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Familiar Faces: Alex Darrow – 17-year-old executive director of PictureTheWorld

By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Alex Darrow is 17 years old and a senior at Placer High School. He lives in Auburn with his family. He is also the founder and executive director of PictureTheWorld, an organization that gathers donations through picture submittals. Each time someone submits a photograph at ptwonline.org they are asked to donate a minimum of $5. Submitted pictures are planned to be a part of the largest photo mosaic in the world. The organization, which was founded in 2010, is hoping to gather at least 112,897 photographs. The donations go toward 10 U.S. and international organizations. On Thursday Darrow is scheduled to speak on a panel about social entrepreneurship and social innovation at Harvard Business School in Boston. Q: Why did you want to found this organization and what is its main purpose? A: I founded this organization for a number of reasons: One, I wanted the experience of launching my own organization and all the learning processes that come with it; and two, I wanted to have an impact, and be able to provide for those in need – not just locally but internationally as well. I feel privileged to be able to serve children around the world through my position at PictureTheWorld. Q: What children’s organizations does your organization benefit? A: PictureTheWorld has developed specialized programs with 10 different organizations: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, United Nations World Food Program, Doctors Without Borders, Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), 88bikes, Central Asia Institute, Room to Read, The Blake Foundation for Education, Camfed USA and UC Davis Children’s Hospital. Q: What new things are going on with the organization currently? A: Currently we are pursuing a couple different models that are less focused on short-term gain and are more focused on developing a sustainable model by which the organization should receive a consistent flow of submissions. Q: How do you feel about being asked to speak at Harvard? A: I am truly honored to have the privilege of speaking at Harvard Business School, and I look forward to sharing my experiences and perspectives regarding social entrepreneurship and social innovation with the Harvard community. Furthermore, I hope and expect to learn a great deal from the Harvard faculty and students, and other panelists as well. Q: How did that come about? A: We had contacted some individuals at Harvard in order to see if they may be interested in contributing to a side project we were looking to organize. And those individuals, after learning more about PictureTheWorld, had suggested to the leadership of the Social Enterprise Club at Harvard Business School the possibility of inviting me to address students and faculty at Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Q: What are you most excited about in terms of the organization’s work so far? A: Improving the lives of children in unfortunate situations around the world is our driving force. Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? A: Being with friends, watching movies – a great deal of movies, and swimming. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com