Two (or more) Birds with One Stone


by Jim King

Most social entrepreneurs find it difficult enough to make a “direct” difference in only one area of impact beyond economic impact.  Intentionally making a difference in more than one other area of impact is even more challenging.  Doing so directly “through” the enterprise instead of having a more “indirect” impact from using proceeds from the enterprise’s core activity may be the hardest challenge of all.  Well, welcome to that type of difference maker, Champion of ChangeU Michael Dadashi, and welcome to a very, very different type of enterprise: MHD Enterprises ( .

MHD Enterprises is truly a company of “second chances”.  First, MHD is on the surface an electronics reclamation, recycling and repurposing enterprise – very clearly an enterprise with an environmental impact.  Second, MHD’s core activities provide employment opportunities for a population that very often has no such opportunities: addicts and alcoholics in recovery.  Look in your local Chamber of Commerce listings, check the websites of its members, and then see how many of those members have a workforce of at least 70% addicts and alcoholics.  (P.S. If you find any, please let us know.  They are very rare and deserve recognition.)  There is most definitely much direct impact through MHD Enterprises.

By the way.  MHD does not stop at just having “direct” impact.  The “indirect” impact made possible by MHD Enterprises is multi-faceted.  MHD promotes community volunteerism among its staff.  Check out what the website has to say about how MHD staff live out one of Michael’s life statements: “Be the change you want to see.”  (  Additionally, Michael himself has gone on to found Infinite Recovery.  “The mission of Infinite Recovery is to provide world-class treatment while honoring the dignity, worth, and uniqueness of all people recovering from the devastation of addiction.” (  And together with his fiancée, Ylianna Guerra, Michael has co-founder HeartWater.  “HeartWater is a platform designed to quench a universal thirst for authenticity and hope through powerful stories of all-inclusive recovery. “ (


**NOTE: I should really stop for just a moment to wish Ylianna and Michael a happy, wonderful and beautiful wedding!  After all, it is this weekend!!  Congratulations, Ylianna and Michael!!!


Even with all of the types of “impact” described above, none of them appears to be the greatest impact of all.  What might that be?  Hope!  Lots of hope!!  There truly appears to be no limit to the hope that this one person and this one enterprise can provide!!!


What follows is Michael’s and MHD’s story.  We have chosen to repurpose the following version even though it results in a bit longer post than is our norms.  But we are sure that you will agree that it is worth every word.

This content was written by Lori Hawkins and was previously published on Oct. 6, 2012, in the Austin American-Statesman. That is almost four years ago – and a lot more has happened since then. Maybe a follow-up post will be forthcoming…


“Fast-growing electronics recycling company is built on second chances”

When Michael Dadashi started his Austin electronics recycling business in 2007, he was broke, didn’t have a car and was living with his mother.

He was also struggling with alcoholism.

But the then 23-year-old got MHD Enterprises off the ground by setting up a makeshift warehouse in his mom’s garage. He filled his brother-in-law’s truck with used electronics he bought from recyclers. He then cleaned them, recertified them and sold them on eBay.

“My alcoholism was a major roadblock of course,” Dadashi said. “It wasn’t until I turned 25 that I decided I’d had enough and wanted to redirect my life. When I did, I started to have a clear mind to work with, I refocused myself into the business, and it took off full speed.”

That’s not an exaggeration. Over the past three years, with no outside funding, Dadashi has built MHD Enterprises into a company that will post revenue of $10 million this year. MHD’s skyrocketing sales — which grew 6,277 percent between 2008 and 2011 to $7 million — landed it at No. 28 on this year’s Inc. 500 list. The list ranks companies with the highest percentage growth in revenue over the past three years. MHD took first place in the Inc. 500’s products and services category.

From the company’s 25,000-square-foot warehouse in North Austin, MHD’s workers disassemble electronics that are returned or recycled from businesses and consumers. The company breaks down the equipment, tests and repairs the parts and resells them to consumers on eBay or to wholesalers over its company website. In a typical day, MHD processes 10,000 pounds of material and ships 500 packages to eBay customers.

The company is one of hundreds of players in the rapidly expanding e-waste industry, whose growth is being fueled by the explosion of consumer electronics, as well pressure from environmental groups and expanding government regulations. The U.S. electronics recycling industry is worth about $5 billion, employs more than 30,000 workers and recycles some 3.5 million tons of e-waste annually, according to the IDC market research firm.

Dadashi, now 28, says he has succeeded by surrounding himself with family members and building a workplace that supports former addicts. His 83-year-old grandmother was his first employee and she still works 40 hours a week, while he recruited his mom from a lucrative banking position to be his chief operating officer. About three-quarters of his 21-person workforce has been hired out of rehab programs, including many of his top managers.

“I hire people with absolutely zero experience in this field, and they are so grateful to be respected and grow with a company,” said Dadashi, who works with nonprofits including Benchmark Recovery Center to hire workers after they have completed programs. “Our competitors have a higher turnover rate than we do because they don’t know how to manage employees. We’re very good at managing expectations — we’re a family business and everyone is part of the family.”

All employees go through a hands-on training program to learn their new jobs. Most are salaried and receive benefits including health insurance that covers pre-existing conditions and profit sharing.

For Karre Huff, MHD was the beginning of starting over. Three years ago, the former financial planner had just been through alcohol rehab, was unemployed and couldn’t find a job when Dadashi offered her an entry level position.

“I couldn’t get a job anywhere, and I said ‘I’ll do whatever work you need me to do,’ ” said Huff, who is now the company’s vice president of business development. “Michael believes in giving people the chance, and if you work hard, you are rewarded. It’s all based on trusting each other and looking out for each other.”

Those qualities are also responsible for the company’s business performance, says customer Dennis Hidalgo, a sales executive at Round Rock-based electronics reseller Foxtec.

“This is a cash upfront business, and there are very few terms involved in that, so you have to trust whom you’re buying from,” Hidalgo said. “I’ve known Mike since he was a one-man shop, and he’s an energetic and very hungry guy. But it’s his character and dedication that have made him a success.”

‘Out of rehab and out of hope’

Dadashi learned the e-recycling business while working for an electronics distributor and recycler. When he decided to break out on his own, his boss agreed to become his first vendor.

“I started small. I’d make a $1,000 profit off a truckload of equipment and invest it right back into the business,” he said.

“The $1,000 became $2,000. In five months, I was able to lease a 1,200 foot warehouse.”

Meanwhile, his personal life was spiraling out of control, and he entered alcohol rehab in 2009, putting the business briefly on hold. After that experience, he says, he became determined to help other people struggling with addiction, and that has become the foundation of MHD’s culture.

