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Montblanc and DEPARTURES are pleased to announce the nine honorees in the Montblanc "Great Characters" initiative. The accomplishments of these individuals—and their passion for giving back to their communities—are illuminating and inspiring.

Each will be honored at a private fundraising reception at a Montblanc boutique in 2015, with a portion of sales benefiting their designated charity. The awardees were selected from nearly 100 essays submitted by DEPARTURES readers nominating candidates for their charitable endeavors.

Adam Braun, New York

During a college visit to India, Adam Braun met a boy begging on the street. "What would you want most in the world?" he asked. "A pencil," the child answered. That simple request inspired Adam to start Pencils of Promise.

Adam used his experience working at Bain & Company to develop a "for-purpose" approach for nonprofits, combining forprofit business acumen with nonprofit idealism. With $25, he founded Pencils of Promise on his 25th birthday, in 2008. Today the organization has helped build over 250 schools around the world. As well as being a sought-after speaker, Adam wrote a best seller, Pencils of Promise.

PENCILS OF PROMISE is a for-purpose organization that builds schools, trains teachers and funds scholarships. The organization believes every child should have access to quality education. Using the for-purpose approach, PoP measures the return on investment of every donor dollar spent and covers operational costs through funds raised through private donors, companies and events.

Kristin Connor, Atlanta

At just one month, Kristin Connor's second son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that strikes infants and young children. She has since dedicated her life to addressing the suffering of children and families due to childhood cancer. In 2006, the budding lawyer left her practice to become executive director of CURE Childhood Cancer in Atlanta.

Kristin has led the development of innovative and highly effective support programs focusing on the critical and urgent needs of patients and families. For Kristin, this fight is personal, and her passion inspires others and drives her and the organization to succeed.

CURE CHILDHOOD CANCER is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through funding targeted research and support of patients and their families. CURE Childhood Cancer believes that childhood cancer can be cured in our lifetime. Dr. Abdel Ragab, Emory University's first pediatric oncologist, founded the organization in 1975, recognizing the need for a dedicated research program and support for families facing childhood cancer.

Stephen Cushman, San Diego

Inspired by his father's community commitment, Stephen Cushman is dedicated to civic service, including serving on over 70 boards and commissions. The fourth generation San Diegan began working at nine, when his father gave him two delivery routes of the family-owned paper. He's worked ever since, including successful careers in travel and automobiles.

The Cushman Family Foundation donates millions to education and other causes. In 2011, former president Bill Clinton helped announce the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, in honor of the $1.76 million donation and longstanding support of the two families.

SHARP MESA VISTA HOSPITAL is one of the largest private behavioral health care providers in California. Since 1963, the San Diego hospital has treated more than 150,000 children and adults for mental illness and substance abuse. To meet increasing demand, Sharp Mesa Vista recently expanded its Senior Behavioral Health Center, enhanced its therapeutic gardens, and increased outpatient programming.

William Greehey, San Antonio

For Bill Greehey, infusing a caring culture into business is central to good leadership. NuStar Energy, where he's chairman, makes the highest per capita contribution to the United Way in the country.

His dedication doesn't stop at the office. In 2003, Bill founded the Greehey Family Foundation, which has issued more than $100 million in charitable grants, including $25 million to the University of Texas Health Science Center to fund research and treatment for children's cancer. In 2003, he founded Haven for Hope and raised more than $100 million to build the center, a national model in the fight against homelessness.

HAVEN FOR HOPE provides a holistic system of care for the homelessness in San Antonio. The organization's goal is to address the root causes of homelessness and help individuals transform their lives and become self-sufficient on a long-term basis. With a centralized campus along with a partner network, Haven for Hope provides temporary shelter, social services and a variety of programs and activities.

Zachary Haroutunian, Boston

As a high school graduate, Zachary Haroutunian founded ZRH Holdings, specializing in financial services and real estate, while studying for his university degree.

