Here are some of the people who are changing the world and will be profiled in our program:
Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net and FrontlineSMS, devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world. He created FrontlineSMS, a free generic communications platform, after doing conservation work in Africa and seeing a huge unmet need for technology that could send information between groups in remote areas with no internet access. Today FrontlineSMS delivers vital information in more than 170 nations. “We need to help people realize that if you care enough you can do meaningful things without piles of money or expensive hardware. All I had was an idea. Today anyone with a software development kit, cheap mobile phone, and the reach of the Internet can write something that could save or improve lives. Innovation isn’t about infrastructure, it’s about someone standing in a rural village somewhere and suddenly realizing, ‘If I did this … that could happen.’”
Darlene Cavalier is a professor at Arizona State University and a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She earned a Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, studying science history, sociology, and science policy to learn more about people like herself, “hybrid actors” -- citizens interested in, but not formally trained in the sciences. Discovering that it was remarkably difficult to find opportunities to participate in science in any meaningful way, she launched SciStarter, a citizen science hub connecting people to science they can do. SciStarter was named one of Philadelphia’s Top Ten Tech Start Ups. Darlene is the founder of Science Cheerleader, a popular website and organization that works with 250 current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who are pursuing science and technology careers, to promote science and the involvement of citizens in science and science-related policy. She is also co-founder of ECAST, a network of science museums, universities, and think tanks currently working with NASA to create opportunities for the public to help inform science and technology policies.
Kirsten Elstner, Director of National Geographic Photo Camp and Vision Workshops, has been a freelance photographer and teacher since completing her Master of Arts in Photography at Ohio University in 1990. Her work has appeared in Time, Life, and Fortune magazines, among others, and she spent five years shooting for the Washington bureau of The New York Times. NG Photo Camp provides dynamic educational workshops for youth from under served communities worldwide who work alongside professional photographers to show their world. Over 20 countries including Kenya, Pakistan, Bahamas, and Lebanon, and over 1000 students have benefited from the photo camp.
Ericka George is Communications and Project Manager for The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. It hires homeless women from local shelters to become full-time seamstresses. The women manufacture a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag, which is then given out to homeless individuals living on the streets at no cost to them. Erika graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 with a dual degree in elementary education and Spanish. Her strong passion for helping to implement positive social change is evident through her experience working in various academic settings and volunteering at local non-profit organizations. “The determination and positive attitudes that each of the ladies display on a daily basis," Erika notes, "has shown me a whole new perspective on life.”
Bob Hornsby has been involved in social entrepreneurship in Africa for decades. He began in 1993 as a Peace Corps volunteer promoting social marketing campaigns for HIV prevention. More recently he is co-founder of American Homebuilders of West Africa (AHWA), which builds residential and mixed use housing for the emerging middle class of West Africa. They are bringing production homebuilding techniques to a region where home construction can often take 10-20 years, cutting that time to 3 months or less. AHWA uses a combination of local and international design and materials to maximize building efficiency, minimize environmental impact and reduce costs. AHWA is also using innovative financing structures and partnerships to allow middle class West Africans to achieve home ownership as much as ten years faster than they might otherwise be able to. Bob is also a co-founder of JOBOMAX Global LTD (www.jobomax.com) a pioneer in bringing FLO Fair Trade Certified (TM) agricultural products from West Africa to the US market. The company manages sustainable trade in a variety of agricultural products from West Africa, and provides development and capacity building for local supplier communities. JOBOMAX specializes in equitable sourcing arrangements with cooperatives and women-owned businesses.
Barrington Irving was raised in Miami's inner city, and his life changed as a teenager when a pilot, who would later become his mentor, asked him if he had ever thought about flying a plane. Barrington, who was then a high school football star, totally changed his life to take science and math courses and not only became a pilot, but the youngest person to fly solo around the world. He made his historic flight, graduated magna cum laude from an aeronautical science program, and founded a dynamic educational nonprofit. Then he turned 28. You can follow Barrington's incredible adventures as he flies around the world at flyingclassroom.com, where he will be exploring STEM topics with a curriculum for teachers and students.
Asher Jay is saving the world’s threatened wildlife -- with creativity (asherjay.com). Her cause-driven art, sculpture, design installations, films, and advocacy advertising campaigns bring attention to everything from oil spills and dolphin slaughters to shrinking lion populations. “The unique power of art is that it can transcend differences, connect with people on a visceral level, and compel action,” she says. She is a creative conservationist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer who uses groundbreaking design, multimedia arts, literature, and lectures to inspire global action to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, advance environmental issues, and promote humanitarian causes. She uses her artistic prowess and writing to raise awareness through unique collaborations with scientists, non-profits and other kindred change agents.
