It really is hard to label Thor Halvorssen who has been one of the most outspoken yet hard-to-know leaders in modern human rights activities. His life’s mission has been to expose how bad human suffering is under tyrannical and corrupt governments while also rewarding civil disobedience against attacks on freedom of speech. His most famous achievement has been the founding of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), a gathering of individuals from all over the world who share how they’ve fought against tyranny in the most creative ways. Halvorssen is a writer at several media outlets including The Atlantic and the Huffington Post and has made appearances on cable news networks such as CNN and Fox News.
Halvorssen has the unusual ethnicity of being both Norwegian and Venezuelan. As a young man he saw the struggles his father and cousin went through in speaking out against political corruption which led to their imprisonment. His mother was also shot but survived an anti-government riot against the dictator Hugo Chavez. His family’s experiences have certainly strengthened his resolve to preach dissidence and civil liberties despite being detained and caught several times in smuggling operations. Halvorssen has mastered the art of going off the grid when he needs to and keeping his contact information hidden.
There have been several stories Halvorssen has lived to tell about that include helping citizens in North Korea and helping prisoners escape. In North Korea Halvorssen and a group of North Korean defectors chose a launch site in South Korea to launch strong helium balloons containing information about the outside world and the dictator Kim Jong Un’s brutality that the government had been trying to suppress. Halvorssen’s efforts from HRF also eventually led to the freeing of Ali Abdulemam, a news writer and blogger who had been imprisoned in Bahrain for writing about human rights violations and telling the truth about information suppression. Some of the films Halvorssen has produced that tell the stories of fights for freedom in oppressed nations include Freedom’s Fury , Hammer & Tickle and The Sugar Babies. Halvorssen is also involved with the Children’s Peace Movement.
Adam Milstein knows what it is like to have a dream and make it a reality. He was born in Israel and worked with his father who was a real estate developer. Adam knew early on that he would eventually go into the real estate industry on some level. He continued to learn the ends and outs from his father while receiving a college education. Adam served time in the Israeli military before moving his wife and children to the United States.
Adam Milstein always desired to obtain a higher level of education. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and soon began his journey as a successful entrepreneur. Adam had the opportunity to work with several established organizations. However, he was not interested in sacrificing his position to help another company move in a direction did not want to go in. He began his career as a real estate broker and went on to develop a solid standing in the industry.
Adam has a hands-on leadership style. He believes that the person who has the vision should be involved in every aspect of cultivating there ideas. Although it takes teamwork to make a business run, the leader of an organization should not rely on others to make sense of issues that he or she does not understand. These are the principles that guided Adam to the top of the real estate industry. He is currently a managing partner at Hager Pacific Properties.
Philanthropy is very important Adam Milstein. He places as much effort into giving back to the community as he does making business profits. Adam and his wife launched the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation as a method of reaching out to those who could use the services that the organization provided. They focus on the wildness of the Jewish community. Adam applies his business philosophies to the running of the foundation. The programs that are offered are designed to assist with personal development from the early stages of life through adulthood. Every aspect of the charity organization is carefully monitored in order to achieve the most efficient results.
For the last 30 years, Betsy DeVos has advocated for parents being able to choose where their children will attend school regardless of where they live. In the beginning, Betsy, who has been joined by her husband Dick in the fight, said many believed that it was a good idea for rural children where homeschooling was a popular option. As time passed, she said that more legislators across the nation had to admit that inner-city schools were failing according to an interview published by Philanthropy Roundtable.
While Dick DeVos helped spread the message when he ran for the state board of education and as Michigan’s governor, Betsy says their interest really ignited the first time that they visited Potter’s House Christian School. It was then that she realized that not all parents were lucky enough to get to choose where their children go to school. Today, this program teaches 580 children on two campuses in Grand Rapids, Michigan. These children come from 30 different nationalities. As the family became more involved with the school, they realized that school vouchers were the way to go. Each year, their foundation helps to fund this school along with giving scholarships to needy families.
As the couple became more involved in the education movement, Dick continued to be active in flying helicopters and airplanes. One day, his wife asked him why he did not combine his two interests. That was the humble beginning of Western Aviation School operating at the Grand Rapid’s airport. This school has even been instrumental in placing students in NASA’s prestigious education program.
Dick is the son of Amway’s founder Richard DeVos who chose to name his company Amway based on America’s way. The couple operate the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation that gives money to worthwhile causes in Michigan. While the foundation works to be the catalyst for school reform, just like Richard, the couple’s foundation supports many causes. One of those is justice where they help to free oppressed people globally. Aft movements are also very dear to the couple’s heart where they work to support Art Walk in Grand Rapids each year. Additionally, the couple is instrumental in trying to improve the economy in Michigan.
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has recently been looking for contributions to its funds in a bid to aid the construction of a series of expansions and programming options. I have been impressed by the many large contributions made to the fund that has seen the initial target of $125 million surpassed, and has now seen the target extended by another $50 million. The fund looking for around $125 million in donations has been aided by a major contribution of a reported $1 million by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation.
Dick DeVos may now be better known for his work as a philanthropist than for his business activities, which began with his first steps taken in the Amway business in 1984 that had been begun by his father. DeVos tripled international sales in a speedy way and led the company to even more major successes before leaving to start his own business. Working with his wife Betsy, Dick has been a major philanthropic supporter of many areas of the arts, religious groups and educational programs through the Michigan based Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. The owner of the Orlando Magic had already made a major donation to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts totaling around $22.5 million in 2010 before making his latest donation to aid the arts based foundation.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation is one of many charitable groups who have made major contributions to the expansion plans for The Kennedy Center that includes the development of three new pavilions and a walkway.