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Co-founders Rick and Elaine Little with their daughter Sarah and Ambassador Lewanika.
Co-founders Rick and Elaine Little with their daughter Sarah and Ambassador Lewanika.
Rick Little
(Secretary and Co-founder)

Rick Little is president and CEO of the ImagineNations™ Group, a global alliance of social entrepreneurs, thought leaders, investors, global brands, media and organizations, working together with and for young people to inspire positive change in society.

For nearly 30 years, Rick Little has been working to build partnerships among companies, non-profits and governments to improve the conditions and prospects for children, youth and families. The ImagineNations™ Group is working extensively in selected countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America to foster innovative partnerships toward this end. He is widely known for his work in developing strategic Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives with companies—including Nokia, The Financial Times, Nike, Gap, Groupe Danone, Lucent Technologies and the Kellogg Company, among others—that result in sustainable and large-scale positive impact on their workers, and in the countries and communities where they operate.

Little is the creator and founder of Quest International, where he served as president and CEO from 1975 to 1989. Through Quest, Little helped to establish a formula for a successful set of youth development programs and strategies for teaching life skills and character education that have had broad appeal in many cultures and countries. Quest programs have been adapted and implemented in thousands of schools in over 30 countries, impacting millions of young people each year.

In 1989, Little led a process involving hundreds of leaders from dozens of countries that resulted in the establishment of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in 1990 with the largest charitable investment ever made by the Kellogg Foundation—more than $68 million. Kellogg has since been joined by hundreds of other companies, foundations, governments and individuals around the world as IYF has grown to become a leading player in advancing opportunities for young people and building partnerships between private sector, civil society and governments. Little served as IYF’s founding president and CEO from 1990 to 2002 and remains actively involved in its efforts as founder and member of its international board.

Today, IYF is among the world’s largest public foundations focused on finding and supporting “what works” for young people. IYF operates in more than 70 countries and territories. Its global network invests over $150 million annually in hundreds of projects in education, health, leadership development, micro-enterprise, youth employment and bridging the digital divide.

Little served as chairman of the Oversight Board of the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities from 2000 to 2004. Working in partnership with the World Bank, private foundations, universities, NGOs, trade unions, global brands and local factories, the Alliance sought to improve the workplace experience and life opportunities of young adult workers in the global manufacturing supply chains of companies including Nike and the Gap in Indonesia, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.

Rick Little is co-chair of the United Nations’ (UN) 12-person High-Level Panel of the Youth Employment Network—advising the UN secretary-general on global youth employment issues. In addition, he serves on several boards, including the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy and the Nike Foundation Advisory Board. He is a member of the International Leaders Committee for the Institute for Applied Research and Youth Development at Tufts University. He was also the founding president and a member of the founding board of America’s Promise, chaired by General Colin Powell in 1996.

Little has received numerous awards for his life’s work, including the Presidential Award of the International Association of Lions Clubs—the largest humanitarian service organization in the world. He was selected in 1996 as one of the world’s 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In 1997, Little was selected by his peers to receive the Robert W. Scrivner Award from the U.S. Council on Foundations—an award that recognizes risk-taking leadership and creativity as a philanthropist and grant maker. Little received an honorary doctorate degree from Anderson University in 2000. He was named an International Fellow in applied developmental science at Tufts University in 2001. Little has written articles and commentary appearing in the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Time magazine, the Financial Times and other publications. He has contributed chapters to several books, and his life story has appeared in several publications, including the original best-selling book Chicken Soup for the Soul.

On a personal note, Little and his family live on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, U.S.A. He has traveled to more than 130 countries, flies airplanes, plays the piano and enjoys skiing. He is currently co-authoring a book for young people with Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan.

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