“I hire people out of rehab and out of hope, and they have a good, peaceful environment to work in,” he said. “If an employee needs to take a week off as part of a recovery program, we don’t dock their pay for that. Everyone is encouraged to volunteer on a weekly basis. We start off every day with a morning meditation. To see people come back to alive, it’s a treat I can’t describe in words. It gives me goosebumps.”

When Michael Weatherford joined the company two years ago as a product sorter, he was 19 years old, fresh out of rehab and lacking work experience. Today, he’s the company’s e-commerce sales manager.

“It’s an amazing experience to have someone take a chance on you when no one else will,” Weatherford said. “The best thing is being there for new employees who are just starting out.”

While many of his workers start at the ground level, Dadashi has also surrounded himself with experience, including recruiting his mother, former banking veteran Gail Zorne, as COO. Zorne, a former executive in the wealth management division at Bank of America, has brought a corporate perspective to the business, he says.

“I love working with my mom, but it was really about making a strong strategic move,” he said. “I had to try hard to convince her, and I had to pay her a top salary. But she has so many relationships — her client base was all the movers and shakers in Austin. And she has rolled out a healthcare plan and other programs that have elevated us as a company.”

Other senior hires include Eddie Cleveland, a former senior manager in Dell Inc.’s reverse logistics department, and Michael Ware, a former manager in testing and repair at Flextronics, the giant electronics contract manufacturer.

Now, MHD is gearing up for a new wave of growth. It’s expanding into recycling, which involves opening a new 50,000-square-foot facility in Austin; and it’s opening a recycling facility in Australia with a partner there.

Although the company has a line of credit, Dadashi plans to do it without taking on any debt.

“I’ve had investors approach me, but I want to grow this from the inside,” he said. “One of the best things about building this business is being able to help people and keep myself on track spiritually. I am excited about where we are, and I’m going to work hard to keep it going.”


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:





How One Person Rallies Many to Effect Change


This blog post is the second in the series on Kenneth Lander and THRIVE Farmers.  If you have not yet read Part 1, you will find it at:


Part 2 is taken in its entirety (text only and with minimal editing) from the website of The Coffee Compass.  You may access the original version, which includes some beautiful THRIVE Farmers photographs, at the following link:


There are in this article at least five major characteristics of effective difference makers and change agents.  See if you can pick them out!



The Coffee Compass: May 31, 2016  By Michael Butterworth 

Meet the man who wants to change the way you buy coffee. Ken Lander is cofounder of Thrive Farmers, a coffee company championing a farmer-direct model in which the farmer retains ownership of their coffee until the final sale. Thrive’s unique model allows the producers to share in a larger percentage of the profits. We caught up with the former trial lawyer to ask him about what it takes to create a sustainable coffee supply chain. 



My inspiration for thinking about making a living as a coffee farmer was out of necessity. In 2008, I lost all of my real estate holdings in the U.S., which was my exit strategy to leave with the family and move to Costa Rica in 2005.

We lived on a coffee farm, grew coffee, and that was the only and most immediate source of income other than returning to the States and being a lawyer again.

Trying to make money as a smallholder coffee farmer was a lost cause in the current system of volatile commodity markets and rising costs of production. The coffee I was growing on my farm (6,000 to 8,000 lbs green) was being roasted and sold for $30,000 on the demand side of the value chain, and my net profit on a good year was $600. I didn’t understand the disconnect until I convinced a group of farmers in my community to sell our coffee in a coffee shop, roasted and directly to tourists. That integrated value chain made sense, and from that point forward, I knew that connecting the farmer directly to the consumer was the key to success in coffee.

I met my business partner, Michael Jones, whose father-in-law was a Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee farmer. Michael was also trying to understand the value chain of coffee and why his father-in-law’s coffee sold for $80/lb roasted in Japan, and his father-in-law was getting $4 (gross revenue) of that $80 on a good day.

From these experiences in understanding coffee farming as a farmer came the inspiration to do coffee differently, making the farmer a stakeholder in the value chain where the value was being realized. We created a platform to take the farmer to market and share the revenue in a way that created a predictable, stable and higher income for his or her hard work on the farm.



Thrive Farmers exists for and is passionate about one thing: empowering coffee farmers to thrive!

What sets us apart from other coffee companies is that we take the farmer (not just his or her product) to market as a partner. We know that unless you change the economic reality of coffee farming, more and more farmers and their children will leave the industry. The key is taking them to market as true stakeholders and partners.



I can tell you that a place does not change you. The transition was very hard. A hyper-type A person who enjoyed having 500 balls in the air at one time was my condition in moving to Costa Rica. Many a panic attack occurred as I realized that other cultures actually live a slower life, do less, and are much happier.

Early on, my training and passion to be an advocate of others made me question the justice in a family working for generations, just to survive on something that I paid $3 per cup for without thinking twice. It wasn’t until I reached the place of fully relying on the same amount of money my neighbors were accustomed to that I realized that my life could be about finding a better way, not just for me, but for the worldwide community of coffee farmers who work so hard with such little compensation.

I was humbled by their passion to the craft and trade, and by their commitment to continue the work of the generations before them.



I sure do! I am writing to you from the front porch of my house on my coffee farm (Finca Flor Mar) in San Rafael de Abangares, Costa Rica.



Right now I am drinking a coffee from fellow Thrive Farmer Helsar de Zarcero in the West Central Valley of Costa Rica.  All of our coffee from our farm went to Thrive Farmers this year!



No, I don’t necessarily think premiums based on quality are the best way to improve the livelihood of farmers. However, quality has to always be the standard from the beginning of any relationship in coffee. Premiums necessarily indicate, in my vernacular, a premium above the market price. As long as the market price is in play at any level, there will never be stable, long-term and predictable pricing, which is key for a farmer to build an economically sustainable business.

The word premium has the significance of “prize,” and in Spanish, a prize is a “premio.” What coffee needs at scale is two things: First, long-term, stable, higher and predictable pricing that is based on the real value of the coffee in the consumer marketplace, not some volatile C-market. Second, coffee needs identity and partnership for the farmer in the value chain.

It is interesting that when you have these two things, quality coffee results. Why? Because there is an alignment of interests between the farmer and the consumer.

Economic sustainability leads to consistent quality, and a long-term relationship brings identity and partnership with the farmer.



Hands down, I am most inspired by the producers who caught the vision of Thrive Farmers from the very beginning, like Franco Garbanzo of La Violeta, Frailes de Tarrazu, Costa Rica, and Vinicio Gonzalez of Concepcion Pinula, Guatemala. They were able to see beyond one crop year, realizing that the only way to see their kids in coffee in the future was to pave a way to do the business of coffee differently. They had faith in the vision before it was a reality, and many days I looked to these first farmers and their faith in us as a source of strength to continue.

