JENNIFER ZAHGKUNI, A CELEBRATION
THE FORGOTTEN INTERNATIONAL
10th YEAR ANNIVERSAY

It is my great pleasure to celebrate The Forgotten International’s tenth year anniversary with a reprint of Jennifer Zahgkuni’s interview. As you may recall, Jennifer received the Remarkable People 2015 tribute for her work with The Forgotten International. TFI is an important non-profit foundation working to alleviate extreme poverty especially among women and children who live at the edge of life and death.

It goes without saying that TFI will appreciate your donation (click here to donate). Enjoy Jennifer Zahgkuni’s interview below and read TFI’s 2015 Year In Review:

Jennifer inherited a passion for doing the right thing. She has a legal mindset, is a professional administrator, a developer of Foundation and Fellowship Programs, a relationship builder, and an astute and compassionate humanitarian. She is a worldview treasure.

2015 Photo by Thomas Nazario, San Francisco, CA. USA.

Jennifer believes that lasting change can be achieved if everybody acknowledges a responsibility to repay a communal debt or pay one forward. She says, “You never know when you will be the one who needs help! It shouldn’t be from a place of guilt or obligation, but rather from a collective sense that we are all one; that we are all connected.”

“Life often isn’t fair, and terrible things happen to good people, so we must ensure a balance whenever we can.”

Source: Postcard from the Near East Foundation Archive
View more images

A lineage of compassion…
Jennifer shines a familial light on such kindness that came in 1915. The Near East Foundation was created to address the extreme refugee crisis in Armenia during the First World War. Their model of “citizen philanthropy” allowed everyday people to get involved in the relief effort, and in the coming years, they saved over one million lives that otherwise would have perished.

Jennifer’s grandfather was one of tens of thousands of orphans from that still unrecognized genocide.

That was then…
Caption: 1915, Armenian deportees – women, children and elderly men. Woman in forground is carrying a child in her arms, shielding it from the sun with a shawl; man on left is carrying bedding; no other belongings or food noticable amoung effects being carried. All are walking in the sun and on an unpaved road with no means of shelter from the elements. Location: Ottoman empire, region Syria.

© Armenian National Institute, Inc. courtesy of Sybil Stevens

Jennifer said, “While a century has passed, and much is forgotten, the outpouring of compassion should not be lost in the chronicles of the historical record and should remain alive in every new generation. I very much believe that I am here today because a hundred years ago complete strangers helped my family simply because it was the right thing to do. It is always the right thing to do.”

And now…

Source: Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS

A Syrian refugee kissing his daughter while walking toward Greece’s border with Macedonia. Today’s refugees are flooding into Europe for safety from violence and persecution… eerily similar to Jennifer’s grandfather’s flight from the Armenian genocide exactly 100 years ago.

“Of course, it is distressing to see humanitarian disasters on the news day after day; nevertheless, I hope our shared response to suffering will always place compassion and kindness first.”

MARY OLSON: What kind of work were you doing before you joined The Forgotten International?

JENNIFER ZAHGKUNI: I worked for TFI on a volunteer basis when we were first starting the organization in 2007. Now that I think back on that period, I don’t quite know how I managed it while engaged full time elsewhere. I worked in educational administration for over 12 years before being able to devote myself fully to our nonprofit.

I met Tom Nazario, the founder of TFI, at the University of San Francisco School of Law. He had just returned from his first trip to India and what would be a life-altering meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the first big projects we worked on together was helping to coordinate a visit to USF by His Holiness to receive an Honorary Degree from the University in 2003.

Source: The Chauntra School. Tibetan students in India with Jennifer Zahgkuni

The following summer I left USF to live and work in Dharamsala, India, as a volunteer English teacher at one of the Tibetan schools established by the Tibetan Government in Exile. We didn’t know it at the time, but this is how TFI’s Fellowship Program began, and we continue to send skilled volunteers abroad each year to Dharamsala and four other sites around the world.

It was also the beginning of our work with the Tibetan community. We have been fortunate to have several opportunities since to host His Holiness at various events in the Bay Area and even more fortunate to be able to help Tibetan organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

2014. Tom Nazario, HHDL and Debra Fischer, Los Angeles, CA. USA.
Presenting Tom Nazario’s book, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor, to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for which he penned the introduction.

MO: How would you characterize TFI when you first started working with the Foundation?

JZ: When Tom [Nazario] envisioned TFI, it was always with the intention of helping those in need that were underserved and otherwise forgotten (hence our name, The Forgotten International).

