On March 17th, friends and supporters of Atlas Corps from around the world gathered to celebrate the Hail and Farewell of Founder Scott Beale. After 15 years as CEO, Scott has transitioned into a new role to continue to advance global service. We are proud of Scott and excited for this next chapter for him and Atlas Corps!
Joining us in this celebration was Whitney Hunter-Thomson (Chair of the Board of Directors) who grounded us in the reminder of Scott’s enthusiasm for embodied leadership and passion for human-to-human connection.
Esther Benjamin (CEO of World Education Services and Atlas Corps Distinguished Partner of Global Service Honoree) reflected on Scott as a phenomenal leader, incredible family man, great friend, and conspirator of ‘good trouble’ to cause change in the years ahead.
Richard Brown (Vice President of Philanthropy at American Express) shared reflections as a Host Organization. American Express has been a longtime partner of Atlas Corps, having hosted nearly 10 Fellows. Furthermore, Scott has been a family member of the American Express leadership programs.
Alumna Emily Tangarife (Colombia, Class 1, Host: Ayuda) shared about the collective courage it took to launch Atlas Corps, inspiring her to venture from her home region in order to gain learn leadership skills and engage with a network that would serve her the rest of her life.
Nearly 100 friends and supporters joined live to share well wishes and inspirations. We invite you to watch the highlights here—it was an inspiring event!
To close the Hail and Farewell, Scott shared his reflections. We invite you to read excerpts from Scott’s speech.
Four Powerful Lessons
I am so humbled by all of the warm words you all have shared today. If we were in a space together I wish I could hug everyone and I probably would be standing on a chair right now with both of my boys running around the room, I’d be shouting how grateful I am to each and every one of you for believing in this community and movement that we’ve created together over the last 15 years.
There are four powerful lessons from Atlas Corps that I want to share.
First, dream big. You have more power to change the world than you realize. Too often we believe we are powerless in a world full of overwhelming challenges. But I have always believed in myself. I have always believed in my team. I have always believed in the Fellows, the Board, the donors. I have always believed that Atlas Corps would succeed.
Second, ask for help. Atlas Corps was not started with a grant from a big foundation. While I was born with many privileges, my family is not wealthy. We were not seeded by the U.S. Government. For our first four years, the majority of our funding came from $10 donors and winning online contests. The first of these contests was America’s Giving Challenge, just a few months after the first class of Fellows arrived. We had six Fellows, three staff and hundreds of volunteers committed to seeing us succeed. With 24 hours left to go in this contest we had 815 people who had donated and were still not in the winning spot. I called Jan Saharko who had been helping motivate donors and he told me he had asked everyone he knew. In the next 24 hours another 900 people donated – over 1,700 donors gave, we won $50,000 and got profiled in the New York Times. AND we went on to win five more online contests over the next few years.
I’ve also learned to never stop asking. It is a significant goal of mine to ensure our work continues and grows, so I’d like to thank you for being here today and also ask you to continue your support for our 15 Year Anniversary.
Third, say thank you. I think it is critical to appreciate people and to show your appreciation. I promised Abby that I would not spend my time simply thanking everyone who made Atlas Corps possible, but there are some I need to call out, including my mentors and early believers including Esther and Richard who spoke earlier, Harris Wofford, Dr. Gary Weaver, Bill Drayton and Ambassador Maura Harty. Everyone who ever worked or volunteered a day for Atlas Corps, especially Abby, Meredith, Kelly, Brittany, Kimi, Carol, and the entire current team. The incredible Board members, including Whitney, Gared, Oni, Pratichi, Jordy, Justin and many others. And most of all my family, especially my wife, who was also on the Board, and a volunteer, and donor, and such an incredible copilot. Again, I don’t have time to thank everyone on this call. I am so blessed by the incredibly large number of people who I owe a huge thank you too.
Fourth, see past the horizon. Seeing past the horizon means staying cool under pressure. Don’t get too high or too low. Stay focused on the long term goals. We have overcome SO many challenges for Atlas Corps to succeed and these challenges started early.
Being able to see over the horizon is not only staying steady when the worst of the worst happens, but having the ability to stay focused on the big goal and to keep the team and everyone headed in that same direction. For me, seeing over the horizon means seeing beyond the one-year fellowship and even beyond the big anniversary years. What we have been building at Atlas Corps is not a fellowship of leaders prepared to tackle today’s challenges, but a global community prepared to tackle tomorrow’s challenges, the ones over the horizon we cannot see yet.
For 15 years, I’ve been looking past the horizon to the day the organization can grow without me as CEO. When Atlas Corps evolves from a crazy idea, to an obvious one. When it is harder to imagine a world without Atlas Corps than a world with it. A time when 1,000 leaders from 105 countries sounds like a beginning not an end. That is the horizon toward which I’ve been working.
We’ve reached that horizon, but it is not a sunset for me. I will always remain the number one fan and supporter of Atlas Corps. So I think I’d like to end where I began by saying thank you.
Thank you for all of your hard work. For believing in me, but most of all for believing in Atlas Corps.