Joan Hecht is the Founder and President of Alliance of the Lost Boys of Sudan and author of the award-winning book, The Journey of the Lost Boys. Ms. Hecht toured as a professional backup singer in the 1980’s with The Johnny Van Zant Band and is now retired from a career in sales and marketing. She has been a full time Lost Boys of Sudan mentor and volunteer since their arrival in 2001, helping them to acclimate to their new lives in America and to further their education.
Joan Hecht unofficially adopted one of the lost boys named, Ezekiel Kong Deng, who passed away in June of 2002 following a failed liver transplant. Because of her deep love for Ezekiel, and all of the Lost Boys, it became her dream to establish a foundation to assist with the medical and educational needs of Lost Boys and their families living in the US and Africa.
After watching them struggle while working full time jobs, attending classes and sleeping as little as two hours a day, in 2004 she established Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan, a 501© (3) non- profit foundation. To date, the Alliance has assisted over 65 local Lost Boys and Sudanese with college tuition and books. Some of the graduates from this program are now key officials in the new government of The Republic of South Sudan. The Alliance has also provided life changing surgeries or medical treatment for over 100 local Sudanese.
The Alliance later expanded their efforts to support various projects in Southern Sudan, such as funding for the construction of an X-ray facility and a house for resident doctors at a hospital in Werkok; along with much needed medicine and supplies, a children’s house with 30 beds at an orphanage in Yei, distribution of life-sustaining survival kits in Bar-El-Ghazel, donations towards the construction of a school and back packs in Yomchiir, the purchase and distribution of Solar Lights, goats for Women at Risk and eight water wells that now provide clean water to thousands of rural villagers (and much more!)
Ms. Hecht and local Lost Boys speak actively around the US to various colleges, schools, business groups, Churches and Synagogues raising awareness for the plight of the south Sudanese people. She has been invited to briefings and discussions regarding Sudan, at The White House and The State Department. To book Ms. Hecht as an author/advocate speaker for your next college, high school, business or religious event, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to her role as President of the Alliance, Ms. Hecht served for four years as Chair of Education for The Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan: The National Network, based in Washington DC. In March 2009, she was selected by “The Network” to participate in a US based humanitarian/assessment delegation traveling to Southern Sudan. While there, she helped to assess the needs of the South Sudanese people, while also documenting and compiling health and education data that has been used by educators and health care providers world wide. Ms. Hecht also attended training with the National Democratic Institute in South Sudan in an effort to help educate and raise awareness among clergy, women and rural villagers for the succession vote of South Sudan, stressing the importance for s stronger role for women in civic matters and in the new government of The Republic of South Sudan.
Ms. Hecht is author of the non-fiction book “The Journey of The Lost Boys,” which garnered “First Place in Education” in the international, Promoting Outstanding Authors Book Awards and earning her the coveted title, “2005 Author of The Year.” It is currently used in colleges, universities, high schools and middle schools around the world. A portion of the sales from her book has benefited the needs of South Sudanese in the US and abroad. PURCHASE A BOOK NOW
In recognition of her work with the Lost Boys, Ms. Hecht has been honored with numerous awards, including the “2007 Local Heroes Award” from Bank of America, “Daily Points of Light Award,” from the National Points of Light Foundation, “The Points of Light Award” from Florida governor, Charlie Crist, “2008 Florida Sunshine State TESOL Presidents Award and the “2009 International Outreach Award” from Hands On Jacksonville. Mrs. Hecht and her family, along with Jacksonville Lost Boys, were featured in the 2009 November issue of Disney’s Family Fun Magazine, as Grand Prizewinners in the FamilyFun national Families Who Volunteer Contest. The proceeds from that cash award were donated by the Hecht family to assist in construction of an X-ray/communication facility located at a hospital in South Sudan.
Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan is a registered 501 C-3 Foundation EIN #59-3808251