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Jessica Posner On Building The First Free School For Girls In A Kenyan Slum

Jessica PosnerUPDATE 6/16/11–Jessica opened the Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic last November which Jessica tells us has already seen over 3,000 patients. It specializes in providing primary health care for women and children. The center is in the name of a friend, an advocate of helping those in need and whose life was taken in a campus shooting.

By Pamela Burke/October 28, 2010

Jessica Posner is doing extraordinary things in a place called Kibera, Kenya. It’s the largest slum in Africa with 1.5 million people living in squalid conditions lacking running water and electricity.

Most of the 500,000 girls under 18 in Kibera don’t get the chance to go to school. But Jessica is making it her mission to provide free education for as many of them as she can.

Starting from square one, she and her co-founder Kennedy Odede worked nonstop to establish the Kibera School for Girls in 2009. Their nonprofit “Shining Hope for Communities” is also opening a health care clinic there in November.

“The deck is so stacked against these people that I care about. But I see moments of transformation, and I would do anything to help them.”

Jessica Posner

I learned about this remarkable 23-year-old graduate of Wesleyan University from Echoing Green, a global nonprofit that awards seed funds to social entrepreneurs working on bold ideas for social change.

I reached Jessica in Kibera working on her various projects and wanted to ask her how she ended up in Kenya launching such groundbreaking programs. And how was she able to start the free girls’ school?… [Read more…]

Cheryl Dorsey On The Brave New World Of “Social Entrepreneurship”

Cheryl Dorsey

Photo: Tony Deifell

By Pamela Burke/Sept. 8, 2010

Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, believes social entrepreneurship is the wave of the future and that it will create lasting social change. Her organization has invested over $28 million in seed grants to over 471 social entrepreneurs. Echoing Green says these funds have sparked social change in forty countries on five continents.

She describes the leaders of this new entrepreneurial movement as “so passionate, so idealistic, who believe so deeply in transforming the world in a positive way, that it’s infectious.”

This graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Medical School gave up dreams of being a doctor in 1992 and launched Echoing Green’s Family Van, a mobile unit providing outreach health services to patients from inner-city Boston. Ten years later, she became President of the nonprofit organization.

“My mother used to say when I was getting into trouble that life’s not fair and it’s up to you to figure out a way to change it. That was a powerful message.”

I was fortunate to hear Cheryl’s dynamic speech on Leadership at the Chautauqua Institute this summer. I wanted to ask her where she got her incredible drive to change the world and what words of advice she might have for women who want to become innovators. Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to Cheryl… [Read more…]