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Dr. Alison  Thompson

Dr. Alison Thompson

Humanitarian, "Doyenne of Disasters," Director & Author of The Third Wave - A Volunteer Story


Thompson is passionate about her full time humanitarian work across five continents, and is fondly known as the “Angel of Galle” in Sri Lanka. She is also the Ambassador to the Haitian Ministry of the Environment. Read More >

Dr. Alison Thompson is a full time global humanitarian volunteer. Her full-time work started on the Sept 11th 2001 attacks in New York, where she volunteered as a first responder for nine months. Over the past 20 years Alison has run large refugee camps, field hospitals and resilience command centers in nearly every major natural disaster around the world; including Haiti, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Nepal, USA, Guatemala, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, the Syrian Refugee and Venezuelan crisis and numerous more on USA soil in the hurricanes of New Orleans, NY Rockaways, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Carolinas California and the Florida Panhandle.

In 2005 she founded the first Community Tsunami Early-warning disaster center in Sri Lanka where she is known as "The Angel of Galle", along with a children’s learning center and tsunami museum. In 2012 Alison was appointed as the first official Ambassador to the Haitian Ministry of Environment where she works in reforestation and sustainable energy. Alison represented Haiti at the Cop 22 UN Climate change meetings in Marrakesh where she was later successful in helping Haiti ratify the Paris Agreement in Parliament.

In 2015 Alison gave the commencement speech at Loyola Chicago University and was honored with an Honorary ‘Doctorate of Letters,’ in the ‘Humanities.’ Alison has worked tirelessly on the island of Lesvos, Greece in the epicenter of the Syrian refugee Crisis, where millions have fled the war zones of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Alison worked as a volunteer paramedic caring for refugees with hypothermia and war wounds and has developed a network of over 30,000 Third Wave volunteers, who support and coordinate direct aid for the refugees. The programs include healthcare, clean water and solar lighting up the darkest parts of the world with over 1.6 billion people living without electricity or light. Alison brings an innovative origami solar light to the refugees struggling along the dark shores of Greece and to the refugee camps of the Syrian borders. Alison has personally delivered these solar lights to over 100,000 refugees.

In 2010, Alison flew to Haiti along with actor Sean Penn and ten doctors to help after the earthquake. Together, they managed a 65,000-person IDP camp and field hospital alongside General Simeon Trombitas and the 82nd Airborne who later honored her with the Commanders award for Excellence. In Haiti, Alison also co-founded We Advance, an organization dedicated to combating gender-based violence and advancing the health and safety of women and children throughout the Cite Soleil slums. In 2010 she was awarded the 'Order of Australia,' the highest civilian medal given by the Australian government and Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, for her volunteerism and her contributions to mankind and received the Paul Harris award from Rotary International.

Closer to home Alison has spearheaded large volunteer campaigns in the latest back to back American hurricane disasters including health and renewable energy programs after Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. Preparing for hurricane Irma, Alison co-founded the first Community Emergency Operations Center in the heart of the most vulnerable communities in Miami collaborating with 80 organizations, providing feeding programs, aid and empowerment through preparing citizens with CERT emergency response training for future disasters.

Her award-winning documentary, The Third Wave, chronicles her volunteer experience in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami and was screened at the 2008 Cannes film festival in a presidential jury screening presented by Sean Penn and Bono. She followed up with a book, The Third Wave A Volunteer Story. With simplicity and humility, Alison inspires everyone to service and to love in action and tailors her message on how ‘anyone can volunteer,’ from a global scope to our own backyards and that “everyone is needed.”

Among her corporate sponsors, Facebook Inc have now joined Third Wave Volunteers with a sponsorship series of commercial ads which will share the message of service to the world on a larger scale.

Her motto is "It’s easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it's Leadership to be in the wrong place at the right time." Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDx: Everyone’s Needed, No Skills Required

Just Do Something - Alison Thompson from the Beaches of Lesvos

Giving Light to Syrian Refugees

Who is Dr. Alison Thompson?

Relief in Action

Loyola University Chicago College of Arts & Sciences Commencement Speech

The Body Collector

Solight for Refugees in Greece

Speech Topics

WANTED: Volunteers, No Skills Required

Mark Twain said 'the two most important days of our lives are the day you are born and the day you find out why.' Read More >

Dr. Alison Thompson takes us on a global adventure of service and love in action embracing humanity as a frontline witness to mankind at its very best and at its very worst. She has learned first hand that the antiquated aid models no longer work and that resilient sustainable community hubs recognize that everyone is needed. With simplicity and humility, Thompson inspires everyone to service and tailors her message on how ‘anyone can volunteer’, from a global scope to our own backyards. Read Less ^

Earthquakes, Fires, Hurricanes, Tornados, Typhoons, Floods & Man-Made Wars: Stop the World I Want to Get Off

Thompson has spent decades working in 6 continents navigating a complex system of 'Disaster Inc' preparing for future disasters. She discusses the role of the magic gene of social media in disasters and how Love and a bottle of Chanel #5 can save your life. Thompson discusses 'Un-developing' countries, grassroots volunteer movements, sustainable renewable energy and the need for a super 'disaster' task force the size of the military to soldier up on what has already began with climate change.

Women Issues & Gender-Based Violence: Solutions

Based on the UN statistic that one in 3 women on the planet will be raped/or beaten in her lifetime (that is over one billion women). Thompson explores gender based violence and the #METOO movement through the eyes of her own work in the Cite Soleil slums of Haiti to Mar Largo in Florida and beyond.

Corporate Social Responsibility

"I'm not asking you to shave your head and chant on a hill but to imagine a world where we all do our part that the karma banks are overflowing with blue-chip stocks and compassion and we are all billionaires on the inside." Topics range from how businesses can cash in on the 'love token' of service, Bitcoin, Crypto and the charity 501c3 model and how the analytical business mind is the missing algorithm in the complex world of Aid.