Five Extraordinary Social Impact Influencers Who Remind Us What Happens When Passion Meets Purpose

When passion meets purpose, lives are transformed. With very different backgrounds, these five leaders from all walks of life are pushing their limits to truly make a difference. Their work is truly worth celebrating.

It’s the start of a brand new year which means a lot of us have begun to think about our goals, the impact we want to make and the lives we want to change in the next twelve months. But for some of us, an extraordinary few, thoughts about how we can make the world a better place, never quite cease to exist.

Against all odds, and during a time where division and exclusion were especially rampant in our society, the following change makers found unique and innovative ways to bring peace, solace, and unity back into our communities. They have different backgrounds and passions, yet their visions for the collective are the same: a world where we can all succeed.

These five change makers have made noteworthy changes in their communities and beyond, and can inspire us to follow in their footsteps and work to make the world a better place as we begin to embark on our new goals this year.

1. Amit Paley

During a time in America where many feel unsafe to live authentically, Amit Paley is challenging that. He is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of The Trevor Project. Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. The goals of the nonprofit are to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for youth, as well as to offer guidance and resources to parents and educators in order to foster safe, accepting, and inclusive environments for all youth, at home, schools and colleges.

Paley began as a counselor on The Trevor Project’s 24/7 TrevorLifeline in 2011, and since then has answered hundreds of calls from LGBTQ youth in crisis. Five years ago, he became CEO and under his guidance, the non-profit organization has grown to support more than 300,000 individuals each year, launched a 24/7 text and chat services, and has grown from fewer than 100 volunteer crisis counselors to recruiting and training more than 2,000. Paley is the first volunteer counselor to become the CEO of the organization in its 22-year history and he still continues to answer calls on TrevorLifeline today. His passion to support the LGBTQ community and desire to be at the forefront of the movement despite making his way to an executive position is commendable, and demonstrates just what can happen when passion meets purpose.

2. Amanda Kazzy Cryer

Frustrated by the division and polarization so prominent in today’s traditional media, as well as social media, Amanda Kazzy Cryer bravely decided to do something about it. She is a filmmaker, thought leader and entrepreneur, who is not only using her platform to change the narrative, but helping others do the same.

Cryer is the co-founder of Big Change Makers, an educational and leadership organization that empowers people to be effective agents of global wellbeing. Through mentorship, coaching, and education opportunities, Big Change Makers allows you to supercharge your very own positive impact – and influence – in the world.

The organization’s three main pillars i) to focus on the betterment of the global community rather than personal success, ii) to take action on multiple fronts to enlist sustainable change not just band-aid results, and iii) to address the root causes of an issue, and not just the symptoms of it, are fundamental to making impactful change in any situation. Cryer and her business partner, Mel Wymore, empower people with the tools they need to make lasting change happen in their communities, cities, countries and across the globe. Cryer also uses her social media platforms to elevate others and shares stories of individuals and organizations making a difference.

Cryer is a social impact coach and consultant who has worked with people from diverse backgrounds including media personnel, celebrities, community activists, leaders at the United Nations, philosophers, TV/Film personalities, Nobel Prize recipients, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders of nonprofits committed to making a difference.

3. Carlos Whittaker

Carlos Whittaker is an author, podcaster, and global speaker. His book, #howtohuman, teaches us how to embrace change so we can be human, see human, and ultimately free human, with the goal to become the best versions of ourselves and live together in harmony.

His book is like a superpower that’s helped people all over the globe learn to repair relationships, accept their past, make goals and stick to them, and so much more. On social media, you’ll often see him post entertaining, enlightening, and heartwarming content that really brightens up your mood and changes your perspective on things.

He reminds us to always take a moment to be grateful and try to see the positive in every situation. His mantras, manifestations, affirmations, and tips are a guiding light on how to maneuver through these hard, uncertain, and often uncomfortable times.

Whittaker’s podcast sheds light on these topics and so much more, as he interviews other individuals who have gone through similar experiences and come out the other side successful. His teachings are helping shape our leaders of tomorrow.

4. Nora Agbakhamen

As a masterful storyteller and creative, Nora Agbakhamen has helped people all over the world take control of their income and find new ways to sell their products even when options appeared dire. Agbakhamen commits much of her time to supporting sustainable businesses in getting seen on LinkedIn.

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, online shopping conglomerates like Amazon were very successful, but smaller businesses did not see the same opportunities. With a background in customer care, consulting, and entrepreneurship, Agbakhamen understands what it takes to be successful as a business owner in today’s day and age. The beautiful part of it is that she shares her knowledge with others. If you take a look at her website, Nora’s Copy, you’ll find a plethora of resources and money making/money saving techniques that can help business owners and entrepreneurs level up, despite what may be currently impeding their success.

Agbakhamen is also the founder of Nora’s Needle, a sustainable clothing business specializing in African print and designs. Through this business, Agbakhamen is not only bringing beautiful African designs to the forefront, but also providing eco-friendly job opportunities to people who can benefit from it. Through both of these endeavors, Agbakhamen is making people’s lives easier and following her passion at the same time.

5. Val Emanuel and Anne Therese

Val Emanuel and Anne Therese are the founders of Role Models Management, a unique modeling agency that puts ethics, sustainability, environmental, and social justice at the forefront of their business. Companies like Cadillac, ebay, Nike, YouTube, and more, have partnered with Role Models to execute their campaigns.

Founded in 2017, the agency was built on a platform where models are given a voice to speak about things they believe in. The agency represents activists, artists, athletes, and change-makers, and stands for empowered action. Their Role Models use their platforms to inspire positive change in their fields, and the impact of that is immeasurable.

In addition to Role Models Management, both Emanuel and Therese are making the world a better place in so many other ways. Emmanuel is the founder of Worthy Beyond Purpose, a transformative mindfulness and mediation program for children, as well as Rif, a company that produces organic menstrual pads made from hemp fiber, and Therese is an author, and her book The Climate Optimist, is helping shift the narrative on climate change. It is a motivational handbook that can take you on a journey of empowered awareness, and teach you the basics of climate psychology as well as how to gain agency in your actions and turn your life into one of meaning and hope.

It’s clear – we can be the change we want to see in the world

These five impactful leaders show us just how much power we truly have to make a difference. When passion meets purpose anything is possible.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, let it be that you too can make change. As you continue to think about the impact you want to make this year, remember these leaders and the lives they’ve been able to impact throughout these years, and the many more that are to come. No dream is too little, and no goal is too big. If you want to achieve something to make the world a better place, now is your chance to figure out exactly how you’re going to make it happen.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.