Upcoming Events

Book Launch and Discussion | Hope Over Fate

  1 - 2:30 p.m.
   Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship (Off Campus)

Scott MacMillan
Brigit Helms
Leslie Gray
Long Le

A 2-day event celebrating the release of Hope Over Fate: Fazle Hasan Abed and the Science of Ending Global Poverty, a new biography of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed by Scott MacMillan, Director of Learning and Innovation for BRAC USA.

SESSION 1 @ UC Berkeley
Tue, Nov 15, 2022 | 5-7 pm | Faculty Club, UC Berkeley | Reserve your seat HERE

Author Scott MacMillan (Director of Learning and Innovation for BRAC USA) in conversation with Professor Isha Ray (Energy & Resources Group, UC Berkeley), Professor Elora Shehabuddin (Gender & Women's Studies and Global Studies, UC Berkeley), and Professor Long Le (Management Studies, Santa Clara University). Event moderated by Dr. Sanchita B. Saxena (Director, Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, UC Berkeley).

SESSION 2 @ Santa Clara University
Wed, Nov 16, 2022 | 1-2:30 pm | Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Santa Clara University | Reserve your seat HERE

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship's Executive Director Brigit Helms in conversation with author Scott MacMillan, director of learning and innovation at BRAC USA and respondents Professor Leslie Gray and Professor Long S. Le .

About the Book
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times called him “one of the unsung heroes of modern times.” Fazle Hasan Abed was a mild-mannered accountant who may be the most influential man most people have never even heard of. As the founder of BRAC, his work had a profound impact on the lives of millions. A former finance executive with almost no experience in relief aid, he founded BRAC, originally the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee, in 1972, aiming to help a few thousand war refugees. A half century later, BRAC is by many measures the largest nongovernmental organization in the world—and by many accounts, the most effective anti-poverty program ever.

BRAC seems to stand apart from countless failed development ventures. Its scale is massive, with 100,000 employees reaching more than 100 million people in Asia and Africa. In Bangladesh, where it began, Abed’s work gave rise to “some of the biggest gains in the basic condition of people’s lives ever seen anywhere,” according to The Economist. His methods changed the way global policymakers think about poverty. By the time of his death at eighty-three in December 2019, he was revered in international development circles. Yet among the wider public he remained largely unknown. His story has never been told—until now.

Abed avoided the limelight. He thought his own story was of little consequence compared to the millions of women who rose from poverty with BRAC’s help, bending the arc of history through their own tenacity and grit. The challenges he faced often seemed insurmountable. Abed’s personal life was a tapestry of love and grief—a lover’s suicide, a wife who died in his arms. He was a taciturn man with a short temper that erupted on rare occasions. Many of his ventures failed, but Abed persevered.

This book is also the biography of an idea—the idea that hope itself has the power to overcome poverty. “For too long, people thought poverty was something ordained by a higher power, as immutable as the sun and the moon,” Abed wrote in 2018. His life’s mission was to put that myth to rest. This is the story of a man who lived a life of complexity, blemishes and all, driven by the conviction that in the dominion of human lives, hope will ultimately triumph over fate.

Speaker Bios

Scott MacMillan works as Director of Learning and Innovation for BRAC USA, where he manages BRAC USA’s portfolio of research grants along with other special projects. A former journalist, he served as the speechwriter of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of BRAC, prior to Abed’s death in 2019. He is the author of Hope Over Fate: Fazle Hasan Abed and the Science of Ending Global Poverty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022).

Leslie Gray is a geographer conducting research in sub-Saharan Africa and California. She has worked in Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Sudan examining issues of agrarian change, land use patterns, and gendered access to resources. Her local work in California’s Silicon Valley examines the socio-environmental nature of urban agriculture and the loss of farmland at the peri-urban edge. She received her PhD in Geography from the University of Illinois, her masters in International Agricultural Development from U.C. Davis and an undergraduate degree in history from Georgetown University.

Long S. Le is a lecturer in management and director of the International Business Minor at the Leavey School of Business. His primary teaching area is a global business with interests in design thinking, global citizenship, social entrepreneurship, and spiritual leadership. His research interests include microfinance, Jesuit business education, global Asian migration diasporas, the political economy of development in frontier markets, and state-owned enterprises in Asia. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Management, Religion & Spirituality, Far Eastern Economic Review, Journal of Islamic Finance, Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Education About Asia, Harvard Asia Quarterly, Harvard Asian American Policy Review, and Global Asia: A Journal of the East Foundation. He is also a practitioner of microfinance in which he and his students founded Zero Interest Microfinance Bank — providing zero-interest lending and business education to small and medium-sized enterprises around the world. He has been recognized and awarded for leadership, service, and commitment to international education and service-learning. Prior to Santa Clara University, Long Le was a clinical professor and director of international initiatives for Global Studies at the C.T. Bauer School of Business at the University of Houston. He also had been a Visiting Researcher at the International Islamic University of Malaysia and a Research Fellow at the City University of Hong Kong. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware, and his Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

Established in 2013 with a generous gift from the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Foundation, The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley champions the study of Bangladesh’s cultures, peoples and history. The first of its kind in the US, the Center’s mission is to create an innovative model combining research, scholarships, the promotion of art and culture, and the building of ties between institutions in Bangladesh and the University of California.

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Event is FREE and OPEN to the public.