Tag Archives: Anthony Kennedy Shriver

The OK List of America’s Best

As we congratulate Bill and Kathy Magee and Senator Orrin Hatch on their well-deserved recognition in November’s U.S. News & World Report, we are mindful of other great leaders with whom we have had the privilege of working during the past year. With that, I’d like to contribute an “Operation Kids: America’s Best Leaders in 2009” by highlighting additional leaders who have made an enormous impact in their communities and, due to their commitment and influence, the world.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: In 1989 Anthony created a mentoring program on his college campus. That project turned into a life’s work. Today, through his stewardship and entrepreneurial spirit, Best Buddies® has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasingly international reach across six continents. It has established a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They positively impact more than 400,000 participants every year.  The organization is active in each of the 50 United States, and operates accredited international programs in 44 countries.

Drew Brees:   When Drew left the San Diego Chargers and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he and his wife Brittany took a higher view of the situation. They believed that they were directed to New Orleans for a reason, and committed to become part of the community. They immediately sought way to help rebuild post-Katrina. Today, Drew and Brittany have rebuilt nearly a dozen successful projects including athletic facilities, day care centers and critical education programs. Their adopted city of New Orleans have hailed them as true “Saints” in the city.

Steve Young: With an NFL Hall of Fame career behind him, Steve maintains a broadcast career, participates in a private equity firm, and continues to provide leadership of the Forever Young Foundation. Forever Young Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. They focus on efforts to provide academic, athletic, and therapeutic opportunities to at-risk youth. They have expanded beyond their historical focus on Northern California, Arizona and Utah, to include development projects like the Forever Young Zones, Youth Education Town Centers (YET Centers) in each Super Bowl city and now, international initiatives including the building and expansion of schools in Ghana, Africa.

John A. (Jack) Calhoun: In his “retirement,” Jack manages the 13-California City Gang Prevention Network for the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families. In 2007 and has published a book, Hope Matters: The Untold Story of How Faith Works in America. He has spent a lifetime attempting to improve the lot of children and families and the communities in which they live. President Carter appointed Jack to the nation’s top children’s job, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, where he oversaw such programs as Head Start, Child Welfare, The Center to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, the Office of Domestic Violence and the Office for Families. For 20 years he served at the National Crime Prevention Council as its President and CEO. He also has served as Vice President of the Child Welfare League of America, was the Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services, and chair of both the Adolescent and the State of the Family Task Forces.

We give our deepest gratitude and respect to these great Americans who have truly made an enormous impact on their communities and the world around them.



Filed under Initiative: Thought Leadership

Never Give Up

L to R: Justin Haskell, Anthony Shriver, Brett Banford, Scott Thornton, Betsy Thornton, Rick Larsen, and Dan Clark
If you want to learn how to create an effective program that impacts a lot of people, talk to a Shriver.  After all, Sergeant Shriver and his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, between them helped create or launch the Peace Corps, Special Olympics, Head Start, VISTA, Job Corps and Foster Grandparents. 
Wednesday, I had the pleasure of listening to their son, Anthony Kennedy Shriver, founder of Best Buddies International, speak at Westminster College’s Institute for New Enterprise in Salt Lake City.  It was educational and inspiring.
Anthony was only a college senior when he founded what became the Best Buddies organization at Georgetown University in 1989.  “Growing up, I’d met lots of different kinds of people,” Anthony said, “but it was those with intellectual disabilities who really touched my heart.  My father always told me that everyone has at least one great skill, but that some, including those with intellectual disabilities, often never get recognized for it, never get to develop it. Everyone, he said, deserves a shot at the American dream.”
Anthony continued: “I also realized early on that the happiest people I knew were involved in volunteer service.  That’s why I think the greatest legacy we can leave our children is the legacy of service.”

At Georgetown, Anthony paired university students with people with intellectual disabilities of a similar age. The program proved so popular that students from other universities asked if he could help them develop similar programs on their campuses.  With that, Best Buddies was born. 

Today, the organization has 1500 chapters and impacts nearly 400,000 individuals in 50 states and 40 countries.  Its mission: to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.

Recognizing its effectiveness and impact, we have supported Best Buddies for several years.

Recognized internationally for his achievements as a “social entrepreneur,” Anthony described several factors necessary for a non-profit leader to help his or her organization achieve consistent success.


  1. Be creative. Create unique experiences for your donors and volunteers that they can’t get anywhere else.  Don’t be a commodity.
  2. Be passionate. Make your non-profit job your lifestyle. Engage your family in your work.
  3. Hire incredible people. Build a great team. Invest in training and coaching so everyone is on the same page.
  4. Exercise fiscal discipline. Manage your organization efficiently, and if a program or service can’t sustain itself, then drop it.
  5. Create diversity of revenue.  Plan to get revenue from multiple sources; don’t be tempted to focus your fundraising efforts on one primary source.

 Being successful in the non-profit world is hard work, Anthony said. “There are no shortcuts. Just set your goals for the top of the mountain and hammer away every single day, and you’ll eventually get there. Just keep going and never give up.”

 It was exciting to spend some time with Anthony – to hear firsthand his story – and   to think about applying his five success factors to my position at Operation Kids.  I’ll also remember his admonishment to “just keep going.”

 We are working every day to be better, more efficient, more effective, more impactful – in short, a better organization that betters the lives of more and more children each year.   If we keep going, and do a little more each day, just imagine what we, along with organizations like Best Buddies, can accomplish!







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