Press Release: Jonathan Starr, It Takes a School

Media Contact:
Paul Nugent, Executive Director
Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council

Jonathan Starr, Abaarso School of Science and Technology, Somaliland, presents, It Takes a School

This Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council meeting takes place on October 24 at The First Congregational Church, Old Lyme, CT

$20 for the General Public; Free for SECWAC members and students

Waterford, CT (October 17, 2019) – The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) announced today that Jonathan Starr is to speak on his founding of the Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 24 at The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme at 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371. Members and guests are encouraged to RSVP via online registration, but walk-ins will be accepted.

Jonathan Starr will present on the seemingly impossible success of Abaarso School, whose accomplishments have been featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes and in the New York Times, and show that its “against all odds” triumphs were neither due to great luck nor great talent. In addition to shedding light on the fields of international development and education, the talk has implications for career choice and maximizing one’s own success.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., the presentation will follow SECWAC’s Annual General Meeting with announcements from the Board of Directors at 5:45 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6:00 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2019-2020 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.  Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2019 through June 2020 is $85 per person; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for educators and area college and high school students; a corporate rate of $1,000 is also available, with unlimited access for employees.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $40 to attend a dinner with the speaker at the Old Lyme Country Club.  Dinner reservations are required by Friday, October 18, at 860-912-5718 or via online registration at

Reporters are welcome to attend as guests of the SECWAC Board. Interested reporters should contact Paul Nugent at or 860-388-9241.


Jonathan Starr is Managing Director, Headmaster, and Founder of Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland, Africa. From 2004 – 2008, Jonathan founded and led Flagg Street Capital, a private investment firm that managed $170 million of assets. Prior to Flagg Street, he worked as an Analyst at SAB Capital and at Blavin and Company. Jonathan’s career started as a Research Associate within the Taxable Bond Division at Fidelity Investments. In addition to his full-time responsibilities, Jonathan sat on the Board of Directors of Pomeroy IT Solutions, a publicly-traded IT company generating $500 million of annual sales. Jonathan’s board responsibilities included acting as a member of the Audit Committee, the Advisory Committee, and the Special Committee (strategic alternatives) of Pomeroy. Jonathan graduated from Emory University, with a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Economics and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He is the author of “It Takes A School: The Extraordinary Story of an American School in the #1 Failed State“, a story of David and Goliath proportions that describes how Jonathan created a unique school in Somaliland whose students, against all odds, have come to achieve success beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.


SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange 8-10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policymakers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at



Mission Statement

The mission of the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) is to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs by study, debate, and educational programming, primarily through a Speakers Series of 8 to 10 monthly meetings.