What happened next seemed like fate—I came across an ad in the New York Times that seemed to have my name on it. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF was looking for a public relations person with a background in entertainment, specializing in celebrity relations and special events, someone who could start a new division within the public relations department at the U.S. Fund to help raise the organization's profile. As soon as I knew the job existed, I wanted it, and though it took a lot of patience and persistence, I got it!

UNICEF, of course, is the United Nations Children's Fund. It's supported by contributions from member organizations around the world. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF raises money and awareness in the United States to support UNICEF's critical lifesaving work worldwide.

My job at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF was to build up the celebrity relations department, plan special events, and work as part of the public relations team to promote the U.S. Fund's and UNICEF's major initiatives and reports. UNICEF had traditionally had a very successful relationship with celebrities who worked very hard as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors. Past Goodwill Ambassadors whom we all know and love include the glamorous and caring Audrey Hepburn and the extraordinary actor Peter Ustinov. Current and longtime Goodwill Ambassadors include Roger Moore and Harry Belafonte, who are still hard at work traveling the world raising awareness for UNICEF.

But now the U.S. Fund was looking to expand the program. They wanted to bring in younger celebrities and well-known people of all colors and backgrounds. They also wanted to make better use of the Ambassadors they had and find new ways that celebrities could help promote UNICEF's mission.

Excerpted from If It Takes a Village, Build One: How I Found Meaning Through a Life of Service and 100+ Ways You Can Too by Malaak Compton-Rock, foreword by Marian Wright Edelman. Copyright © 2010 by Broadway Books. Reprinted by permission of Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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