I am excited to present you with the first installment in what will hopefully be a continuing series where I interview some outstanding people dedicated to giving back. I'm calling it the Good Citizen Interview Series.
My first interview is with one of my dear friends, Ross Ellis. Here's some background on Ross: Ross Ellis is an expert on bullying prevention and violence against children. In 2005, she created STOMP Out Bullying, the leading national anti-bullying organization for youths in the U.S. Under Ross' leadership, it focuses on reducing and preventing all forms of bullying and digital abuse; educating against homophobia, racism, and hatred, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities.
Ross is an inspiration to me and I'm sure to countless others, so I'm happy to be able to share some insight into her passion and drive to help make the world a better place.
Brad: Growing up, was there someone you looked up to?
Ross: From a very early age, I always wanted to help the underdog. Whenever someone was in trouble or hurting I reached out to help. That came from my grandmother whom I adored. She was always there for everyone -- whether she knew them or not. As an amazing philanthropist she gave to causes and taught me the true meaning of giving back.
Brad: What's the greatest lesson you have learned from serving others?
Ross: Two things. One is gratitude. The other thing I've learned is that no matter what is happening in my life -- good or bad, helping others is the greatest gift I can give someone. And it makes me feel so good. I didn't always realize that. As much as my grandmother taught me about giving back, there was a time when things were really tough for me and I had a pity party. I learned to stop those pity parties and when things weren't going my way to give back. What a difference it makes in life.
Brad: Many people want to give back, but don't know which organizations to support. Are there organizations that are special to you?
Ross: Obviously as the founder and CEO of both STOMP Out Bullying (bullying and cyberbullying prevention) and Love Our Children USA (child abuse prevention), these organizations are very important to me. Others that are important to me are StandUp2Cancer, the Starlight Children's Foundation, and causes whose mission are education, cancer research and the arts.
Brad: Finally, and maybe most importantly, what does being a Good Citizen mean to you?
Ross: To me being a Good Citizen means helping others and being a role model to others -- especially kids. If we all took the time to help just one person and would pay it forward, what a great world this would be. I don't ever not want to be able to help someone. And if for some reason I am not able to help, I reach out to my network to see if they can help. There's always some way to help someone in need.