Episode — Will Goldfarb

Will Goldfarb

During the global corona virus pandemic, I — like many — sought to creatively re-evaluate my purpose and my process, both professionally and personally. And I found answers in an unlikely place: Netflix. Over the past six months, my daughter and I have been watching shows from Chef’s Table to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Along the way, we’ve gleaned meaningful, moving and often surprising life lessons from the extraordinary characters we met during this journey. Below is the first post in this series: Lessons from Chef’s Table.

There’s a great quote by the postmodernist…


“Being human means having a gift. And it is the giving of this gift that makes both the village and the person whole.”

“The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to them — it cannot fail…”– Walt Whitman

“Just as the rivers we see are much less numerous than the underground streams, so the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what men and women carry in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released.” — Albert Schweitzer

International humanitarian organizations have lost sight of an essential truth: we exist to give, not to receive.

We have lived…


How to Build a 21st Century Organization

“I say the goal is not to be good — it’s to be great. The idea is to have the audience leave, and say, “You’ve got to see this.” You have to work backwards from that result.” — Steve Martin

To those of you from the humanitarian assistance community, let me begin this post by asking you few questions:

— Do you drink the water you provide in villages?

— Would you let your children attend your clinics?

— Would you recommend your livelihood programs as a career path for your graduating teenager?

In the 20th century, our industry focused…


Refugees come to us not as a sequence of needs, but as a whole person. Humanitarian programming needs to reflect the refugee’s reality.

A young girl in Nakivale refugee settlement holding a ball she created for play.

“Have you noticed that while corporations sell you junk drinks, artisans sell you cheese and wine?”Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“What is at stake, especially for those whose bodies have been spared the destruction of death, is a death of a way of being-in-the-world, the death of that which constitutes their identity, honor, and dignity.” — E. V. Daniel

Before I became CEO of the American Refugee Committee, I worked for an organization focused on child development…


We have lived in places of scarcity for so long that we have lost sight of the abundance our world contains.

Youth gather at the end of a Youth Leadership Training in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Uganda.

“Just as the rivers we see are much less numerous than the underground streams, so the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what men and women carry in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released. Mankind is waiting and longing for those who can accomplish the task of untying what is knotted and bringing the underground waters to the surface.”
– Albert Schweitzer

“Sometimes it is people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” Alan Turing

In this post, I would like to make three points:

1) As humanitarians, we have lived…


Losing Our Religion

In our escalating pursuit of funding and a seat at the table of influence, I think we lost our way, and worse — we lost our souls.

A girl gazes off into the horizon at the Gihembe refugee settlement, Rwanda.

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

David Foster Wallace

“We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 per day” —…


The international humanitarian system has been failing. Maybe now we can change.

The Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda, home to more than 50,000 refugees from Burundi.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” W. Edwards Deming

“Think about this, the twenty first century is an endless march against those who thought they were in power. From the music industry and Napster to politics today.” Bob Lefsetz

The international humanitarian system has been failing. Maybe now we can change.

Our industry is largely trapped in a past era. Our values and methods — well-intentioned and effective when designed in the 20th century — are now deeply disconnected from today’s realities and needs. Yet, for too long, we have been unable to imagine and articulate…

Daniel Wordsworth

CEO of Alight (formerly American Refugee Committee). Pioneering a new kind of human institution. Opinions are my own.

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