Someone asked an Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, “how should we treat others?” The answer he gave was, “there are no others.”
While I came across this ancient Indian parable long after Night and I co-founded the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation in 2001, I realized it describes a philosophy that is at the center of why we do what we do.
The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation aims to empower communities so that they have the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and combat social injustice. We start by investing in their leaders.
We firmly believe that impactful change is driven by community leaders who have the fortitude, the character, and the cultural expertise to empower their communities to reach toward a bold vision for the future. We simply follow their lead.
M. Night Shyamalan
Screenwriter, director and producer M. Night Shyamalan has captured the attention of audiences around the world for almost two decades. He is the writer and director of numerous films including The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Visit and Split. His passion for filmmaking was born as a young child, and his relentless pursuit of this passion-along with the opportunity to pursue it- has allowed him to live his dream despite the odds. Though he never expected to be involved with Philanthropy, his admiration for human potential eventually led him to learn more about global disparities and how lack of opportunity prevents individuals, families, and communities from living their dreams. Always working to improve his own story, Night’s hope is to help change the story of those born with less opportunity.
Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan
Bhavna Shyamalan, PhD serves as co-founder and vice-president of the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation. A deep belief in human-dignity and freedom as a birthright, as well as in our joint responsibility to become participants in the fight for social justice, have been Dr. Shyamalan’s driving force in creating and steering the efforts of the foundation. With an international upbringing and global perspective, Dr. Shyamalan has developed a keen awareness of the power of poverty to determine the life course of individuals, families, and communities by severely limiting opportunity and choice. Through her stewardship and vision, the foundation focuses on leaders who work to eliminate those barriers. In addition, Dr. Shyamalan is driven to empower the most disenfranchised communities; the forgotten and “disposable’ people entrapped and exploited by modern day slavery and human trafficking. Dr. Shyamalan oversees the foundation’s international grants, the implementation of its vision and mission, strategic growth, fundraising, and overall operations.
Michelle joined the MNS Foundation as its Executive Director in 2021. She manages the Foundation’s portfolio of grants, building partnerships with emerging community leaders and like-minded organizations around the world. Prior to joining the Foundation, Michelle ran innovation at Independence Blue Cross, where she helped people design new ways of working, including new programs, processes, and business models. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Temple University, where she teaches courses on creativity and innovation. Michelle believes deeply in the power of education and that every individual has the ability to change their circumstances and community when given the right tools. She was the first in her family to attend college and holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and master’s degree in Writing, both from St. Joseph’s University. She has always wanted to do impactful work and is thrilled to join a mission-driven organization supporting phenomenal leaders who are changing the world.