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Toastmasters Magazine Profiles Jim Luce

Jim Luce speaking on Orphans International at the Greek Consulate in New York.

The Paths Less Traveled: Three global humanitarians speak out and lead in service of the greater good.

Toastmasters founder Ralph C. Smedley said it best when referring to the ripple effect that membership in Toastmasters can have on those around us, and local communities, and on the wider world:

“While most of us may have entered Toastmasters to learn to make speeches, that benefit is but the beginning of the good which may come to us, and the good which we may do for mankind.”

The members profiles here have lived up to that high ideal Smedley prescribed. All have dedicated their lives or careers to humanitarian work designed to fight injustice or discrimination, to help populations afflicted by natural disaster or violence, and to build a better understanding among people from different cultures.

Jim Luce

During a trip to Indonesia, Jim Luce visited an orphanage where he met a 10-month-old orphan who stole his heart and later became his adopted son, Mathew. But the squalid conditions he encountered at the orphanage left him stunned, and the thought of the other children there drove him to consider launching an international organization to aid orphans, Luce was working to get the fledgling organization off the ground, with the help of his mother (Frances Dudley Alleman-Luce), when his brother fell ill.

“My brother (Richard Livingston Luce) was dying from pancreatic cancer and I visited him in Texas,” says Luce. “He asked me if I was serious about creating Orphans International. I said yes, and he said if that was the case, I would need to become a highly effective communicator and leader. He said I needed to join Toastmasters, which he belong to is part of the software company he worked for. My brother then said he would leave funds for me from his estate on the condition that I joined Toastmasters.”

Luce, CL, honor that request and join the Roosevelt Island Toastmasters club in New York. Becoming club president within two years. In 1999 he successfully launched Orphans International (OIW), which supports the orphan care in 12 countries along the equator including Ghana, Kenya, Cambodia, India, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. The groups long-term goal is to end orphanages globally, eventually placing children in their own extended families.

Luce has raise more than $1.5 million for orphaned children and, for that, the U.S. Congress twice has awarded him the Certificate of Congressional Recognition, in 2004 and 2007.

Making a Mark

Luce began his career on Wall Street and says his parents, who are both social activists, influenced him to move into humanitarian work. He founded the James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Inc., in 2008 to train and support young leaders to a place of empowerment for bettering the world. It includes the Young Global Leaders Program, which requires a 200-hour commitment of leadership training, as well as participation in a Toastmasters club. Inspired by Luce’s late father (Dr. Stanford Leonard Luce), a college professor who had a special interest in building students leadership skills, Young Global Leaders has graduated more than 100 students in the New York area.

Last year, students in the program traveled to Greece to visit refugee camps and orphanages, and we’re given $10,000 by the J. Luce Foundation to spend on a chosen cause. “Giving them the choice of of how to spend the money,” says Luce, “was designed as a values clarification of sorts. The students ultimately decided to use the money to fund an all-girls orphanage in Athens.”

The children from the first orphanages Luce opened years ago have now begun graduating from college, as has Luce‘s adopted son, Mathew Tendean Luce, who is carrying on Luce’s mission by serving on the foundation’s board of directors. The cardinal rule of Orphans International is inspired by Luce experience with Mathew: each child in the care of Orphans International should be treated the way a parent would treat their own child. This is known as “Mathew’s Rule.”

Read more about Luce’s work with Orphans International and global leaders program of the J. Luce Foundation.

The Path Less Traveled: Toastmasters Magazine Profiles Jim Luce (May 26, 2020)

Jim Luce
Jim Luce
Raising, Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders through Orphans International Worldwide (, the J. Luce Foundation (, and The Stewardship Report ( Jim is also founder and president of the New York Global Leaders Lions Club.


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