This spring, supporters and friends from around the world gathered in Chicago to celebrate Opportunity International’s 50th Anniversary—a milestone marking five decades of service, impact, and transformation.
After years of being apart due to the pandemic, we were elated to finally reunite in-person as a community and commemorate this remarkable milestone in Opportunity’s history. We welcomed 350 supporters from around the globe for a weekend of fellowship, education, and celebration.
We kicked it off Friday with a “Taste of Chicago” dinner cruise on the Chicago River and had a chance to view some of the city’s illustrious architecture.
Guests also had the opportunity to explore our Living Timeline of Opportunity’s history and impact. The interactive exhibit featured simulations of our clients’ experiences, like growing your own crops, and applying for a loan, or classroom learning.
We reconvened Saturday for our conference sessions lead by our wonderful Master of Ceremonies, Carol Pelino. One of our favorite moments of the morning was the standing ovation for Dr. Em Griffin, who's been with the mission nearly all of our 50 years!
Pastor John Crosby opened with a word of devotion and Opportunity CEO Atul Tandon shared a reflection on where we’ve been and cast a vision for the future. Throughout the day we heard from Opportunity field experts and luminaries, a panel of our former CEOs, our inspiring Waymakers Campaign Co-Chairs, breakout sessions with special guests and program leads, and closing ceremonies with Mark Lutz and Katherine Haley.
We were deeply honored that Opportunity client Nayla Blanchard could join us to share a powerful story of how her mother, who received a loan from Opportunity’s partner AGAPE in Colombia, set her on a path to become an entrepreneur herself. Nayla has since risen from poverty and today is able to provide for her family—which in her own words, “is a legacy that will not end.”
Our Saturday night Gala took place at Chicago’s famous Museum of Science & Industry and was led by award-winning TV and radio personality Mai Martinez. We were also joined virtually by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and economist, and David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. We heard stories from farmers Micheline and Adwoa, and honored some of our amazing supporters and partners with awards throughout the weekend.
We heard a compelling story of hope and determination from Board Chair LeAnn Pedersen Pope and our friend Erin Williams led an energizing and inspiring paddle raise. Thanks to an incredible display of generosity that evening and throughout the entire weekend, our supporters shattered our half a million-dollar goal and raised over $1 million dollars to empower more Waymakers like Nayla, Micheline, and Adwoa to work their way out of poverty.
We closed the weekend with a Relaxation Session as well as a Worship Service, where our faith community came together in praise, song, and prayer for our clients across the world.
If you would like to be part of the collective impact made by supporters at the Summit, you can still make a gift here now.