Sunday, October 15, 2017

Plant aims to build new future

Plant aims to build new future
Congregants launch robotics training, facility
Trista Bonds talks with robotics apprentice Thomas Phelps. Bonds sees a path to salvation in modern industry. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune )
By Manya Brachear Pashman Chicago Tribune
Trista Bonds, a robotics engineer, once felt a twinge of guilt for helping companies replace factory workers with machines. Living on Chicago's South Side, where industries have come and gone, she saw the debilitating effects of unemployment firsthand — drug abuse, poverty and crime.
So when the pastor of Bonds' 20,000-member congregation asked people in the pews to help empower the community, she embarked on a 10-year journey of recompense.
Last week, Bonds and other members of Apostolic Church of God in the Woodlawn neighborhood opened a manufacturing plant on the campus of Chicago State University on the Far South Side, staffed by 25 newly trained and certified apprentices.
The social enterprise, dubbed BSD Industries — Building Self Determination — last month began training an additional 40-plus students to hire at its own factory or help place in manufacturing jobs elsewhere.
"There's so much opportunity here for everyone who wants it — everyone who is willing to get down in the trenches and fight for it," said Bonds, who moved to Chicago in 2004 and joined Apostolic three years later. She believes that preparing people for modern industry is a path to salvation for downtrodden neighborhoods and their residents.
While the plant — which manufactures plastic forks, knives and spoons — provides a future in plastics, it also gives trainees hands-on experience in robotics to help them land jobs in factories across the country. The education is free.
"I have a passion for industrialization," said Bonds, pointing to the Industrial Revolution as a turning point for the nation. "I think it's the way to empower communities."
Demand for the program was evident from the start. When the church last year offered the first 40 training slots to people in the pews, 196 candidates applied. Since then, 25 have graduated and started their apprenticeships. Another 40 started robotics courses last month that will eventually prepare them to do computer-assisted design, program software and run machinery. The program hopes to produce up to 120 professionals a year.
Bonds credits her pastor, the Rev. Byron Brazier, for bringing the project to fruition.
The church backed the initiative by giving $100,000 to the Arthur M. Brazier Foundation, the factory's owner. It also received $500,000 from JPMorgan Chase & Co. as part of a three-year initiative to invest in the city's struggling South and West sides.
The Chicago Housing Authority also provided a $2 million grant to assist with job training and development for residents and voucher holders, as a way to "help them on their road to self-sufficiency," a CHA spokesman said.
"BSD industries is a win-win — it will provide critical job skills training for today while supporting a strong future for manufacturing on the South Side of Chicago," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.
Brazier also recruited an initial customer base to help turn a profit in the first year. Registered as an LC3, the tax code for social enterprises that redistribute their profits, BSD appeals to socially conscious companies and institutions, Brazier said. Customers include the University of Chicago.
Brazier said the enterprise is also looking into a new product line to help meet its social investment goals through 2019.
By the end of 2018, Brazier said, BSD intends to give more than $2 million to five elementary schools and one high school in Woodlawn and to fully fund the safety initiative of 1Woodlawn, the pastor's communitywide effort to redevelop the neighborhood.
The 1Woodlawn effort is the sequel to a development effort started by Brazier's father, Bishop Arthur Brazier, who, along with other developers in the 1990s, purchased properties along 63rd Street at a discount with the intention of building new housing and spurring retail development. The housing market crash largely halted that effort. Many of the parcels serve as church parking lots.
Over the years, Apostolic also expanded its church on 63rd Street and Dorchester Avenue to accommodate its growing membership.
But after his father retired in 2008, the Rev. Brazier announced a different approach from the pulpit.
"I wasn't going to invest in any more buildings. I was going to invest in people," Brazier said.
For Bonds, the shift coincided with her own reassessment of her priorities.
"I always kept God in my life and I always put him at the forefront," she said, "so whatever decisions and whatever directions I go in, I always try to make sure it's directed and guided by my faith."
She came to Chicago in 2004; among her employers was Grantek Systems Integration, which specializes in optimizing manufacturing operations.
While visiting a plant in Michigan to learn about a new kind of robotics technology, she asked the technicians where they got their training.
They pointed her to Focus: Hope in Detroit, an initiative launched by a priest and a nun after the 1967 riots that provides job training and jobs in one of the city's most blighted neighborhoods. She imagined a similar endeavor would work in Chicago and heard Brazier's declaration as an invitation to pitch the idea.
"Its origination takes place from people of faith who have a desire to support others that find themselves in difficult situations," Brazier said. "There are things we can do that have looked impossible ... that are being done at this time."
Wesley Mack, 54, grew up in the Englewood neighborhood. He considers himself lucky to have escaped the neighborhood and built a lucrative career in construction. But he also fought a drug addiction.
A Narcotics Anonymous meeting led him to Apostolic 17 years ago, he said. He returned the following Sunday and has been sitting in the same front pew ever since. Not long after he was seriously injured on a job site, the church announced BSD was accepting applications. He saw an opportunity to make a change for himself, but also for those he left behind. He hopes to return to Englewood and recruit others to give it a try.
"It's a chance to start over," he said. "They're trying to show the people in the neighborhood I grew up in (that) it's another way. A lot of people got stuck there. Hopefully I can give them another chance."
Twitter @TribSeeker

Monday, September 4, 2017

Obama Foundation puts new spin on South Side Short videos released on social media highlight communities, not president

Obama: Short videos released on social media highlight communities, not president Using social media to benefit all

