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Rachael Chong
Founder and CEO
Catchafire 

As the leader of the world’s leading skills-based volunteer platform, Rachael has been named one of Fast Company’s Most 100 Creative People in Business, received the NYC Venture Fellowship, the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award and has presented at two TEDx events. Catchafire has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Mashable, NPR, FOX Business, CNN Money, Forbes, Fast Company, TechCrunch, and facilitated two series in partnership with Fast Company on The Future of Service in America and The Most Generous People in Business.

Prior to Catchafire, Rachael helped to start up BRAC USA, the US affiliate of the BRAC, a poverty alleviation organization and the largest nonprofit in the world. To build her business chops, Rachael worked at UBS Investment Bank after graduating from Barnard College at Columbia University. She also has a Masters of Public Policy from Duke University.

Rosanne Cash
Singer, Songwriter

Her last name recalls a towering American cultural icon, but Rosanne Cash has carved out a distinctive career on her own as an innovative and idiosyncratic songwriter, singer and now author. Her memoir, “Composed,” will be published by Viking Press on August 10, 2010. 

From the three years she spent after high school graduation on tour with her father – from handling the tour‟s laundry duties to her promotion as a backup singer – the daughter of Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, has forged her own place in American music. 

She has just been nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” for “Sea of Heartbreak,” a duet with Bruce Springsteen that appears on her critically acclaimed album The List - her ninth career nomination. 

And this in a career that spans 12 albums, two of which went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Her records spawned 10 No. 1 Billboard singles and 21 Top 40 singles– and earned her a Grammy in 1985. 

But it wasn‟t until now that she was able to record “The List,” a deeply personal album that Rolling Stone has awarded 3. stars–a paean to her father: 

“When I was 18,” she explains, “I was on the road with my dad. One day, we were sitting in the tour bus, talking about songs, and he mentioned a song, and I said, „I don‟t know that one.‟ He mentioned another one, and I said, „I don‟t know that one, either.‟ Then he started to get alarmed, so he spent the rest of the day making a list on a legal pad, and at the top he put „100 Essential Country Songs.‟ And he handed it to me and he said, „This is your education.‟ ” 

Her album, released on Manhattan Records in October, dates back to that day in 1973, but she reinvigorates songs that she says are “as important as the Civil War to who we are as Americans.” She got help from major performers, too, including Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Wilco‟s Jeff Tweedy. 

Produced with her Grammy-nominated husband John Leventhal, “The List” includes tunes by Bob Dylan (“Girl From the North Country”); Jimmie Rodgers (“Miss the Mississippi”); Patsy Cline (“She‟s Got You”); Merle Haggard (“Silver Wings”); and, of course, the Carter Family‟s “Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow.” The last was her most personal; June was her stepmother, and Maybelle and Helen taught her to play guitar and proved heavy influences on her as a songwriter. 

The new CD is garnering critical raves: American Songwriter says the album is “imbued with tremendous life force.” Rolling Stone says, “These imaginative interpretations would make Papa proud.” 

“With her quicksilver, drop-dead voice and careful interpretation of these golden standards, Rosanne gives us proof positive that the past has meaning in the present.” – Kyle Young, Director, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum 

Paula Disbrowe
Editor-In-Chief
TRIBEZA

Writer and cookbook author Paula Disbrowe is the editor-in-chief of TRIBEZA, Austin’s premiere arts and culture publication, and a contributing editor at Southern Living. Most of her career has been devoted to writing about food and travel. Her stories have taken her to vanilla plantations in French Polynesia, single malt distilleries in Scotland, olive groves in Spain, and salmon boats in Alaska. Her work has appeared in The New York Times (Dining Section and Sunday Magazine), Food & Wine, Health, Delta Sky, and Cooking Light, among other major publications, and she previously served as the food editor of Restaurant Business magazine.

