Global research technology and service company 20|20 Research and its Founder/CEO Jim Bryson have a special place in their hearts for Haiti. So much so, that for almost six years they have launched and nurtured a unique secondary leadership school for Haiti children to help raise the country’s next generation of leaders.
And today they tapped the U.S. senior executive business ranks to finally fill The Joseph School’s top leadership position.
R. Dennis Wildsmith, most recently vice president of Risk Operations for Dallas, Texas-based Moneygram International, the world’s second largest global money transfer provider, today was announced by Bryson as executive director of the college-prep school based in Cabaret, Haiti and Nashville.
The school was launched in 2011 following the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country and created 100,000 orphans. Bryson envisioned the educational center while on a mission trip to Haiti as a way to help the country address its need for quality education and better equip the country’s leaders of tomorrow to solve future problems. For five years he relentlessly pushed development of the organization and construction of the school, which opened last September with 31 students and five teachers.
Now he has a proven businessman in place to take it to the next level.
“We’re excited about what can be accomplished under Dennis’ direction,” Bryson said in making the announcement. “Our first class of students started last fall and are now well on their way to an excellent education and learning how to be leaders themselves. I truly believe the most impactful way to support Haiti is to help them help themselves… and leadership changes everything. With Dennis’ educational and leadership experience, as well as his servant’s heart, we’ll prove how impactful that axiom can be. He’ll be an excellent role model for our students.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Seventy-eight percent of Haitians live on less than $2 USD a day and forty percent of the population cannot read or write. Fifty percent of primary school aged children are not enrolled in school and one-third of girls over the age of 6 will never attend school. Of those children who go to school, 60% will abandon their education before 6th grade.
Six years ago, Bryson saw the school as a way to raise and train future Haitian leaders so the county could begin to help themselves and not depend on foreign aid. In partnership with community leaders and Haitian orphanages, the school identifies gifted children and assists them to excel academically while learning to serve and lead. The school opened with a class of five- and six-year olds and plans to add a grade each year through high school. The long-term hope is for students to attend a university and eventually assume a leadership role in Haitian society, churches, business and/or government.
Wildsmith began his business career with First Data Corporation, rising over the course of eleven years from vice president of operations for the company’s Teleservices Division to executive vice president of First Data Resources and its Output Services Division. He also was president of Journey Consulting Services and executive vice president of Operations for GiftCertificates.com before joining Moneygram International nine years ago. He holds a BA from the University of Alabama.
“God has blessed my family so much and I wanted to not only pay that back, but pay it forward,” Wildsmith said. “I’ve always been a coach at heart and enjoy bringing the right people together as a team and motivating them to accomplish something worthy. I believe this work for The Joseph School will be the most meaningful work I’ll ever do.”
Wildsmith will be based in Nashville but spend a good portion of his time in Haiti. He said his five-point focus for the immediate few years will be: ensuring the academics of the school are strong, the school’s physical structure is sound, that fundraising continues, that the operations remain smooth and the organization is well-suited for the institution’s continued progress.
About 20¦20 Research
20|20 Research is a global leader in the development, support and service of online qualitative marketing research... and the software and technology that sustains it. Founded in 1986, the company works with marketing research and advertising firms around the world, with projects in more than 122 countries and 30+ languages. The past three years it has been named one of the most innovative research firms in the world by GreenBook's Research Industry Trends Report, a top arbiter of the marketing research industry. The firm's operations are headquartered in Nashville and the company additionally maintains traditional focus group facilities in Nashville, Charlotte and Miami and a European office in London, England..
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