I am also inspired by farmers like Estuardo Falla in Antigua, Guatemala and Lydia Matamoros in Naranjo, Costa Rica who are estate farmers, continuing in third, fourth and fifth generations of estate coffee farming. They had faith in the vision of Thrive Farmers from the beginning as well, and their affirmation of our business model proved the need for stable markets is not just one for small farms. Farmers like these have enormous impact on the smallholder farmers around them. They have a heart for their people, and use their resources to help their communities, their workers and their families to reap the benefits of generations of farming coffee.

They and other estate farmers have been incredible supporters of our platform as we have scaled.


There’s No Crying in Baseball!

by Jim King

Truth be told, this blog post is not about baseball players.  It is about coffee farmers.  But I did not want to tell a lie and say “There’s no crying in coffee farming!” because there is most definitely crying in coffee farming – and there has been at least since the creation of coffee commodity markets, if not before.

The stories are too abundant from around the world of coffee prices dropping so much that prices returned to the coffee farmers are less than the cost of producing the green beans.  Crying, sometimes figurative but often literal, ensues on the farms.  Also too abundant are the coffee farmers with poor to little access to markets – even when prices are up – who have to depend on the “generosity” of coyote buyers.  Most often that “generosity” yields more crying.  And when the crying is done, coffee trees get ripped out of the ground.  Fields get burned.  Farmers search for alternative ways to provide for their families because the traditional coffee supply chain has failed them.

However, once upon a time not so long ago, one of these coffee farmers was a successful American trial lawyer that had picked up his family and “retired” to Costa Rica to be a gentleman coffee farmer.  Surely those inevitable down-swings in coffee commodity prices wouldn’t be too bad nor for too long.  Surely.  Well…things don’t always work out as planned.  It got too bad and lasted too long – at the same time.  Not only did the lawyer not know what to do with beans that he could not sell, he did not know how he was going to take care of his family.  And he saw his Tico coffee-farming friends faced with the same situations.  The unfairness of the traditional coffee supply chain were about to bury them all.  But for this transplanted American lawyer, there would be no ripping out of trees nor burning of fields.  There was no time for crying in his coffee fields.  It was time to roll up the sleeves, burn the midnight oil, put on the thinking cap and turn lemons into lemonade – or in this case, coffee beans into coffee.  And along the way, also turn a generations-old industry on its ear!

That American lawyer was Kenneth Lander from Georgia.  And with a close local coffee-farming friend, Ken opened up coffee shops in the Monteverde/Santa Elena area of Costa Rica – including The Common Cup, referred to on the Internet by numerous travelers as the “best” in Costa Rica with the “best cup of joe” in Costa Rica.  That partnership led to the development of the San Rafael Sustainable Coffee Initiative which included other farmers in the region.  The SRSCI brought new life to the region as well as respect and self-esteem to the coffee farmers. The remainder of this post is only the first installment related to Ken Lander and what is now known as THRIVE Farmers.  (Hint: it is now way bigger than just Tico coffee farmers!)

The entire story is a great story of Providence and “doing good” unto, and for, others.  It is as great a people story as it is a business story.  And it is a GREAT business story.  Don’t miss the “rest of the story” in future blog posts!  Ken himself will also be contributing in the future.  Please meet the newest Champion of ChangeU, Kenneth Lander!!


PART 1: Who is Ken Lander?

The following is taken in its entirety from the THRIVE Farmers website:


Kenneth Lander – Founder & Chief Sustainability Officer

As a retired trial lawyer from Georgia, Ken has extensive experience in advocating client’s interests on long-term projects as well as in complicated litigation in both the private and public sectors. After 14 years of the practice of law, Ken decided to move with the entire family to a coffee farm in Costa Rica. With the transition from trial lawyer to coffee farmer, Ken quickly began to understand the injustices that farmers face in the current value chain of coffee.

With the combination of Ken’s never failing passion for advocacy and his new found vocation as a coffee farmer, Ken decided to make the case for the coffee farmer and to reveal the truth about your morning cup. THRIVE Farmers is the direct result of Ken starting the San Rafael Sustainable Coffee Initiative in mid-2010 with other farmers in his coffee-growing community. The SRSCI became the initial local platform and test case for the farmer in San Rafael. THRIVE Farmers was the natural next leap to take the case of the coffee farmer to the entire world.

As Chief Sustainability Officer of THRIVE Farmers, Ken seeks to find, advocate and project the voice of the farmer and to tell the world that a new day has come in the world of coffee. His passion to stand and advocate on behalf of his fellow coffee farmers has found its place in THRIVE Farmers.

Prior to law and farming, Ken was a marketing director with Feld Entertainment, Inc. working in public relations and marketing for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Walt Disney’s World on Ice.

There is no coincidence in life, only Providence. A past experience in public relations, the practice of law, the passion for advocacy, and now coffee farming all are being brought to bear in Ken’s life to make THRIVE Farmers the connection between the coffee farmer and the lover of coffee.


In a future post, Part Two will share about how Ken Lander and the THRIVE Farmers team are revolutionizing the coffee supply chain as well as the impact on the farmer at origin.


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:



The Genesis of Change University

by Jim King


We thought it was about time to share a little bit about why and how Change University came to exist.  Our website,, gives a bit of information about us.  But there are still questions that we receive.  Hopefully this post will address most of the questions that we have received during our first eight months.


In The Beginning

During the summer of 2015, a meeting between the valedictorian of the Class of ’15 at Midway High School (just outside of Waco, TX) and a Class of ’75 graduate of the same high school – me – was scheduled at a local Starbucks.  Even with the age difference, we had a number of commonalities – three in particular – and the plan for the meeting focused on a mentoring relationship as the valedictorian was heading off to college.  Before the meeting happened, the ’15 valedictorian asked if he could bring to the meeting the salutatorian of the class as that student too shared the same three commonalities.  At the end of that meeting, the two ’15 grads (both males) asked if it would be OK to bring the #3 and #4 graduates in the class of ’15 (two females) to the next meeting for they too shared the three commonalities.  It was at that subsequent meeting that a plan was discussed that would ultimately lead to the creation of Change University.


Have You Guessed What They Are?