Disbrowe has written five cookbooks. Her first book, “Cowgirl Cuisine,” chronicles the adventure of leaving New York City to cook on a ranch in The Texas Hill Country. She has co-written three other cookbooks, “Crescent City Cooking” with Susan Spicer, the chef at Bayona restaurant in New Orleans; The New York Times bestseller “Down Home with the Neelys” with Food Network stars Pat and Gina Neely; and “Real Cajun” with Donald Link, the acclaimed chef of Herbsaint and Cochon restaurants in New Orleans, which won the prestigious 2010 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook. Her latest collaboration with Donald Link, “Down South,” was released in February.

She also served as the General Manager of Feather Down Farm Days, and launched the Europe-based farm stay concept to the U.S. market, and worked at Cowgirl Chef at Hart & Hind Fitness Ranch. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Chef Art Smith
Former Personal Chef to Oprah Winfrey

 The executive chef and co-owner of Table Fifty-Two and Art and Soul restaurants, Art Smith has received the culinary profession’s highest awards and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous celebrities. In 1997, Smith became the personal, day-to-day chef to Oprah Winfrey, a position that lasted ten years. Smith now coordinates and cooks for the headline-grabbing special events that Ms. Winfrey hosts all around the world.

Most recently Smith has made several television appearances including Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, where he quickly became an audience favorite. Smith will also be featured in an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where he will lend a hand to a deserving family that has devoted their lives to providing meals for the less fortunate members of their community.

Smith has made regular television appearances on programs such as Iron Chef America, The Today Show and Oprah in addition to having served as a Williams-Sonoma culinary instructor and the special events chef for Martha Stewart Living magazine.

A contributing editor to O, the Oprah Magazine, Smith is also the author of three award-winning cookbooks: Back to the Table; Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families; and Back to the Family. Most recently he contributed recipes and cooking advice to The Spectrum, the newest book by ground-breaking cardiologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Dean Ornish.

In 2003 he founded Common Threads, a non-profit organization that teaches children about diversity and tolerance through the world’s great cultures. For his tireless Common Threads leadership, Smith was honored by Chicago magazine as a Chicagoan of the Year in 2007. That same year, the prestigious James Beard Foundation named him Humanitarian of the Year.

Chef Art Smith can serve up helpings of inspiration during live healthy cooking demonstrations. As Oprah’s long-time personal chef, he perfected an arsenal of healthy recipes and has recently lost 100 pounds - the natural way. He even reversed his diagnosis of type-II diabetes without sacrificing food, flavor or his zest for life. Learn about cooking healthy comfort foods that actually taste good, and how you too can improve your health through good eating.

Sir Kenneth Robinson
Author and Social Activist

 Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation, human potential and the people side of organizations. He is also one of the world’s leading speakers on these topics, with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The video of his famous 2006 talk to the prestigious TED Conference has been downloaded more than 5 million times and has been seen by an estimated 200 million people in over 150 countries. It’s currently listed on the TED website as the most favorited video of all-time.

He works with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. He was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the Province. He was one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government for its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia.

For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama; Birmingham City University and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘Principal Voices’. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies.

His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Penguin/Viking 2009), is a New York Times best seller and is being translated into eighteen different languages.

Tiffany Shlain
Webby Awards
Founder

 Honored as one of Newsweek‘s “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany Shlain is the founder of The Webby Awards, co-founder of The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, an acclaimed filmmaker and a Henry Crown Fellow of The Aspen Institute. 

A sought-after speaker who has been presenting ideas and films for the past 20 years, Tiffany just delivered the campus-wide commencement address at UCBerkeley to over 11,000 people and received a thunderous standing ovation. Her talks are entertaining, insightful, informative and highly visual – usually including one of her award-winning films. The subjects she speaks about include: the Internet and its effect on business and society, interdependence in the 21st century, the creative process and subjects that her films cover. 

