Dr. Curt Rhodes
September 08, 2023
Founder's Series: Our Founder and Chief Vision Officer, Dr. Curt Rhodes, on what it means to serve the last.

There was this Greek guy, Plato, who said, “Don’t force your children into your ways. They were created for a time different from your own.” Pretty good advice, about my own daughters and about next gen leaders of the Questscope that I nurtured for 4 decades.

Another business guru said (not as long ago as that Greek!) that the day you take up top leadership in an organization, that day you start planning for transition and succession.

So, I have been transitioning for 4 decades. Of course, when I started, there was nothing to transition. I was an individual then who wanted to break cycles of violence that made deadly targets of the least visible, most vulnerable people in Beirut in 1982. Now, after decades, we have Questscope – an organization filled with dozens of talented, committed, competent staff and thousands of volunteers – with an awesome track record in the Middle East, putting tens of thousands of the Last, first.

My paraphrase of a CS Lewis saying also guides me …it is likely that your children will meet cruel enemies. Let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.  We have given young refugees and sidelined kids who faced despair second chances to discover they are brave and courageous heroes in their own stories.  Because we believed in them, they came to believe in themselves. We made sure they got good chances for ongoing good choices.  

Last week, Muthanna (Questscope CEO) took a 16-day trip with me to DC and NC. (Glad to report, he survived that 24/7 ordeal!) One evening near the end of the trip he looked me right in the eyes and said, “I have so much to learn.” After 25 years with Questscope! What a thing, for a leader to be a learner – and not shy to say it out loud. I continue to hand over long-standing relationships and hard-earned lessons (mostly mistakes I made!) to equip this young leader to enable Questscope to thrive.

He is a leader for a different time than I. He has seen heroism expressed in unexpected places and people. And he has revealed remarkable courage inside himself.  

Transition. What a wild ride! What a delight! What gratitude to you!


Curt pic1
Founder & Chief Vision Officer

Dr. Curt Rhodes

Curt Rhodes has spent close to 40 years working with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East.

As the recipient of the 2014 Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, Dr. Rhodes was recognized by Tufts University for his demonstrated compassion and tenacity in creating a highly effective and determined organization dedicated to the survival and nurturing of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.

In recognition of his work with marginalized youth in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in the region, Dr. Rhodes was awarded 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East and North Africa by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Rhodes began his career in the Middle East in the early 1980s, as Assistant Dean in the School of Public Health at the American University of Beirut. During the 1982 invasion of west Beirut, he volunteered in a community-based clinic alongside students and friends, doing around-the-clock triage for wounded and ill civilians. That was when the seed idea for Questscope began to take shape. Living and working with people in great suffering compelled him to find a way that he and others in the Middle East could assist the most vulnerable: participating with the voiceless ones in invisible communities.

In 1988, Questscope was founded with the goal of putting the last, first. From the beginning, Questscope worked closely with local communities, identifying their aspirations and together addressing their greatest needs.