Runaway Spoon

Fearless Road To Leadership

March 24, 2019

Two leading change-maker powerhouses – CARE USA and Marcum LLP's Nonprofit and Social Sector Practice – both of which set their sights on reducing poverty and social injustice in the world – joined forces Thursday with Be Fearless author Jean Case for a workshop on how to get it done.

Author Jean Case (right) with Sherrie Beckstead (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Author Jean Case (right) with Sherrie Beckstead

At the inaugural “Social Investors Day,” some 80 leaders in the field discussed how to reduce poverty and advance economic rights.

There were no cliffs to drive off of, nor flaming skyscrapers to scale, nor any dice to roll.  

Instead, taking professional chances in life and doing good was a theme of the day.

Author Jean Case, the first woman chair of the National Geographic Board of Trustees, advocates for the importance of wrapping one’s arms around the idea of a bold, audacious approach to whatever one wants to do.

“I am always inspired by people who challenge themselves and those around them by asking the question: ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’”  She is CEO of the Case Foundation which invests in individuals, nonprofits and social enterprises aiming to connect people, increase giving and strengthen civic action.

Washington Diplomat Managing Editor Anna Gawel (left) chats with Jean Case (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Washington Diplomat Managing Editor Anna Gawel (left) chats with Jean Case

Tom Raffa, a pioneer in social enterprise and a founder of Marcum’s Nonprofit and Social Sector Group, told the audience:  “Social enterprise is one of the most powerful tools available to make progress on the most challenging issues we face in the U.S. and around the globe. Firm co-founder Kathy Raffa as well as team leaders Rich Tafel and Tony Raffa helped lead the event. 

CARE has one of the largest pipelines of social enterprises advancing women and girls globally, and we are very proud to support these innovative efforts,”  said Tom Raffa.

The nonprofit community increasingly relies on market-based solutions, both domestically and worldwide, as a tool in solving the most intractable economic and social problems. Raffa-Marcum is a principal go-to partner helping mission-based organizations and socially directed businesses achieve success.

CARE's Beth Solomon, managing director for external affairs & development (left) with one of participants  Emira Woods (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) CARE's Beth Solomon, managing director for external affairs & development (left) with one of participants Emira Woods

By helping nonprofits and socially directed businesses define goals, reduce risks, solve problems, and maximize outcomes on a wide array of mission-critical functions, Marcum helps the social sector innovate collaborative solutions scaled to the needs of individuals, communities, and society as a whole.

Another speaker, CARE Social Ventures CEO Mark Muckerheide, said: “We can’t make the progress we need in reducing global poverty without leveraging market mechanisms.

“Experts of the caliber brought together by Marcum – Raffa are the key to unlocking the power of these tools to build the peaceful and just world we all desire.”

CARE, led by CEO Michelle Nunn, is known as one of the most innovative leaders in the international development sphere.

Participants at the Social Investors Day voted to highlight what they felt were very effective ventures around the world.  Getting special praise was The Cooperative Fund, which provides access to loans to smallholder farms in the Republic of Georgia. Without this program, these farms could have no access to the capital they need to move out of poverty.

Innovator Linda Harper asks key questions (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Innovator Linda Harper asks key questions

Among the judges or "Innovation Leaders" attending Social Investors Day were Bill Novelli, founder, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative; Lex Sant, President, Summit Foundation; Emira Woods, Trustee, Wallace Global Fund; Amb. Harry Thomas Jr., Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs; Khlood Al Hagar of the National Endowment for Democracy; Katherine Klein, Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; Mark Birmingham of the Bainum Family Foundation; Steve O'Connor of the Mortgage Bankers Association; Sherrie D. Beckstead, principal of Liljenquist & Beckstead Jewelers;  Flicks4Change charitable activist Barbara Hawthorn; Anna Gawel, Managing Editor, The Washington Diplomat; Hussein Hirji, Economic Counsellor, Embassy of Canada; Amb. Abdulwahab Alhajjri of Alternative Tracks Consulting, and Linda Harper, Board of Directors, International Student House.

In a tangential development, Jean Case’s husband billionaire Steve Case was profiled on CBS’s 60 minutes on Sunday, where he said that not enough venture capitalist money is spent in the middle of the country. So, he is touring mid-America on a special bus in search of start-up companies and fresh ideas.

Bill Novelli, founder, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business (left) & Tom Raffa (Photo by: Neshan H. Naltchayan) Bill Novelli, founder, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business (left) & Tom Raffa


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Barking Up The Tree at National Theatre

February 28, 2019

Tail wags all around.

National Theatre’s  musical Finding Neverland debuted Tuesday night for performances through Sunday March 3, with a cast that includes  a scene-stealing hairy pup and very talented youthful actors including  Josiah Smothers from Ashburn, Va. 

The Cast (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) The Cast

The Broadway musical hit is about playwright J. M. Barrie and the family that inspired him to write Peter Pan.

