MISSION & HISTORY
Question Box began, as it happens, with a question: “How can we bring information to people beyond the last mile – left behind by the digital revolution?” Question Box was developed as solution to reach the massive population that is left behind:
- A world with well over 1 billion illiterate
- 1 billion more reading only a local language
- Where the cell phone calls easily cost 15-40¢ a minute, while a population lives on $1 a day.
- A world made up primarily of impoverished women, children, and the aged.
We believe that lives can be saved and changed, if only the world’s most vulnerable had access to the right information and services in time. Currently, living far from medical, agricultural and educational professionals means being left behind unnecessarily. When an emergency, a disaster, or a massive crop disease outbreak happens, knowing what to do, where to go, and who can help you can make all the difference.
We imagined what might be possible if those experts and resources could be made available at a simple push of a button to the people who most needed them, when they needed them.
Question Boxes meet people where they live, on their terms. They are public helpline call boxes. No learning a new language, or walking a long distance, or mastering a new technology. Furthermore, for the implementing organization, call minutes are free from the callboxes to their destination number, allowing for unlimited use.
Question Box was founded by Rose Shuman in 2007, as a project of Open Mind Company, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit in Santa Monica, California. We have developed and installed Question Boxes in locations across India and Uganda.
Currently, we provide technical support and hardware to existing development and social service programs that operate on the ground on consultancy and partnership bases. If you are interested in Question Box for your communities, please reach out and contact us .
Question Box would like to thank our funding partners, field partners, individual donors and supporters as well as a countless number of advisers, dedicated volunteers and maverick interns.
Partner Highlight: The Indigo Trust
The Indigo Trust is a UK based grant making foundation that funds technology-driven projects to bring about social change, largely in African countries. The Trust focuses mainly on innovation, transparency and citizen empowerment.
The Indigo Trust is providing support to Question Box, to scale and develop our operations worldwide. With Indigo's support, Question Box is making significant strides forward with our Health portfolio, helping partners provide lifesaving information and service linkages in extremely marginalized communities. We are very grateful for their continued support of Question Box, as well as for the support they provide to our many colleague organizations in the field.
Rose Sarita Shuman, Founder | CEO
Rose developed the Question Box concept and launched the first pilot sites in 2007. Since then, Question Box has connected thousands of people in India and Uganda to the information they need and want, the way they want it. Rose has extensive experience developing innovation and technology initiatives in India, Uganda, Ghana, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Indonesia, amongst other countries, in the fields of ICT4D; microenterprise; Big Data for Development; and in other development sector verticals such as education, health, and displaced persons. Previously, Rose was Head of Marketing for Adlens Ltd, a UK social enterprise start-up, and was Senior Program Manager for Adaptive Eyewear, a non-profit dedicated to correcting vision in the developing world. Prior to that, she was Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager at Direct Relief International, liaising with the pharmaceutical industry for medical donations.
Rose graduated from Brown University, with degrees in International Relations (BA, honors); Visual Arts (BA); and International Development Studies (MA). Rose has lectured at the UC Berkeley; the Haas School of Business; and the Europe Asia Business School of Pune, India. She has also presented at the World Health Congress, SXSW, and the W3C Workshop on the Role of Mobile Technology in Social Development. Rose is also a DASRA Social Entrepreneurship Fellow and a TED Fellow, as well as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
F. Mita Paramita, Technology & Operations
Mita has extensive experience in technology product and project management, with expertise in developing complex workflow processes, distributed team and workforce optimization. Aside from day-to-day operations, Mita also manages technical tool development and R&D for Question Box initiatives. Previously, she was a VP of Operations at Fox Interactive Media, a division of NewsCorp where she managed the strategic incubation of new technologies, products and new business development efforts for a variety of high-profile digital properties.
Mita graduated magna cum laude with a BSc in Architecture and Building Sciences from Lehigh University, and a Master of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dr. Monica Kumar, MD
Role: Chief Medical Officer; Vice-Chair, Board of Director
Monica has worked in various international settings, including working with medics from different ethnic states within Burma to increase access to quality health care for eastern Burma’s isolated and displaced populations, creating/teaching an ultrasound curriculum to medics at the Mae Tao Clinic, supervising residents in Guyana, and assisting in operations in a rural hospital in Ghana. She has lectured at many conferences around the world including in India, Ethiopia, Guyana, Italy, and Thai-Burmese border. She received her BA and MD from Brown University and completed her residency in emergency medicine at LAC+USC. Afterword, she went on to complete a fellowship in international emergency medicine at the LAC+USC, earning a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTMH) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and an RDMS (an ultrasound certification)
Michael J. Balaoing, Esq
Role: Strategic Communication Expert; Member, Board of Director
Michael helps people lead by communicating – whether you’re a start-up CEO in Silicon Valley, a sales manager in Madrid, a TV news anchor in Manhattan, or a high school student in Nairobi.
