how I cultivate a list of current heroes

I was reading an article about in Time magazine on the couch at my parents’ house where my parents were also reading in their lazy-boy chairs. The writer was describing the founder, Ben Rattray‘s, intonations in a certain way. The writer’s impression was that Ben’s sentences end with an almost endearing rising intonation, rendering declarative sentences interrogative. I had to see for myself.

I fired up YouTube on my iPhone and found the following clip. It’s like being your own newscaster and going to the video segment:

I disagree with the author. Ben sounds more sure of himself. However, his sincerity is certainly genuine. It was as if I was observing Rattray and through the lens of an amazing Time writer, but then was able to go backstage and form my own “second-hand” opinions, that felt oddly “first-hand.”

Meanwhile, my parents patiently continued to read. Ignoring the sounds coming from my iPhone.

Last year, I took off school to hear Jessica Jackley, founder of, speak at my college. This clip is not from that event, but captures the essence of what I heard:

Hearing her speak in person, made me realize that personal and professional change have the potential for global implications. Plus, I liked her PowerPoint style: white background, a single photo or 6 word max of san serif black text.

She reminded me of Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America (TFA). Someone, incidentally, I read about in Time magazine, and then later met in person when I joined TFA. In both cases, what I was drawn to most was that they began addressing global issues from a place of personal reflection. Translating abstract to concrete.

Wendy Kopp refers to Michelle Rhee, founder of and former Chancellor of the DC public schools, in the above video. I support Michelle’s kicka– approach to education reform, but since she’s willing to take on the beast she cuts closer to the bone. She not afraid to get messy. Here she explains her involvement with Teach for America:

Finally, this list would not be complete without a shout-out to Cory Booker, mayor of Newark. This video speaks for itself:

What is most powerful is that none of these people (and many others out there) seek the mantle of hero, but earn it through hard work. Unaware of their superhero suits. Seeking new horizons.

From my parents’ couch to the world. I continue to seek heroes.

About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
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