Get to know our Board of Directors
Greenheart is giving you ways to get inspired and embrace your purpose throughout the year! This month, we are featuring stories from our staff, participants, and community that show their commitment to serving as global leaders. Check out our Q&A with our Board of Directors and learn more about their history with Greenheart, passion for cultural understanding, and how they are embracing purpose in their own lives. Take a look at their full bios here.
Learn more about Shamini Jain, our newest Board Member at the Greenheart Gala 2017: Embracing Purpose where she will serve as our event Master of Ceremonies!
What do you think makes Greenheart unique?
Jack Blanks: Greenheart’s programs for promoting the exchange of cultures, world views, and human understanding while educating and expanding personal horizons is a unique formula for peace and even survival. I am moved by the organization’s risk tolerance to undertake new and dynamic programs to better the human situation in a vulnerable world. That takes a level of institutional courage that I admire.
Dustin DiPerna: Greenheart walks its talk. As a global network, Greenheart has a massive reach around the world that enables them to spread key values of inclusion, sustainability, and understanding. As a board member, I am continually impressed with the way that Greenheart staff, their initiatives, their students, and their hosts use cultural exchange as a medium to build a more peaceful planet that works for everyone.
Roy Curran: Greenheart International is the only organization in the world that addresses the importance of ecological health and wellbeing of the planet we inhabit together with the equally important understanding and acceptance of different cultures of our planet. Greenheart’s attention towards volunteerism for staff participants and stakeholders catapults us into changing the world. Through our cultural exchange programs and attention to our planet’s environment we work towards, and hope to achieve social and environmental harmony.
Richard Zacaroli: What makes Greenheart unique is how its broad portfolio of businesses and socially responsible initiatives uniquely put into practice Greenheart’s mission of connecting people and planet. And how Greenheart leveraged its core tenets of cultural exchange, volunteerism and environmentalism to achieve sustained and sustainable business growth, while also growing its impact in institutions and society.
How does the vision of Greenheart directly align with your own views?
JB: Greenheart’s views align with mine in every way. Ultimately we are all connected and our very existence is dependent on evolving towards a collective consciousness that celebrates our common humanity and our differences. Greenheart does this in a programmatic and sustainable way that appeals to a broad section of society.
DD: Using my academic training at Harvard as a foundation, I spend my professional life finding ways to catalyze transformation in individuals and organizations. Ultimately, my goal is to liberate the highest potential of people and groups to serve a transition to a better world. Greenheart’s commitment to both internal change (personal development) and external change (volunteer service, environmentalism, and fair trade) go hand in hand with my intentions to catalyze a more just, sustainable, and happier world for us all.
RC: My wife Claudia and I have been blessed with two sons and countless nieces and nephews who are now having children of their own. We have aged in life knowing we are nothing more than stewards inhabiting a planet for a blink of an eye and a realization that mankind could easily destroy its home and the home of future generations unless we all come together and do our part to not only take care of our environment but to build the mutual understanding of all people on how to preserve and improve our world.
RZ: I believe we live in a globally connected society that we cannot now extract ourselves from. In that context we must remain focused on advancing equality for all people, improving the lives of all people, and environmental stewardship.
How did you learn about Greenheart?
JB: Through close friends on the Board of Greenheart and at the invitation of the current board.
DD: I was first introduced to Greenheart International Founder, Emanuel Kuntzelman, and Greenheart International CEO, Laura Rose, at a public event in San Rafael,California. I could tell that they were just as serious about their own transformation as they were about the transformation of the planet.
RC: My wife and I were blessed to have had Emanuel’s parents as neighbors in St. Charles, Illinois. One day Peg saw Claudia, my wife, walking in the neighborhood and asked if Claudia would like to work for Greenheart. Claudia accepted and she never looked back or considered any other work since. For me, Laura and Emanuel invited me to serve on the Board back in 2003 (if memory serves me right)., given my witness to Claudia’s enthusiasm toward her work, I happily accepted the position.
RZ: My wife, Lori, joined Greenheart in 2005 as Director of Placement Services. I had for many years been engaged on numerous NGO boards, including in the international education segment as chair and president of the board of directors of an American/international school in Rome, Italy. Based on my NGO experience, experience as a private business executive, and my own embracing of Greenheart’s mission, the founders, Emanuel and Laura invited me to join the board of directors in 2006.
List a few hobbies.
JB: I am something of an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist. Otherwise I enjoy biking, gardening and travel.
DD: I practice and teach mediation, write and publish books, and enjoy facilitating group dialogue to maximize latent potential. I love spending time with my daughter and wife. We love hiking, traveling, and camping together. And most of all, we all love the ocean.
RC: My favorite hobbies include hiking with my family in Colorado or California where we try to visit every chance we get.
RZ: Cooking, hiking, bicycling, gardening, and golf.
Describe any unique travel or cultural exchange experiences you’ve had.
JB: I’ve worked in international relief & development since 1974 beginning as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa. So far I’ve visited/worked in 120+ countries. This includes: Save the Children in Burkina Faso and Malawi; Peace Corps Desk Officer in DC; Director of Programs for the International Eye Foundation; Director of the Onchocerciasis (river blindness) Elimination Program in the Americas; Project HOPE serving Regional Director for Africa, Latin America, and Asia; Seva Foundation as CEO in 2009.
DD: My first trip to India changed my life. I was 22 and had recently graduated from Cornell University. As soon as I landed, I was struck by the smiles, the curiosity, and the lightheartedness that so many people embodied. There were women in saris, barefoot, working on construction sites, carrying baskets of bricks on their heads… smiling. There were children, who seemed to live on the streets, running and playing all around me…smiling. There was something about the internal state that each of the people I met embodied that had a lasting impact on me.It was such a clear example how one’s inner-state of mind doesn’t depend on external circumstances.
RC: A number of years ago my wife planned a family trip with our sons to Peru, hiking through the Andes Mountains and ultimately arriving at Machu Picchu. To learn about the Incas and witness firsthand the old world ways of the people of Peru’s mountains was absolutely and experience we’ll never forget.
RZ: Having traveled to more than 45 countries over the past 30 years, they are almost too numerous to mention. But one experience stands out. On September 12, 2001, the morning after the “9-11” terrorist attack on the U.S., the head of the American Overseas School in Rome, Italy, where I was then board chair, called an assembly of all students in the gym. Students from more than 35 countries were assembled that day. To see nearly 600 young people from 5 to 18 years of age from Islamic countries, Israel and Western countries including the U.S. holding hands, and singing and praying in unity is a memory that will stay with me forever.
How do you hope to embrace purpose and continue engaging with Greenheart in 2017?
JB: I hope my connections and experience as a leader in international relief development, strategic planning and resource acquisition will translate into some useful purpose for Greenheart.
DD: I am currently helping Greenheart Transforms put together an edited anthology on “Purpose”. We are curating the brightest minds from around the globe to contribute to a book that will make a clear statement about the importance of “purpose” in the modern world.
RC: My area of expertise is banking, so naturally my focus will continue to be the financial aspect of the organization.
RZ: I hope to continue my engagement on the Board, and to intensify my outreach to the private business community to integrate Greenheart into their corporate social responsibility agendas.