Elizabeth Gore thinks the wizards of business can make the world a better place.
Gore, 36, a new Sonoma County resident, is the first resident entrepreneur of the United Nations Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit that media owner Ted Turner began 15 years ago.
Advancing the UN's cause has taken her in recent years to a South Sudanese refugee camp, a clean water “summit” atop Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York.
Seated last week in the fading sun at the Healdsburg Plaza, Gore put her mission in simple terms: “My job is to connect the everyday individual with the opportunity to save lives.”
To help make those connections, Gore regularly turns to a small group of younger business leaders who sit on the foundation's second Global Entrepreneurs Council. The group's 10 leaders, all under 45, are volunteering their time for two years to help extend the reach of such public campaigns as preventing disease and improving the lives of women and girls.
Past and present council members say getting involved with Gore has opened their eyes to the world beyond business.
“She took me to a refugee camp and changed my life,” said Brian Gott, a member of the first entrepreneurs council and the former publisher of the entertainment-trade magazine Variety.
After visiting the refugee camp near South Sudan in 2012, Gott decided, “I want to do more.” He left Variety and last year became the director of the Burkle Global Impact Initiative, part of UCLA's center for international relations named for investor Ron Burkle.
Gore thinks business people have an important role in international development, both in the technological innovations they produce and in the ways they foster economic advancement.
“I think entrepreneurism is the backbone of healthy societies,” she said.
In recent surveys on what the UN's top goals should be, people around the world regularly name employment among their first three choices.