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Carol Fixman

Carol Fixman is in essence a bridge builder. Her passion is to find ways to connect and to close gaps between aspirations and achievements. Education is her tool box. Even before she became Executive Director of the Philadelphia Education Fund, her focus, as a social activist and concerned citizen, was to create models that bring knowledge and quality education to as many people as possible. Today, Carol Fixman talks about how this lifelong commitment is rooted in her family.

I believe in taking action to solve problems around me. Passively accepting the status quo is something that doesn't even cross my mind. I think I can make a difference.

My mother wrote poetry, books and letters to the editor to try to change the world — some were published; others remained manuscripts that she worked and re-worked with comments that she solicited from authors she respected. She did not sit still.

When, at 93, illness left her only a short time to live, she told me that she had submitted her recent book of poetry to a publisher but hadn't received a response from them. So, I called the publisher, only to learn that the company had gone out of business. As my mother's health was deteriorating quickly, there wasn't time to find a different publisher. After a few weeks of feeling helpless, I finally stopped sitting on my hands and looked for another solution.

I found a wonderful family owned book-binding company and a printer who agreed to produce 20 copies of my mother's book as quickly as they could. Sandy Geiser Craig and Bernie Pond were touched by my mother's story and quickly moved into action with me. As a threesome, we completed the book just a few hours before I left to see my mother for the last time. I handed it to her gift -wrapped. Her pain medication made it hard for her to see and think clearly. And she struggled to read the title of the book I had given her. When she finally recognized her title, The Wrinkled Nest, she truly looked as if she had seen a ghost. Then her face softened into a smile, "You remembered," she said. And then I knew, she had expected all along that I wouldn't sit still myself and let her final book remain a manuscript.

Not finding a solution wasn't an option. And this has guided me through so much of my life. I live in the world of education and opportunity. This is a daily challenge that calls for invention and ingenuity. When faced with a problem, I can't simply shrug my shoulders and say "I don't know."

And while I can't change the world alone, I work on making it better by addressing issues that mean a great deal to me. So, when I see injustice, inequality and prejudice, I can't accept the status quo, and I need to take action. As idealistic as it may sound, I know I can make a difference. And I thank my parents for instilling this belief in me.