Caroline Casey was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.
Sushmita Ghosh, member of Ashoka's Leadership Team and founder of Changemakers, sat down with Caroline Casey (pictured above), Ashoka Globalizer Fellow and founding CEO of Kanchi and the O2 Ability Awards.
Kanchi is a not-for-profit organization that works to change thinking about disability. Kanchi promotes the ability and value of every person with a disability and challenges traditional stereotypes through innovative initiatives aimed at a wide range of stakeholders. Kanchi works with leaders in business, government, and the media to accelerate change.
Ghosh: When was your "ah-ha" moment when you realized that your idea could be realized on a larger scale?
Casey: I actually had a few “ah-ha” moments throughout the history of Kanchi. The first time was in 2004 while creating the first Irish Ability Awards—I knew instinctually that this idea could be replicated in any country if we got the model right, like the ISO model.
The second was in 2007, when Telefónica came to Ireland to see the 02 Ability Awards. After hearing about our activities, they had sent very high-level people to witness the final stage of the Ability Awards Program - the gala ceremony. Within minutes of the ceremony ending, they asked me whether they could take the Ability Awards to Spain.
The third moment was January 17, during the first complete cycle of those Ability Awards in Spain, when the president of Telefónica announced his plan to take the Ability Awards to five countries in five years in front of an extremely influential audience, including the Queen of Spain. It was at that moment that the dream I had back in 2004 began to become a reality.