Obama Foundation puts new spin on South Side
Short videos released on social media highlight communities, not president
Margo Strotter, second from right, works at her Bronzeville restaurant, Ain't She Sweet Cafe, on Thursday. She took part in an Obama Foundation video about the South Side. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune )
By Lolly Bowean Chicago Tribune
It's only a 58-second video, but for Jahmal Cole, it was a chance to change some minds.
So in the short clip now circulating on social media, Cole boasts about the long legacy of African-American homeownership, block clubs and neighborhood activism in Chatham — the South Side community he calls home.
"What you always hear about the South Side … all you hear about is the violence," said Cole, who runs the nonprofit organization My Block, My Hood, My City that takes teenagers to tour neighborhoods across the city. "But we have great architecture, great food, great culture. People need to see that. They need to see people on the ground getting it done. A limited mindset is what's holding our community back."
As plans to construct the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park are being sketched out, the Obama Foundation still has to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the construction, obtain city permits, select contractors and hire staff. It has to win favor from a community that has an inherent distrust of large, outside institutions.
But the organization also has to tackle a larger issue: the national and international perception of the South Side at a time when the city is being branded by President Donald Trump as a center of violence, poverty and strife.
Indeed, in Woodlawn, the community just west of where the center's campus will be located, per capita yearly income is $18,900 and the unemployment rate is 1.5 times the rest of Chicago, according to census data. Along with other communities on the South and West sides, it has experienced a disproportionate amount of violence.
Yet, foundation leaders say, media coverage and the national conversation has overshadowed success stories.
Recently, the foundation released a series of short videos on its Twitter and Instagram pages that pushes back at that narrative and presents a different story. For some, the move illustrates one of the tougher challenges the organization faces, and that is convincing outsiders to not only travel farther south than most of the popular tourist attractions, but to stay and patronize the rest of the community.
"(The foundation seems) to be trying to see beyond just President Barack Obama and see the whole community," said Benjamin Hufbauer, a professor at the University of Louisville who is an expert on presidential libraries and museums. "That's somewhat different than how other presidential centers have engaged the public."
The video series is also unusual because rather than spotlight the president, which is what nearly all the other centers do with their social media pages, this effort highlights ordinary residents, he said.
"The center will probably have a certain amount of spin and will brand Obama in a certain way — all presidential centers do," he said. "But Chicago is a complicated and tough city — the residents there probably wouldn't accept a center that is just PR or ego boosting. There has to be more there."
The social media push comes about two years after the foundation's chair, Martin Nesbitt, told a group of civic leaders and elected officials that the city needed to get its house in order before the center is constructed. By deciding to place the center in the midst of a low-income, African-American community, the president and first lady wanted it to have an impact by bringing money and jobs. But with the world watching, Chicago needs to demonstrate it can fix its own problems, Nesbitt said at the time.
The release of the short videos came just before officials announced the creation of a new nonprofit charged with helping spur economic development in the nearby neighborhoods of Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park.
Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and advertising executive Sherman Wright were selected to lead a 25-member committee made up of community activists, business owners, University of Chicago executives and clergy. The group was organized, in part, by the Chicago Community Trust.
But the videos do something different than spur community development, said Pepper Miller, a Chicago-based marketing consultant who is not affiliated with the foundation. They highlight a segment of the community that often feels overlooked while at the same time promoting the area as ripe for investment, she said.
"From my view, it looks strategic, it seems intentional. But it's much-needed," she said of what she sees as a rebranding effort. "The black community has always embraced Obama. This seems like a way to try to include us and think about the way he can have a bigger impact."
When he was president, Obama couldn't focus specifically on Chicago's black community, Miller said. But with this social media push, his foundation's staff can promote and make sure diverse voices are included in the overall vision and gains of the center, she said.
"The Obama Center is not just for Chicago, it is a national and global destination, so the entire community has to be viewed as attractive," she said. "This strategy can work if they are consistent with the message. There has to be a long-term message that builds momentum and reveals a whole other side that people outside don't see."
Michael Strautmanis, the vice president for civic engagement with the Obama Foundation, says the new messaging is neither an attempt to recast the South Side or create allies among stakeholders in the community. Rather, it's the foundation's way of using its platform as a megaphone for others who have been organizing years before the center was even launched.
"The prevailing narrative is inaccurate and incomplete," he said in a recent interview. "It paints the people as doing nothing and not caring about their lives or their destinies. It was important for us to give voice to the people we've met and talked to and use their stories to shed light."
The videos simply allow South Siders to speak up for themselves, he said.
"This is part of what the president has said he wants to do in the next stages of his career," he said. "He knows he can use his platform to inspire people to help create solutions to our problems and be the solution. These are the people who are doing that here, now."
Residents didn't get paid to participate in the videos. It took only hours to tape them and edit them into minute-long packages, both the participants and foundation officials said. The clips take the foundation's nearly 1 million viewers into Pilsen, Englewood and the Grand Boulevard section of Bronzeville — areas that are miles away from where the center will be located.
Emile Cambry, who runs the nonprofit tech incubator Blue 1647 in Pilsen, said he got an email inviting him to be profiled. He thought it was an exciting way to reach a new audience.
"Chicago has gotten a bad rap nationally," he said. "When you talk to outsiders, they don't know about all the good people who are combating the negative. I always say there are a lot of creative people here doing work, and we just need our platforms elevated."
Since the clip was released by the foundation, Cambry said he has seen the response.
"It's the most viral video we've ever had," he said. "More people are getting to hear my story and see the space. I'd like to think they see the authenticity of what we do and our reasons."
With the development of the center, change is going to come to Bronzeville, said Margo Strotter, the owner of Ain't She Sweet Cafe. She wanted to tell her story to spur the type of investment she made 11 years ago.
"I've always been about providing jobs for people in the neighborhood — hiring folks like me that grew up on the South Side and found it difficult to find work," she said.
"That's what we think the center will do: bring jobs to a place that needs them," she said. "They approached me to tape, and I'm on board," she said.
In Cole's clip, he walks down a residential block and the camera captures him among the handsome brick bungalows set back from the glowing, manicured lawns. Like the others who were profiled, he never refers to Obama and doesn't talk about the center at all. He talks quickly about the work his organization does and his motivations.
"The video not only highlighted me, but the community," he said. "My followers went up by a few hundred people and I got words from people all over the world."
But there's another reason besides changing the minds of outsiders that Cole is excited about the videos, he said.
"This is good for us here too — to see these videos," he said. "It's a good look … it reminds us what we already have."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How 22 words started a $17-million-a-year blog

