Create opportunity: Indian American philanthropist tells change makers

Washington, May 26 Citing his own journey from humble beginnings in India, leading Indian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam advised 22 global changemakers, including three from India, to be opportunity creators.

“Be a leader: Doing the right thing is the essence of leadership,” he said addressing the latest group of fellows from 17 countries to join what has been called a reverse Peace Corps here Thursday.

Citing an old American saying that “managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing”, Islam said: “That should be true in all fields — business, politics, religion, health care, and yes — even nonprofits.”

“Leaders create other leaders and opportunity creators. They have a multiplier effect by uniting others in a common cause,” he said.

“They do this by establishing a clear vision and building acceptance and commitment to it; exuding positive energy; promoting; giving credit to others; and celebrating successes and treating failures as opportunities for improvement,” Islam said.

The White House-endorsed exchange programme run by Atlas Corps, a nonprofit organisation based in Washington, DC, brings the world’s best social change leaders to volunteer in the US, Colombia and Australia for 12-18 months.

“We are who we are today and can shape who we will be tomorrow if we have a clear vision and commitment for what we want to achieve in the future,” said Islam, who came to the US at the age of 15 to pursue the American dream.

“Be an opportunity creator. Leaders create opportunities for themselves and others,” said Islam, who took his information technology firm from a single employee to a work force of 3,000 with nearly $300 million in revenue in 13 years.

Of the three Indian fellows, Disha Arora, 28, from New Delhi, will be engaged in communications, public relations, project management, and partnership building at the Atlas Corps.

Hosted by Youth Inc, Shahana Joshi, 29, from Pune will assist with the development of logic models and support non profit partners with determining how they share and use data with staff, donors, and board members.

Zaneta Pereira, 23, also from Pune, will ensure the effective day-to-day operations of the public affairs team and contribute to the team goals of raising awareness of Teach For All.

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