DC for Acumen Captures the Moment

On Thursday, March 31st, the DC for Acumen Chapter hosted a special benefit, DIGNITY DC.  This fundraiser was the tenth in a series of photo auctions curated by Nuru Project.

The chapter welcomed the DC community to join in for a rousing evening of art, music, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres; all while hearing the inspiring story of Acumen Fund, and browsing and bidding on beautiful photography for auction.

JB Reed of Nuru Project and John McKinley, Acumen’s Innovation Manager, set the stage for the night by first offering a unique introduction to Acumen Fund, and hosting a private tour of the photos for our select VIP guests.  The photos were much more than vibrant colors and visions of men, women, and children living their daily lives. Each photo represented a story to be told, in a country where Acumen Fund is a part of giving people dignity, not dependence.

After the intimate group gathered for the tour, 100 more guests started filling up the gallery.  The highlight of the evening was the lively energy that surrounded the photo auction.   With support from Nuru Project and 26 talented artists who donated their works of art, the show included breathtaking photos taken from countries Acumen invests in: Pakistan, India and Kenya, and Tanzania.  The DC community generously supported and while guests gathered around their favorite photos, they enjoyed cocktails generously donated by Barefoot Bubbly, and tasty bites from Nora’s.

As the clocked ticked and bids were ferociously scribbled, the dynamic crowd was asked to take some brief time to learn how their presence was making a difference. Chapter founders, Haroun Habib and I, welcomed guests and extended thanks for everyone’s outpouring of support.  A full room of photo enthusiasts surrounded as we also announced that not only was the DC Chapter celebrating the work of Acumen in the beautiful Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle, but also that this occasion marked the 1 year anniversary of the chapter’s inception.  After a full year of learning, being inspired by, and spreading the mission of Acumen through events and networking activities, the chapter raised their flutes in celebration for a champagne toast with the crowd.

Next on the night’s program: John McKinley.  As John took the floor to share the vision of Acumen Fund, and describe how using innovative methods to solve poverty can actually work, you could feel the energy in the room move from intrigue to impact.

After John illustrated some of Acumen Fund’s projects, JB Reed joined the floor to explain how Nuru Project leverages photography as an agent for social change in the developing world, and conducted a special live auction of some of the beautiful prints.

When the program wrapped up, guests only had a few more moments to place their final bids.  Ten seconds before pens had to be set down, the audience all joined in for a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 countdown. Anxious bidders scurried to their favored photos to see if they in fact had won the prize.  At the end of the night 26 breathtaking prints were sent home with happy winners, and the DC for Acumen team won the best prize: raising $10,000 to benefit Acumen Fund.

It is with the generosity of our sponsors, especially to Matthew & Anu Tate & Barefoot Bubbly, that helped make the event such a success. A special thank you to our guests, in-kind donors, Nora Restaurant, and especially, the Studio Gallery for hosting us.

Lastly, we’d like to thank the following DC for Acumen event committee members for their energy, dedication and steadfast commitment to making every detail of the DIGNITY DC night so special: Meaghan Casey, Adam Crockett, Miranda Franco, Haroun Habib, Ashley Lawson, Lauren Jolliff, and Sarah Reintjes.

Ashley Lawson is a Chapter Leader for DC for Acumen.


10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka and Canada.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]

Welcoming Ajit Mahadevan as Acumen India Country Director

We are pleased to announce that Ajit Mahadevan will be joining Acumen as India Country Director. Ajit joins Acumen from Ernst & Young, where he has served as Advisory Partner & Leader (Life Sciences) for the past six years.  At EY, he was a strategic advisor to the leadership of some of the leading Indian and global life science and healthcare players with the focus being business transformation and growth.  Prior to his time at E&Y, Ajit was President of Piramal Healthcare, one of the leading pharmaceuticals companies in India, where he built the international business from inception in 2002 to $300M by the end of 2008. Ajit held multiple leadership roles across strategy, M&A and business leadership. During his tenure at Accenture’s Strategic Services practice in UK and India, he led the development of one of the firm’s largest and most successful internal projects – the Offshore Development Centre in 2001, which has now grown to about 100,000 people across multiple cities in India. Ajit has worked in an advisory capacity to Acumen in the past, most recently participating in Regional Fellows selection panels in Mumbai. [Read More]