Cammie Dunaway on Working with Children in Ethiopia and How it’s Made a Difference in Her Life

This June, for CMO Club Cares Month, we are showcasing CMOs who use their time and talent to make a positive impact and highlight charities that have benefited from CMO expertise through participation in the CMO Club Cares Program. This time around, we highlight CMO Pittsburgh Club Co-President Cammie Dunaway, CMO at Duolingo, and her work with Children’s HopeChest.

CMO Club — Welcome. Tell us about your charity. What do they do?

Cammie Dunaway — The charity that holds a big place in my heart is called Children’s Hope Chest. Their mission is to equip orphans and vulnerable children to escape from the cycle of poverty. The way it works is that it’s set up as a community-to-community model. A group, through a church or another non-profit, will make a commitment to a community in another part of the world. The promise is to provide a school or orphanage to the community and to sponsor the children in that school or orphanage for at least five years. Funds are used for school supplies and medical support, helping to support the teachers, getting healthy meals to the kids, all of that. The other part is that the group agrees to send a team over to help at least once a year. It moves from writing a check and having a photograph on your refrigerator to something much more, where you become deeply involved on a personal level.

CMO Club — How did you become involved with them?

Cammie Dunaway — Interestingly, it all started about six years ago when I saw a presentation by their CEO at the church I attend in San Jose. One of the things that struck me was that the CEO at the time was a former Proctor and Gamble executive. The fact that he was so passionate about brands and about consumer insights and building connections in ways that would do good in the world really resonated with me as a marketer. It’s so interesting that an organization doing so much good is grounded in the business world, and using their knowledge to make the world a better place. I started sponsoring a little girl in Ethiopia soon after.

CMO Club — What are some of the things you’ve done with the kids there that truly moved you?

Cammie Dunaway — I took two trips to a small village in Ethiopia, where the girl I sponsor lives, to meet her and the other kids. One of the things we did was to put on a soccer camp for the kids. What was particularly exciting for me was to do the soccer clinic for the girls in the community. A lot of time, the girls in Ethiopia don’t have the same opportunities that the boys do. Just getting them out and physically active, playing, watching the joy they had, that was special. We brought over soccer balls and were able to hire a local soccer coach to work with them. It was beautiful and moving. Funny thing, while I was there for ten days, I hardly showered or took care of my dirty hair, but when I look at the photographs we took while I was there, I feel like I’ve never looked more beautiful. You can see the joy on our faces. I went thinking I was going to be serving the kids, but what I found was that they gave me so much more than I gave them. I think it’s made a difference in their lives. I know for sure it’s made a difference in my life.

 

Cammie with children in Ethiopia.

CMO Club — You went from that experience to doing so much more. Can you tell us what else you’ve done?

Cammie Dunaway — Well, I fell in love and care deeply for Ethiopia. It opened up my heart. As a result of that experience, a group of friends and I started a new non-profit that works with single moms in the city of Addis in Ethiopia. Many have HIV and are living solely from handouts. We try to teach these women some skills such as sewing to help make them more self-sufficient.

CMO Club — Can you tell us something about this little girl you sponsor?

Cammie Dunaway — She’s not an orphan, so she has a mother and father, and she has three other siblings. Her aunt was unable to have any children, so her mother and father, at some point, gave her to the aunt. There’s this sadness inside her, a questioning of why she was the one who was given away. For me, to be able to make her feel a little special fills my heart. I write her little notes and when I’m not able to get to Ethiopia, I try to send her something, a t-shirt or a book. I want to show her that she truly has worth and that she is loved.

Cammie with Yodit Gusa.

CMO Club — Has the CMO Club helped you in your journey?

Cammie Dunaway — The friendships that I’ve made in The CMO Club are amazing. When I was trying to raise money to take over supplies for the kids, many of my club friends made contributions. Sitting in on CMO Club Cares sessions at the summits always sparks ideas and inspires me to continue this work I do, which is an important part of my life.

Check out how other CMOs have made an impact here.