Shlain founded The Webby Awards in 1996 and guided it’s growth for nearly a decade. Under her leadership, The Webby Awards have become a global institution and industry bellwether, attracting 12,000 entries annually from more than 40 countries and all 50 states. She evolved the annual ceremony into a major cultural event thanks to its famous five-word acceptance speeches, her original films and an eclectic roster of guests that has included Al Gore, Prince, Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf, journalist Thomas L. Friedman, satirist Rob Corddry from “The Daily Show,” the founders of Google and artist Bill Viola. She also co-founded The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, and served as the on-air Internet expert for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where she was interviewed in the studio by Diane Sawyer each month.

Shlain’s award-winning films have been selected at over 100 film festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, and Rotterdam, and have won 24 awards including Audience and Grand Jury prizes. Her films—a fusion of documentary and narrative and known for their whimsical yet provocative approach unraveling complicated subjects like politics, cultural identity, technology and science—include “Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness,” about reproductive rights in America and “The Tribe,” an exploration of American Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie doll, the first documentary to become #1 on iTunes. Her short film at Sundance this year, “Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl,” about the importance of “unplugging,” was selected for competition for The Guggenheim Museum and YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video and Sundance 2011. Her new feature documentary, “Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology,” premiered in the US Documentary Competition at Sundance 2011. “Connected,” is an exhilarating journey into the interconnectedness of humankind, nature, technology and morality at the dawn of the 21st Century. At Sundance, it won the Women in Film Award from National Geographic. It looks at the history of interdependence in terms of the environment, economics, communication and explores the potential of what all this connectedness can bring to us as a species.

Tiffany was the only director to have two films at Sundance 2011.

Shlain appears on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” ABC, CNN, NPR, and other media outlets discussing Internet issues involving business, entertainment, community and ethics. Her work has been profiled in a diverse range of media including TIME magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian (U.K.), Stern (Germany) and The Herald Tribune.

At the lecture podium, Shlain reveals the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in terms of technology and provides insight into the smartest ways to leverage that technology to make the most impact in one’s work. Shlain has delivered keynotes worldwide on technology’s impact on culture at Fortune 500 companies and conferences.

AT A GLANCE: Tiffany Shlain is an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow which selects new leaders of the 21st Century. A celebrated thinker and speaker, she has advised Secretary of State Clinton, is on the advisory board of M.I.T.’s Geospatial Lab, received The Victoria Award for ethical leadership by The Woodhull Institute in New York City and presented the 2010 Commencement Address at UCBerkeley. Intrigued by technology and communication since high school, Shlain founded Uniting Nations in Telecommunications & Software (UNITAS) in 1987, which led to her serving as a student ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1988. She received a BA in film theory from University of California at Berkeley where she was selected as a Valedictorian speaker in 1992. She studied filmmaking at New York University and leadership at Harvard Business School of Executive Education. 

Alex Bogusky
COMMON (formerly of Crispin Porter + Bogusky)
Founder / Author

Alex Bogusky, consumer activist, author and former co-chairman of Crispin Porter + Bugusky: Known in the advertising world as one of the most influential creative professionals of our time, Bogusky is the embodiment of reinvention. Frustrated with advertising and believing that change will come from an awakened and empowered consumer, he recently left his career of promoting brands including MINI, Burger King, Truth, Virgin Atlantic and Volkswagen to move from being a brand advocate to a consumer advocate. 

His latest undertaking – a project called FearLess Revolution –aims to redefine a new era of social and corporate responsibility. The author of The 9-Inch Diet and Baked In - Creating products and businesses that market themselves, Bogusky has been profiled in, Adweek, Adage, Business 2.0, Fast Company and Business Week.

Five For Fighting

If every album provides snapshots of where an artist’s mind at heart is at the moment, “Slice,” the latest offering from John Ondrasik (aka Five for Fighting), is a collection of digital jpegs and faded Polaroids. The album takes stories of friends, family and even American servicemen, and sets them to music shot through with the spirit of the great songs of his youth. It’s a diary, or a blog, in which Ondrasik speaks his mind about current issues, experiences and sentiments, while setting those thoughts to piano, bass and drums.

