Atlanta native Charles Redding named CEO and President of MedShare

ImageThe MedShare family welcomes Charles Redding as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, effective May 5, 2014. Redding succeeds Meridith Rentz, who served as the organization’s CEO and President for the last three years. Rentz resigned in April 2014 to spend more time with her family. Her last day at MedShare was May 2nd.

“Charles has a keen global perspective and a strong vision for MedShare’s ongoing commitment to making the world a better place,” said Thomas Asher, MedShare’s board chair. “What Charles has done for MedShare in just two years is outstanding. He is the right person at the right time to take our organization to the next level of service excellence for our recipients worldwide.”

Redding has been MedShare’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) since 2012. He led the company’s efforts to expand into the Northeast by opening a Sorting & Collection Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. Prior to this role, he held a number of senior management positions with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) including the first Plant Manger for Ethicon in Juarez, Mexico and Director of Asia Pacific Operations, where he was based in Shanghai, China and managed facilities in China and India. His latest role at J&J was that of Vice President of Global Operations for their Aesthetic Medicine business. He was responsible for 1200 employees in the U.S., France, The Netherlands, and Mauritius and managed a 200 million dollar budget. A native of Atlanta, Redding graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering, and received a certificate in Team Management from the Daniel School of Management at the University of South Carolina.

“It’s an honor to be leading MedShare as our 15th anniversary year comes to a close,” said Redding. “The support and commitment of our board of trustees, regional council members, staff, and volunteers will help us make an even greater impact on the health care of the recipients we serve in local U.S. communities and around the world.”

Founded in Atlanta in 1998, MedShare sources essential, surplus medical supplies and equipment, and delivers them directly to underserved populations worldwide while lessening the impact of medical waste in the U.S. Its ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of people, communities, and the planet.

Since its founding, MedShare has mobilized thousands of community volunteers, corporate, hospital, and nongovernmental partners to ship nearly 1,000 forty-foot containers to hospitals and clinics in need in over 95 countries, including free clinics in the U.S. In addition to Atlanta, MedShare has offices in the San Francisco Bay and the New York City metropolitan areas.

Join us for an Interfaith Panel TONIGHT!

Looking for a meaningful way to celebrate International Women’s Day? Look no further… join MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellows tonight for an interfaith discussion on Faith as a Force For Good: Joining the Fight Against Malaria. The event is sure to spark lively discussion and will lead into a dialogue of how we can help fight malaria.

The panel of three distinguished speakers – Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz, Congregation Or Hadash; Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley, Providence Missionary Baptist Church; Tayyibah Taylor, Editor in Chief of Azizah Magazine – will be moderated by MedShare’s Vice President of Corporate and International Relations, Nell Diallo.

It will begin at 7pm this evening at Providence Missionary Baptist Church; directions can be found here.

Are you planning on joining us this evening? Confirm your attendance on Facebook here!

MEET Clint and Sana: interfaith workers and medical supply crafters

By now, you likely know Clint Fluker and Sana Rahim, MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellows. (You don’t? Catch up here and here, and read about their current project here.) They were recently interviewed by The FEED Atlanta, and we wanted to share the wonderful Q & A session. You can read it on their website here, or scroll down…

MEET Clint and Sana: interfaith workers and medical supply crafters

by Melonie Tharpe on FEED

Atlanta has a lot of diversity.  With people from hundreds of different countries converging here every day, so the need for understanding is great.  We sat down with Sana and Clint who are undertaking an interfaith program at MedShare to learn what it takes to bridge the divide religious differences can cause.  They provided us a great tour of MedShare, an international organization that recycles medical supplies before we got down to interview business.