In 2013, he and his family established the Garbis & Arminé Barsoumian Charitable Foundation to support cultural, educational, religious, charitable and scientific organizations that advance their communities. He's a trustee and executive director. Zachary is also on the Board of Overseers of the Celebrities series of Boston and is the youngest board member in the organization's history. An accomplished pianist, he identifies with its mission to enrich lives through the performing arts.

CELEBRITY SERIES OF BOSTON Every year from October to May, the Celebrity Series presents more than 50 multicultural and international artists and performing ensembles to audiences in the greater Boston area. Since 1958, the series has mounted the Boston debuts of such eminent artists as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Yo-Yo Ma, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Emmanuel Ax and Leontyne Price.

Florence Jameson, Las Vegas

Dr. Florence Jameson's goal, that no one lack access to healthcare, stems from her childhood. When her father was in prison, her mother struggled to provide for the family. A local physician offered to care for them regardless of compensation. Florence vowed to pay it forward someday.

Florence earned a medical degree and opened a practice in Las Vegas. Later, she founded a clinic for incarcerated young girls who might otherwise have no medical care and helped start Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, a free clinic that provides medical services to the uninsured.

VOLUNTEERS IN MEDICINE OF SOUTHERN NEVADA Founded in 2008, Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada opened its first clinic in January 2010. VMSN provides preventive healthcare and care for individuals and families who might otherwise be neglected and cares for the chronically ill. Comprising of a volunteer workforce of more than 450 doctors, nurses, medical personnel and support staff, VMSN has treated more than 2,300 patients over some 5,500 visits annually.

Mark Kaufman, Chicago

In 1991, Mark Kaufman founded Athletico to offer outpatient physical therapy, sports medicine and rehabilitative care, serving professional sports teams, dance companies, universities and high schools in the Chicago area. He understands firsthand the value of personal treatment and integrating healthy practices into daily life.

Mark has been a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago for 12 years, serving as board chair for four years. He's a founding member of the board of directors of Operation Walk Chicago and is active with many health- and medical-related organizations, and the Chicago Fire Advisory Board.

THE BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF METROPOLITAN CHICAGO's mission is to empower at-risk youth by providing lifechanging one-to-one mentoring to enable lifelong success. It currently serves some 1,700 youth facing adversity with positive, caring, screened-and-trained adult mentors. In 2013, 100 percent of its high school, seniors graduated from high school with 100 percent attending college or a trade school.

Lee Klein, Miami

Since helping establish the Children's Cancer Caring Center in 1965, Lee Klein has worked tirelessly as the non-salaried chairman and CEO of the all-volunteer organization.

An indispensable resource, the center is the only free treatment center for cancerstricken children in the southeastern U.S. Lee personally maintains each patient's financial records, attends to medical bills for uninsured and under-insured patients, and develops and oversees the CCCC's services and programs, including camps and special events. Through her work, she forges emotional bonds with the children and their families—meaningful connections that last long after treatment.

CHILDREN'S CANCER CARING CENTER is an all-volunteer organization that raises funds and enlists other resources to support a total-care program for children afflicted with cancer. It offers services and programs at no cost to help alleviate the suffering and anguish of these children and their families, and educates the general public on the profound needs of childhood cancer patients.

Jim Ziolkowski, Stamford

Jim Ziolkowski is the guiding force of buildOn, the organization he founded in 1991 to harness the power of education to combat poverty around the world. During a trek to the Himalayas after college, the celebration of a school opening amid a region of extreme impoverishment profoundly moved him. Two years later, he quit his corporate finance job to found buildOn. The organization built its first school a year later in Malawi. Ziolkowski moved to Harlem to better understand the challenges facing American urban youth. The passionate leader recounts his story in his bestseller "Walk in Their Shoes."

BUILDON At home or abroad, buildOn's goal is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. Across the U.S., buildOn empowers urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service. It hopes to help change the world by building schools in some of the economically poorest countries. Since 1991, buildOn has constructed 736 schools worldwide.