There are two ways of spreading light... to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Rachael Ramen
Debra J. Berg is an author, inspirational speaker, and nonprofit professional whose life took a dramatic turn after she learned of everyday people sacrificing their personal lives, 401Ks, and 6-figure incomes to help others. "Why would they sacrifice so much and how were they doing it?" she wondered. Debra researched how they'd set out to reverse social problems that were negatively impacting the less fortunate, at-risk youth, the elderly, disabled, or other disadvantaged groups in their communities. These people had countered everything from homelessness to cybercrime! While, at first, only motivated to learn how they were doing it, she also began to discover what was behind such a strong desire to take action.
Debra owned an international company that trained entrepreneurs when she came across these everyday do-gooders. Her curiosity grew to such a level that she began crossing the country to do interviews with them. Their social cures were confounding even the experts since they were making their ideas work on very limited resources... most costing a fraction of the billions spent on government social programs. Debra wrote a book chronicling 35 of these individuals and their initiatives, including one woman and her volunteers who had reversed one of the "Top 10 worst neighborhoods in America" located in Minneapolis. Another had crafted the idea for the national Amber Alert program. Debra's book, The Power of One: The Unsung Everyday Heroes Rescuing America’s Cities, has since received endorsements from the Pew Foundation, the Chicago Sun-Times and others. Learn more about both of Debra's books.
Debra's life was never been the same after the 8-year nationwide self-funded journey to two dozen major American cities. On that journey, she uncovered the untold stories of business owners, professors, moms, and even teens who've reversed what most consider to be the toughest social problems in America. Debra then learned the "stories behind the stories" of why people would give up so much of their lives and resources to tackle a problem even trained professionals haven't been able to solve. Read Debra's full bio...
The author has continued on with her journey spending almost two decades researching citizen innovators nationwide. She confidently points to a trend that began in the eighties, which she refers to as The New Civic America. Debra remarks that "With so much negative in the news, it seems that any believer in spontaneous citizen innovation is a rarity". She will boldly take on the toughest skeptic with her iron-clad evidence and challenge them to tap their own ingenuity to address an unmet need around them.
Debra has spoken to audiences as large as 10,000 - High praise and positive feedback is common among those who've read Debra's books and heard her speak. Many have been inspired to launch new causes and businesses, become a better manager, volunteer for the first time, or even enter the national political arena as a result. Her most popular keynote topic, "The Power of One", is adaptable to any venue or audience. In addition, Debra speaks on the topic of "Change Your Pain, Change the Future" drawing on her business experience and the examples of those she's interviewed: a Nazi Germany survivor, a former drug addict, a businessman hurt by the Doc Com bust, a domestic abuse victim, and more. Each story is one of turnaround, and turning pain into success that not only changes that person's future but the future for hundreds, even thousands. Arrange for Debra to speak to your group!
Visit the National Institute for Civic Enterprise website to read more about innovative civic and social entrepreneurs shaping "The New Civic America'. Debra launched the National Institute for Civic Enterprise in 2007, recognizing that leaders like those in her book needed to connect with each other. She also saw how many nonprofit founders were duplicating what others had already done in other parts of the nation. NICE's mission includes 1) a focus on reducing duplication of effort, 2) tapping the best practices of what's already working, and 3) sharing them with new and seasoned founders so as to speed up help to those in need. NICE's "founder research" fosters the replication of highly effective, low-cost solutions in the area of human services. Debra is working towards NICE becoming an educational and research institute that matches nonprofit founders with mentors worldwide. Presently, she supports NICE's mission by offering coaching, social media and video production, and speaking engagements through NICE Change Productions.
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