Sana Rahim (L) and Clint Fluker, MedShare's Faiths Act Fellows

Tell us about your project:

Sana:  MedShare is a health nonprofit organization based in Decatur.  We take surplus medical supplies from hospitals and medical manufacturing companies and redistribute them to developing countries.  When you get an operation at a hospital, they will use a specific kit for your procedure. There might be 30-80 instruments for your surgery but they will only uses some of them.  The rest of the instruments, even if they are perfectly sterile, are still billed to you because they are part of the opened kit. They cannot use them on other patients so they are usually thrown away.  We also get products from medical manufacturing companies. When they make a shipment and a load of boxes falls off a forklift, it is cosmetically damaged and not sellable.  Usually they would throw it away.  Instead we ask them to donate it here.  We have volunteers that re-box those supplies. Once these supplies get entered into our inventory, hospitals and clinics in developing countries can go online and make a wish list of all the things they want. We will prepare a 40 foot container with all the requested supplies and ship it over.  They get exactly what they want and need.

We are working with the Tony Blair Interfaith Fellows Program to bring faith communities together to engage in service here at MedShare.  We are also doing a large scale fundraising initiative to send over 2 containers of medical supplies to Sierra Leone.

How did you get started with all of this?

Sana: With the art auction, we noticed that there was an incredible amount of supplies we receive that we can’t use. It is amazing the amount of supplies we save and provide to clinics, but there are still things that might end up in the trash. Things that are expired or not in demand.  We wanted to figure out how to reduce the amount of waste coming from that.  Clint and I came up with an idea to give these supplies to artists to create works of art. We ended up watching the documentary Waste Land.  An artist goes to one of the largest landfills in Rio de Janeiro to learn about people who hand-pick recyclables from landfills. He takes people who do this and draws out their portraits in giant sizes. The people fill in the outlines with the recyclables and then he photographs the images. He uses this art to fundraise for their workers union. It was really powerful.

We decided to do something similar. We have artists use our waste product to create images of our logo, our recipients.  We have had many artists come forward to work on this. It has been really neat.  Art has an interesting role to play in these issues.  There is a very concrete and tangible outcome of this process and this auction.

What inspires you to do this work?

Sana:  I just graduated from Northwestern. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do this year. I have always been interested in international development work. I spent two summers working in Turkey on women’s rights issues, I did a lot of global health volunteering in college. I have always been interested in interfaith work. Although I have never done much of it before, but as a Muslim in the US I can see the need for it.  The 2008 presidential elections and the kind of vitriol that came out against Muslims.  People were accusing him of being a Muslim and he was adamant that he wasn’t.  I kept waiting for a voice of reason. For him to say “I am not a Muslim, but there is nothing wrong with being one”.  And that never really happened.  I think that makes interfaith work very important.

Clint:  First I wanted to return to Atlanta and I knew it was possible through this program.  I won’t lie about that!  Two, I come from a family that has a very strong Christian program.  My father is a Baptist minister, my grandfather was as well.  And I tell everyone in a joking manner, even though it is kinda true, my mother raises money for preachers to go to school. There is a very strong tradition of faith background in my family. I have often struggled with religion myself.  I was a philosophy major. My family has also been involved with marriages in other religions.  My big brother married a Hindu woman.  Going through that process, the 4 days of marriage, was quite something. It was an incredible thing to see families from different parts of the world come together.  We had two weddings- a Hindu and a Christian wedding.  Just seeing that and how it was possible was important for me. I saw people work together. I wanted to explore this idea of interfaith work as a way to bring people together around an issue.  Also, I get a chance to work with artists through this program. I love it.

What challenges are you facing?

Sana:  It is interesting to come to a new city and map out the communities. We are trying to bring together faith communities in Atlanta. Faith is a big thing here. Getting all of those people together at the same table has been a challenge. Although surprisingly there is a big interfaith community here. There is a rich diversity even though you might only think ‘this is the bible belt’. Actually, there is almost too much going on. There is a lot of interfaith programing and we have to find our own space.

Fundraising is also hard.  There are so many worthy causes so convincing people to support you is hard. The economic climate is still tough for people. So for me our campaign isn’t just about fundraising, there are many ways to volunteer.  You can donate, make some artwork, volunteer your time. Clint and I are passionate that contributing to a cause can be in any shape or form.

