Lauren Walters always has wanted to help others. Public service was a key part of his life; after all, his parents were both doctors.
"I got to see these two people, the most important people in my life at the time, helping people," says Walters.
But Lauren became a lawyer, and in 1979 he started representing abused and neglected children who had been placed at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a public mental hospital in Washington, D.C. He liked the idea of effecting change.
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In the '80s and '90s, Walters served on the boards of various nonprofit organizations and he continued to build up his impressive résumé, even running for a local school board in Massachusetts. He had traveled abroad many times, but a 2007 trip with his son to a Partners In Health clinic in Rwanda changed his life.
"That time in Rwanda was the first time I'd really seen severely malnourished kids in a health clinic setting," says Walters.
That experience stuck with him and when his good friend's son, Will Hauser, approached him in 2009, a social enterprise was on the horizon.
"He said: 'I really want to do something entrepreneurial and I want to do something that helps people,'" says Walters.
They started talking about what would become Two Degrees Food, a company that manufactures nutrition bars and donates a meal to a hungry child with every purchase.
Lauren Walters, 61, tells us more about his life calling:
How did the Two Degrees idea form?
In 2007 I attended the Aspen Ideas Festival and heard Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, talk about this one-to-one model where you buy a pair of shoes and they donate a pair to a child without shoes somewhere in the world. I felt it was a very interesting business model. When Will Hauser called me in 2009 I said: "How about this: We match this one-to-one idea from TOMS Shoes with the problem of malnutrition in kids and we create a for-profit company?" We started the idea, and connecting those dots was really prompted by Will.
How did you come up with the name Two Degrees?
We called it Two Degrees because of two degrees of separation from someone else. The company is a fulcrum between you, the consumer, and a hungry child.
Tell me a little bit about your nutrition bars and where we can find them?
We wanted to make a healthy, all natural, gluten-free product. We have four flavors: Apple Pecan, Cherry Almond, Chocolate Banana and Chocolate Peanut. They really taste great! Our bars are in about 1,000 or more locations around the U.S., including Whole Foods stores, the Fresh Market chain, as well as coffee shops, college stores and even in the vending machines of big corporations.
Next: Lauren Walters' ultimate goal for Two Degrees. »