I thought you would be interested in this article I found on MSN from CNBC:

How 22 words started a $17-million-a-year blog

Source - CNBC

"When I first started [the blog], it was really just to have fun," says Abraham Piper, the founder of viral publishing website 22 Words.

Shared via MSN News app. Get the app here.

Image © Provided by CNBC

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Clear Connection Between Slavery and American Capitalism - HBS Working Knowledge - Harvard Business School

Anybody know any online, podcasts, book club or other intellectual discussions, of this book or the subject? Anybody interested?





Why Are We Still Classifying Companies by Industry?


What Airbnb, Uber, and Alibaba Have in Common

Barry LibertYoram (Jerry) WindMegan Beck

NOVEMBER 20, 2014


When Facebook acquired the messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in the spring of 2014, the question on everyone's mind was, does the service really merit a valuation of almost 20 times projected revenues?

WhatApp's valuation may be extreme, but huge gaps between revenues and valuation are increasingly common. Cloud-based sharing service Dropbox received venture capital funding at a valuation of $10 billion, or 40 times revenues. raised funding at a valuation of $10 billion, which would make it worth nearly 20 times its revenues — and worth more than Hyatt Hotels or Wyndham Worldwide. Taxi-replacement service Uber is currently raising funding and is expected to see a valuation of $30 billion, estimated to be more than 15 times revenues. Most recently, Alibaba's IPO raised funds at a value approximately 10 times revenues.

These companies represent a new trend in the types of business that investors prefer. Leaders of more traditional companies are left wondering why these upstarts merit such high valuations. Are they more profitable? Do they see faster growth? Do they have higher return on assets and lower marginal costs?

Our answer is yes — to all of the above.

In collaboration with Deloitte, we examined 40 years of financial data for the S&P 500 companies to see how valuations trends have evolved along with business models and emerging technologies. Our research led to three key findings.

1. There are four business models.

To begin, we searched for a simple way to characterize the different types of business that were engaging the hearts and minds, and pocket books, of investors. Because today's highly valued, fast growing businesses can be found in almost every industry, we quickly moved past standard industrial classifications and developed a new framework based on business model, which is theprincipal way an organization invests its capital to generate and capture value.

The four models are:

Asset Builders: These companies build, develop, and lease physical assets to make, market, distribute, and sell physical things. Examples include Ford, Wal-Mart, and FedEx.Service Providers: These companies hire employees who provide services to customers or produce billable hours for which they charge. Examples include United Healthcare, Accenture, and JP Morgan.Technology Creators: These companies develop and sell intellectual property such as software, analytics, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Examples include Microsoft, Oracle, and Amgen.Network Orchestrators. These companies create a network of peers in which the participants interact and share in the value creation. They may sell products or services, build relationships, share advice, give reviews, collaborate, co-create and more. Examples include eBay, Red Hat, and Visa, Uber, Tripadvisor, and Alibaba.

We applied this business model framework to our dataset, the S&P 500 Index companies from 1972 to present, in order to see how the four models performed over time. Two different researchers categorized each company into its dominant business model, giving consideration to several factors: The company's description of itself in annual reports; the revenue generated by different business units; capital allocation patterns such as R&D or COGS expenditure; and market perceptions including news articles and analyst reports.

Although most companies operate in several business model categories, we assigned to each company the most advanced business model that it uses for a significant portion of its business, or that it is making strong efforts to develop. For example, although most of Nike's business is manufacturing and selling shoes, which we classify as Asset Building, Nike has also developed the Nike+ ecosystem, which connects these physical goods to the Internet where users track activities and share progress with their friends. For this reason, we classified Nike as a Network Orchestrator.

2. Network Orchestrators create more value.

Our business model classification and analysis yielded some surprising results. Network Orchestrators outperform companies with other business models on several key dimensions. These advantages include higher valuations relative to their revenue, faster growth, and larger profit margins.

Let's look at the numbers in detail. Our analysis indicates that as of 2013, Network Orchestrators receive valuations two to four times higher, on average, than companies with the other business models. Further, trend data over the past decade indicates that this valuation gap is widening over time. We call this degree to which a business model drives the gap between revenues and valuation "the multiplier effect."

A company's price to revenue ratio – what we call its "multiplier" — is calculated based on its market valuation and revenues, two numbers that are difficult to manipulate with accounting. Market valuations reflect investor expectations for future cash flows, and indeed we found that companies with the highest multipliers outperform less valued companies on revenue growth, profitability, and Return on Assets for more than a decade.

When we looked beyond the impact of business model on price-to-revenue ratio, we also found that Network Orchestrators outperform companies with other business models on both compound annual growth rate and profit margin. We believe this occurs because the value creation performed by the network on behalf of the organization reduces the company's marginal cost, as described in Jeremy Rifkin's The Zero Marginal Cost Society. For example, benefits from its customer's reviews and AirBnb leverages its network's housing assets.

