Alison Thompson OAM


Dr Alison Thompson is a humanitarian incident commander running refugee camps, field hospitals and resiliency hubs in natural and man-made disasters around the world for the past 22 years. Alison founded Third Wave Volunteers as a first responder on Sept 11th, 2001 in NYC which has grown to over 30,000 first responders worldwide. Alison has worked at the grassroots level in Sri Lanka, Haiti, Philippines, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Africa, Nepal, 12 USA hurricanes, Venezuela, The Bahamas,  the Syrian and Venezuelan Crisis and numerous other disasters around the world. In 2005 she founded CTEC-the first Tsunami Early-Warning Disaster Center in Sri Lanka along with a Children’s Learning Center and Tsunami Museum. In 2008 Alison stepped up with Sean Penn, inspiring 200 Coachella concert-goers to join them on volunteering, cross-country camping trip, helping run a Luekemia drive, AIDS and May Day marches and cleaning up the environment. The “Dirty Hands Caravan” ended in New Orleans to assist in rebuilding the Ninth Ward—three years after Katrina. 

In 2010, Alison flew to Haiti along with Sean Penn and ten doctors to help after the earthquake. Together, they managed a 70,000-person IDP camp and field hospital where she was honored with the US Commanders ‘Medal of Excellence’ Award. In 2010 Alison was also awarded the Order of Australia for her volunteerism, bravery and contributions to mankind. In 2012 Alison was appointed as the first official Ambassador to the Haitian Ministry of Environment where she still works in reforestation, sustainable energy and cholera initiatives.  In 2015 she received an Honorary ‘Doctorate of Letters’, in the ‘Humanities’, from Loyola University Chicago, where she also gave the commencement speech. 

Alison worked tirelessly on the island of Lesvos, Greece in the epicenter of the Syrian refugee crisis caring for refugees with hypothermia and war wounds and has developed a large network of volunteers who support and coordinate direct aid for the refugees. She delivered over 100,000 innovative origami solar lights to refugee families along the dark shores of Greece and to the refugee camps of the Syrian borders.  Most recently, Alison worked on the front lines of Covid-19 with Third Wave first responders organizing the delivery of 1.5 million N95 masks to first responders and underserved communities nationwide. 

Alison loves to inspire others to volunteer and lectures in universities, schools and corporations worldwide on leadership, volunteering, sustainability, disaster preparedness, GBV, women’s rights and corporate social responsibility. In Sri Lanka where Alison helped rebuild tsunami ravaged villages, she is fondly known as the “Angel of Galle”. Her award-winning documentary The Third Wave, chronicles her volunteer experience in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in a Presidential Jury Screening presented by Sean Penn and Bono. She followed up with a book published by Random house, The Third Wave: A Volunteer Story. In 2020 Alison Thompson was appointed as a United Nations Chaplain.

Alison’s 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!”

Winner of the Advance Social Impact Award 2016
> Celebrating the work of winner Dr Alison Thompson OAM | Watch
> Acceptance speech by Dr Alison Thompson OAM for the Advance Social Impact Award 2016 | Watch

Other Videos From Dr Alison Thompson

> Third Wave Volunteers safety video | Watch.

> Third Wave Volunteers – Dr Alison – Breathe with me now | Watch

> Third Wave Volunteers nationwide Women in White N95 mask campaign | Watch