Thursday, April 27, 2006


Greg Mortenson

Founder and Executive Director

Central Asia Institute

Greg Mortenson grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania from 1958 to 1973. His father, Irvin, established a hospital, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, and his mother Jerene, founded the Moshi International School.

Mortenson served as a medic in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War, where he received the Army Commendation Medal, and later graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1983.

His lifelong interest in mountaineering culminated in a 1993 climb of Pakistan�s treacherous K2, the world�s second highest mountain, which changed his life.

Since then, Mortenson has dedicated his life as a humanitarian devoted to promote education, especially for girls, in remote, often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and set up over 55 schools through his nonprofit, Central Asia Institute. His efforts provide over 20,000 children with schools literacy, in previous areas with few education opportunities.

In 1996, he survived an eight day armed kidnapping in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and escaped a 2003 firefight by feuding Afghan warlords, by hiding in a truck under putrid animal hides going to a leather-tanning factory.

Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders and tribal chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls. He is one of few Americans who has worked extensively in the region now considered the front lines of the war on terror. Mortenson has traveled to more than 70 countries in lifetime.

His cross-cultural expertise has brought him to speak on Capital Hill, think tanks, the Pentagon, Dept. of Defense, outdoor groups, universities, schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, business and civic groups, women's organizations all across America.

NBC newscaster, Tom Brokaw, calls Mortenson, �one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, who is really changing the world�.


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