Amy Kaherl started SOUP, a neighborhood micro granting group in Detroit in 2010. Never in her wildest imagination did she think it would grow to become a staple to the flow of the city. SOUP is a place for connecting with people who begin as strangers and become friends, a safe space to explore what matters to individuals and the community, and a place to practice democracy. SOUP is a monthly potluck dinner. People pay $5 for dinner of soup, salad and a vote. Local groups who want to do projects pitch their ideas. The attendees vote and the winner takes the money to implement their idea
Karin Muller has produced several major documentary series for National Geographic and PBS: Cuba's Secret Side, a behind-the scenes look at life in Cuba; Along the Inca Road, a seven-month odyssey into the heart of the ancient Inca Empire; Japanland, a four-hour series on traditional Japan;and Hitchhiking Vietnam. Karin recently spent two months filming the 2013 revolution, military coup, and aftermath in Egypt, and is currently post-producing a PBS series on the war in Chad and genocide in Sudan. Educational rights to all of Karin's footage is donated to Take 2 for student use, where students and teachers can use the footage to create their own stories and learn about the world from many different perspectives.
Sally Munemitsu is Co-Founder, COO and Chief Collaborator of Algorhythm, whose mission is to empower social impact organizations by finding the right insights and putting them in the right hands at the right time. Algorhythm builds real-time, data-driven diagnostic, planning and evaluation tools – impact learning systems, or “iLearning Systems” – for those seeking to achieve a positive and lasting social impact. As a former ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Japan and nonprofit consultant, Sally has particular expertise in the utilization of evaluation data to improve program design and implementation. Her strengths lie in taking overarching strategy and insights and making them practical and feasible on the ground – working closely with individuals and teams to make things work. She has worked with clients such as Wells Fargo/Wachovia, IKEA Foundation, Feeding America, Target, Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Pfizer Foundation, Prudential, Kraft Foods, and Youth, I.N.C.
Laura Pople has been rescuing pets, for herself and others, all her life. After Hurricane Katrina, stationed as a disaster relief worker in a shelter in Texas, she saw first-hand the devastation caused when people are forced to leave their animals behind during a crisis. Laura founded Seer Farms, the only permanent foster care home for pets, as a place for people to temporarily place their animals. Seer Farms eases the transition for the families and their animals. It is a destination for volunteers potential adopters of animals that need to be placed, and families who must temporarily surrender their animals.
Joel Sartore has been a contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine for over 20 years. He has been to every continent, and has worked on 34 photo essays to date, most dealing with conservation issues. Every year he has seen more habitat lost, and more species consumed for food, medicine, or simply for decoration. He created Photo Ark out of desperation to halt, or at least slow, the loss of global biodiversity by creating awareness of endangered species. The Photo Ark is a 20-year project to document the world’s myriad species as studio portraits. He has been at it nearly 7 years and has almost 4,000 species to show for it.
Melissa Schipke founded a technology startup called Tassl in 2014 to develop mobile apps and enterprise software for higher education institutions. The mission of Tassl is to enhance alumni value and community through information, connectivity, and engagement. As a highly engaged student and alum of Pennsylvania State University, Melissa saw an opportunity to help people from all universities feel re-connected to their alma mater, gain recognition for contributions both financial and non-financial, and increase the value of their education post graduation. Melissa received a Bachelor of Arts in advertising and a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Penn State in 2009. More recently, she completed her MBA in business management from Rowan University. Headquartered out of Camden, NJ, Tassl products are currently in development and will be available to the public in May of 2015.
Karen Smits founded Cross Culture Work in 2012 to support companies and employees in developing cross-cultural collaboration, organizational change and growth initiatives. She has a background in Human Resource Management and a Master of Science with a study on Mennonite Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment in Blue Creek, Belize. Trained as an Organizational Anthropologist, Karen focuses on culture in the organization. Her book, Cross Culture Work: Practices of Collaboration in the Panama Canal Expansion Program, receives much attention in the project management world, and beyond. Karen is often invited to speak about her research outcomes, develop workshops, and train/coach on intercultural collaboration in the workplace.
Gregg Treinish founded Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation in 2011, mobilizing outdoor enthusiasts in collaborative efforts to protect our natural world. Today, the Bozeman, Montana-based organization works with volunteers to collect and present scientific data, catalyzing global conservation initiatives. National Geographic named Gregg Adventurer of the Year in 2008, when he and a friend completed a 7,800-mile trek along the spine of the Andes Mountain Range. In 2013, he became a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work with ASC. Gregg has a biology degree from Montana State University, a sociology degree from CU-Boulder, and has led expeditions to six continents.