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Don McMurtry

Role: Professional Junior Fellowship

Date: August – December 2010

Sector Team: Water and Sanitation – Malawi

Don was educated at Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario and has a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York (the oldest engineering school in North America). Don’s sales and marketing career included eight years as Vice President of Sales at Research In Motion from where he retired in 2006. Don lives in Waterloo.  Don writes the following about his decision to volunteer with EWB:

My first exposure to international development was in the early-1970’s when our family was supporting the education of a young girl in Vietnam through Foster Parents Plan. In 1984 while at university I became aware of the food crisis in Africa which instigated my first attempt to encourage my friends to donate money for international aid.  At that time one of my friends introduced me to the idea of the Peace Corp and that may have sewn a seed.

Over the last ten years I have been fortunate to be able to financially support various development projects and in 2006 I met Parker Mitchell which lead to me attending the 2008 and 2009 EWB national conferences.  I think the countless incredible EWB members I met at the conferences helped to germinate the long dormant seed.

One of the questions in the ProJF application was Why do I care about international development? I don’t really have a satisfactory answer yet. For some reason I believe that doing nothing is not an acceptable option and someone once challenged me to start giving more of my time not just money.  Some academics suggest altruism has a basis in our evolutionary development, so perhaps it is an innate urge.