I am hoping that at this point you are asking “What are the three commonalities?”  The first might be somewhat obvious from the previous paragraph: success in academics.  No, I was not one of the top four in my graduating class like the class of ’15 students or even in the top 1% of the class like these four.  My interest in “success in academics” is driven by having spent over 35 years in higher education, working with all types of students as they pursue academic success.  The second commonality is not as easily distinguished.  You might have guesses.  But I think that it might come as a surprise to some if not a lot of you.  The answer: athletics.  All four of these top four (and top 1%) graduates, as did I, had earned at least one varsity athletic letter: two of the four student athletes in soccer, one in tennis and one in baseball.  This was a very special group of four student athletes.  I am not naïve enough to think that the top four students in a large graduating class being varsity athletic letter winners has never happened before.  But I have been around long enough to know that it is at least a very rare occurrence.  The third commonality?  A DESIRE TO CHANGE THE WORLD!  And who can’t get excited about that.  So for me, just getting to meet and talk to these four student athletes that wanted to change the world was pretty exciting.  Additionally, one important question was raised during the meeting: “How many more top 1% student athletes that desired to change the world were out there?”  We left that meeting excited to try and find out and wondering what, if anything, might be next.


The Plan Takes Shape

It did not take even the drive home after that second meeting to start brainstorming.  The initial plan called for the development of a group of graduates that shared the three commonalities of the first four: top 1% of their graduating class (or top two students from smaller schools), at least one varsity athletic letter and a desire to change the world.  The group took on the name “Game Changers::Difference Makers”.  Even before the recruiting of additional members began, some initial goals were set:

  1. Create a birds-of-a-feather network of high school graduates that shared the three commonalities.
  2. Find ways to “grow” the desire to change the world through knowledge acquisition and experiences.
  3. Make tangible “differences” in the world.


Goal #1

Even before completely fleshing out these three initial goals, the students started building the GC::DM birds-of-a-feather network.  After those first four headed off to Harvard, Baylor, Trinity (San Antonio) and Hardin-Simmons, they recruited more students at those schools.  I recruited students at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.  We recruited students from University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Arkansas and a handful of other schools – large and small, public and private.  This effort is still underway.  HELP!!!  If you know someone that fits the three commonalities and is a ’15 or ’16 high school graduate (plus graduates of all future years), please have them email their qualifying information to  We really want to reach out to all colleges and universities in the U.S.  And lest you think we don’t want international connections, that assumption would be false.  We are in the process of determining how to integrate graduates from countries that do not have the same type of secondary education athletic programs that we have in the U.S.  Stand by for a future post about that topic.


Goal #2

The initial four students grew to a much larger number.  Within that larger group was a very active group of about ten that started envisioning what “could be”.  They really wanted to attack goal #2, but they felt that would not happen as a “secret” Facebook group (the communication link for the network).  Thus, Change University ( was created to help make goal #2 a reality.  From the get-go it was for everyone everywhere, not just GC::DM members, to have a one-stop portal to use to find out via videos, blog posts and other written materials about people around the world that are already making a difference, to find out about free and low-cost online webinars and courses through which to acquire knowledge and to share their own stories of making a difference as they unfold.

Hopefully you have had a chance to read the stories of our Champions of ChangeU.  Hopefully you have had a chance to watch some of their videos.  If you have not, please do so.  These are wonderful people doing wonderful thing in tough places.  NOTE: If you have a personal contact that you believe should be named a Champion of ChangeU, please have that person send their website link and a personal phone number (so that we may contact them) to:

You have already seen a post for a free course.  You will soon see an entire page for such items.  You will also see a page with related books and other reading materials.  But please feel free to send us notices about other books and courses as you find out about them.  The more we can share, the more knowledge that can be shared with everyone.  Please send such information to  And as we progress through this Fall semester, you will start to see some stories of our GC::DM members making a difference around the world.

Change University is truly a place for everyone to learn how to become a global difference maker.  Much work has taken place towards goal #2.  But it is a never-reached goal.  Yet we continue to stretch towards it!


Goal #3

That leaves us with goal #3.  I do not want to call this one a dream even though there is nothing tangible to share about it at this time.  This goal will be accomplished when students from Harvard, Trinity, Arkansas and UMHB go to Thailand to help with a project to make a difference in the lives of the poor in Isan.  The third goal will take feet when a non-profit in Namibia engages ChangeU to bring students from Texas A&M and Texas and Auburn and Clemson, as one team, to Namibia to help develop solutions for a social issue.  The third goal will fly when Dell or AT&T or Apple pays for a team of five members of GC::DM to go to Jordan to help in Syrian refugee efforts.  So as you can see, this goal is not just a dream.  It is just not reality yet.  If anyone out there can help make it a reality, please contact ChangeU through the following email address:   Be a part of the difference making!


ChangeU – And You!

This blog post has been a trip down memory lane.  That memory lane has been filled with lots of potholes and felled trees and yield signs – and even a few stop signs we decided to “miss”.  But at the distant end of that lane is a rainbow and a brightly shining sun.  We invite you to grab for yourself the same chance I am have: working with this group of kids.  They are our future and I can promise you that our future is very bright.  Please find a way through ChangeU to join in on the fun!  Change University provides the vehicle on which we may all ride together down that lane!!


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:


Our Champion of Champions at ChangeU!

by Jim King

Please allow me to introduce ChangeU’s very own Champion of Champions at ChangeU, Becky Turner Martin.  Becky serves as Executive VP at ChangeU.  In that position she serves as the role model for everyone at ChangeU.  Becky is the founder of Women Sewing by Faith (, a collective of international faith-based cooperatives sewing for solidarity currently sourcing from Bolivia, Haiti and Tanzania.

There will be a little information about WSBF in this post.  However, no one can tell that story better than Becky.  So we are reserving the complete WSBF story for Becky to tell in a future blog post.  This blog post is going to share the many things that Becky has done that makes us so proud to have her as our Executive VP.

First of all, as you read this blog post, remember that Becky is a VERY young lady.  She graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of International Relations with Honors in 2009.  When you read all that she has done to make a difference in the world and to create change in the lives of the disadvantaged around the world, remember: 2009!

After Becky’s graduation from USC, she spent a year in Bolivia working for a USAID sub-contractor. While in Bolivia, Becky had an assortment of duties with the sub-contractor.  She conducted training courses and seminars to local NGOs and indigenous communities.  She had numerous administrative responsibilities.  She also had responsibilities related to a software product that was applied as a property rights management tool.  These responsibilities brought Becky in contact with numerous human issues as well as many groups addressing these issues.  Becky’s time in Bolivia also brought her in contact with many individuals trying to make a difference in their own lives.  These encounters led Becky to found Women Sewing by Faith (  In this effort, WSBF initially sourced handmade products from a women’s sewing cooperative in Bolivia to be sold primarily in the United States.  Through WSBF, the artisans have realized access to markets previously unavailable to them.

