Richard C. Harwood
This is the first in a three-part series about the history, activities and future of The Harwood Institute.
I've been doing this work for nearly 30 years, but a lot of people don't realize that I actually started this organization as a for-profit called The Harwood Group back in 1988. At the time, I was disillusioned with what I saw happening in society, politics and particularly among nonprofits that seemed more interested in their own good than in solving problems for the common good.
I didn't want to work with people who weren't interested in getting their hands dirty. I wanted to make sure that people had a voice in society, that their voice mattered and that the things that we do matter to them.
You see, I know from personal experience what it's like not to have a voice. I spent a great deal of my childhood in hospitals, diagnosed at that time with cystic fibrosis -- a death sentence in the '60s. I remember lying in hospital beds, with doctors and others standing around talking about me, but never actually talking to me. A doctor once looked at my mother and said, "Face it; he's a lemon." I know what it feels like to live in a world where you know tomorrow will probably be worse than today.