The title track, featuring Ondrasik’s soaring falsetto, comes from a daydream that we’ve all had at some point in our lives—that moment when we long for a simpler time when life seemed better and the songs were bigger. It’s a sly play on one of those grand songs, Don McClean’s “American Pie”: “There was a time a long, long time ago/Chevies and levies played on the radio/No cell phones just 20,000 lights, swaying on a Saturday night.”

Academy Award-winning composer Steven Schwartz (who penned the songs for acclaimed musicals such as “Wicked,” “Godspell” and “Pippin”), helped Ondrasik bring the idea to fruition, co-writing “Slice” (as well as the song “Above the Timberline”). “We sat down at a coffee shop to talk about writing together,” says Ondrasik, “I told him about my idea for ‘Slice,’ and ‘American Pie’ actually came on the radio. It was surreal. Stephen immediately wrote the first two lines on a napkin, and we were off and running.”

“I’ve been a fan of Five for Fighting since I first heard ‘Superman’,” says Schwartz, “and then was blown away by ‘100 Years.’ I got the full CDs and was really impressed by John Ondrasik’s writing—great tunes and smart and surprising lyrics. So naturally I didn’t hesitate a moment when John asked me to co-write a couple of songs with him. It was, as I expected, great collaborating with him—experiencing first-hand his musicality and gift for melody, his incisive way with words, and the passion and care he puts into each of his songs.”

The release of “Slice” is being led with first single “Chances,” a sweeping, grand pop song with a simple message: “Until you crash what have you done/Is there a better bet than love.” Says Ondrasik, “It’s all about taking the swing—there’s beauty in the scars.”

The celebrated, Southern California-born singer/songwriter’s fifth album under the Five for Fighting banner, “Slice” finds Ondrasik spreading his creative wings, ever so gently incorporating his love for classic R&B on songs like “Love Can’t Change the Weather” and even firing up a Marshall stack on “Transfer.” Lyrically, he honors his family (“Story of Your Life” was written for his wife of 12 years), friends and personal heroes, from fitness pioneer Augie Nieto to American servicemen serving around the world. If it’s a tribute to a bygone era, “Slice,” the follow-up to 2006’s “Two Lights,” is also an accurate and well-rounded snapshot of who Ondrasik is at the moment, as an artist. Produced by Ondrasik and Gregg Wattenberg, and partially tracked at his Southern California home, the album features sweeping statement songs like the title track, but quiets on sparse ballads like “This Dance” and the ageless “Hope,” before ramping up again on tracks like “Note to the Unknown Soldier.”

It was of course his tender playing and touching vocal on the Grammy-nominated “Superman”—from the Five for Fighting album “America Town” (2000) —which thrust Ondrasik into the national spotlight eight years ago. While written and released well before 9/11, “Superman” has endeared Ondrasik to the survivors and families of those lost in that tragedy, as well as to servicemen serving around the world. 

The events of 9/11 are at the core of the “Slice” song “Tuesday,” on which Ondrasik sings: “The thing about memories/They’re sure and bound to fade/Except for the stolen souls/Left upon her blade”. Ondrasik explains: “That song isn’t ‘Superman Part 2,’ there’s none of that in there. It’s much more of a plea for us to not forget the lessons we learned that day.”

Ondrasik’s relationship with those survivors and families has led to life-changing experiences and celebrated philanthropic work for the singer, who has since performed USO concerts around the world. His audiences have included General David Petraeus and the National Guardsmen at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Ondrasik also conceived and produced “For the Troops,” a series of compilations featuring superstar recording artists that are available for free to every active service member in the U.S. Armed Forces (the forthcoming collection, “For The Troops III,” will feature comedians exclusively). Ondrasik’s charity work doesn’t stop there. His site whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com collects money for various charities.

The singer’s ongoing support of servicemen and women, and his dedication to his own wife and children, even led to him receiving a special fatherhood award from the National Fatherhood Initiative’s 2009 Military Fatherhood Award Ceremony. Married with a daughter and son, Ondrasik says it was actually his devotion to all three and his desire to stay home that is to blame for the new album taking a little longer than previous albums. That, and of course the fact that he fills his life with myriad projects, from writing a column for Sports Illustrated to co-writing with the likes of Brooks & Dunn, Josh Groban, and scoring music for such films as “August Rush” and “Chicken Little.”