In January of 2012, Becky embarked on a journey to earn a Master’s in Humanitarian Logistics and Management at the Universita della Svizzera Italiana.  Later that year, Becky went to work with a U.S.-based company specializing in global water treatment. This was followed by a graduate internship in Geneva, Switzerland, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) where she had responsibilities related to software and logistics.  Through these two positions (U.S. & Geneva), Becky established connections with numerous change-focused organizations and many change-focused initiatives.

Immediately following Becky’s time with OCHA, she completed her master’s degree and immediately after that began a year with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Logistics ORISE Fellow and Development Associate for the Emergency Response & Recovery Branch of the CDC.  In this role, she was assigned to post-disaster Haiti.  Becky has responsibilities related to health, education, energy, agriculture and other areas.  She was also once again exposed to sewing-cooperative artisans.  It was due to her time in Haiti that Becky expanded her Women Sewing by Faith sourcing to Haiti.  Thus, these Haitian artisans, like those in Bolivia, were able to access previously unavailable markets – and, thus, better provide for their families at a very, very tough time to do so in Haiti.

After Haiti, and while serving as a software-industry consultant for implementations in Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico and Nicaragua, Becky served as a Humanitarian Consultant with the Humanitarian Logistics Association where she did research, analysis and writing related to humanitarian logistics’ operations and supply chain.  Her time in both of these positions further solidified Becky as a change agent and difference maker.

Currently Becky is serving as an Emergency Management Specialist with the Global Rapid Response Team for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This team serves as a “deployable asset to help CDC experts respond to global public health concerns.” (
Becky is currently stationed in a southern African country – making a difference and effecting much-needed change.

In her “down” time, Becky often travels the world – and continues with her difference-making.  While on vacation in Tanzania, Becky encountered a women’s sewing cooperative.  Now, Women Sewing by Faith has a third location for sourcing product: Tanzania.  And now the ladies in that cooperative, like the ones in Bolivia and Haiti, have access to markets which were previously unavailable.

For the final content paragraph of this post, I would like to share part of a tribute to Becky written by her friend, Camila Thorndike (who also referred to Becky as “indomitable and awe-inspiring”), posted on Becky’s Facebook thread on March 2, 2016:

“This lady lives with the most graceful faith I have ever seen. Her sincere dedication to the least of these, combined with dozens of escapes from death, could convince anyone of a higher power for good. As a teenager she ran to safety from white supremacist stalkers across bridges and through ravines. After surviving a plane crash in the Amazon she knew enough about the mechanics of explosion to rush everyone out within 90 seconds. In Bolivia she fought and won against a recalcitrant embassy to get back home and survive antibiotic-resistant Typhoid. No doubt she’s aided along the way by the gratitude of countless lives she’s saved, from the hundreds of children receiving vaccines in Haiti to the drugged girl in an American bar she literally wrestled from a would-be rapist.”

2009?  Seriously!  It is hard to believe, but it is true.  Becky graduated from USC in 2009!  She has served in all of the listed roles/positions, has effected change in the many mentioned as well as many unmentioned locations, and has made a difference in innumerable lives since 2009!  What a great role model for those wishing to make a difference, to be a change agents.  There can be no doubt why Becky Turner Martin is our Champion of Champions at ChangeU!


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:


“Goud” Sight!

by Jim King


NO!  We did not misspell the title of this week’s blog post.  This week’s blog post is about a special type of sight – “Goud” Sight.  The post is about ChangeU’s newest Champion of Change, Dr. A. Saibaba Goud.  While holding numerous titles, this blog post will focus on Dr. Goud as the founder of Devnar School for the Blind in Hyderabad, Telangana State, India.

In March 2016, I had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Goud at Devnar.  The opportunity was made possible by my friend Dr. Tulasi Qualixa.  Dr. Goud shared a great deal about Devnar, “his” students and the successes of his graduates.  During the visit, my team was able to celebrate Holi Day 2016 with the visually impaired students, their teachers and the staff at Devnar.  During this event, participants throw, spray, shoot and splash water on each other and then dowse each other with colored powders – over and over.  You may question how visually impaired children could participate in such an activity.  But I promise you they can – and well!!!  Credit Devnar School.  Credit Dr. Goud.   Words cannot explain the sight of all of us at the end of our time there – nor the impact this activity and our time at Devnar had on each of us.  This was one of those once in a lifetime experiences and it makes me proud to share this specific story of our newest Champion of Change!

Most of the content of this blog post is from my visit with Dr. Goud and from information on the website of the foundation that sponsors the school ( .  Some of the content is from information about the school at their Facebook site ( .  You are strongly encouraged to visit both websites for the most up-to-date information.

Devnar Foundation was established in January, 1991.  ‘Devnar’ is a combination of two words: DEV (God) and NAR (Man), highlighting the fact that there is God in every man. If the entire humanity is the family of God, the visually challenged children are special members in it.  And so, they should be given every possible opportunity to develop their potentialities and latent talents. Devnar Foundation through Devnar School tries to unleash the incredible capacity of students by giving them values based education, thus enabling them to realize that within them can be found the skill, knowledge and motivation to make something special happen. The Foundation aims to provide opportunities on par with international standards for the visually challenged children in India so that they can be absorbed in the mainstream of society as socially productive individuals.

Devnar School started in 1991 with four students in a rented room.  In Devnar School, education, boarding and lodging are absolutely free and any visually challenged child is admitted during any part of the year.  The School grew to over 500 students by 2012, has continued to grow and is housed in a three story, technology-enabled building owned by the Foundation. This phenomenal growth of the School is due to the undoubted ability and unflinching enthusiasm of the founder and his wife, the dedicated staff, many philanthropists and donors.  Devnar School is now acclaimed as the best institution for the visually challenged in India with the students aspiring to reach lofty heights of achievement, hitherto thought impossible for such children.  Many graduates of Devnar School have received Bachelor’s degrees.  Some have also earned Master’s degrees.  And many, many more have accepted jobs that would have never been possible without the education and personal development they received at Devnar School.  Many of these accomplishments may be found on the Foundation’s website ( .

Dr. Goud, the founder, continues to work tirelessly for the development of Devnar School.  The infrastructure and equipment are updated constantly.  Dr. Goud continually brings in highly capable teachers and staff.   And he constantly advocates of behalf of Devnar School and its students.

