“Lo” Anderson possesses more talent and drive than many women twice her age. Anderson believes in excelling at any endeavor she takes on. After entering her first poetry slam two years ago, she beat out many teens to make it the finals. She followed that success with finishing second place in the 2010 Knicks Poetry slam. While often outshining the competition with her talent for poetry, Anderson does not consider herself merely a poet. She has a true love and appreciation for all performing arts. She’s taught herself all she knows about playing guitar, singing, and loves fusing music into all that she does. According to Anderson, “anything that involves being on stage, I’m with it.” When asked where she gets her inspiration, she expressed her desire to speak for people who cannot speak for themselves.
Two days after Marc Elliot was born, he was diagnosed with a rare birth defect called Hirschsprung’s disease. Hirschsprung’s had given him almost no working intestines, and no ability to digest food on his own power. Despite the odds of death or a horrible quality of life, one brave surgeon, Dr. Jessie Ternberg, took Marc under her wings, took a chance and saved his life. After spending the first six months of his life in the hospital, undergoing seven experimental surgeries, and followed by several more years in and out of medical facilities in St. Louis, Missouri, Marc became known as the “miracle baby.”
However, Marc’s challenges did not end there. At the age of nine, he was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome: a neurological disorder that causes him to make involuntary motor and vocal tics. As Marc grew older, his tics manifested in many different forms, from ‘ticcing’ inappropriate words, to blurting out random noises, barking like a dog, and chomping his teeth.
Marc attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in biology and pursued a pre-medicine path in hopes of following the footsteps of the pediatric surgeon who saved his life. Upon graduating in May of 2008, Marc embarked upon a speaking tour around the nation. It was just something to do before he became a doctor. His subject was tolerance.
In his presentation, “What Makes You Tic?,” he took his experiences of not fitting in, of not feeling comfortable with others, to discuss fundamental lessons about tolerance—how to live with our own, and others’ differences. Little did he know this would become his calling.
Luke Holden was born and raised in Cape Elizabeth, a small town on the coast of Maine. Luke left home to study finance and management at Georgetown University (McDonough ’07), but remained a Mainer at heart. After two years in finance in New York, Luke decided it was about time to bring a taste of Maine to Manhattan. He teamed up with his father, Jeff, to pair his passion for Maine with some business instincts he had acquired along the way. Luke always wanted to start and run his own business, but he never would have guessed it would be in the restaurant world. In the spring of 2009 — the height of the recession — he began to flesh out a business model for Luke’s Lobster. It made so much sense: he’s from Maine, his favorite job of all time was being a lobsterman during summer vacations, and he has a real passion and respect for the Maine lobster industry. Being able to return to that passion while working with his father (from whom Luke’s Lobster gets its seafood) was a no-brainer, especially since the family connection would ensure top quality lobster, low prices and a commitment to sustainable fishing practices. Luke’s Lobster opened its doors on October 1, 2009, and it was an immediate success, drawing huge crowds and praise from the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business Week, the TODAY show and many more. Within 20 months, Luke opened 5 more lobster shacks: NYC’s Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Financial District, Washington, D.C., and one on wheels — the Nauti Mobile — which Zagat recently named the #1 food truck in NYC.
April, while on vacation in Rwanda in 2007, met a little orphaned girl who in an instant changed the entire course of her life, forever. This little girl (the very one in this picture) only wanted to be held. Her need for love and attention was so deep that April spent the rest of the week thinking about what she could do to provide for this little girl and for others like her. Within a matter of days, she decided to found a mentoring program and every day since July 2007 she has worked to make this possible. To build Hope Shines, April started with her friends and family by asking for advice about the life lessons they had learned from their families. Then she talked to other nonprofits asking how they got started. She built a curriculum and then started recruiting, fundraising and collecting item donations. Within one year, she returned to Rwanda and with 6 other volunteers launched the first camp in 2008!
April learned how to manage and build a nonprofit from seven years of corporate experience in retail buying. She holds a BS from Virginia Tech and an MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from Parsons, The New School and Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum in New York City. She runs Hope Shines on a volunteer basis and without salary.
Mokegthi "Mega" Thinane
Mega is a performing artist and mentor from Brooklyn, New York. His debut chapbook, The Djembe In My Throat is scheduled for a release in the Spring 2012. Mega has performed and featured at various colleges and universities such as Cooper Union, Columbia University, and Franklin & Marsall College, as well as performed as a member of the hip-hop duo HumUni at the New Amsterdam Theater, Roseland Ballroom, and a sold-out audience at the Apollo Theater. His one-man show, Steady State, debuted in December 2010 at Dance Theater Workshop through Urban Word NYC’s Journal To Journey series and currently serves as Assistant Director for that program. He is the 2nd Place Winner of the 2011 NY Knicks Poetry Slam, a former NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, and a member of the 2011 Intangibles Slam Team. A youth mentor for Urban Word NYC, Mega believes poetry and performance is the premier outlet for self-discovery and challenge. He will be attending Brooklyn College in the Spring, majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Theater.