It’s all a culmination of a life literally spent playing music. Born in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley and raised in a musical family, Ondrasik was just two when he started playing piano, later adding guitar. Yet it wasn’t for almost three decades (and four years after the release of the debut Five for Fighting album, “Message for Albert”), before he became a mainstream star via “Superman” from the critically lauded “America Town” album, which Ondrasik and company followed up in 2004 with “The Battle for Everything,” a springboard for the classic “100 Years.” Ondrasik’s songs “Superman,” “100 Years,” “World” and “Freedom Never Cries” continue to endure in America’s songbook proving Ondrasik’s ability to stand the musical test of time. 

“Every round I try to write the best songs I can, and perhaps step out of the box a bit. To me, records are about offering my worldview while providing sentiments to which people may attach themselves or escape into. ‘Slice’ is where I’ve come from, where I am, and a few scraps I’ve picked up in between. All in a slice of time.”

Leigh Anne Tuohy
Subject of The Blind Side

Dubbed a “warrior princess” by author Michael Lewis in his best-selling book The Blind Side, Leigh Anne is the inspirational matriarch of the Tuohy family. A Memphis, Tennessee native, Leigh Anne attended Briarcrest Christian School and went on to graduate from the University of Mississippi, “Ole Miss,” with a Bachelor’s of Science in Interior Design. There Leigh Anne met Sean Tuohy, her husband of 27 years. Both were active and ambitious college students: Leigh Anne was a cheerleader, campus favorite, homecoming maid and active member of her sorority; Sean became a record-breaking SEC basketball champion and still holds several SEC assist records. They are the proud parents of daughter Collins (23) and sons Michael Oher (23) and Sean, Jr. (16).

Leigh Anne owns “Flair I,” an interior design firm with her mother and partner, Virginia Roberts. Her work has been featured on HGTV, in numerous publications, and she has designed for such clients as Peyton Manning, Scottie Pippen, Isaac Bruce and OJ Mayo. After recently appearing in the season finale of ABC’s Emmy-Award winning series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Leigh Anne joined the design team for Season 8 in the 2010-11 season.

The Tuohy family is actively involved in many civic and faith-based organizations, including Grace Evangelical Church, of which they are founding members. The Tuohy family’s life, as chronicled in Lewis’ New York Times number one best-seller The Blind Side, went on to become a record-breaking Hollywood blockbuster that earned more than $300 million at the box office and became the number-one opening weekend for a sports film in history.

Almost two years after The Blind Side burst onto the scene, breaking box office records and inspiring individuals nationwide, Leigh Anne continues to make an impact. In July 2010, Leigh Anne and her husband, Sean, released the New York Times best-seller, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, and established their charity, Making it Happen. Through both projects, Leigh Anne continues her mission to inspire hope, ignite generosity, and make it happen for the deserving, but underserved youth.

At the podium, Leigh Anne inspires audiences to recognize the full potential of individuals in their community—and to find value in those who society has deemed valueless. She shares her personal Blind Side observations, from seeing Michael Oher for the first time to how the experience changed her as a person—and the Tuohys as a family. “He had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life,” says Leigh Anne.

Doc Hendley
Global drinking-water crusader

 “I hereby proclaim November 5th, 2009 as Doc Hendley day.” 

When these words were spoken by Dr. Jim Woodward, Chancellor of NC State University, thunderous applause echoed through the crowd and a humble, grateful smile flashed across Doc Hendley’s face. 

Doc Hendley is the epitome of the individual who has made a difference. Tens of thousands of people around the world have clean drinking water they did not have before an idea popped into the head of this “tattooed keg-tapper” musician’s head. Hendley realized that just by using his ability to bartend and create relationships with people, he might be able to help the problem. At the bars where he worked, he started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way he knew how, by pouring wine and playing music. 

