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Jeff Golden - Odyssey Founder

  • Millenium Volunteer Award Recipient, US State Department

  • Fulbright Scholar to Venezuela, "Sustainable Development Studies"

  • Participant in the 1992 Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship: International Symposium "The Environment and International Security", and the 1990 Symposium, "The Militarization of the Third World"

  • Graduate of Tufts University in International Relations

  • Student at the School for International Training, Mexico, 1990, and at The University of Costa Rica, San José, 1991

  • Teacher of Literature, History, ESL and Bilingual Studies in Spanish at Leadership and Mission High Schools in San Francisco

  • Outdoor adventure and travel enthusiast

Jeff's life has been characterized by a balance between living his own life to the fullest and doing what he can to help others do the same. A native of Idaho, Jeff went to college in Boston to study International Relations. He planned to go on to play an active role in addressing the terrible inequities and injustices between people in the so-called "developed" and "developing" countries.

His experience in Venezuela as a Fulbright Scholar, however, began to lead him in a different direction. He began to see more clearly that working at the grassroots level, and focusing energy and resources on empowering people to make changes for themselves, was the only way for effective change to occur.

His investigations there were focused on three areas. In the first he reviewed and evaluated nine of the most important environmental organizations in Venezuela.

The second area of study involved working with several professors in women's studies and a family planning organization. They were focusing on the relationship between the status of women in Venezuelan society and Venezuelan fertility rates (and the resulting continuation of poverty, environmental degradation, and subjugation of women's rights).

The third area involved his living and working in Petare. Petare is one of the poverty-stricken shantytowns outside of Caracas. He lived with a community leader there and observed and assisted in many of their admirable efforts at organizing themselves and confronting the problems they face, such as high rates of violence, drug use, teenage pregnancy and gang involvement.

Having learned the importance of grassroots organizing and empowerment, Jeff returned to the United States and dedicated the next five years of his life seeking to empower the most neglected and maligned sector in American society - urban youth. He primarily taught "Literatura de La Raza", a bilingual Spanish class he developed that celebrates latino culture and empowers latino youth through a study of the literature of Latin America. After teaching for several years at Mission High School in San Francisco, he taught a year at Leadership High School, San Francisco's first start-up charter high school.

Jeff first conceived of The Odyssey in the spring of 1995 and launched the initial website in the summer of 1996. He was volunteering full-time with The Odyssey by 1997 and has been directly involved in all aspects of the program's development to this day - from web design to editing to Board development to fundraising to staffing to ______ (fill in the blank).

While Jeff's personal life went into hibernation with the onset of The Odyssey, he has managed through most of his life to be very active. While in Venezuela he did a solo trek through the Grand Savannah and the Amazon to reach the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls. He also became a certified scuba diver, climbed Venezuelan's highest peak, and traveled to Aruba, Colombia, and Ecuador.

He has traveled in China and Hong Kong and speaks "something short of fluent" Chinese. He participated in the "Spanish Dolphins" project with Earthwatch in the Mediterranean in the fall of 1999. And in catching up with the World Trekkers he managed to finagle time in Morocco, Bulgaria, Turkey, India and Nepal.

The Odyssey allowing, Jeff enjoys ultimate frisbee, rock climbing, mountain biking, and backpacking, and he loves to country and salsa dance (and play chess with his grandmother!).

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