6th Annual Conference on International Giving

26 Oct

This week, on October 29-30, Scott will be attending the 6th Annual Conference on International Giving, located in Chicago.  As much as aid is needed here at home in our own United States, the need for help abroad is so much the greater.

Since Interface has been involved with charities all over the globe, Scott has a great first hand perspective on the importance of international giving, and the way to go about it effectively.

Visit the Chicago Global Donor’s Network to find out more about ways you can help internationally.  http://www.chicagoglobaldonors.org/index.php


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

22 Sep

Watch Larry King Live tonight!

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the world’s most controversial leaders on the fate of the Americans jailed in Iran, and his nation’s nuclear program.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad interviewed by Larry King in New York City, New York

Grizzly Encounter

7 Sep

After spending the afternoon in Yellowstone National Park & experiencing bison, bull elk & seeing Old Faithful rise into the bluest sky, I feel blessed beyond belief!

So as I thought about wildlife & my kids eyes were bulging out of their heads as we drove alongside bison; I thought about Casey & Missi Anderson who run the Montana Grizzly Encounter!

So with fingers crossed my wife, Heidi & our five kids will make it to www.grizzlyencounter.com & meet Brutus!

Casey Anderson with Brutus the Bear who he has raised since birth

'Antoschka' Queen of Clowns

2 Sep

Ekaterina ‘Antoschka’ Moshaeva known as the “Queen of the Clowns’ recently brought together clowns from across the world to pitch laughter as a way to survive the economic crisis.

Antoschka is much more than a painted face, she has a diploma in directing from the Moscow Art Theatre School and trained with the Moscow State Circus, where she made over 3,000 perfomances in 35 different countries.  One of a handful of female clowns with international recognition, she is an ambassador for the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation and founding member of the World Wisdom Council of the Club of Budapest International.

In 2007 she launched the World Parliament of Clowns.  For further information go to www.clownship.org

"All the world loves a clown!"




Ken & JJ Ramberg: GoodSearch for a Good Cause

25 Aug

Ken & JJ Ramberg have taken philanthropy to a whole new WWW (World Wide Web) level.  Thanks to the the New York-based brother & sister duo, you can give to charity just by searching the Internet.

The Rambergs created www.GoodSearch.com, an Internet search engine powered by Yahoo!, which allows users to choose a charity, organization, or school they’d like to support and, with every search, a penny is donated to their cause.

Since the site’s launch in 2005, more than 65,000 non profits have registered and GoodSearch recieves 100 new applications a day.

Search, search, search on www.GoodSearch.com  and make a difference!

"If you search or shop online, you can make a difference," said JJ Ramberg who is also the host of MSNBC's, "Your Business".

Paul Verryn: A Key South African Human Rights Leader

24 Aug

After speaking with our dear friend Anthea Hide in Port Elizabeth, South Africa last night, I was immediately taken back to my 2008 trip to SA & the day I had the honor of meeting Bishop Paul Verryn at the Hide’s Fifth Avenue Inn.

Here are the thoughts I had upon my return:

I have now been home from South Africa for a few days and think the extraordinary events of my time there are finally sinking in.  I am still in awe that my newest hero Bishop Paul Verryn invited me to visit him at the downtown Johannesburg Central Methodist Mission which is considered “home” to over 1,600 Zimbabwean refugees.  Bishop Verryn  has tirelessly given his love and compassion to find justice for the over 4,000 who have found refugee at one point or another at his Church.  Presently over 3 million Zimbabweans have come to South Africa to seek political asylum.  Former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, former United States president Jimmy Carter, and Graca Machel, an advocate for the rights of women & children, and also wife of Nelson Mandela spent over an hour and a half with some of the Zimbabwean refugees & Bishop Paul.  I had the great honor of being present during their visit. 

To learn more about Bishop Verryn & his work please visit: http://www.methodist.org.za/ 

Bishop Paul Verryn & Zimbabwean refugees with former South Africa First Lady Graca Machel, President Jimmy Carter & former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan


Zac Goldsmith, U.K.’s Environmental Trailblazer

23 Aug

Since winning the seat as a Member of Parliament for Richmond Park in the U.K. 2010 general election Zac Goldsmith has not stopped using his voice & influence as a global advocate for the environment.

Goldsmith has a long history of involvement in environmental causes — it’s a legacy inherited from his late father, James Goldsmith.  The owner and editor of the Ecologist from 1998 to 2007, the younger Goldsmith was responsible for making the magazine a little less academic and a little more readable.  (You can read Ecologist online at www.theecologist.org )

In 2003, Goldsmith, was awarded the Beacon Prize for Young Philanthropist of the Year, and in 2004 he was awarded the Global Green Award for International Environmental Leadership.  He then published his book, The Constant Economy, to great acclaim in 2009.

While Goldsmith’s new role as a Conservative MP takes him in a new direction, there is no doubt that he will use his platform to increase the profile of environmental issues in the government.

Zac Goldsmith and HRH Prince Charles at the launch of the annual Revolve Eco-Rally on 3 June 2007

Stephan Bognar, A Personal Friend, A Personal Hero

20 Aug

Upon meeting my good friend Stephan Bognar, my gut told me this is a man who will change the world & beginning  5 years ago was most definitely changing the philanthropic landscape of Cambodia!  For the last several years Stephan has served as the CEO of the Jolie Pitt Foundation & is based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Here is a taste of some of the inspiring work Stephan has done & why I feel so lucky to not only have him as a friend, but also a philanthropic mentor.

