Jen Olsen

Toasting Seva Foundation's 35 Years Of Curing Blindness

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 12.16.48 PMPleased to join the Berkeley-based Seva Foundation in celebrating sight returned to 3.5 million people, at the Beaux-Arts Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco, along with Bay Area luminaries like Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, men in tie-dye suits and women in saris. In keeping with the groovy beginnings of the foundation, each place setting had its own bottle of soap bubbles. The New York Times writes about the evening and the key role of Steve Jobs in helping to start the foundation with a $5,000 gift 35 years ago here.

Apparently 80% of blind people in the world can be cured with a 15 minute cataract surgery, which is what Seva set out to provide on a mass scale.

Seva was founded "by a group of medical professionals, counterculture activists, musicians, and compassionate individuals, all dedicated to the prevention of blindness around the globe" including public health expert Dr. Larry Brilliant, spiritual leader Ram Dass, and humanitarian activist Wavy Gravy.  Dr. Brilliant is the former director of Google's philanthropic arm

Actor Peter Coyote was the MC of the evening which was capped by a performance by the Blind Boys of Alabama.  I got chills when they asked the many ophthalmologists who donated their time and expertise over the past three decades to stand up and be recognized.

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A highlight of the evening was founder Dr. Larry Brilliant returning to Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs an Apple 2 which Jobs donated to the cause for use in Katmandu in 1982.

Good to meet young epidemiologist Jen Olsen who's manager of pandemics at Skoll Global Threats Fund established by eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll, where Dr. Brilliant is now president, and Amanda Marr Chung who was just finishing up her work with Seva.