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Ross Paterson ('90)

Founder and director of Global Fusion

Photo: Ross Paterson

After attending Madison on a four-year ROTC scholarship, Ross began a military career that culminated as a company commander in the 101st Airborne Division. He then spent seven years with General Electric before deciding to move down the corporate ladder. "My drive for success has been replaced with a drive for significance," he says. As a founding organizer of Global Fusion, an international nonprofit development organization, Ross is fighting terrorism in Afghanistan by reconstructing hope — helping rebuild agricultural, educational and medical infrastructures. "Freedom is not worth much without food, water and medical resources to keep people alive," Ross notes. His decision to redefine the meaning of success has been tough, but it has paid unimaginable dividends. He's changing a desperate future into one of peace, prosperity and hope for thousands of Afghans; and his organization is now assisting in emerging development work in Algeria, Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam.

"I believe that everyone should have a life project. The bigger, the better. Something that is nearly impossible to change but worth giving a life for … a calling that stretches you past your current capabilities and impacts a world larger than the one you now know."