Larry Brilliant spent decades in training for the challenge and adventure of heading one of the most promising corporate philanthropic enterprises of our time, Google.org. What Google has done for the wired world, it could exceed with the philanthropic world. If so, it will have Brilliant at least partly to thank.
A physician and epidemiologist, Brilliant, 64, has earned this opportunity through his record of concern for social good and his ability to convert ideas into action. He was a key player in the World Health Organization's eradication of smallpox and has worked with the U.N. to combat blindness in the developing world. In these and other enterprises, he sought innovative approaches and obtained a ground-level view of the complex issues that can impede great goals that are otherwise medically and technologically possible. His humanitarian spirit and grasp of science make him one of our leading social entrepreneurs.
It is this suite of talents that drew the leaders of Google to name Brilliant head of Google.org, a still new organization that hopes to take on such daunting challenges as developing cheaper renewable energy, commercializing plug-in vehicles, increasing capital to small business in the developing world and predicting and preventing emerging threats such as environmental conditions and climate change. Behind Google.org is the wind of an inspiring corporate ethic"Don't be evil," but instead use influence to do good. I've spoken to employees at Google. There were tears in their eyes when I told them about Guinea worm disease, a horrible affliction nearing eradication thanks to the effort of an international coalition.
Many corporations have learned that investing in philanthropy attracts concerned investors and talented employees, builds brand loyalty, burnishes reputations and helps create a healthier and more prosperous economy for all of us. But not all exude the genuine spirit to make positive change in the world that shines so brilliantly both at Google and within its new philanthropic chief.
Carter was the 39th U.S. President and founded, with wife Rosalynn, the Carter Center
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