In addition to being the founder of Devnar School, Dr. Goud is a leading ophthalmologist in India who is also the recipient of the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award in 2004 for his outstanding services in the field of social medical relief.  Dr. Goud was the first person in India to be awarded a Ph.D. in Community Ophthalmology.  He is a crusader against ‘darkness’ and a champion of Community Ophthalmology.

Dr. Goud’s efforts have been much recognized as evidenced by him being the recipient of the following additional awards:

  1. President of India National Award for the welfare of people with disabilities 1997
  2. President of India Award for ‘Best Institution in the Country 2002’
  3. Rastriya Gaurav Award
  4. Datta Award
  5. Mahashabde Award
  6. Duke of Edinburgh Award
  7. Drishti Pradatha Award
  8. Srinivasan Award
  9. Agarwal Gold Medal
  10. Vijayashree Award
  11. Padma Shri Award
  12. Yudhvir Memorial Award

Dr. Goud is or has been President of ‘Help Us”, an organization for leprosy patients, President of the National Society for Prevention of Blindness (N.S.P.B) and a member of Indian Red Cross Society (A.P.).  He has presented papers at national and international conferences, published many articles in English and Telugu in leading newspapers and journals.  He has provided educative and informative radio talks and Doordarshan (a leading Indian television network) interviews.  And he has also authored three books, one in English and two in Telugu:

1.  The Organ of the Sight (in English)
2. Nayanabhiramam (in Telugu vernacular)
3. Meeru-Mee Kanulu (book on eye care for neo-literates in Telugu vernacular)

Even though Dr. Goud has remained very busy in his professional life, his community efforts – especially through Devnar Foundation and Devnar School – continue to receive his special attention and efforts.  And Change University is proud to name him a Champion of Change!

NOTE: Readers are strongly encouraged to download the full-color brochure about Devnar at the following link:


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:



Sister Love!



Change University is excited to share that Jessica Courtney is our newest Champion of ChangeU!  Jessica’s passion for fairness and justice compels her toward the broken, forgotten people of the world. It’s what carried Jessica and her husband Jeremy to Iraq during the height of war and what led them to establish Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC – In addition to being a co-founder of PLC, Jessica oversees aspects of field programming, while helping to guide strategy and long-term vision.  Jessica is also a full-time mother and an avid quilter, seamstress, scrapbooker and gardener.

A relatively new aspect of PLC is Sisterhood Soap, a coalition of refugee entrepreneurs.  And Jessica is the driving force behind this initiative.    Please check out to learn more about this great initiative.

The remainder of this blog post was originally posted on April 14, 2016, by Ben Irwin, director of communications and PR for Preemptive Love Coalition, under the title “More Than ISIS Survivors. They’re Our Sisters. And They Make the Most Beautiful Soap.”  We very strongly recommend that you check out the original post which includes a number of photos of the “sisters” in this blog post: .

Sisterhood Soap

Many people carry a certain image of Iraq in their heads. They see it as a place of endless warfare and little else, a place that was hopelessly mired in chaos long before ISIS came on the scene.

But Gozê dispels this image with a few simple words:

“We had work. We had a home. Life was really nice.”

“Shingal was so nice,” adds Marwa, Gozê’s sister by marriage.

Shingal. That’s what the Yazidi people call their homeland. Others know this patch of earth that hugs the border between Syria and Iraq as Sinjar.

For Gozê and her sisters, life in Sinjar changed forever on August 3, 2014. 

The world they knew was suddenly and violently ripped apart. A terrifying new hell emerged: heavily armed militants overran Sinjar, bent on wiping the Yazidis from the earth. Most Westerners know these militants as ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State. But Gozê and her friends call them Daesh, a pejorative acronym that sounds like the Arabic word for “one who crushes underfoot.”

ISIS crushed everything Gozê had.

After ISIS came, Gozê and her family fled up Sinjar Mountain, along with other Yazidis. They endured days of deprivation under a blistering sun. “There was no food, not even stale bread,” she says. “There was no water, either.”

All around them, people began to die.

Each of Gozê’s sisters has a similar story. Marwa had to watch as ISIS turned up suddenly and murdered her father, mother, and brother; she was left to clean their bodies and figure out what on earth to do next.

Sozan lost her 7-year-old daughter; she died of starvation when her family took refuge on the mountain. The militants below were all too happy to let time and hunger do their genocidal work for them.

Still another, Hazno, had to flee while pregnant and sick.

Almost two years later, the pain is still visible on the faces of these women. But they also exhibit a quiet strength. Their courage and resilience have carried them through the unthinkable.

After escaping Sinjar, Gozê, the other women, and their families traveled on foot to Syria, a land ripped apart by its own brutal civil war. From there, they went by car, in search of somewhere beyond the reach of ISIS.

They had nothing left.

“Not even a tent,” Gozê recalls.

What would you do if you lost everything you had to those bent on your destruction? Where would you go, assuming you managed to escape?

For Gozê and her sisters, the answer was Iraqi Kurdistan. This region offers relative safety and security, but it is a far cry from their homeland. Nearly everyone here speaks a different dialect. There is no work for the men in their families—those who didn’t end up in a mass grave, that is. There are no schools for their children, either.

How do you make a home out of a leaky shipping container in the middle of a muddy field?

Gozê and her sisters started by making soap.

The soap trade goes back at least 4,000 years in this part of the world, when the people of ancient Mesopotamia started mixing water, alkali, and cassia oil—history’s first recorded soap recipe. But it was new to Gozê and her sisters.

When they came to Kurdistan, we showed them how to make soap. We helped them start a soapmaking business so they could earn a living and provide for their families.

By learning this ancient craft, they’ve begun to undo the devastation wrought by ISIS.

Every bar they sell is another step toward reclaiming their lives. Every new soapmaker who receives training and equipment is another step toward a more prosperous future.

To us—and to you—Gozê and her family are more than refugees.

They are more than what others have done to them. They deserve better than a bandaid solution to their current situation. By teaching them a trade and helping them start a business, you are providing something more than mere aid. You’re providing a future.

You’re giving them a source of income, a way to pay for diapers and milk and other essentials.

You’re empowering them to care for others in need, as they produce thousands of bars of soap for use in refugee camps, to prevent the spread of disease.

You are standing with your sisters in Iraq, providing a hand up rather than a handout.

Their soap is as beautiful as the hands that labor over it. It’s beautiful not just for what goes into it—natural ingredients like olive oil, herbal tea, chamomile, and eucalyptus—but also for what it’s done in the lives of Gozê and her sisters.

“This is my work. It supports my children.”

“Making soap makes us happy.”

“Without this soap, we wouldn’t have survived. We couldn’t have provided.”

