On June 1, 2009, five years ago today, we filed the Articles of Incorporation for Concordia Humana Corporation. At the time, we were eager to expand Donuts for Darfur, a fundraiser Danny started at our high school in Cincinnati, Ohio in response to the Sudanese refugee crisis, into an organization at various colleges. The suggestion to start a nonprofit started almost jokingly, aided by the most dangerous of questions: “Really, why not?” With a name translated by our high school Latin teacher, five friends, and the formidable momentum of $10,000+ from successful donut sales, we set out to save the world.
Today, as Danny meets with contractors in Addis Ababa, Peter balances engineering of a solar water supply system for an Ethiopian high school with research on energy technologies, the thought of five high school seniors drawing up Articles of Incorporation over AOL Instant Messenger and meeting in a friend’s basement to sign them (before an evening of watching movies from Blockbuster) seems almost comical. It’s fair to say that none of us could have foreseen where Concordia Humana would go when we signed the original Articles of Incorporation. And, though we are indeed in a better position now than ever before, the path here wasn’t entirely smooth. We had to resolve a number of issues – from operating a geographically-separated organization on a shoestring overhead budget to striking the right balance between autonomy and oversight of student-led chapters around the country. And we’re stronger now than ever before for having resolved these issues.
Of course, we cannot look back on our history without acknowledging those who gave and continue to give so generously of their time and talents to make us who we are today. We were assisted in national expansion by chapters at a number of universities across the US and Canada, a host of volunteers, as well as former national Board members Ryan Finke, Nicandro Iannacci, Kyle Hird, and Emma Cevasco. We are the organization we are today because of the efforts of all these people. And, of course, we are aided in our current work by a phenomenal Board of Directors, including both people involved in Donuts for Darfur from the very beginning and some new faces as well. Matt, Claire, and Patrick work tirelessly week after week to keep our organization on course and complete projects. We are eternally grateful for the help of all our supporters and volunteers over the past five years – without them, the organization wouldn’t be even close to it’s current position. Through a network of volunteers in Ohio, New York, Washington DC, Switzerland, and Ethiopia, we have found that the power of people, even on a tight budget, is the most powerful tool in bringing power to people through economic development.
Like the organization itself, our current project started as a far-off dream. We had long discussed a dream of directly doing sustainable development work and, after independently doing such work in India and Ethiopia, we again asked ourselves, “Really, why not?” Building on Peter’s experience installing solar power systems in Ethiopia and Danny’s experience in working for the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement in India, we’re well on our way to realizing that dream: a sustainable development effort run and funded by our own volunteers, aimed at radically improving the lives of those in the developing world.
Over the past five years, we’ve had unimaginable growth. What will our ten-year letter look like? We brim with excitement with what we’ll be writing then.
Danny Sexton and Peter Beaucage
Co-founders of Concordia Humana