Forever Humboldt

Greg Beck: Humanitarian Extends Kindness to All

Do you know an HSU alumnus or alumna who is doing amazing work? Nominate them for a 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award by Jan. 13. Learn more >>. Award winners will be announced in April.

Greg Beck (‘92, Environmental Systems) is no stranger to helping others. Currently, Beck serves as FHI360’s Director of Integrated development where he researches and shares the latest news and knowledge in the field of international development. Beck joined FHI 360 after more than 20 years working as a humanitarian—a life’s work he found with the help of a relative.

Growing up in Corning, New York, Beck describes an idyllic childhood. “I was blessed. I was surrounded by a network of family and friends. They encircled my life with a great deal of caring and kindness,” he says.

Beck first got interested in international work from a cousin who was serving in Zaire through the Peace Corps. He thrilled to tales of adventures in the country wide, tales of protecting her health against the ravages of malaria and tales of impoverished yet amazing people deep inside the country. “I knew I found my life's calling and that I would become a humanitarian worker,” says Beck.

Beck would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service and International Politics from The Pennsylvania State University and followed his cousin’s footsteps into the Peace Corps, serving in Nepal and eventually enrolling at HSU to complete the International Development track of the Environmental Resources Engineering graduate program.

Before taking up his current post with FHI 360, Beck served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Asia Bureau for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he managed more than US$2 billion in funding for development programming and policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

Additionally, Beck presided over the reopening of the Burma (Myanmar) mission after a 24-year closure and chaired the U.S. government’s interagency committee that planned and launched President Barack Obama’s Partnership for Growth in the Philippines.

With so much experience working in finance, logistics, and management, Beck admits he sometimes misses the human connections that first brought him to this field. “Witnessing bad things endured by others can really harden the heart over time,” says Beck.

But he finds ways to stay connected. In his 2015 TedX talk, Beck says urges us to remember it’s the little day-to-day acts that help maintain that sense of purpose. “Mobilizing our compassion one small act at a time might just provide us with the fuel to tackle some of humanity's most daunting challenges. Your act of kindness, no matter how small, truly makes a difference.”

You can view Greg’s TedX talk here.

Learn more about HSU’s Distinguished Alumni Award here.