Sisterhood Soap does more than cleanse. It washes away the effects of hatred. It unmakes violence. It empowers women who have lost everything, so they can remake their world.

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, honoring the women who nurtured and sustained us, we can also pay tribute to mothers like Gozê and Sozan, who have carried their families through the unthinkable.

Most of their soap is sold locally in Iraq, but we’re also bringing some to the U.S., to share with you. You can purchase Sisterhood Soap as a way of remembering their story… and helping them as they begin writing a new one.

But this is about more than buying a few bars of handmade soap.

This is about empowering your sisters, standing in solidarity, refusing to give ISIS the last word over their lives.

There are many, many more families who were driven from their homes, displaced by violence, and left with nothing. There are many more sisters who are just as determined to carry their families through the darkness. And you can stand with them.

You can empower and equip more soapmakers like Gozê, Sozan, Marwa, and Hazno.

Grow the sisterhood. Empower a soapmaker. 


Change University encourages you to visit: .


Huge Feet to Follow!

by Jim King

In April of this year, I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Dr. Pramath Sinha in Delhi, India, thanks to our common friend, Amardeep Kahlon.  While you might not have heard of Dr. Sinha before this blog post, I know that after you read this post you will not forget him.  Very importantly, I am extremely proud to announce that Pramath has agreed to become a Champion of ChangeU!

Pramath has held many titles over his professional career:  co-founder, CEO, founding dean & board member, Indian School of Business ( ; co-founder and trustee, Ashoka University ( & its acclaimed Young India Fellowship program ( ; partner & senior advisor, McKinsey & Co. ( ; CEO, Anandabazar Patrika Group ( ; senior counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group ( ; founder & managing director, 9.9 Mediaworx Pvt. Ltd. ( ; and chairman and/or director of numerous for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises.

Given Pramath’s relationship to Change University, it would be very appropriate for us to share how his efforts with ISB and Ashoka have made a difference on education in India – especially through the “difference makers” birthed through the Young India Fellowship program.  Wow has YIF produced some outstanding graduates.  In anticipation of Pramath’s appearance at their 2016 conference, no less than the India Conference at Harvard posted the following on its website: “ISB and Ashoka have created new benchmarks in higher education in India in terms of collective philanthropy, ethical governance, international partnerships, and all-round excellence grounded in academic freedom.” ( )  Surely these efforts to affect education change would be our focus.  However, at least for this blog post, we are going to focus on one additional educational undertaking in which Pramath has played and continues to play an instrumental role.

Pramath is a member of the founding team of The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women ( In this effort, he joined Anuradha Das Mathur and Daljeet Wadhwa to create “…a unique alternative to the traditional MBA programme, which will create a cadre of successful women professionals for the 21st century.”  (  This direction is certainly a novel undertaking in any country, but especially in India.  And while its direction is novel, possibly its process for accomplishing its goals is even more so.  “Vedica is a combination of classroom learning, hands-on work experience, and mentoring and coaching by some of the most inspiring academics and professionals of our times. The programme weaves together the objectivity of management principles with complementary perspectives from the liberal arts, an emphasis on personal growth through leadership training, and the impact of thinking and communicating effectively.” (

Now, at this point in your reading, I am thinking that you are thinking that this blog post is not talking about the hungry, the uneducated, the poor, the trafficked nor any other marginalized group about which you have previously read.  I could not agree more – at least on the surface.  However, the really important thing about Dr. Sinha’s direct impact on the creation of Vedica is the indirect impact that this founding has had, and will continue to have, on India – and even the world.  The additional important thing is what the graduates of the Vedica program have done and will do.  I do not want that statement to minimize the importance of what Pramath and his co-founders have done with the founding of this program.  Rather, I want to challenge each person reading this blog post to realize that difference makers and change catalysts do not always see the final results of their efforts on behalf of the marginalized.  Their efforts do not always put them on the front lines.  However, their work is no less important – and in many cases even more important – than the work of those whom they are preparing for the front lines in the battle again poverty, hunger, disease and the many other social issues of the world.  Without the Pramath’s of the world, we would not have the next generations of difference makers prepared to tackle the front lines.

As an example, Vedica brings in approximately 30 post-graduate females from around India in each batch (i.e., intake class).  To date two batches have been accepted.  Those 60-ish will grow to hundreds and then to thousands of students being impacted.  These students are put through a multi-dimensional, 18-month program that includes courses taught by faculty from around the globe, mentorship by female practitioners, and experiential projects including those with social impact.  These graduates will then go, and in many cases return, to work for Indian companies and multinationals; for-profits and not-for-profits; enterprises large and small; some in India, some not; social enterprise organizations and enterprises with CSR programs.  Imagine the direct impact such graduates will have on the world.  And there will be thousands of them!!  They will tackle poverty, hunger, disease and the many other social issues of the world.  And some of them will do so directly while others will do so indirectly.  Interestingly, in both cases, the resulting impact must be attributed back to Pramath and his founding partners at Vedica.

To be fair, we are all products of our environments, our educations, our faiths, our cultures and other impacting aspects of life.  Many variables affect the impact that we will have during the course of our respective lives.  However, the impact that Vedica graduates will have will be “intentionally” impactful because Vedica is intentional in preparing its graduates to be impactful.  Vedica is not hoping its graduates will make a difference.  It is insuring that its graduates will make a difference by preparing them to be difference makers.  And Pramath’s direct impact as a co-founder at Vedica, no matter how far removed he is from the end-result social impact Vedica’s graduates will produce, will have generations of direct and indirect impact on the social issues of the world.  And that type of legacy is what a Champion of ChangeU gives to each of us.  Through your reading of this blog post, may Pramath’s legacy have direct impact on you and may you have direct and indirect impact on the world.  May we all strive to follow in Pramath’s huge foot-steps.


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:


I am jealous of Troy Anderson!

by Jim King

To be fair, I don’t think that I am really jealous of Troy. Maybe a little envious.  But not jealous.  In fact, I don’t think that I know Troy well enough, personally, to be jealous.  To the best of my recollection I have met Troy face-to-face only one time – near the elevators and escalators in the Sripatum International College building on the campus of Sripatum University in Bangkok, Thailand.  But that one meeting convinced me that Troy is a Champion of Change – and Change University needed him as one of our Champions of ChangeU.  Troy has accepted our offer.

The rest of this blog post is to introduce you to Troy Anderson.  There will be more in a subsequent post – and hopefully in the not too distant future, a post from Troy himself.  He is just a little busy most of the time.