3. Few companies operate as Network Orchestrators.

Fewer than 5% of companies are Network Orchestrators despite the positive impact of this business model on multiple performance measures. Why? We see several reasons.

First, today's network-based business models require new technologies and competencies. Most corporate leaders are skilled at building, owning, and managing their own physical assets or people. Network Orchestrators, however, rely on intangibles such as knowledge (Gerson Lehrman Group) or relationships (Facebook), or other people's assets (Uber) as well as new "non-management" and "non-ownership" competencies related to facilitating a network of individuals and their individual assets and relationships.

Second, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) categorize some assets as "assets" (plant property and equipment), others as expenses (people, training, and intellectual property) and ignores others (customers, sentiment, and networks) altogether, frequently resulting in the under-allocation of capital to intangible assets. This is especially problematic given that, today, intangible assets make up approximately 80% of corporate market value.

Third, standard industry designations result in siloed thinking, leaving empty space where new business models can enter. For example, think back to the early 1990s. Most traditional retailers were slow to move into the online space because they didn't consider themselves "technology companies." The online market was left open, and in came a slew of new players such as Amazon, eBay, and Zappos, who gobbled up market share and changed the retail game. Today, the power of networks is creating a new cross-industry transformation. Consider what Uber and Lyft are doing to the taxi industry or how Airbnb is affecting the hotel industry.

Finally, business models are tightly integrated into all parts of a company, and are therefore daunting to change. Changing business model requires changing capital allocation, but Research by McKinsey & Company shows that most companies follow the same allocation patterns year after year, despite dramatic changes in the business environment.

These factors make it difficult for executives and board members to cash in on the value offered by new business models.

Networks are sources of information, capabilities, and assets that lie in and around every organization. Most networks, however, lie dormant and untapped. To become a Network Orchestrator and create more value and better performance, leaders must connect to and activate their networks, tapping into new sources of value, both tangible (Airbnb's network of lodgings) and intangible (the expertise of Apple's Developer Network). We recommend that all leaders and boards consider the steps below:

Assess your business model. Understand which business models currently exist within your organization and also the preferences and biases of the leadership team members who have created these models through capital allocation.Inventory your network assets. Take stock of your dormant network assets including customers, employees, partners, suppliers, distributors, and investors, and determine which have the greatest potential.Reallocate your capital to networks. Divert at least 5% to 10% of investment capital to activating your networks. Take an experimental approach to early allocation and expect ongoing adaptation. This could be accomplished organically, or through acquisition or partnership.Add network KPIs. Add to your standard financial metrics new network-oriented indicators such as number of participants, their sentiment, and level of engagement. These KPIs will provide direction for your network adaptation.

The bottom line: begin your evolution today and create the multiplier effect in your own organization. Activate your dormant networks by reaching out to your customers, employees, partners, suppliers, employees, and investors and figure out how you can co-create value with them.

Take this assessement on to determine your business model and learn how to build and leverage your network assets.

Barry Libert is the CEO of OpenMatters, a digital consultancy and angel investor, and Senior Fellow at the SEI Center at Wharton. He is also the coauthor of The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models.

Yoram (Jerry) Wind is the Lauder Professor and a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in Philadelphia. He is the coauthor of The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models.

Megan Beck is a digital consultant at OpenMatters and researcher at the SEI Center at Wharton. She is the coauthor of The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models.

This article is about STRATEGY


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Sun Sun 7 months ago

Dear Barry, I am very interesting in your research. Can you give me the Data in this article? Thank you very much.


0  0 



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Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Man Who Saved Europe the Last Time - WSJ


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The Man Who Saved Europe the Last Time
Konrad Adenauer restored democracy to Germany and helped unify a devastated Continent.
Konrad Adenauer (second from left), Sept. 21, 1949, with the high commissioners of the occupation (left to right), America's John J. McCloy, Britain's Sir Brian Robertson and France's André François-Poncet.
Konrad Adenauer (second from left), Sept. 21, 1949, with the high commissioners of the occupation (left to right), America's John J. McCloy, Britain's Sir Brian Robertson and France's André François-Poncet. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE
By Henry A. Kissinger
April 28, 2017 6:10 p.m. ET
The attribute of greatness is reserved for leaders from whose time onward history can be told only in terms of their achievements. I observed essential elements of Germany's history—as a native son, as a refugee from its upheavals, as a soldier in the American army of occupation, and as a witness to its astonishing renewal.

Only a few who experienced this evolution remain. For many contemporary Germans, the Adenauer period seems like a tale from an era long transcended. To the contrary, they live in a dynamic established by Konrad Adenauer, a man whose lifespan, from 1876 to 1967, covered all but five years of the unified German national state first proclaimed in 1871.

Devastated, impoverished, partitioned, the Federal Republic came about after World War II by the merger of the American, British and French zones of occupation, containing just two-thirds of Germany's prewar population. Five million refugees from Germany's prewar territories needed integration; they agitated for the recovery of lost territories. The Soviet occupation zone, containing 18 million people, was turned into a communist political entity.

The Federal Republic's advent capped a century of discontinuity. The Empire after Bismarck had felt beleaguered by the alliances surrounding it; the Weimar Republic after World War I had felt abused by an imposed peace settlement; Hitler had sought an atavistic world dominion; the Federal Republic arose amid a legacy of global resentment.

The newly elected German Parliament chose Adenauer as chancellor by a margin of just one vote on Sept. 15, 1949. Shortly afterward, on Nov. 22, 1949, he signed the Petersberg Agreement with the three Allied high commissioners, conferring the attributes of sovereignty on the Federal Republic but withholding its premise of juridical equality. The center of its mining activity, the Ruhr, remained under special Allied control, as did the industrial Saar region along the French border. Adenauer's acquiescence to these terms earned him the sobriquet from his opposition "Chancellor of the Allies."

