My Purpose Is to:
Leave the world a better place than I found it and to do a little dancing along the way
I asked Jean Horstman to answer my Talking GOOD questions because of her more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience, spanning the private, public, and nonprofit sectors on two continents. Today, Jean is CEO of Interise, a Boston-based nonprofit that acts as an incubator of sorts for small businesses, by providing owners with entrepreneurial education, new networks, and access to markets. Check out the video at the end of this post to learn more about Interise and click here to learn about their StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum, which they are now licensing out to partners around the country.
Before Interise, Jean served as the National Director for Civic Engagement and Corporate Citizenship at Citizen Schools. She has partnered with other national social entrepreneurs, serving in senior leadership roles with Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), and was also the Managing Director of the Society for Organizational Learning. She spent 16 years working in the United Kingdom and Eastern and Central Europe, where she led organizations responding to societal changes related to post-industrialism, post-communism, urban and economic redevelopment, and globalization.
The 10 questions
IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?
To leave the world a better place than I found it and to do a little dancing along the way.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?”
In my early- and mid-adult years I had the opportunity to experience the world in wonderful and unexpected ways. In my 20’s I worked alongside young people living through The Troubles in Northern Ireland. In my 30’s and 40’s I collaborated with artists from all over the world who were creating new ways to imagine and understand cities. When the Berlin Wall came down, my career expanded to working with emerging leaders in the new democracies of Eastern and Central Europe. I’ve been able to live in great cities, like Pittsburgh, Boston, Berlin and London – and seen a mapful of others. I have been blessed with friends and collaborators with courage, imagination, and a love of community. In the third stage of my adult life, my wish is to live as open to learning, as committed to fairness, and as willing to say ‘yes’ to change a I did in the first two stages.
IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM?
Clayton Christensen – Harvard Business Professor and author. Question: How do we identify and develop the next disruptive social innovation that gets to the root of education reform? Educational equity is the civil rights issue of our time and for the sake of all of our children, we need the best minds we have focused on it.
WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE?
How to Change the World…while Laughing, Dancing, and Embracing Life.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
Sissy Spacek – she has proven she can do a great Appalachian accent.
WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING?
I am I, because we are we. Each one of us exists as a result of the relationships that we share with others. Even before our births, we come into existence through relationships. None of us are self-made; we co-create each other.
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES?
Roberto Clemente Walker (Pittsburgh Pirates), my Grandfather William Edward Painter, Julia Rowntree (the smartest, kindest, and most innovative woman I know) and Reverend Dr Ray Davey (founder of The Corrymeela Community)
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I would be connecting young people in low- to moderate-income communities to high paying jobs in manufacturing. Forget The Voice; we need a reality program that helps use find American’s Next Top Machinist.
TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF.
While living in London, I was the catcher on my softball team. When a hard throw to home broke my nose, I reset it myself. The amazing National Health Service does fabulous work, but it doesn’t do cosmetic surgery.
WHAT QUESTION DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED?
QUESTION: What is the major challenge facing America today? ANSWER: The opportunity to encounter and come into a relationship with people different from ourselves is increasingly rare. Our intimate circles are often made up of people who are think and believe just like us. Google, Amazon…they sort us into little camps and give us back a world that reflects that camp. In order for our multicultural society to be a thriving democracy, we need to get to know and be embraced by a circle of neighbors, friends, and colleagues who are not assembled from the same identikit.