Troy is the Founder and International Director of Speak Up, an international NGO serving girls in poverty.  Troy studied law at the UCLA School of Law and served as a Los Angeles County District Attorney.  Troy’s Christian faith and his experiences led him to found Speak Up (  We will cover in a subsequent post related to Troy the founding of Speak Up, its services and the incredible impact it is having.

The following is an “approved by Troy” slightly edited version of Troy’s own words in his July 8, 2016, Facebook post.


“10 days ago at my Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration, I shared two of my parents’ specific traits which have had the greatest effect on me. My Mom’s deep kindness, cemented most deeply in my mind when she would care for the homeless, drifter men who were passing through Arlington, Oregon, when I was a young boy. She has modeled that kindness all my life, with orphans and single moms and kids struggling in school and more. Something about those times stuck deeply in my mind, impressing on me the sense that I was made to give and serve. Mom taught me to care.

And my Dad’s deep thoughtfulness. I remember him quizzing me about international capitals and world events as a boy, teaching me to think deeply about the world and read about world events as a kid. I always thought it was normal to think about different religions and cultures, to know populations and capitals and all sorts of facts that now fill my mind. But it was more than facts and figures; it was a way of being thoughtful about the world, of appreciating and dignifying all of humanity, of knowing that all people were worthy of respect. Dad taught me to thoughtfully engage with everyone, to think globally.

Over the years, many people have asked me why I started Speak Up and why I chose to work in Bangladesh.  I tend to say one of two things:

First, that I started Speak Up to do some sort of service for girls and women who were being exploited because what I saw in brothels in Asia struck me so deeply that I could not go on as I was before, seeing tiny Burmese girls lined up for sale; seeing beautiful young Indian women for sale; seeing young Thai women labeled with numbers for sale; seeing young Cambodian students for sale. This changed my life. These visuals struck a chord in me that cannot be un-struck without losing the values instilled in me from birth. I know that my destiny, my calling, my purpose, is somehow tied up in giving my life to free and empower those who are being exploited.

Second, that deep inside me, I know that I am tempted to be afraid and that I wanted to be courageous. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s powerful nonetheless: courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision to go forward into the fight despite your fear. That is what I wanted, to be courageous despite the things inside of me, and the things endemic to American culture, that were calling me to be safe. I’ve seen it over and over in my life and in that of my friends; justifying decisions that keep us safe, when deep down we know that we are simply caving in to our fears. So much of our lives is based on fear, and we often lie to ourselves as the only way to soothe our aching conscience. I didn’t want to live like that; I wanted to live, courageous.

I’m publicly writing these few reflections, not because I think that something is going to happen to me or that I have a morbid desire to suffer. I don’t, on either count. But I want people to be kind like my Mom, to be thoughtful like my Dad, and to join me and many others in serving in some way. I know that some who may read these words are already doing so much, and I applaud your efforts. But for those with the gnawing voice of doubt and fear, or for those who in deep quiet moments know that you are not really living up to your potential, I invite you to consider giving yourself away in sacrificial service. It may be more difficult than anything you have ever done; but I know that somehow, deep inside that struggle, you will find life.”


WOW!  Maybe I really am jealous of Troy Anderson!!


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:


Something Nu From ChangeU

by Jim King

One of my favorite activities is browsing for book & LP treasures at Half Price Books & Records.  For those that do not live near me or that do not know what Half Price Books & Records stores are, you are missing out.  Trust me!

On a recent excursion into one of these treasure troves, I found a 2006 Amartya Sen book I did not have, “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny”.  As I read the Prologue, I decided to share a paragraph with y’all because of how global issues, in general, and U.S. issues, specifically, have me feeling right now. I hope that Sen’s words speak to you today:


“Our shared humanity gets savagely challenged when the manifold divisions in the world are unified into one allegedly dominant system of classification – in terms of religion, or community, or culture, or nation, or civilization (treating each as uniquely powerful in the context of that particular approach to war and peace). The uniquely partitioned world is much more divisive than the universe of plural and diverse categories that shape the world in which we live. It goes not only against the old-fashioned belief that “we human beings are all much the same” (which tends to be ridiculed these days – not entirely without reason – as much too softheaded), but also against the less discussed but much more plausible understanding that we are diversely different. The hope of harmony in the contemporary world lies to a great extent in a clearer understanding of the pluralities of human identity, and in the appreciation that they cut across each other and work against a sharp separation along one single hardened line of impenetrable division.”


Why do I include the above in a blog post entitled “Something Nu From ChangeU”?  Because Sen’s words relate very closely to the following announcement.  Read on…


From the beginning, ChangeU has intended to be a portal into how to effect change; to be a place of education and educating; to be a supporter of those involved with making a difference in our shared world.  One of the planned components of ChangeU is a section related to online courses and webinars related to making a difference and/or effecting change.  We still plan to unfold that part of the website by September 1.  However, a free course of very pertinent content related to current world events – and related to Sen’s words in the above excerpt – that we choose now to share our plans with everyone and to make you aware of this new course.  There might be no better way to kick off this new “side” of ChangeU.

+Acumen (, in their own words, “is a growing network of social change leaders”.  They have just introduced a new free course entitled “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong” (  The course starts within the week and only takes four hours.  Please at least check out what the website says about the course before you decide that you do not have four hours to invest in the course.

Just in case you do not have time to read everything that is on the +Acumen website, here is an excerpt directly from the website of the course:


“The headlines have been filled with reports of terrorism, mass shootings, protests on college campuses and a refugee crisis.  The world too often feels intractably polarized along lines of identity.  How should we respond?  In his 1996 book, In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, the Lebanese-born French writer Amin Maalouf does not offer easy answers.  Yet, his text helps us explore the multiple dimensions of identity; understand the roots of violence and tribalism; and recognize the value of embracing multiple allegiances and affiliations. Throughout history, most large-scale acts of violence — whether the genocides, the Holocaust, or wars — have been committed in the name of identity: one tribe against another, one religion against another, one nation against another.

In this course, you’ll have a chance to join a global conversation about Maalouf’s writings and larger questions of identity in light of current events.  You’ll receive a discussion kit complete with a downloadable version of the text, a step-by-step facilitator’s guide and background materials that will equip you to host a small group of friends or colleagues in a 2-hour discussion of the first five chapters of Maalouf’s book. The course will also give you tools to reflect on your own identity and think about it in relation to the larger historical and cultural factors that Maalouf lays out.”


Please plan to join the students at Change University by sitting in on this extremely timely free course offered by +Acumen.


(Editorial note: ChangeU receives no compensation for announcing any of the courses noted on the website or mentioned in any other way. Additionally, ChangeU is not responsible for any content or comments that are parts of such courses.)


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link: .