We used our early years to learn how to build and deliver truly invaluable programs and manage our commitments to the very first NGOs. Listening to those in need has made all the difference in our work abroad and at home. What has changed over time is the “how” of what we do.

Our personal connection to the programs now facilitates closer relationships with our donors who feel more involved with the projects they support. They also know that we give 100% of donors’ funds to their designated programs or projects.

© 2010 Renée C. Byer, Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist, Sacramento, CA.
In Agbogbloshie, Accra, the capital city of Ghana, Fati, 8, works along with other children who live on the edge of life and death in a toxic eWaste dumpsite. Her condition was recently remedied by the TFI Children’s Fund that introduced a better life including food, a bed and school.

MO: You touch every aspect of the Foundation in one way or another. What facets offer the most creativity…the places where you add your imprint?

JZ: I enjoy wearing many hats at TFI as it gives me the opportunity to see how all the pieces fit together and what is needed where. It also makes clear the realities of running a business and the importance of being as resourceful and efficient as possible. The most satisfying part, without question, is the giving.

Whenever we make a gift of any amount, even to an organization we have supported for years, it is the most joyful feeling, even addicting, I would say. Whenever anyone has the opportunity to give, they should jump on it. Nothing feels better. If you give, either a gift of time or money, to a person or an organization that really needs this help, you see the impact, I predict you won’t be able to do it just once.

Our Fellows learn this when they go abroad to volunteer with our programs. They all tell us how enriching the experience was personally and professionally, and when we follow up with them even years later, they say their time abroad through TFI remains on of their most treasured and unforgettable life experiences.

Jennifer Zahgkuni and Tom Nazario with Dawa Dorjee USF Graduate.
Celebrating the USF graduation of a Tibetan student from India who was chosen to come to the University of San Francisco on a scholarship program Tom Nazario had started as part of the visit by His Holiness to the University.

I, for one, would never give up the two months I spent teaching in India for anything. I carry the memories of that experience with me still, and it influences all aspects of how I do my work.

MO: What do you envision for the Foundation going forward? What opportunities do you see for yourself going forward?

JZ: With TFI closing in on eight years of operations this year, my hope for the organization is that by being diligent, we have earned a reliable reputation for service to the poor. I would like to see these efforts bear fruit in increased collaborations with larger foundations and corporations that want a trusted organization to partner with so that together we can create a greater impact on our shared mission of helping more people rise up out of crushing poverty.

I would like to see my role gradually expand to be more involved in the field. With current technologies making it possible to work from anywhere, I feel more confident about stepping away from my desk from time to time whenever it makes sense for me to do so. I look forward to visiting more of the programs TFI supports and meeting the people we work with around the world. It makes all the difference to be able to spend time with the communities we try to serve and strengthen the relationships between our organization and the NGOs we work with abroad.

Download PDF version of this blog.

Contact The Forgotten International:
Email Jennifer Zahgkuni
Visit Website
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Donate

REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015
INHERITING COMPASSION AND
DOING THE RIGHT THING
WITH JENNIFER ZAHGKUNI

My interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015 includes experts in technology, the arts, marketing, and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of humanity and social responsibility like Jennifer Zahgkuni; others are creating game-changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.

Please meet Jennifer Zahgkuni of The Forgotten International (TFI) whose transformative work alleviates extreme poverty especially among women and children who live at the edge of life and death.

Jennifer inherited a passion for doing the right thing. She has a legal mindset, is a professional administrator, a developer of Foundation and Fellowship Programs, a relationship builder, and an astute and compassionate humanitarian. She is a worldview treasure.

2015 Photo by Thomas Nazario, San Francisco, CA. USA.

Jennifer believes that lasting change can be achieved if everybody acknowledges a responsibility to repay a communal debt or pay one forward. She says, “You never know when you will be the one who needs help! It shouldn’t be from a place of guilt or obligation, but rather from a collective sense that we are all one; that we are all connected.”

“Life often isn’t fair, and terrible things happen to good people, so we must ensure a balance whenever we can.”

Source: Postcard from the Near East Foundation Archive
View more images

A lineage of compassion…
Jennifer shines a familial light on such kindness that came in 1915. The Near East Foundation was created to address the extreme refugee crisis in Armenia during the First World War. Their model of “citizen philanthropy” allowed everyday people to get involved in the relief effort, and in the coming years, they saved over one million lives that otherwise would have perished.

Jennifer’s grandfather was one of tens of thousands of orphans from that still unrecognized genocide.