The staging is nothing short of eye popping, with lots of pixie dust, Captain Hook and his pirates prancing, flying characters, pillow fights, sword battles and exceptional period costumes.  The stage goes to the dogs time and time again as the giant poodle-like pooch romps and sniffs.

Directed by Tony-winner Diane Paulus and based on the Academy Award winning film, Finding Neverland tells the story of how Peter Pan came to be. 

The boys of Finding Neverland (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) The boys of Finding Neverland

The plot: playwright Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Barrie is enchanted with the lads’ make-believe adventures. He set out to write a play inspired by the antics of the boys that astounds London theatergoers.

The cast is led by Jeff Sullivan (Barrie) and Ruby Gibbs (Sylvia Lewelyn Davies) with a host of outstanding dancers and singers worthy of their challenging roles.

Josiah Smothers, Jeff Sullivan, Ruby Gibbs & Paul Schoeller (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) Josiah Smothers, Jeff Sullivan, Ruby Gibbs & Paul Schoeller

The first nighter audience at National Theatre also was enthralled. Quite a few children were happy to be out late with the one-and-only Peter Pan. The play is recommenced for ages 7 and up.

Captain Hook threatening J.M. Barrie (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) Captain Hook threatening J.M. Barrie

But, pushing the envelope a mite, this writer  brought her 6-year-old grandson, Jordan, who sat wide eyed for the 2 hour 25 minute performance.  He couldn’t wait for the intermission to end and the action to get on with it.

Sammy, trainer Bill Berloni and Bailey (understudy) (Photo by: KSP Images) Sammy, trainer Bill Berloni and Bailey (understudy)


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Pompeo Is Where He Wants To Be: The Nation's #1 Diplomat

January 29, 2019

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

“I remember thinking when I was growing up in Orange County [California]; I want to be as important as Henry Kissinger.

I still do.”

So said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

The two diplomats rubbed shoulders Saturday at the Pre-Alfalfa Club luncheon sponsored by a think tank, the Center for Strategic International Studies, in Washington, D.C.  Kissinger is 95.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

And that wasn’t all: a third man of the State Department, Rex Tillerson, and a fourth, George Shultz, also were among the several hundred guests trading memories and current views of the world.

Pompeo also made it clear he isn’t trading jobs despite press reports that he was recently pushed to run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas next year. “I’m not doing THAT. I’ve done THAT.” That was as a Kansas congressman before President Donald Trump tapped him for State.

Pompeo came directly from the United Nations in New York to give his CSIS talk, where every last seat was filled.

Asked in a Q&A about the political chaos in Venezuela, he replied: “We’ve been working at this for quite some time…to create a situation where we get real democracy.”  But he said, “rebuilding will take years.”

Among the long CSIS list of invited notables were diplomats, leading business figures, current and ex members of the Senate and the House, as well as famous officials of present and bygone administrations.

Colleen Nunn (left) & Ann Hand (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Colleen Nunn (left) & Ann Hand

Erskine Bowles, Jean Case (CEO, Case Foundation), Elaine Chao, Lloyd and Ann Hand, Jane Harman, Kay Bailey Hutchison, J. Willard Marriott Jr., William McSweeny, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn (co-chair of The Nuclear Threat Initiative & chairman emeritus and trustee of CSIS),

Michael Mondavi (founder of the Michael Mondavi Family Estate (providers of the luncheon wine) and family, Michelle Nunn (president & CEO of CARE USA), San Francisco philanthropists Bill and Laurie Grayson, Peter G. Peterson Foundation CEO Michael Peterson, former Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, former California Rep. David Dreier, former Michigan Gov. John Engler,

Former Sen. Charles Robb and Lynda Robb, former Sen. Alan Simpson; Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, Walter and Didi Cutler,

Patrick Steel (CEO, Politico), Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio, Ambassador William Hagerty (U.S. embassy in Japan), Ambassador Jose Manuel de Gallego Romualdez (Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines),  and Tenley Albright (director, MIT Collaborative Initiatives).

Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, (left) & Jane Harman, Wilson Center, president and CEO (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, (left) & Jane Harman, Wilson Center, president and CEO
Former Sen.E. Benjamin Nelson (left) and David Dreier, chairman of Annenberg-Dreier Commission (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Former Sen.E. Benjamin Nelson (left) and David Dreier, chairman of Annenberg-Dreier Commission
Author Jean Case, CEO of Case Foundation, (left), Beth Solomon of CARE USA, & Sara Blakely founder of Spanx (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Author Jean Case, CEO of Case Foundation, (left), Beth Solomon of CARE USA, & Sara Blakely founder of Spanx
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, The Bill and Melinda Foundation (right) & Stephen Morrison, Sr. Vice President & Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, The Bill and Melinda Foundation (right) & Stephen Morrison, Sr. Vice President & Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS


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