In his first formal encounter with the three high commissioners, on Sept. 21, 1949, Adenauer demonstrated that he would accept discrimination but not subordination. The high commissioners had assembled on a carpet; to its side, a place for Adenauer had been designated. The chancellor challenged protocol by stepping directly onto the carpet facing his hosts.

From this posture, Adenauer heralded a historic turning point. The new Federal Republic would seek, in his words, "full freedom" by earning a place in the community of nations, not by pressure or by seizing it. Calling for an entirely new conception of foreign policy, Adenauer proclaimed the goal of "a positive and viable European federation" to overcome "the narrow nationalistic conception of the states as it prevailed in the 19th and 20th century . . . in order to restore the unity of European life in all fields of endeavor."

Adenauer's conduct reinforced his rejection of European history. Tall, erect, imperturbable, his face immobile from an automobile accident in his youth, he exuded the serenity of the pre-World War I world that had formed him. Equally distinctive was his sparse speaking style. It conveyed that unobtrusiveness and performance, not exhortation or imposition, were to be the operating style for the new Germany.

Winston Churchill had made a comparable proposal for Europe two days before in Zurich, but Churchill was not in office then. Governing amid defeat and division, Adenauer had proposed an indefinite (possibly permanent) partition of his country while integrating it into a nascent European structure. The country whose nationalism had precipitated two world wars would henceforth rely on partnership with its erstwhile enemies.

The turn westward proved fundamental. The choice of Bonn as the new capital, located in the westernmost part of Germany, with close links to Western Europe, was symbolic. Adenauer convinced the Parliament to select Bonn because, as he said sardonically, he wanted the capital to be in the wine region, not amid potato fields, and not least because his home village of Rhöndorf (population of about 1,000) was not suitable for a capital.

It required all of Adenauer's personality and stature to implement these visions. Opposition came largely from the Social Democratic Party, which, while pro-democracy, insisted on a national policy of neutrality. The opposition included vestiges of German conservatives, one of whose spokesmen was Heinrich Brüning, the chancellor whose overthrow in 1932 had opened the way for Hitler.

Adenauer proved adamant. He made democratic regeneration his first priority as the precondition to integration into Europe. A renewed reputation for reliability was essential. Maneuvering between the superpowers would destroy confidence and repeat historical tragedies.

Adenauer's foreign policy was founded on the moral imperative of democracy. He envisaged a relentless progression toward the twin goals of a security partnership with America and political integration with Europe.

The Petersberg Agreement of 1949 was followed by negotiations over European defense, spurred by the Korean War and the Soviet military buildup in Central Europe. As NATO was forming, Adenauer urged the European nations to pool their efforts into the European Defense Community. After the French Assembly rejected this concept, Adenauer in 1954 agreed to the Paris Accords, which ended West Germany's occupation, affirmed its sovereignty, and opened the way to its national membership in NATO. The culmination was Adenauer's 1955 visit to Washington. When the German national anthem was played as he visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Adenauer described it as the most moving moment of his life.

European integration followed a comparable, in retrospect inevitable, sequence. From France and Germany's 1951 agreement to establish the Coal and Steel Community to the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which established the European Economic Community, Adenauer, working with wise French leaders, overcame one of world history's once-hereditary national animosities.

Within the space of six years, Adenauer had moved his country from an outcast to an equal member in political and security arrangements unprecedented in European history. This was made possible by a spirit of American creativity which, in the Marshall Plan and the origination of NATO, overcame America's pre-World War II isolationism.

The U.S. became Germany's principal link to security through NATO, and to economic recovery through the Marshall Plan. France, as the link to the European Community, played a comparable role. In America, John Foster Dulles symbolized the relationship; in France, President Charles de Gaulle. They both represented to Adenauer elements capable of stabilizing the inevitable storms the future might hold. In that sense, Adenauer viewed Europe as a potential corrective to the fluctuations into which global responsibilities and a certain inherent restlessness on occasion drew the U.S. When, in 1956, Guy Mollet, France's prime minister, stressed a gap between the obligations of NATO and American conduct in the Suez Crisis, Adenauer defended the existing structures as flexible enough to recover shared vitality: "Europe will be your revenge," he said.

I had the privilege of hearing Adenauer's vision in several conversations with him over a 10-year period. His courtesy and serenity were his most memorable traits. Our first meeting took place in 1957, shortly after a Soviet ultimatum threatening Berlin. Adenauer concentrated on the nightmare of everyone privy to nuclear planning: whether any U.S. president would actually bring himself to unleash the catastrophe on which NATO nuclear strategy was based. Since the official answer was formal but the actual one would depend on unknowable contingencies and personalities, he raised the question at every subsequent meeting.

Another major issue preoccupying Adenauer was geopolitical evolution. Did I realize that a break between China and Russia was imminent? The West should prepare for that contingency and not provide too many temptations to its adversaries by its divisions. He construed surprised silence as assent and, on his first visit to the White House in 1961, repeated the prediction, adding, to an astonished President Kennedy: "Professor Kissinger agrees with me."

In 1962, as part-time consultant to President Kennedy, I was asked during a crisis to reassure Adenauer about America's determination and capacity to defend Berlin and support Germany. I had been briefed to present details of some nuclear capabilities and deployments on a personal, presidential basis—information which, at that time, was shared with only the U.K.

As I began my presentation of the political issues, Adenauer interrupted: "They have already told me this in Washington. If it did not convince me there, why would it convince me here?" I replied that I was an academic, and a government employee only a quarter of my time. Adenauer was nonplussed. In that case, he replied: Let us assume you will convince me three-quarters of the way.

But when I presented the military briefing, Adenauer was transformed—partly because of the enormous gap in the West's favor that it demonstrated, but above all because of the confidence President Kennedy had shown in him. It turned into the warmest of all my meetings with him.

A moving aftermath followed some decades later. I received a letter whose sender I did not recognize. He had served as an interpreter during that conversation (though German is my native language, I generally conduct official conversations in English because my vocabulary is more precise, especially on technical matters). Adenauer had given me his word of honor not to distribute the nuclear information I had shared with him. The interpreter informed me that he had, in fact, given a full record of my briefing to Adenauer, who had instructed him to destroy the nuclear portion out of respect for his word of honor.

The historic German-American partnership that began with the Adenauer chancellorship proceeded from almost diametrically opposed starting points. Adenauer assumed office at probably the lowest point of German history. The U.S. was at the zenith of its power and self-confidence. Adenauer saw his task as rebuilding Christian and democratic values through new designs for traditional German and European institutions. America had equally grand objectives and, at times, pursued them with insistent certainty. For Adenauer, the reconstruction of Europe was the rediscovery of ancient values; for America, the implementation of prevailing ones. For Adenauer to succeed, it was necessary to stabilize the soul of Germany; for America, to mobilize existing idealism. Occasionally there were strains, especially when American optimism overestimated the scope for more-fragile structures and divergent historic memories.

The Atlantic relationship between Bonn and Washington transformed, however, the shattered world it inherited and helped create a half-century of peace between major powers.

This system is now under stress from simultaneous upheavals on several continents. Can it heal a fractured world by rediscovering the conviction and creativity with which it was built?

Mr. Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford. This is adapted from an April 25 speech to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Appeared in the Apr. 29, 2017, print edition.

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More than a million patients flock to this website. Drug companies are in hot pursuit. - The Washington Post

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More than a million patients flock to this website. Drug companies are in hot pursuit.

Inspire chief executive Brian Loew's nine-year-old medical-website business, based in Arlington, has 1.1 million members, 33 employees, nearly $10 million in revenue and will turn its first profit this year. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

By Thomas Heath Reporter April 28
This isn't Brian Loew's first run at Internet success.

During the thick of the dot-com mania 20 years ago, Loew and some friends built an online publishing company called It had 150 employees and $15 million in revenue but, like many start-ups from the era, it never posted a profit. created website software in the Internet's early days for Elle, Car and Driver, the ill-fated George magazine and other publications.

"I was going to be rich beyond my wildest dreams," Loew said, recounting what his bankers had told him at the time.

Ten days away from the company's initial public offering, the go-go, dot-com age imploded and Loew's path to riches vaporized. The company, which bankers predicted could eventually be worth $1 billion, was sold off for a small fraction of that.

"Investors got their money back, but nobody got rich," Loew said.

The 46-year-old entrepreneur appears to be on to something with a better future this time around. His nine-year-old medical-website business, known as Inspire, has 1.1 million members, 33 employees and nearly $10 million in revenue, and it will turn its first profit this year.

Inspire essentially is a giant, online discussion community where people can use real or assumed names to share experiences, information and advice about their various medical conditions.

"Join many others who understand what you're going through and are making important decisions about their health," says the greeting on Inspire's website.

[Trump calls for lower drug prices, fewer regulations in meeting with pharmaceutical executives]

Loew and his company are attached to the surge of patient assertiveness, with more people questioning their health care and taking more of the responsibility out of the hands of professionals.

"Patient centricity really matters," said Loew, who owns a big chunk of the company, along with investors and employees.

Membership is free and increasing by 1,000 per day. Seventy-eight percent of members are women.

"Women are the chief medical officers of the home," Loew said. "Many of our female members represent a member of the family — husbands, fathers, fathers-in-law, siblings, children. So sometimes a woman would join and say, 'I'm a parent of a 'preemie,' a child of someone with a medical condition, a sister of someone else.' "

The company has a team of community moderators to make sure members get along on chats.

Revenue comes from advertising and from companies looking for hard-to-find patients to participate in clinical drug trials or market research.

Many of the research contracts come from pharmaceutical giants to carry out drug trials or marketing studies on everything from psoriasis (one of the most common ailments among members) to cancer. The contracts can pay anywhere from $50,000 to $750,000, Loew said. It usually amounts to about $1,000 per patient for market research and up to $10,000 for clinical trials.

Inspire's clients include the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world, as well as most of the top 25.

"It matters to these companies what patients think and want and how they make decisions," Loew said.

Inspire doesn't advertise to promote itself. It gets exposure from many of its nonprofit-organization partners, such as the American Lung Association, the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation. Some members come from posting specific medical terms on Google search, which brings them to Inspire.

[House Freedom Caucus leaders back new health-care plan]

While revenue is split evenly between advertising and research projects, Loew said that there is more upside in research.

One quarter of Inspire's members, or about 250,000 people, are afflicted with rare diseases. They use online searches to find people facing similar challenges. The pool includes people who suffer from relatively rare maladies such as Wilson's disease, pulmonary fibrosis and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor or PNET, which killed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. A large concentration of PNET sufferers are on Inspire.

The site also has 40,000 members in the community of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a disorder of the tissue surrounding joints.

"What that means is that if you are a researcher trying to study these things, you have trouble finding patients," Loew said. "And we have the patients. The researcher comes to us and we invite the member to participate."

Getting people to open up to researchers is handled delicately. (I confess to a certain unease when it comes to personal health issues online, even though I have written about them for this newspaper.)

Loew said the key is honesty and transparency when approaching members about participating in studies: "Particularly when someone is sick, it's important that they think they are in control. A lot of people are being asked these questions at their most vulnerable moment."

Loew said Inspire emails members, notifying them of a study, describing what it is and informing them how to participate if they would like. "And if they don't respond, we ask more people," he said. "No means no."

If the patient wants to connect with the researcher, Inspire helps them meet and then steps out of the way.

The clients can get pretty specific about what they need. One pharmaceutical company came to Inspire for help in locating hemophilia Type B patients. The search had been going on for two years. Inspire found the patients in two weeks from its membership.

Loew has always had a science bent. He grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Fairfax County. His mother taught elementary school and his father still teaches biomedical engineering at George Washington University.

Loew received his first computer at age 10. He attended the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, then double-majored in physics and economics at GWU.

[This doctor's tool kit includes a remedy from the past: House Calls]

After graduating in 1993, he wrote computer code at the World Bank, then worked for Nature, the British science journal. He and some friends started in 1993. The entire arc of the company, including the sell-off in 2000, left him depressed.

"We were so close to going public, and then the world changed," he said, looking back.

He was hired by The Washington Post to help with technology strategy.

The idea for Inspire was born at a 2005 event sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry, in which Loew's wife, an organic chemist, was employed. Several people at the event were in the research-and-development end of the drug business.

"These R&D companies with gigantic budgets described their biggest problem as recruiting patients for clinical trials," he said. "Privacy in America makes it appropriately illegal to buy lists of patients."

A lightbulb went off, he said: "What if you create a social network for patients and caregivers and allow them to raise their hands if they want to participate in clinical trials?"

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Loew wrote a business plan to build a website with communities of patients organized by issues: prostate cancer; lung cancer; psoriasis; infertility; preemies.

"The idea was to create a safe, supportive community for patients to gather. If you were diagnosed with something serious," he said, "we knew a community could help with those things. Patients seek other patients to get support and compare notes."

Inspire now inhabits a 6,000-square-foot office in Arlington. Loew expects it to turn its first profit this year.

And It lives on. Some former employees bought the company back. To this day, it writes the secure, daily briefing for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Read more:

These health care entrepreneurs try to keep win streak going

The dentist who became one of the richest people in Washington

A boring business that Warren Buffett would love

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Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post's sports section for most of a decade. Follow @addedvalueth
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9:25 AM CDT
My wake up call about the state of the so called medical establishment was a fine book, Ending Medical Reversal. Two notable doctors wrote in with input from many Physicians . The two authors are, Vinatak Prasad, and Adam Cifu. With the medical profession and pharma's history of lets do this it should work, to the new drumbeat, nothing should happen, without evidence based trials a whole new world faces patients. The internet has opened up a way for people to do their own research, and not simply proceed with one treatment or instructions.
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6:50 AM CDT
It's an interesting idea. Cross between patient support and education and hooking potential subjects up with research. I understand that fully half of current research is in the field of medicine/health, probably because that's where the revenue potential is. I'd be very careful about the possibility of exploitation. Doesn't sound like the founder is too concerned, however. He's mainly in it for the wealth.
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6:12 AM CDT
FDA? Walk to work.
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4/28/2017 9:32 AM CDT
What a great concept! And keeping a barrier in place between the drug companies and the potential patients is Inspired. It makes the whole thing work for everybody. Congratulations, and I hope it makes a lot of money.
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6:48 AM CDT
Not much of a barrier, I think.
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Paying gift of redemption forward

