Sara Wroblewski ’13, the founder and chief executive officer of One Bead and winner of the 2012 Pitch contest, returned to campus as one of the three keynote speakers at the Colleges’ annual Leadership Institute in January. An article in the Finger Lakes Times featured Wroblewski’s non-profit OneBead and her new endeavor, One Life.
Wroblewski has teamed up with Caroline Dosky ’12, MAT ’13 to expand the One Bead initiative by developing the One Life Leadership program.
The article describes One Life, “The initiative will be implemented in high poverty communities in the United States and abroad and intends to give children a sense of confidence in themselves, their school and others. The curriculum will reinforce the skills required to be both a leader and team player and to increase civic responsibility and global citizenship through the efforts of One Bead.”
Wroblewski graduated cum laude in media and society from William Smith.
Dosky graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in dance education and psychology from William Smith.
The article follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Beads ignite leadership spark: William Smith grad shares her journey with current HWS students
Julie Anderson • January 19, 2014
GENEVA – Go with your gut feeling – because that is where your spark is.
That’s exactly what Sara Wroblewski did when she traveled to Nairobi, Kenya in June 2011.
Her experience there led to a life-changing path to create “One Bead,” a non-profit organization that turns recycled glass beads into educational opportunities for children in East Africa.
Wroblewski was so passionate about her idea, she was able to win $10,000 in the 2012 Pitch Contest at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and assemble a team to help her carry out her mission.
Wroblewski graduated in May 2013 – majoring in Media in Society and minoring in economics – created the 501c3 organization, moved to Boston, and is now expanding One Bead’s mission and scope.
On Saturday, Wroblewski returned to Geneva and spoke to more than 50 students during the HWS Leadership Institute weekend. In her address, titled “Igniting a Spark: One Organization’s Take on Leading Others,” Wroblewski explained her experience of becoming a leader.
Those are qualities she wants to share and Wroblewski is now embarking on a side project called One Life, a leadership curriculum for the next generation. According to the organization’s website, One Life aims to inspire students “to live a life of purpose.”
The initiative will be implemented in high poverty communities in the United States and abroad and intends to give children a sense of confidence in themselves, their school and others. The curriculum will reinforce the skills required to be both a leader and team player and to increase civic responsibility and global citizenship through the efforts of One Bead.
Wroblewski spoke about the negative connotation that the word leadership can bring to some – a definition of power, restraint, an invisible barrier.
“It may be true in a sense. But we don’t need to change the word. Let’s change the concept,” she said.
Through the passion Wroblewski had for her idea, she was able to assemble a a mixture of talented people to help continue her vision to change the lives of children worldwide.
One Bead currently receives shipments of 200-300 beads biweekly from Kitengela Hot Glass in Kenya, which are redistributed to representatives on college campuses worldwide. These representatives sell bracelets at their respective schools and the profits are used to fund projects at the Oloosirkon Government Primary School. According to the website, One Bead has long-term goals to set scholarship programs in Kenya and motivate primary school students worldwide through the arts, music and athletics.
Last year, One Bead raised $65,000 and built a 923-meter-long fence to protect 350 students at the Oloosirkon school.
“Parents are the first leaders and biggest followers in your life,” said Wroblewski, who enrolled her mother as One Bead’s accountant.
She told a story about receiving a call at 6:30 a.m. that her main supplier for the handmade glass beads was not going to be able to continue distribution for another year – just seven hours before the release of her new marketing and fundraising campaign.
Her team was there to help get her through. Contacts were called, the campaign was restructured, letters were revised, and Wroblewski and her mother just cried.
“That is what One Bead is. When the time comes that you can’t look at a subjectively emotional situation objectively, you have a team that will rise up for you,” she said.
Wroblewski described a conversation she had with Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, which crystallized her message.
“[Zander] said to me, ‘In the Middle Ages, when lighting a fire from scratch was an arduous process, people often carried about a metal box containing a smoldering cinder, kept alight throughout the day with little bits of kindling. This meant that a man could light a fire with ease wherever he went, because he always carried the spark.’ Leading others is about igniting a spark of possibility that exists in everyone around you,” Wroblewski said.
The Leadership Institute is a three-day set of conferences, workshops, keynote speakers, and roundtables that get the participants thinking about global, entrepreneurial and community leadership, along with leadership skills.