Five Questions with Stephanie Ly

Who are you and what do you do?

I tend to wear many hats, but I identify most with being a global humanitarian.

Outside of the 9-5 job, I work on building Room for Compassion, a budding non-profit primarily based in rural Tanzania, focused on empowering people through education, community involvement and economic opportunities. Basically, tackling poverty involves looking at more than one area of need and this is what Room for Compassion strives to achieve.

Other global work that I engage in include social business ideas in Haiti, public health education and scientific research of diseases and education assistance for kids in Port-au-Prince. Everyday, this realm of work motivates and inspires me – particularly the amazing people I have the opportunity to interact with.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Sometimes the brain acts as a catalyst for ideas – often throwing out suggestions a dozen at a time spanning a few seconds each thought – ultimately, it’s up to a person’s drive and persistence to make something of the ideas.

I don’t necessarily think I have great ideas, but the ones that I think could be good, I take on a few test runs. I run it by others to see if there are any obvious loopholes to which I can address and improve the idea or realize that it won’t work. Then I have to ask myself, “Is this idea going to improve something? Can it be done using existing resources? Do I feel passionate about this idea?” If it passes those bare necessity questions, then I start doodling a concise plan on my writing pad on how to bring this idea to fruition – usually complete with a timeline and key inspirational people to assist.

Thinking of the idea is not the difficult part, it’s following through and drudging through the insecure moments, excuses like lack of time, unconstructive criticism and whatever personal barriers to making them real.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I think everyone should read all the time since it’s the way to never stop learning and growing.

If there was only one book to recommend, I would have to go with[amazon_link id=”0307387097″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Half the Sky[/amazon_link] by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book presents case studies of impoverished people (primarily women) all over the world and also provides concrete examples of ending the cycle of poverty. Of course the book is not a magic bullet, but regardless of what field you are in, it’s bound to make you that much more aware of the world.

What is one piece of advice that you’d like to give?

Follow the thing that excites you most. Nearly everyone has it. It’s likely something that you start talking about, something you could go on for days about and something that connects you with other people. For some it’s art, others it’s politics or scientific validity or organic gardening. For me, it’s poverty alleviation work. If you could focus your energy and possibly your time on the thing that excites you most, your heart will be fulfilled and your life will be meaningful.

What is one idea that you’re going to bring to life in 2012?

Right now, I’m in the midst of an idea that is being born and will be brought to life by early 2012. The idea is called Emprofit “Empower through Profit” and it is a social business that will provide income-earning opportunities in impoverished areas. It is something that will operate with the brains of a business and the heart of a humanitarian. Coming soon!


Room for Compassion Website:
Stephanie Ly on LinkedIn:
Stephanie Ly Email: [email protected]