When the images of the great Ethiopian famine emerged in the mid-1980s, Donna Berber was shaken to her core. When Donna attended Live Aid, the global concert that brought attention to the devastating famine that claimed millions of victims, the seed was planted that later inspired a vision that would change millions of lives.
Years later, after Donna and her family moved to Texas, the call within became too loud to ignore and she was compelled to take action. From that, A Glimmer of Hope was born in 2000 with the mission to improve lives in Ethiopia. A few months later, the Berber family found themselves in a position to do a great deal more than they had originally planned. Donna's husband, Philip, sold his Internet brokerage company, and the couple decided to invest more than half of the earnings into Glimmer.
Donna then took her first trip to Ethiopia to research how she could most effectively support the most vulnerable. While overwhelmed by the extreme poverty she witnessed, Donna was also struck by the dignity and joy of the people. Inspired by the experience, Donna and Philip began developing plans to create a new and improved way of implementing international aid and development with more efficiency and transparency. At that time, many of the existing NGOs in Ethiopia were focused around the capital city of Addis Ababa, and little was being done to help those struggling in the countryside. It was important to Donna and Philip to go where no one else was willing to go, to help the people with the greatest need.
Donna's vision, coupled with Philip’s business acumen, led to Glimmer's new model for community development. With an endowment to fund all operations, they established Glimmer with the promise that all donor funds would go directly to projects in the field. Glimmer employs a full staff of Ethiopian development experts and works with indigenous development partners to address the systemic needs of the people through an integrated approach.
Since then, Glimmer has grown tremendously. In 2009, Barron’s ranked Glimmer sixth on a list of "The 25 Best Givers" and seventh in 2010. To date, Glimmer has invested $100 million and completed more than 10,000 projects—impacting the lives of more than 5 million people in rural Ethiopia. As CEO, Donna's vision continues to guide Glimmer to lift communities out of extreme poverty and offer the most vulnerable populations the resources they need to build a sustainable future.