Tammy entered the not-for-profit world through the journalism field, when her final reporting assignment in college opened her eyes to the dire needs of children in post-war Liberia. In 2003, she started as a college newspaper reporter, and then became a magazine intern. Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa from The College of New Jersey, Hearst Magazines hired her as its youngest web site editor. She’s now the social media voice of the largest teen magazine. Tammy works full-time while leading She’s the First full-time; among her many duties, she works on the business model of She’s the First and is pursuing the funding to make it her sole focus in 2012.
Before She’s the First was even a thought, Tammy volunteered as Director of Operations for a foundation that sponsored children in Liberia. Her travels to Liberia–mixed with the experience of launching DonateMyDress.org in her day job, the reporting of Nicholas Kristof, and the videos of The Girl Effectcampaign–inspired her to create shesthefirst.org, to campaign for girls’ education and connect donors with quality sponsorship programs. In 2010, Tammy co-founded the GIRLS WHO ROCK concert, benefiting She’s the First, with Cynthia Hellen, which grew from her experience launching the Ultimate Prom concert video series for Seventeen.
Once a recipient of New York Women in Communications’ Glamour Ruth Whitney Scholarship, Tammy now is the youngest-serving board member of the New York Women in Communications Foundation. Ruth Whitney, the legendary editor of Glamour who upheld a mantra of “style and substance,” is one of her most powerful inspirations. In 2010, Tammy and She’s the First were recognized at Glamour‘s Women of the Year Awards at Carnegie Hall, just one year after She’s the First’s launch in November 2009. Tammy was also named a Social Change Ambassador for Levi’s Shape What’s to Come campaign and writes regularly for the Huffington Post Impact section.
Morgan Evans is a junior at North Hunterdon High School. This young singer/songwriter is self-taught on guitar and is currently writing for her first EP. Morgan’s aspirations include pursuing music and attending university in England. Morgan also uploads vocal videos to youtube.
Starre Vartan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Eco Chick and its sister site, Eco Chick Escapes, all about ethical travel and style. She’s the author of The Eco-Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Press), and a problogger and oft-quoted green living expert who has been featured in the New York Times, Elle, Glamour and Self magazines.
She is currently a contributor to The Huffington Post, Inhabitat, and Hearst’s The Daily
Green, and is editor-at-large for Coco Eco Magazine and contributor-at-large for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine.
Previous positions have included columnist for Audubon magazine, content editor of Greenopia.com, and science writer at Friends of Animals. She holds a BS in Geology and a BA in English from Syracuse University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.
An active ecofashionista, she has style edited for Plenty magazine and her own site, and coordinated runway shows. She splits her time between Connecticut and NYC and calls Sydney, Australia her second home, even though it was her first (as that’s where she was born and most of her family resides). When not writing, blogging, or researching her next book, she is trailrunning, trying to cook, or snowboarding.
Carolyn Gregoire is the Assistant Editor of Huffington Post High School. She recently graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a degree in philosophy, and has previously interned at BlackBook Magazine, Seventeen, and Vanity Fair. Her writing has appeared in the McGill Tribune, BlackBook Magazine, the Huffington Post, midnightpoutine.ca, bettyconfidential.com and seventeen.com.
Jamaal Nelson was born and raised in the South Bronx. Growing-up he faced many of the well known challenges endemic to inner-city living: drugs, gangs, and crushing poverty. Despite these challenges, including a severe leaning disability, Jamaal was able to earn an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and an M.DIV from Harvard University. Jamaal has a deep passion to make a positive difference in his community and was recently elected to the office of District Leader serving the West Harlem community. Jamaal is an ordained clergy-person married to an amazing woman and has two beautiful daughters.
Ryan Letada is a foodie, Fulbright Fellow, education reformer, and social entrepreneurship junkie. After graduating from Wheaton College (MA), Ryan was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to explore mass-eviction and relocation of urban poor communities in Metro-Manila. This experience inspired him to start Education Kindling (eKindling) – a nonprofit dedicated to bringing learning technologies and joyful ways of digital learning to children, classrooms, and communities across the Philippines. This education venture became a pioneer in 1:1 computing learning in the Philippines. After snorkeling and reforming education in the Philippines, he returned to NYC to rejoin its growing social entrepreneurship scene. He worked at the Hatchery to foster venture collaboration within the NYC startup community. In addition to supporting eKindling, he is also currently at Catchafire – a NYC tech-based, social venture dedicated to matching professionals to social good organizations that needs their skills and passion in helping grow their capacity and impact. Ultimately, his life goal is to create social good and to spread it to as many people as possible.