The creator and editor of Power of Human Achievement is Neil Willenson. Learn more about Neil below.
BIOGRAPHY – NEIL WILLENSON BA – University of Wisconsin – Madison ‘92
Neil Willenson is a national non-profit leader, public speaker, social activist, actor, entertainment industry executive and author. Most notably, Willenson is the Founder of One Heartland (formerly Camp Heartland), a U.S. non-profit organization that greatly improves the lives of children, youth and families who experience HIV/AIDS and other significant life challenges worldwide. More recently, Willenson co-founded Camp Hometown Heroes, a free national summer camp that provides healing and hope for children of fallen U.S. service members. Willenson is the Vice President of Community Relations for Kapco Metal Stamping in Grafton, WI where he is responsible for raising funds and distributing grants to hundreds of worthy charities. Willenson is also a leader of a fast-growing entertainment company called K-Nation Entertainment (KNE). Willenson’s journey into social activism began at the young age of 15 when he founded the Milwaukee Live charitable organization to raise money and awareness for the homeless. Shortly thereafter, at the age of 17, Willenson was the youngest candidate for elective office in the United States when he ran for the Wisconsin State Assembly.
When he was just 22 year old, Willenson befriended a five year old boy with AIDS and witnessed the discrimination, pain and sadness that he experienced. Through the creation of Camp Heartland, Willenson sought to provide a safe haven for children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Since the inception of Camp Heartland in 1993, thousands of children have participated in various camp sessions free of charge where they can have fun, feel accepted, and if desired, speak openly about living with the disease. After an extensive strategic planning effort, Willenson and his team expanded the Camp Heartland organization into a larger umbrella organization called One Heartland. The expanded mission includes programs and services for other isolated and suffering populations including children who experience poverty, homelessness, and foster care. Under his leadership, One Heartland raised over 45 million dollars for children with HIV/AIDS and other challenges, operates programs in New York, Minnesota, and California, has grown to become the largest organization of its kind, and serves as a mentor to dozens of other organizations. Now as the volunteer “Founder Ambassador” to One Heartland, Willenson continues to speak on behalf of the organization whenever requested.
Willenson is also creator of the “Journey of Hope” AIDS awareness program. During these unique presentations, children affected by HIV/AIDS share their experiences with school groups, religious organizations and community audiences. Since 1994, the “Journey of Hope” has visited dozens of cities and has educated and inspired over 60,000 individuals. In addition, Willenson has served as a keynote speaker throughout the United States providing insight on youth leadership and activism.
In order to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, Willenson and One Heartland have been featured by the Oprah Winfrey Show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Dateline NBC, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of other publications. Willenson and Camp Heartland were profiled in a CBS Movie of the Week, in the Disney Channel film “Friends for Life,” on Today, Good Morning America, and countless television talk shows. Along with many of Camp Heartland’s campers, Willenson authored the award winning book, “A Journey of Hope – Inspiring Stories of Courage and Unconditional Love.” In December 2008, Willenson was named one of GQ Magazine’s “Men of the Year.” Previously, Willenson was the recipient of the Forward Under Forty Award at his alma mater – University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Aetna Arthur Ashe Voice of Conscience Award, V100’s Peace Achiever Award, and the Use Your Life Award by Oprah Winfrey.
Far more important than receiving widespread media coverage and awards is the fact that Willenson has been privileged to befriend thousands of inspiring children and young adults who face adversity with great courage and dignity. Fundamental in every project Willenson leads, is the belief that all people have value and that we should follow our heart to work for a brighter tomorrow.
Neil Willenson is a nationally regarded public speaker who has shared his messages of hope and inspiration with hundreds of thousands of people. His programs are perfect for leadership conferences, campus convocations, Greek leadership events, community service days, distinguished lecture series, orientation, and any other campus or community event where an inspiring story of “following your heart” will motivate people to seek out important uses for their lives and energies. The audiences for Willenson’s speeches range from ten executives to 12,000 at campus commencement ceremonies.
“Make Your Life Count” is the story of Neil Willenson’s journey from young social activist to the Founder of One Heartland, a national charity that greatly improves the lives of children, youth and their families who experience HIV/AIDS and other significant challenges worldwide. He has had the opportunity to meet and learn from inspiring people, and these lessons from individuals ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Martin Luther King III figure prominently into Neil’s messages.
He also shares the lessons he has learned from his most significant influences, the children of Camp Heartland, the signature program of the One Heartland organization. Through his own story and those of others, Neil hopes to inspire us all to follow our dreams and to not let our fears or doubts stop us from doing something we believe in. Neil’s program shares the powerful benefits of serving others, and listeners will leave with the motivation to follow their own passion, and to make a difference in the world.
To bring Neil Willenson to your campus, school, business or civic organization for an inspiring program on social action, leadership, teamwork, HIV/AIDS or community service, please contact Neil’s agent, Janet Osherow
Selected Recent Speaking Engagements:
Keynote Speaker – Women’s Focus, Mequon, WI
Keynote Speaker – Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Milwaukee, WI
Keynote Speaker – Steffen Middle School, Mequon, WI
Featured Speaker – Non-Profit Agency Director’s Group, Grafton, WI
Featured Speaker – Donges Bay Student Council, Mequon, WI
Keynote Speaker – Muscular Dystrophy Association, Madison, WI
Keynote Speaker – Loyola University, Chicago, IL
Commencement Speaker – U. of Wisconsin – Madison, WI
Keynote Speaker – National Young Leaders Conference, Wash. D.C.
Keynote Speaker – U. of Minnesota – Orientation Week
Keynote Speaker – University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI
Keynote Speaker – BBYO Winter Regional Convention, Milwaukee, WI