That was then…
Caption: 1915, Armenian deportees – women, children and elderly men. Woman in forground is carrying a child in her arms, shielding it from the sun with a shawl; man on left is carrying bedding; no other belongings or food noticable amoung effects being carried. All are walking in the sun and on an unpaved road with no means of shelter from the elements. Location: Ottoman empire, region Syria.

© Armenian National Institute, Inc. courtesy of Sybil Stevens

Jennifer said, “While a century has passed, and much is forgotten, the outpouring of compassion should not be lost in the chronicles of the historical record and should remain alive in every new generation. I very much believe that I am here today because a hundred years ago complete strangers helped my family simply because it was the right thing to do. It is always the right thing to do.”

And now…

Source: Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS

A Syrian refugee kissing his daughter while walking toward Greece’s border with Macedonia. Today’s refugees are flooding into Europe for safety from violence and persecution… eerily similar to Jennifer’s grandfather’s flight from the Armenian genocide exactly 100 years ago.

“Of course, it is distressing to see humanitarian disasters on the news day after day; nevertheless, I hope our shared response to suffering will always place compassion and kindness first.”

MARY OLSON: What kind of work were you doing before you joined The Forgotten International?

JENNIFER ZAHGKUNI: I worked for TFI on a volunteer basis when we were first starting the organization in 2007. Now that I think back on that period, I don’t quite know how I managed it while engaged full time elsewhere. I worked in educational administration for over 12 years before being able to devote myself fully to our nonprofit.

I met Tom Nazario, the founder of TFI, at the University of San Francisco School of Law. He had just returned from his first trip to India and what would be a life-altering meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the first big projects we worked on together was helping to coordinate a visit to USF by His Holiness to receive an Honorary Degree from the University in 2003.

Source: The Chauntra School. Tibetan students in India with Jennifer Zahgkuni

The following summer I left USF to live and work in Dharamsala, India, as a volunteer English teacher at one of the Tibetan schools established by the Tibetan Government in Exile. We didn’t know it at the time, but this is how TFI’s Fellowship Program began, and we continue to send skilled volunteers abroad each year to Dharamsala and four other sites around the world.

It was also the beginning of our work with the Tibetan community. We have been fortunate to have several opportunities since to host His Holiness at various events in the Bay Area and even more fortunate to be able to help Tibetan organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

2014. Tom Nazario, HHDL and Debra Fischer, Los Angeles, CA. USA.
Presenting Tom Nazario’s book, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor, to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for which he penned the introduction.

MO: How would you characterize TFI when you first started working with the Foundation?

JZ: When Tom [Nazario] envisioned TFI, it was always with the intention of helping those in need that were underserved and otherwise forgotten (hence our name, The Forgotten International).

We used our early years to learn how to build and deliver truly invaluable programs and manage our commitments to the very first NGOs. Listening to those in need has made all the difference in our work abroad and at home. What has changed over time is the “how” of what we do.

Our personal connection to the programs now facilitates closer relationships with our donors who feel more involved with the projects they support. They also know that we give 100% of donors’ funds to their designated programs or projects.

© 2010 Renée C. Byer, Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist, Sacramento, CA.
In Agbogbloshie, Accra, the capital city of Ghana, Fati, 8, works along with other children who live on the edge of life and death in a toxic eWaste dumpsite. Her condition was recently remedied by the TFI Children’s Fund that introduced a better life including food, a bed and school.

MO: You touch every aspect of the Foundation in one way or another. What facets offer the most creativity…the places where you add your imprint?

JZ: I enjoy wearing many hats at TFI as it gives me the opportunity to see how all the pieces fit together and what is needed where. It also makes clear the realities of running a business and the importance of being as resourceful and efficient as possible. The most satisfying part, without question, is the giving.

Whenever we make a gift of any amount, even to an organization we have supported for years, it is the most joyful feeling, even addicting, I would say. Whenever anyone has the opportunity to give, they should jump on it. Nothing feels better. If you give, either a gift of time or money, to a person or an organization that really needs this help, you see the impact, I predict you won’t be able to do it just once.

Our Fellows learn this when they go abroad to volunteer with our programs. They all tell us how enriching the experience was personally and professionally, and when we follow up with them even years later, they say their time abroad through TFI remains on of their most treasured and unforgettable life experiences.

Jennifer Zahgkuni and Tom Nazario with Dawa Dorjee USF Graduate.
Celebrating the USF graduation of a Tibetan student from India who was chosen to come to the University of San Francisco on a scholarship program Tom Nazario had started as part of the visit by His Holiness to the University.