Hendley has taken personal risks to do the hard work of providing water and clean water education in far flung locations around the globe. He worked in dozens of refugee camps installing water systems for victims of Darfur’s government supported genocide. Often inside the United Nations’ dangerous “no-go” zones, he distributed water or chlorine tablets to people with only plastic sheeting for shelter. 

Hendley was named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2009 (chosen from over 9,000 applicants by a panel of judges including Gen. Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Turner and Sir Elton John). 

Today Hendley’s Wine to Water foundation aims to help the 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean water. By using wine events to raise money and awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in the developing world, Doc Hendley has harnessed a powerful social force and multiplied the generosity of many.

Doc is, in essence, turning wine to water for some of the neediest people on the planet for three simple reasons: 

1. At least one in six people worldwide lack access to adequate amounts of safe water for drinking and hygiene, according to the UN. 

2. Water borne illnesses kill far more children the HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined. 

3. Unclean water contributes to diarrhea, the leading cause of illness and death, and translates to 1.5 million preventable deaths each year. 

Doc did not dream of dedicating his life to humanitarian efforts in developing countries. Far from it, in fact. He graduated from NC State University with a communications degree he wasn’t sure how to use. While bartending to pay the bills, he noticed the men and women sitting on the stools seemed to want to be part of something bigger. The 30-year-old Hendley got inspired behind the bar, and today his nonprofit group, Wine to Water, has dug, repaired and sanitized drinking wells for 25,000 people in five Third World countries. It’s an idea that started with wine tastings and a humble donation jar. 

Hendley calls himself proof that anyone, even a “tattooed keg-tapper”, can cure what ails the world.

Geoffrey Canada
Founder
Harlem Children’s Zone

 In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

Since 1990, Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ,) which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In October 2005, Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report.

In 1997, the agency launched the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, which targets a specific geographic area in Central Harlem with a comprehensive range of services. The Zone Project today covers 100 blocks and aims to serve more than 10,000 children by 2011.

The New York Times Magazine said the Zone Project “combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood…The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can’t slip through.”

The work of Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Charlie Rose Show, National Public Radio’s “On Point,” as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today and Newsday.

Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes-violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he was able to succeed academically, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard School of Education. After graduating from Harvard, Canada decided to work to help children who, like himself, were disadvantaged by their lives in poor, embattled neighborhoods.

Drawing upon his own childhood experiences and at the Harlem Children’s Zone, he wrote Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America. In its review of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, Publishers Weekly said, “a more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a more compelling plea to end ‘America’s war against itself’ cannot be imagined.”

For his years of work advocating for children and families in some of America’s most devastated communities, Canada was a recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994. In 2004, he was given the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education and Child Magazine’s Children’s Champion Award. 

Canada has also received the Heroes of the Year Award from the Robin Hood Foundation, The Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Brennan Legacy Award from New York University and the Common Good Award from Bowdoin College. He has received honorary degrees from Harvard University, Bowdoin College, Williams College, John Jay College, Bank Street College and Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary.

A third-degree black belt, Canada is also the founder (in 1983) of the Chang Moo Kwan Martial Arts School. Despite his busy schedule as head of HCZ, he continues to teach the principles of Tae Kwon Do to community youth along with anti-violence and conflict-resolution techniques.

In 2006, Canada was selected by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as co-chair of The Commission on Economic Opportunity, which was asked to formulate a plan to significantly reduce poverty. In 2007, he was appointed co-chair of New York State Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board.

Canada is also the East Coast Regional Coordinator for the Black Community Crusade for Children. The Crusade is a nationwide effort to make saving black children the top priority in the black community. This initiative is coordinated by Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Canada joined Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. (then called the Rheedlen Foundation) in 1983, as Education Director. Prior to that, he worked as Director of the Robert White School, a private day school for troubled inner-city youth in Boston.

The National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Kozol has called Canada, “One of the few authentic heroes of New York