Stephan prior to his position with the Jolie Pitt Foundation was a field agent for the San Francisco-based international non-profit wildlife conservation group, WildAid. Bognar spent two months in Baghdad, where he helped with the effort to rescue and rehabilitate the animals at the Baghdad Zoo. When he arrived, only 32 of the 600 animals remained, the rest were stolen or roaming the streets. The ones left at the zoo were suffering from neglect, malnutrition and dehydration. Bognar helped in the efforts to care for the animals, and to find the lost ones. He also was part of several black market sting operations to recover animals. Bognar also took care of Uday Hussein’s private collection of animals which had been abandoned and which included cheetahs, lions and baby lion cubs.

Listen to his NPR interview at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1290181 and I hope you are as inspired! 

Stephan Bognar serves as CEO of the Jolie Pitt Foundation in Samlaut, Cambodia

An American Suffragist Hero? Really, What Does That Even Mean?

18 Aug

In answer to a Facebook question I recently posed, my close friend Bella told me one of her heroes was Alice Paul.  Alice Paul?  Who is this woman I asked myself &  today I decided to do some research!  So to my very big surprise, this VERY date, August 18, 2010 marks 90 years since Alice Paul forever assisted in changing the U.S. Constitution.

Alice Stokes Paul was an American suffragist leader. (For those of you like me the definition of suffrage is the right to vote, esp. in a political election)  Along with her close friend Lucy Burns and others, she led a successful campaign for women’s suffrage that resulted in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

Needless to say, the efforts of Ms. Paul to see that all women have the right to vote did not come easily.  While she picketed for women’s suffrage  she & several others were arrested on the trumped up charge of “obstructing traffic,” and were jailed when they refused to pay the imposed fine.   At one point prison officials removed Paul to a sanitarium in hopes of getting her declared insane.  When news of the prison conditions and hunger strikes became known, the press, some politicians, and the public began demanding the women’s release; sympathy for the prisoners brought many to support the cause of women’s suffrage. 

It was upon her release from prison that Alice Paul rode the surge of goodwill from those who came to her side during her prison stay into victory. 

Bella thank you for sharing your hero with me!  I love Ms. Alice Paul for standing by her conviction that all people are equal! 

To learn more about Ms. Paul’s journey go to www.alicepaul.org

"I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality." -Alice Stokes Paul

Hafsat Abiola-Costello: A World Democracy Champion Like Martin Luther King Jr., Corazon Aquino, & Nelson Mandela

16 Aug

Hafsat Abiola-Costello is a human rights, democracy activist and day 4’s hero of  Scott Lazerson’s A Hero A Day.

Mrs. Abiola-Costello comes from a family of dedicated Pan-Africanists in Nigeria. Her father, M.K.O. Abiola, won the Presidential election held in Nigeria in 1993 but served out his term in solitary confinement, incarcerated by the military. He died in prison, on the eve of his release. Her mother, Kudirat, was a democracy leader who organized major strikes, marches, and fought assiduously against the military. In 1996, she was assassinated in the streets of Lagos.

To continue the legacy left by her parents, Ms. Abiola founded and directs an organization called the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria.

Ms. Abiola is also involved in the global movement to empower youth and women and to strengthen democracy. She was a founding member of the State of the World Forum’s Emerging Leaders Program and Global Youth Connect. Currently, she is a Fetzer Fellow and serves on the Boards of Youth Employment Summit, Educate Girls Globally, Women’s Learning Partnership, Hewlett Packard’s World e-Inclusion Project, and the Global Security Institute.

Ms. Abiola holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. Honors received include the Youth Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission in 1997, the State of the World Forum Changemaker Award in 1998, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development’s “Woman to Watch for” Award in 1999, the World Economic Forum’s Global Leader of Tomorrow Award in 2000, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Global Award in 2001.

To learn more about Mrs. Abiola-Costello’s inspiring work please go to www.kind.org

Hafsat Abiola-Costello is Executive Director of the Kudirat Initiative of Democracy, an NGO that works to strengthen & empower women throughout Africa by providing leadership training

Kalyanee Mam: Day 3′s Hero A Day

16 Aug

As a lawyer and filmmaker, Kalyanee Mam has worked on human rights issues in various countries, including Cambodia, China, South Africa, Mozambique and Iraq. Mam’s past work has included assisting refugees in South Africa, documenting the atrocities committed against women during the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, and working as a lawyer in Mozambique and Iraq. Mam’s feature-length documentary film, Between Earth & Sky, followed the hopes and struggles of four young Iraqis living in Jordan, Syria and Egypt.  You can see a trailer of the film at www.iraqrefugeedoc.com.

Mam and her family fled war-torn Cambodia and resettled in the U.S. in 1981. Mam is a graduate of Yale University and UCLA Law School.

 Follow Kalyanee’s current work at http://land-water-rain.blogspot.com

Kalyanee recently served as Director of Photography and Associate Producer for INSIDE JOB, a film about the global financial crisis, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival