Reflecting on a Momentous 2017

The Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors had a busy year fundraising, donating their own time, and contributing other resources toward our mission.  Month by month, Goldin’s Board represented us at international conferences, collaborated with our partners around the world, and established funding streams that will be essential to expanding our efforts in the near future.

Founder and Board Chair Diane Goldin was positively peripatetic, visiting Haiti this April along with Executive Director Travis Rejman to get updates from our partners at KOFAVIV and the Bureau of Avocats Internationaux as well as to learn about the initiatives of the Jakmel Ekspresyon community arts center and the expansive work of Father Joseph Philippe in the rural Fondwa region. Diane and Travis were awed by the way these groups cobble together scant resources to create schools, social services and housing, and battle against gender-based violence, all in a context of dire poverty and shattered infrastructure.

Diane Goldin visits colleagues from Fonkoze in Central Haiti.


In May, Diane and Travis led a delegation to Panama City, Panama, for the #EndChildViolence global forum. This was the fifth global forum hosted by our partners at Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children, and proved an excellent opportunity for Goldin’s staff from Uganda, Columbia and the United States to interact with each other as well as with other grassroots activists from around the world.

Diane Goldin and Global Associates Lissette Roa (Colombia) and Dorcas Kiplagat (Kenya) meet Ms. Lorena Castillo, the First Lady of Panama.


Under the leadership of Board Member Mimi Frankel, co-founder of the Frankel Family Foundation and longtime champion of refugees, the Goldin Institute co-hosted Chicago’s World Refugee Day commemoration in June. Organized in partnership with local groups and the City of Chicago, the World Refugee Day events offered participants a chance to hear testimony from refugees about their experiences, connect with social services, share interactive educational experiences, eat food from refugees’ countries of origin, and otherwise celebrate the added diversity refugees bring to Chicago and the nation.

World Refugee Day celebration in Chicago


Also during the summer, Advisory Board Member Akif Irfan launched a fundraising drive with his family and friends to support the work of Global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin and her team in the war-torn Philippine island of Mindanao. A former intern at the Goldin Institute who is now a vice president at Goldman Sachs financial firm, Akif has raised $5,085, with an ultimate goal of $12,500, an amount sufficient to pay for water pumps at 10 new schools that will serve thousands more children. In partnership with a broad coalition that includes both the Philippine and the Moro Liberation Army, a former rebel group, Susana and her organization have provided water pumps to more than 113 schools, serving over 40,000 students in a region where more than 70 percent of the population face obstacles to accessing safe water.

Akif Irfan's fundraising efforts have provided safe drinking water to over 1,000 students in Mindanao this year.


In September, Board Member Nathan Shapiro and his wife, Randy, were recognized by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at a special gathering with Aviv Ezra, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest. The FIDF Central Region recognized Nate and Randy for the vital role they played in rescuing Ethiopian Jewry, especially during the decade Nate served as President of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ). Under his leadership from 1983-1993, the AAEJ provided relief, rescue and advocacy on behalf of the threatened Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Sudan, leading to the successful immigration of the Ethiopian community to Israel through Operation Solomon in 1991.

Nathan Shapiro receives award in honor of his work with the American Association for Ethiopian Jews.


Dr. Aziz Asphahani, an engineer, educator and entrepreneur with more than a decade of involvement with the Goldin Institute, received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering this year. Dr. Asphahani, CEO of QuesTek Innovations, is internationally recognized for his work in the advancement of materials, reliability, alloy development and corrosion control. One product resulting from his award winning patents was used in the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty during its repair in the 1980s.

UCLA Professor and Board Member Gaye Theresa Johnson came to Chicago in November for a discussion of a new book she co-edited, “The Futures of Black Radicalism.” Some 40 activists, journalists, scholars, students and others attended the event and participated in a lively conversation around the themes raised in the book, which reflects on the seminal work of scholar-activist Cedric Robinson, who helped define the black radical tradition and the concept of “racial capitalism.”

(Right to Left) Goldin Institute Board member Dr. Gaye Johnson and her co-author Alex Lubin engage in the discussion moderated by the Institute's Community Learning and Collaboration Coordinator, Jimmie Briggs.


Finally, Board Member Tom Hinshaw marked a milestone in his involvement with YOLRED, our Uganda-based partner organization that is designed and run by former ex-child-combatants. Tom provides financial and moral support to YOLRED’s music therapy program, one of a menu of services that directly address issues affecting ex-combatants, and this month, that program and others held a mass gathering and celebration for several hundred young people. It was a joyous event that demonstrated unequivocally how returnees contribute positively to their communities.

Music Therapy Student preforms as part of the talent showcase for children of former combatants.


[quote]“The Goldin Institute - because of philosophy - can be effective, getting grassroots people involved in these issues. I just think you have to be engaged and to me, life would be much more shallow if you aren’t.”[/quote]

- Tom Hinshaw, Board of Advisors

A roofing contractor in Columbus, Indiana, Tom’s involvement with Goldin attended dates back to 2004, when he attended Institute’s event in Manresa, Spain. Tom became interested in YOLRED after helping facilitate discussions regarding the reintegration of child soldiers in Cartagena, Colombia in 2007.
“If you’re going to be responsible, be engaged, and if you’re going to be engaged, be effective,” Tom explained in a recent interview.

Advisory Board Member at U.N. Sponsored Event

Gender Equity Summit Held in New York 

Earlier this month, our Advisory Board member Akif Irfan was in attendance at a United Nations event exploring the issue of gender equity amongst young people in developing countries.

Akif reports that a diverse group focused on gender equality was in attendance. These included individuals from UN-Habitat, academia and representatives of religious organizations. Because the gathering was an open-discussion format and the group size was small by design, Akif said the event provided an open dialogue for addressing issues of gender-based violence, especially against women by focusing on remedies involving the young male population.

Because of the Institute's project work on gender-based violence, especially in Haiti, Akif found natural parallels between our work and the general findings and themes presented in the UN-Habitat sponsored event. Namely, how do we fully capitalize on the role young men can play in actively preventing violence through training and education?

Also in attendance was our former Online Education coordinator, Michael Di Maria. Michael was part of the planning and coordination of this event in his current role with Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), which also co-sponsored the meetings with the Man Up Campaign based in New York City. LCIF and Man Up Campaign are working on a pilot project focused on reversing commonly held stereotypes of young girls and women, while emphasizing a positive and non-violent paragon for masculinity. For an overview of the Foundation's Lions Quest program, a social and emotional learning program that has seen activity in over 95 countries worldwide, click here.

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