Mark Hanis '04 Seeks to Inspire Social Entrepreneurs, Stop Genocide

Columbia Missourian: Former student activist seeks to inspire 'social entrepreneurs,' stop genocide

March 12, 2012

One article sparked it.

Sitting in the cafeteria at Swarthmore College eight years ago, then-college senior Mark Hanis ['04] opened The New York Times to get his pick for March Madness. Instead, he found a story about Halima, a 16-year-old girl in Darfur. He was shocked to learn how she was brutally raped and orphaned in the genocide in the western region of Sudan.

"What can I do as an average student in the United States?" he said he asked himself.

So he skipped class and headed to the library to look up Sudan and Darfur on Google. It became a pattern, and in 2005 he helped start an influential anti-genocide advocacy organization. 

He shared his experience with MU students and faculty Monday night to inspire them to "engage public policy" with issues relevant to them.

The Genocide Intervention Network - now renamed United to End Genocide - seeks to "empower Americans with the tools to prevent and stop genocide" through education, advocacy and donations, he said.

With about 1,000 student chapters and the 800-GENOCIDE lobbying hotline, United to End Genocide has an annual budget of about $2.5 million. It passed legislation nationally and in 27 states to pressure companies to stop funding the violence in Sudan. 

At one point, Hanis said, the organization's efforts were so successful that members of Congress were calling him to ask what they could do to get their constituents to back off.

Hanis said he was fortunate to have a network of supportive professors to help him; anyone looking to make an impact should be aware of the resources out there. ...