Anne Nixon

It is with great admiration and sorrow that we announce the passing of Anne Knoll Nixon whom we mourn as the author of five of the six narratives for our monographs about prominent social leaders and activists of the past century.  Anne brought Jane Addams, Maud and Ballington Booth, William Edwin Hall, Ruth Standish Baldwin and George Edmund Haynes, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver to life years after their deaths, revealing how each gave rise to a social movement that continues today.

While seemingly writing a story of the life and work of each of these Founders, Anne amazingly incorporated the moment of discovery, when awareness led to commitment; actions taken within the context of the times; the growth of the movement into a national organization and its, and their, legacy over time –all within 30 pages or less. The stories are designed to inspire one to action, and they do. Anne was and remains an inspiration to us.  We will continue to celebrate her belief in the potential which resides within each of us.

Who We Are & What We Do

The Human Spirit Initiative, a program of the National Human Services Assembly,  exists to inspire your desire to make a difference. We urge you to open your eyes, recognize the needs around you, and take action in your community and in the world.

We have stories to tell about social entrepreneurs of the past, and we want to hear your stories about what you are doing right now.  The world of caring flourished during the 20th century; you can play a role in keeping this spirit alive today and in the future.

The Human Spirit Initiative is not limited to giving back or doing good work. We are about turning lives around… and turning them on.

You can make a difference … and enrich your own life in the process.

We’re here to help you every step of the way.

What you can do:

  1. Read the summaries of our stories under our Stories tab
    and/or Order the entire monograph from Amazon (for Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for Nook), Apple iBookstore (for iPad) and many other e-book retailers.
  2. Share your stories – tell us what you have done to help your community thrive.

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

As Americans we are inclined to associate with causes bigger than ourselves. This “human spirit” is most obvious in our human services sector, in organizations such as Volunteers of America, Special Olympics, and The National Urban League. But in the face of contemporary challenges we often forget that such “brand names” — multi-million dollar agencies that impact millions of lives and employ hundreds of thousands of employees and volunteers — grew from very humble beginnings.

It helps to remember that challenges are prerequisites for realizing our potential. And stories of realized potential* remind us that each generation has its own unique set of challenges to which we can and must respond.

The Human Spirit Initiative has collected here the stories of social entrepreneurs whose impact on the 20th century is still felt today. Each of these individuals started with little more than an idea. But through courage and persistence and the ability to inspire others to join the cause, their stories give legs to the words of Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It’s likely that you are here because the seed of an idea has sprouted in you or someone you know. We invite you to explore the stories we’ve collected here. We hope they help you to realize your potential, to move from ideas to action. But don’t stop there! Please use the comment section below or this contact form to share your story as well. Join our initiative to kindle the human spirit and inspire visionary and innovative leadership for the future.

Together, we can change the world!

* For key lessons on realizing full potential for yourself and your organization, click here to download Realizing Our Potential: making a difference in a cause bigger than ourselves, a feature article from the Fall 2010 issue of Leader to Leader Journal, a publication of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute and Jossey-Bass.

Informing, educating and inspiring action!

Victories are not won by lone individuals” Fraser, James W. A History of Hope: When Americans Have Dared to Dream of a Better Future

Today’s established organizations were new ideas 50-75-100 years ago and we owe those ideas to their founders. By studying, researching and communicating the details of these founding leaders lives, we work to create greater understanding of and commitment to strengthening civil society through individual initiative and collective endeavors in building community. And finally it is our mission to inspire individuals to build healthy, diverse and inclusive community.