Today, Michael is the principal of Candlelion LLC and senior coach at Own The Room (www.owntheroom.com). He has trained thousands of people around the world, such as top philanthropists, Fortune 500 CEO’s, entrepreneurs, investors and executives in business, finance, media, entertainment, technology and education. His work spans a broad spectrum of companies and industries: i.e., Amazon, Siemens, VISA, SAP, MTV/Viacom, Northrop Grumman, Time, Inc., DropBox, TD Bank, MIT Media Lab. He prepares clients for high stakes presentations, pitches, panels and interviews (World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, The Today Show, The New York Times, TED and Senate hearings). He is committed to supporting the nonprofit sector, coaching organizations like Akili Dada, City Year, Council on Foundations, DonorsChoose, Generation On, Independent Sector, International Medical Corps, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Points of Light/Hands On.
Michael is a 20-year veteran of strategic communications, leadership development, corporate responsibility and global philanthropy. He has awarded over $500 million to universities, research centers, and charitable organizations worldwide that have pitched him their best ideas for funding. For a decade, as Senior Vice President at the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), he engaged millions of people on issues of education, health, the environment, military families, and youth. Since 1942, EIF has harnessed the collective creative power of the U.S. entertainment community and leveraged its storytelling resources by launching iconic campaigns like Stand Up To Cancer. Michael advised a wide portfolio of private clients: Academy Award-winning actors, Emmy-nominated TV shows, and global media corporations (such as Disney, Sony, Time/Warner and News Corp). Partnering with the biggest movie studios, TV networks, talent agencies, guilds, unions, media conglomerates, and best known corporate brands, Michael worked to achieve an enduring vision: that the entertainment industry is uniquely positioned to help others.
Michael teaches corporate social responsibility as assistant adjunct professor at the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He sits on the adjunct faculty at the George Washington University School of Business. He has taught students, staff and faculty across the U.S., from USC and UCSF to Northwestern and MIT. With a J.D. from UCLA, he has served as an advisor to V-DAY, Board Chairman of the Liberty Hill Foundation, Board Secretary of the Philippine Development Foundation, and past Chairman of California Volunteers (under former First Lady Maria Shriver). At age 16, he started Princeton University and earned a B.A. in International Relations. Since then, his career has taken him to 35 countries and 350 cities on 6 continents. Michael currently lives in New York and Palo Alto.
Abby Fifer Mandell
Role: Member, Board of Director
Abby Fifer Mandell is the Executive Director of the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab (BSEL) at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Abby oversees all BSEL staff, academic offerings, co-curricular programs, events, and initiatives. She designs curriculum for affiliated courses and teaches BAEP 499: Social Innovation Design Lab, an undergraduate course in which interdisciplinary teams of students use design thinking to create product solutions to poverty in California’s Central Valley.
Prior to joining the Lab staff, Abby served as the Director of Admissions of the graduate school of education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles. As a private consultant for Brailsford & Dunlavey, she designed educational programs and facilities at Duke University, The University of Vermont, Dartmouth University, and UC Riverside, among others. Abby has taught students in every grade from kindergarten to graduate school and her research has been published in ACUI's The Bulletin, University Business, and NACAS's College Service.
Abby was instrumental in creating LimmudLA, a grassroots, post-denominational, Jewish learning experience in Southern California. She holds a master's degree in educational administration and received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, where she was student body president.
Role: Treasurer, Board of Director
Currently a finance executive with a major Hollywood studio, John brings 15 years of experience in strategy, finance, and accounting in various corporate and startup settings. Responsible for setting the overall financial strategic direction for his team, John brings both a controllership background and an operational mindset to Open Mind. John also has significant experience in emerging markets, working with teams in India and across southeast Asia in his current role.
John is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California and is a California licensed CPA