Paying gift of redemption forward
Nonprofit founder helping offenders make it to college
Daniel Geiter speaks with Sister Susan Sanders at the center named in her honor in Chicago on Friday. ( Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune )
By Manya Brachear Pashman Chicago Tribune
For felon Daniel Geiter, mercy opened the door to his future.
If it hadn't been for a Roman Catholic Sister of Mercy who answered his cry for help eight years ago, Geiter believes he never would have had an opportunity to redeem himself.
Sister Susan Sanders, then vice president for mission at St. Xavier University, was the only college administrator to answer a mass email from Geiter, a St. Xavier student pleading for support.
On top of owing tuition at the private Catholic university, Geiter had fallen behind on his rent and his family of three faced eviction. His utilities had been shut off and, unable to afford bus fare, he was walking 4 miles a day to and from Blue Island to get to classes on the South Side campus. Dropping out seemed to be the only option. But Geiter couldn't bear the thought of another closed door.
"He was desperate for rent, desperate to continue, desperate to have someone hear him," Sanders recalled. "He was desperate for a future."
Sanders found a donor to cover the family's rent and utilities and got Geiter a job on campus.
But most important, she listened and recognized that Geiter's intentions were sincere. Not only did he want to earn a degree, he wanted to give back to society and help others who had made mistakes.
This Easter season — when Christians celebrate resurrection and rebirth — Geiter is giving 15 ex-offenders a similar chance at redemption, and also showing his gratitude for the woman he says changed his life.
Last month, Geiter opened the Susan M. Sanders Teaching and Learning Center inside the Lacuna Artists Loft in the Pilsen neighborhood. Named for his mentor and friend, the nonprofit founded by Geiter hosts five men and 10 women — all formerly incarcerated — who are finding hope as they prepare for what once seemed out of reach: a college education.
Sanders, 65, who now helps lead a regional office of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in Omaha, Neb., on Good Friday visited the center conceived and run by Geiter to meet the first crop of students.
Fifteen more are expected to go through the program before the end of the year.
"What can be worse than being without hope?" Sanders said. "That's what Easter is all about. It's about hope in something you haven't seen. It's new life, resurrection."
Sanders gave that kind of hope to Geiter — who had been in and out of prison since he was a teenager and rejected from jobs because of his criminal record. He eventually turned to education as a way to create a better future for himself and set an example for his son. With Sanders' help, Geiter went on to earn a master's of liberal arts from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in higher education at Benedictine University.
Geiter said Sanders gave him a second chance at a life that almost went to waste.
"That simple act of mercy and kindness with no expectation of payment was enough to make me understand my experience and education is unique," Geiter said. "I know Sister Sue saved my life."
Now Geiter, 50, hopes to do the same for others like him.
At the center, students learn how to navigate the challenges facing ex-offenders. They are required to work 15 hours a week at a part-time job and another 15 hours taking classes free of charge. They work toward their GEDs or do what it takes to prepare for college or vocational degrees. Most of the instructors, including Geiter, are former offenders.
In addition to the 30 participants now enrolled in the program, more than 700 are on a waiting list. A separate group of students has started coming twice a week at 2:30 a.m. to work toward their GEDs.
Few teachers would schedule class before dawn to accommodate students' busy lives, but Geiter said that's the beauty of the center, which is designed to serve unconventional students.
"Everyone wants to make the round piece fit into the square hole," he said. "That's not how education works. Everyone needs a different kind of mercy."
Geiter's life of crime spanned almost two decades. At 15, he stole checks from a teacher's purse, forged them, cashed them and landed behind bars for theft and forgery. For the next 17 years, he continued to commit crimes of fraud, forgery and theft, serving time in most of the state's penitentiaries before he was 30.
When his last prison sentence ended in 1999, he vowed he wouldn't be back. He moved to Chicago from Champaign in 2007 when the business he and his wife owned went bankrupt.
In Chicago, he encountered common barriers that keep ex-offenders segregated from society. At the time, nearly 75 percent of affordable housing was off-limits to people with felony convictions, not to mention many jobs.
He was ineligible for most state professional licenses and got fired from a job as a dishwasher in a pizza parlor when his background check turned up a conviction.
He enrolled in a class at Moraine Valley Community College, where he met Sylvia Jenkins, then a professor and now the college president, who told him the path to redemption was paved by education.
"The more knowledge you have, that's something people can't take from you," Jenkins said in a recent interview. "Once you have that education and you're able to think and discern information for yourself, then the better off you will be."
After earning an associate degree at Moraine Valley and deciding he wanted to teach, Geiter was accepted at Chicago State University. But when a St. Xavier recruiter insisted that the school could help him get certified to teach sooner, he followed his calling there instead.
That decision changed the course of his life, because it led him to Sanders and Elijah Ward, then a professor of African-American studies who taught a class about the social construct of race.
Ward said Geiter constantly challenged him during lectures, often based on additional reading, and had an awareness of when issues of day-to-day life — transportation, finances, employment — were holding students back.
"He was constantly pointing out ways to me in which the institution actually thwarts the students' success, even though it's not its intention," said Ward, whose family's foundation is one of the primary financial backers of the center named for Sanders.
"He wanted the world to be accessible to each student."
Ward, who now serves as chief academic officer of the foundation and the center, said opening the center during the Lenten season, when Christians replicate Jesus' sacrifice leading up to Easter, has special significance.
"It's about a chance of becoming the person you know you could be, even though that may have seemed impossible previously," said Ward, who has designed the center's online platform for college preparation and rehabilitation. "It's someone holding out to you — or you holding out to others — the chance for rebirth."
Sanders, who grew up on Chicago's South Side, said she is humbled by the center's name. She insists she was simply living out the mission of the Sisters of Mercy when she took Geiter under her wing eight years ago and didn't do anything another sister wouldn't do. Geiter just "snitched on what I did for him," she said, jokingly referring to his public show of gratitude.
She didn't offer Geiter an education simply as a means to an end. Education "is about music, art, mind expansion and meeting new people," she said.
Education often focuses too much on professors, rules and institutions and not enough on students and life's fundamental questions, she said, adding that she gave more to Geiter than just financial support. She also offered — and gained — a friendship.
Students need to be reminded by their teachers that, regardless of how society treats them, they "have dignity and respect and talent."
"If the Sanders Center can do that for the men and women coming out of prison that need their perspective expanded in a way that's nurturing, that's fabulous."
Twitter @TribSeeker

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Finding Growth at My Historically Black College

"Being one of the few black kids in my school was all I'd ever known before college. Having my hair teasingly prodded during recess or being called "oreo" felt normal. From 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., I learned to excuse small indignities, and I used humor as a defense mechanism. When I got home, I could finally vent to the few other people who understood. My mother was very clear: "Don't let anyone touch your hair and you better not let them call you outside of your name.""

Sunday, March 19, 2017 As Uber Woos More Drivers, Taxis Hit Back

From The New York Times:

As Uber Woos More Drivers, Taxis Hit Back

Rival centers serving drivers underscore a fierce competition as ride-hailing apps have expanded in New York.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fwd: ABC says Trump claimed 2 were shot dead in Chicago during Obama's speech. But it never happened.

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Tribune Alert <>
Date: Thu, Jan 26, 2017, 7:47 PM
Subject: ABC says Trump claimed 2 were shot dead in Chicago during Obama's speech. But it never happened.
To: <>

January 26, 2017

An ABC News transcript of its interview with President Donald Trump on Wednesday quoted him as saying that two people were fatally shot in Chicago while his predecessor, Barack Obama, was giving his farewell speech at McCormick Place — a claim shown to be false by Police Department records.


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