Nonprofit CEO urges students to develop leadership skills

11-04-09 Cure
President and CEO of Project CURE Douglas Jackson speaks to Canon Leadership students at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law on Tuesday night.(Serwaa Adu-Tutu | The State Press)
Published On:
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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The head of a major nonprofit organization shared his experiences Tuesday night to motivate students to develop their leadership skills.

Douglas Jackson, president and CEO of Project CURE, spoke to more than 100 students on the Tempe campus in a presentation hosted by ASU Global and the Canon Leadership Program.

Dawn Kallestad, director of corporate relations at the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs, said Jackson inspired students to develop their leadership skills.

“It was a great opportunity for our students to hear from Dr. Jackson and learn a little more about an opportunity that is right next to our campus,” she said.

Project CURE, which stands for the Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment, offers medical supplies, equipment and services as forms of relief to poor countries. One of its four distribution centers is located in Tempe.

Kallestad said it was great for students to be able to see the differences that can be made on a global scale.

“[Students] could see the differences that could be made worldwide,” she said.

Since its creation in 1987 by founder James Jackson, father of Douglas Jackson, Project CURE has delivered medical supplies to more than 120 countries.

The product of a wealthy childhood, Jackson spoke out to students about the importance of getting started with service programs and not giving up.

“We need the help of bright minds like yours,” he said to the crowd.

Nursing sophomore Bethany Blankenship, who is starting the Canon Leadership Program at the Downtown Phoenix campus, said the speech was very inspirational.

Jackson talked to students about how his organization was started out of his parents’ garage.

“It’s humbling knowing that you can start something so small,” Blankenship said. “It gives inspiration to all of us.”

Jackson told students that leadership isn’t something people fall into.
“Nobody is going to ask you to be a leader,” he said. “You decide to be a leader.”

Then he called on students to step up to create change.

“This world needs your creativity to figure some of these problems out,” he said. “You’re in the middle of this right now for a reason.”

Sherril Tomita, assistant director with the Canon Leadership Program, said the program is looking to get students involved in service around the community.

“What we are trying to do is connect students at ASU to worthy causes and student organizations,” she said. “There is so much that ASU offers.”

Jackson closed out his speech reiterating his desire for service.

“The only ones among you who will ever be truly happy are those who seek and find ways to serve other people,” Jackson said.

Reach the reporter at nathan.meacham@asu.edu.