About Us

 

Have you ever experienced something that changed your life? Imagine visiting an orphanage in your poverty-stricken home town and finding a myriad of severely ill children. There's one baby who grabs your attention. He's physically contorted and in great pain. It's 2007, and he has an easily preventable disease - spina bifida -- and further, one that could be surgically corrected. You've completed medical school so you know the facts -- there's little time for this child. You frantically call and email your way through every network you know of to find help. You've never felt so helpless.

Too little, too late. The baby died. You can't get him out of your mind. How can you change this story for the next? Tom Nguyen knows his prenatal vitamins. They have a significant role in preventing a host of birth defects and early childhood diseases like Spina Bifida. It's so simple and so inexpensive. This is what changed Tom's life. Tom is now on a mission to change the life of millions of babies right from the womb locally and globally.

Joining Tom in RightStart4Kids, is Dirk Tussing, whose mission is to improve literacy and overall learning for kids through the use of inexpensive, easily accessible learning technologies. Unlike Tom's childhood in Viet Nam, Dirk grew up privileged with access to a great education throughout his life. After spending years in corporate learning and development, Dirk discovered the plethora of inexpensive and easily accessible learning technologies, such as Intel-powered Classmate PCs and e-learning-for-kids, that were being underutilized in solving a host of education access issues for children from Chicago to the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam.

Together, Dirk and Tom, with amazing support from the Executive Learning Exchange, many Rotary Clubs and several non-profit organizations around the world, have helped to open their doors and hearts needed to launch, lead, and sustain RightStart4Kids.

RightStart4Kids is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization based in Chicago, IL U.S.A.


Our Leadership Team

Tom
Tom Nguyen

After completing medical school, Tom has chosen to focus his life-long passion helping others. The heart and sole of RightStart4Kids germinated from Tom’s humble childhood where he grew up in the Mekong Delta during difficult times.

Tom has led several missions back to Southeast Asia to provide personal insight on how we can help to give back to kids that desire a right start.


Dirk
Dirk Tussing

As the Executive Director of the Learning Executive Exchange, a consortium of senior Chicago learning leaders, Dirk is committed to promoting greater visibility, influence and professional opportunities among its members and promoting local Thought Leaders by creating a highly visible knowledge sharing environment to increase awareness of progressive learning solutions, share best practices, and facilitate greater collaboration among members. Formerly of Arthur Anderson, Dirk is active leader for Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield international projects, an advisor on strategic planning to higher education, and chief architect for a Learning Leaders CPE Certificate Program at DePaul University.

Seeing how corporate learning has been using technology to provide equal access to global workforces, Dirk has a keen interest to use Wikinomics strategies to help others give back and to improve access to education.



Susan Tran

As a Senior Sales System Project and Training Manager at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Susan feels kids today are our leaders tomorrow. As future leaders of society, Susan believes our children should be prepared for the evolving workplace environment. A child armed with this knowledge will thrive as they become a leader of tomorrow's workforce.

Susan continues to volunteer for many non-profit initiatives. Her most recent assignment being the interior and exterior refurbishment of a local, low-income junior high school.


RichJudy Meikle

On July 20, 2009, Judy was the recipient of a miracle. It's the only word she can use to describe the gift of a heart, transplanted from an Army Ranger, who died after fighting to save his comrades in Afghanistan. "He saved people when he was wounded and saved even more people when he died; how many people can say that?", Judy said sitting in her Winnetka home where she grew up. Since receiving the heart of Cpl. Benjamin Kopp; Judy has made it her mission to spread the word about the importance of organ donation. It's what Ben would have wanted, Judy believes, and is the least she can do to carry on his spirit. "If just one person decides to be an organ donor, they'll be honoring Ben". Not a day goes by that Judy doesn't think about Ben, his gift and the incredible circumstances that led up to her heart transplant. She is very excited & pleased with the heart surgeries made possible by RightStart4Kids.


ArlynnJill (Schlosser) Denman

As a Strategic Leadership Research and Development Senior Manager at U.S. Cellular, Jill extends her work-time passion for creating value-based leadership development program where “Service To Others” is a key building block to her extracurricular volunteer effort where she at many different organizations throughout her professional career, including Junior Achievement, Equestrian Connection, American Indian Center of Chicago, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network.

Jill was instrumental creating our first fundraising benefit dinner auction and other RightStart4Kids’ fundraising initiatives.