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Advising the Start of a Nonprofit

A colleague of mine, Jim, said to me that he and a few others wanted to start their own nonprofit. Could we meet over a weekend in the fall for them to gain my insight on how to pursue this idea? So we dove in together. They had a dream and I offered them my expertise. Consider the issues…. legal requirements; a Strategic Plan; the necessary capital; raising a continuing source of funds; an effective Board of Directors; finding an Executive Director up to the task.

Today, HEAR Foundation (Health, Education, And Relief) is flourishing! It took some time to balance funding priorities. Now, they have thriving programs in Chicago to provide college scholarships for students with financial need who have demonstrated a commitment to their communities. They have an effective hunger relief program for the underserved. HEAR also has a valuable presence in Guatemala. They support an orphanage, and volunteers teach area residents about business skills, agricultural programs and nutrition.

I could have spent that Sunday a few Octobers ago watching the Bears. I am glad I didn’t.



Consulting Italian Educators

Can you imagine spending the day with a large group of young men and women from Italy who are on their “…first trip to America?” I was thrilled to be asked by DePaul University to consult on this unique project and address these young people who are in their late twenties and early thirties.

They were all school administrators and teachers who sought professional development from a leading university. More importantly, they were bright, enthusiastic, passionate young professionals who have dedicated their lives to making a difference as educators. They beamed when I told them that, despite just meeting them, I knew that each and every one of them was amazing.

It was an easy and honest exclamation to make. Why? As I pointed out to them,

“You are changing lives! You embrace every day the challenge of making another human being a better person. That is what amazing people do for a living”

We spent an entire morning being engaged in conversation. How do you be an effective educator when you are preparing young students for future jobs which, in many cases, have not been invented yet? How do you reach that student who doesn’t care? Why honesty and confidence are so integral to successful communication. But most of all, these educators needed to learn to believe in themselves.

I must have helped a little because I received a bunch of invitations to visit Italy!