Sheela Murthy : Keynote Speaker Making a Case for United Way in India18 May 2008
I would like to share with you my experience of Friday, May 16, 2008. This was the United Way’s annual Community Leaders Conference (CLC). Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 1984 winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, began the conference as the keynote speaker on the morning of Thursday, May 15th. I was a keynote speaker on the following morning. The United Way (UW)’s CLC and its focus and mission to “live united” was at the center of much media coverage by the Washington Post and many other U.S. newspapers and other media My presentation was before approximately 2,000 people at the Baltimore Convention Center. The purpose of my address was to make the case for UW’s expansion into India. Many Americans wonder why they should give to charity in countries like India, when we have our own problems in inner cities and rural areas right here in the United States. I pointed out that we live on one planet and share our Mother Earth. It is our responsibility to take care of all our brothers and sisters in our home – on this planet. Apparently, both the message and the event were powerful and a great success. I was honored to receive a standing ovation at the end of my talk, and saw that some in the audience were emotional.
After my address, many well-wishers in the audience came up to congratulate me and commented on my passion as a speaker! I have received many invitations to become involved with various worthwhile causes. It is wonderful whenever we are able to use our talent and passion to help others. After all, what is the point of life unless we can light the way for others? It is a wonderful blessing in life to be given an opportunity to serve others.
After my speech, I moderated the Global Leadership Panel (to illustrate my talk by showing the audience an example of what it means when the UW has a successful partnership abroad). There were corporate representatives from Colorado, Nevada, and Ghana present. The CEO of the United Way of America was also there. That, too, was enjoyable and went well. About 40 percent of the more than 2,000 conference attendees in the audience were comprised of high-level executives from major U.S. corporations who believe in philanthropy. About 60 percent were dedicated leadership staff from the United Way from most of the states in the U.S. It was a powerful group of motivated folks to share the work and expansion plans for United Way and its global expansion.
This was a wonderful opportunity to explain how and why the United Way needs to expand globally, especially into India. With United Way’s 100-plus year history, its transparency, accountability, and capability, few organizations have this kind of capability. Honestly, though I am glad it is over especially since it went off pretty well. My consultations with clients – dealing with complex and difficult immigration matters, finding solutions, and providing advice and guidance later that same afternoon felt like a walk in the park compared to the morning’s events!