Indianapolis Monthly

Test of Time

IN 1998, recently retired multimillionaire Christel DeHaan flew to Mexico City to meet a nun who was running an orphanage in need of financial assistance. The facility had no generator or clean water, a Forbes story reported. Some children walked six miles to the school because the broken-down bus was stranded in the orphanage’s yard.

DeHaan could have easily signed a check, boarded a plane back to Indianapolis, and patted herself on the back. It wouldn’t have made a dent in her net worth. Two years earlier, she had sold her company, Resort Condominiums International, for $825 million. But covering immediate maintenance needs wasn’t going to change the future for these orphans. DeHaan knew that, and she wanted to do more. So one of the richest self-made businesswomen in the world came out of retirement to build Christel House.

The mission of the non-profit organization was and still is to break the cycle of poverty around the world through education, in conjunction with other services provided through its schools. Today, Christel House operates two charter schools in Indianapolis and private schools on three continents. In

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