Top Ten Speakers Who Give Back
Fortunately, for all of us, there are speakers whose primary focus is giving back and sharing the joy found in doing so. During the holiday season there is particular emphasis on philanthropy and heart-based action resulting in toy drives, food drives, and days such as Giving Tuesday. Executive Speaker’s Bureau proudly represents some of the nation’s top speakers whose mission and message is to not only give during peak seasons of celebration and thanksgiving but to give all year round. For these speakers, who lead by example, the term “do as I say” does not apply. They are indeed a “do as I do” group of revolutionary philanthropists changing our world one joy-filled moment at a time. Here are the a list of the Top 10 Speakers Who Give Back:
Lauren Bush Lauren is a World Food Programme honorary spokesperson. She founded FEED in 2007, which uses its product sales to help eradicate world hunger. FEED’s signature bag collection is among its most popular and lists how many meals are provided to those need around the world following purchase. Lauren’s fashion line, Lauren Pierce Atelier, includes pieces made by women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with sales supporting the betterment of their lives. In 2010 she was given the Accessory Council’s Humanitarian Award. When asked the question “What do you love about what you do?” Lauren replied, “I love the combination of design and philanthropy- every piece is a reflection of that.”
Chad Pregracke, CNN’s 2013 Hero of the Year, is committed to restoring the beauty of America’s rivers one cleanup at a time. He has also recruitedn thousands of others to do the same, sharing inspirational messages filled with humor and enthusiasm to garner support that has so far seen the removal of more than 8 million pounds of garbage from our country’s rivers. Through his Living Lands & Waters organization and MillionTrees Project, Pregracke has been a prominent force behind the beautification and restoration movement aimed at giving back to our environment- which has given so very much to us.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to discuss the concept of giving back and helping others without also making mention of speaker Jeremy Park. President of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, whose entire focus is on enriching communities and elevating the lives of their respective residents, Park has dedicated both his personal and professional life to making a difference and creating gateways for positive change. His books Giving Back with Purpose: fueling growth through community involvement and Giving for Growth: Achieving Success through Giving Back commit 100% of proceeds to literacy programs in the Mid-South region. His LPBC radio show and television show “The SPARK” feature individuals and organizations that are making incomparable differences in the lives of others. Park is a highly sought-after speaker whose presentations on corporate philanthropy and collective impact define what it means to be a catalyst for social change- and enjoy the process of doing so.
Leaving his high profile position as Director of Business Development for Microsoft Greater China to establish a nonprofit dedicated to improving global youth literacy is one reason why speaker John Wood makes our Top Ten list. Founder of Room to Read, Wood used his passion to fuel a greater purpose and in the process created one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in history. He was named one of the world’s 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs and has spoken multiple times at the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2014 Wood was nominated as a World’s Children’s Prize Laureate for his extensive humanitarian work, which includes the building of almost 1,700 schools and over 15,000 school libraries in some of our world’s most impoverished countries. It was his visit to a school building in Nepal and its empty library that ignited the desire to create much-needed change. Woods has spent his life since implementing that change.
Chris Bashinelli has spent his entire young adult life seeking ways to showcase the best in and of humanity. His television series Bridge the Gap currently airs on PBS and the National Geographic Channel. In it, Bashinelli travels around the world to show that even with large cultural differences, we all have the means to “bridge the gap” through our empathy and willingness to embrace change. He was the youngest male ever to moderate the United Nations International Day of Peace, doing so at the age of 24. Leaning into his global experiences, Bashinelli delivers memorable presentations that are equally thought-provoking, compassion-centered and humorous. He seeks to engage the hearts and minds of those he addresses by referencing his own personal journey to cross-cultural enlightenment. In the process he demonstrates that by putting others first, we strengthen the human ties that bind.
Doc Hendley’s journey to becoming president and founder of the organization Water to Wine started with a dream to make a difference. He used his skills and talent as a bartender and musician to deposit hope and joy into thousands of lives. “I dreamed of building an organization that fought water related death and disease using different methods than anyone else. So, I started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way I knew how, by pouring wine and playing music.” Hendley moved to Darfur, Sudan and used the proceeds from his fundraisers to install water systems for Sudanese victims of the country’s genocide. Water to Wine now has projects in nine different countries, continuing its efforts to provide clean drinking water worldwide. Named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes in 2009, Hendley proves that a seemingly ordinary guy with a big dream and even bigger heart can generate extraordinary change.
Alex Sheen took the pain of his father’s death from lung cancer and channeled it into the fulfilling of promises for others all over the country. Through his organization because I said I would, named in honor of his father who “always kept his promises” Sheen gives back in various ways. One hundred children with cancer visited Disneyland with tickets he supplied; he walked 245 miles in 10 days to raise awareness for sexual violence victims. For Sheen, making a difference means keeping a promise, doing something good, no matter how big or small it may appear to be: “Report child abuse. Volunteer. Stay in rehab. Graduate from high school. Recycle. Sometimes we don’t need a miracle solution. Sometimes we just need people to do what they said they were going to do.”
It was finding an outlet for her own pain that caused social entrepreneur Anne Mahlum to start the nonprofit Back on My Feet. Through her running, and because of it, she embarked on a quest to help those experiencing homelessness find the same necessary break from life’s struggles she had found each time she put on a pair of running shoes. The organization gathers groups of individuals currently living in homeless shelters and goes out on group runs. Now a $6.5 million nonprofit, Back on My Feet led to the PIVOT initiative: homeless individuals who “repurpose their lives by repurposing furniture.” Mahlum is an inspiring speaker who believes that changing perspectives, particularly on that of homelessness, will lead to changing lives.
Because of a gift he received at the age of nine, philanthropist and speaker Manny Ohonme has spent nearly his entire adult life paying it forward. Ohonme grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, surrounded by poverty and after being given a new (and highly coveted) pair of shoes by a missionary was given an unexpected opportunity to work his way out of that poverty. Those new shoes ignited in him a desire to become more, do more and give more. After attending college in the United States on a full basketball scholarship, Ohonme began a successful career in the field of technology. A trip home to Nigeria, however, reminded him once again of the great gift he had been given so many years ago and his dream to give back became a reality: Samaritan’s Feet was established in 2003. Through Samaritan’s Feet, in 2013 and 2014 alone over 1,540,000 pairs of shoes were given away to children around the world.
Laura Schwartz, named one of the Best Keynote Speakers by Meetings and Conventions Magazine, has used her high-profile position to empower and help others forge a name and purposeful path for themselves. At only nineteen years old, Schwartz began volunteering at the White House under the Clinton Administration. She worked her way up to the position of Director of Events and by the end of her tenure had overseen more than 1,000 events, including State arrival ceremonies and dinners and NATO’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Schwartz took all of the knowledge and expertise she acquired during this time and transformed it into a career of giving back to others. She serves on numerous boards including the American Heart Association, the Clean the World Foundation and Common Threads, an organization working to provide health and nutrition education to underserved populations and communities. Her book Eat, Drink & Succeed! Climb Your Way to the Top Using Networking Power of Social Events, explores not only how we build flourishing partnerships within companies but within our communities as well.
As stated previously, “Executive Speakers Bureau proudly represents some of the nation’s top speakers whose mission and message is to not only give during peak seasons of celebration and thanksgiving but to give all year round.” They are speakers who believe in the power of positive change and that each of us can be part of that change. Using both personal and professional platforms, they speak from the heart and implore listeners’ hearts to make a difference. We are so thankful for each of these speakers and the message they share everyday.