I, for one, would never give up the two months I spent teaching in India for anything. I carry the memories of that experience with me still, and it influences all aspects of how I do my work.

MO: What do you envision for the Foundation going forward? What opportunities do you see for yourself going forward?

JZ: With TFI closing in on eight years of operations this year, my hope for the organization is that by being diligent, we have earned a reliable reputation for service to the poor. I would like to see these efforts bear fruit in increased collaborations with larger foundations and corporations that want a trusted organization to partner with so that together we can create a greater impact on our shared mission of helping more people rise up out of crushing poverty.

I would like to see my role gradually expand to be more involved in the field. With current technologies making it possible to work from anywhere, I feel more confident about stepping away from my desk from time to time whenever it makes sense for me to do so. I look forward to visiting more of the programs TFI supports and meeting the people we work with around the world. It makes all the difference to be able to spend time with the communities we try to serve and strengthen the relationships between our organization and the NGOs we work with abroad.

Download PDF version of this blog.

Contact The Forgotten International:
Email Jennifer Zahgkuni
Visit Website
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Donate

COUNTDOWN TO BEST BOOKS OF 2015

People have been inquiring about the books that I am reading this year. To answer the question, here, in part, is a short list of must-reads.


Data and Goliath, The Hidden Battles to Collect your Data and Control Your World

By Bruce Schneier (2015)

Related Information
Bruce Schneier’s Blog, Schneier on Security
Buy and Give

The short list begins with Bruce Schneier, the world’s foremost security expert. Schneier’s blog is worth following. You will benefit from his new book, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect your Data and Control Your World.

Schneier defines the powers that do more than collect and control our personal and business data. In my opinion, we cannot manage our businesses today without this knowledge.


The Second Machine Age, Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

By Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (2014)

Related Information
Eric Brynjolfsson
Andrew McAfee
Buy and Give

My neighbor is a twenty-first century intellectual. She is an expert in the worlds of Zen, her business interests in China, and advanced technology. She recommended The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

I am grateful for my neighbor’s advice. This is one of my favorite books of the year.


Rise of the Robots, Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

by Martin Ford (2015)

Related Information
Martin Ford
Buy and Give

We all know that the jobless future is already here. Ford writes one of the best books on the subject. Indispensible for marketers and business strategists.


Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It

By Lawrence Lessig (2012)

Related Information
Lawrence Lessig
More on Lawrence Lessig
Buy and Give

Lawrence Lessig’s book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It examines how we have allowed our democracy to be co-opted by outside interests.

I began following Lessig in 2002 when he championed free software. I admired him because he studied philosophy and law and worked for two influential conservative judges while championing democracy and ethics.

You can read about Lawrence Lessig’s 2016 presidential run anywhere in the media and Wikipedia.


Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, 4th Edition

By Alina Wheeler (2013)

Related Information
Alina Wheeler
Buy and Give

A few books worth rereading time and again include Alina Wheeler’s Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, 4th Edition; always top of mind. I define, design and market authentic brands and businesses in my professional life and Wheeler’s insightful toolkit showcases best practices. Since a company’s brand is its most valuable asset, excerpts on brand clarity are always worth sharing with clients.


Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor

By Thomas Nazario and Renée C. Byer (2014)

Related Information
The Forgotten International Foundation
Thomas Nazario
More on Thomas Nazario
Buy and Give

Thomas Nazario and Renée C. Byer’s searing stories and groundbreaking photojournalism in Living on a Dollar a Day, The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor will resonate until poverty is eradicated.

Since adding Tom Nazario’s book to my list of Best Books of 2014, Nazario has won the 2015 International Book Award for non-fiction narrative writing. Byer has accumulated awards for her work on this book including the following:

  • 1st Place Environmental Picture Story BOP NPPA
  • 1st Place Documentary Book, IPA (International Photography Awards)
  • World Understanding Award Finalist (Pictures of the Year International)
  • Moscow Foto Awards, HM Picture Story
  • Scripps Howard Photojournalism Award Finalist
  • International Book Awards Winner for Nonfiction Narrative Writing

Look for Nazario’s documentary by the same title to be released this fall.

The Forgotten International’s Mission is to develop programs that will
alleviate poverty and the suffering associated with poverty both in the
The United States and worldwide, in particular, that experienced
by women and children. Please support The Forgotten International.


About Buy and Give
Sign-up for Smile.Amazon.com. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. My favorite non-profit foundation is The Forgotten International.