renowned entrepreneur Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up operates with a 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year culture, offering guaranteed availability to its private fleet of new Beechcraft King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS aircraft to individual, family and corporate members. With the cutting-edge Wheels Up mobile app, members can seamlessly book flights, manage their accounts and participate in ride-share opportunities. Members also have access to Wheels Down, a program featuring exclusive events and experiences, unique partner benefits and a full-service luxury concierge.

Kenny Dichter, courtesy of Wheels Up

Kenny Dichter, courtesy of Wheels Up

Dichter’s bio:

Twitter: @KennyDichter

Kenny Dichter is Founder and CEO of Wheels Up, the revolutionary membership‐based private aviation company that minimizes the upfront investment needed to fly privately. A lifelong entrepreneur, Dichter has built numerous successful companies, including his first aviation company, Marquis Jet, which he sold to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for $4 billion in 2010. Since his youth, he has been known for being a trend spotter and trendsetter and always has his eye on early-stage businesses where he sees potential for hyper growth. Among other ventures, he has an active role and has invested in Juice Press, a Manhattan‐based, multi‐location, grab‐and‐go organic, raw food and juice company; and in 2010, co-founded Tequila Avion, an ultra-premium brand that is now distributed by Pernod Ricard. Dichter co‐founded Action America, along with AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, to unite and activate Americans everywhere to turn the events of 9/11 into positive action. He chairs the Council of Advocates at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital for Dr. Ken Davis, Mount Sinai’s Chairman and CEO, and sits on the Board of the Jack Martin Fund, which currently works with the hospital’s cutting‐edge pediatric oncology department. Dichter is also a major supporter of his alma mater, University of Wisconsin‐Madison.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!
Subscribe to news from
* = required field
Content I want: