December 20, 2009

Speaking Her Voice: Melissa Kushner/Goods for Good

Melissa Kushner, Founder and Executive Director of Goods for Good, has spent her entire career dedicated to international development.
She was first presented with the opportunity to travel to abroad to Malawi, East Africa with her mentor from the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships in 2003. Melissa knew that she would be exposed to extreme poverty and wanted to do more than just visit; she wanted to contribute. In preparation for her trip she researched the needs of the region and initiated a delivery program to an under-funded orphanage and community center serving children affected by AIDS.

Melissa negotiated with several U.S.-based manufacturers to donate goods from their excess inventory, and raised funds from friends to cover shipping costs. In just a few weeks she was able to collect and deliver over two tons of clothing and educational toys to St. Mary's Orphan Care Center. Throughout the course of her stay in Malawi, Melissa saw first hand how something as simple as a pen and school uniform can mean the difference between a child being able to attend school or not.

Witnessing the impact of her work and recognizing the long-term potential of this model, Melissa knew where her future lay. Over the next several years, while continuing to work part-time and studying for her graduate degree, Melissa continued to coordinate shipments from New York to Malawi as well as Liberia and Pakistan. She returned to Malawi on many occasions, including a seven-month stay during which she taught English in a rural elementary school and researched methods of care for orphans and vulnerable children. In 2006, three years after her first trip, she formally founded Goods for Good.

Goods for Good currently provides material support to 183 community-based organizations, orphan care centers, and public schools, which serve the needs of 54,000 orphans and vulnerable children across Malawi and Haiti. By providing school supplies, clothing, shoes, and health and hygiene products, Goods for Good ensures that a lack of basic materials is not a barrier to their achievement.

Prior to establishing Goods for Good, Melissa served as a consultant for Hahn Associates, a New York-based development consulting firm, as well as a Project Consultant for Gay Men’s Health Crisis, focusing on strengthening health systems. These experiences provided Melissa with a deep understanding of multi-sector partnership building, health infrastructure strengthening, fundraising, field research, and program development.

Melissa received her Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in International Development from New York University, and Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She was recently featured on NBC’s Nightly News, in The Gap’s “Born to Fit” advertising campaign and will speak at the upcoming TEDx Atlanta Conference in January of 2010.                                               


For more information about Melissa Kushner and how to support Goods for Good, please visit

(Pictures reprinted by permission of Melissa Kushner.  All rights reserved.)

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