Clint:  One of the biggest challenges is explaining the depth of the project to people.  We are not just having people come together to pray or to hold hands.  I think that is a very important element but we are also trying to get people to take action and show that people who have faith, people who don’t have faith, people who have different faiths, can come together and do something good.  Explaining that in two or three sentences to people can be difficult.  Our work can be controversial too.  If you use platforms like surplus medical supplies going overseas or artists coming together to create a better world, I think you are able to explain it better and break down hesitations.

Sana:  To add to that, I think interfaith is a scary word.  People think “oh no, I have to talk about my religion”, but that isn’t true. It is more about being in a space and working towards a common goal with people of a different faith.

Clint:  A good example is our interfaith (supply) sorting sessions.  You have these people coming to MedShare all the time. There might be 4 or 5 different faiths represented at a given time but you might not speak to them about it. It is just a microcosm of what happens around the world.  People of different backgrounds are working together all the time, it just isn’t acknowledged. What we do is allow people to have these experiences but allow them to learn from the experience of working together.

Are you guys collaborating with anyone?

Sana:  We work a lot with the Southwest Art Center. They are making our big art pieces.  They have really gotten the word out to artists about the auction and getting people involved. We have worked with many faith communities who have been on board with the initiative.  Morehouse college and their leadership center are helping to spread the word and fundraise.  We are also working with the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta- FAMA. They are helping to raise interest in the faith communities.

What impact are you hoping to have on Atlanta?

Sana:  I think interfaith work gets stuck in a niche.  “All we do is sit around and talk about what we have in common, how we can get along, how there is no need to fight.”  Beyond that, once you have built that basic understanding, there is a need for a next step in those relationships.  What I have been most struck by is the role of faith organizations in international work. There could be a tremendous outcome if faiths worked together.  There are so many resources, so much talent and energy in each group, combined together it is super powerful.  I hope to leave that behind.  Here at MedShare faith communities are coming together to solve a problem.  The impact could be incredible.

Would you like to see your work replicated?

Clint:  That is the hope.  Everything we do, we would like to see it be sustainable. We don’t want anything we do here to be just a “Clint’ or “Sana’” program.  We want to engage people and tell them about our specific interfaith program, but we want them to stay engaged with MedShare.  We don’t want people to come here, talk about our project and then never come back.  It should be a long term relationship.

Sana:  With this project, the first thing we did was ask “who in Atlanta is from Sierra Leone”.  The country is very small so I didn’t think there would be many Sierra Leone people here but every week I get a new phone call from someone from there who is excited to help with our project.  I hope that future projects can engage these communities as well.

That said, my favorite part of this project is bringing together so many parts of Atlanta. We have Emory, Morehouse and Georgia Tech fundraising on campus for this project.  There are faith communities doing the sorting sessions of the supplies and also taking part in a roundtable talk.  We will have faith leaders talk about their interest in this project.  And then there are people of no particular faith who care about malaria or Sierra Leone.  We really want that to be replicated.

What kind of help do you need to keep this going?

Clint:  In the near future, for the interfaith panel coming up and also with the art auction and some smaller events, we need to engage the entire Atlanta community.  We don’t want to just be in the MedShare community or just the artist communities that we already know.  We want to expand.  We really need promotion.  We also need people to volunteer for a good cause. MedShare runs off of volunteer work.

Sana:  We are still looking for donations. Artists who want to make or give pieces of art for the fundraiser.  Or anyone who is looking to donate medical supplies.

What are some of the biggest issues you see in Atlanta?

Sana:  Public transportation!  It is really frustrating. The biggest way to feel like you are in a connected city is to leave your house and get on a train.  Here, I leave my house, get in a car, Mapquest, drive and find parking. That is frustrating.  I come from Chicago, which is one of the most segregated cities, but I still see that in Atlanta.  It is something that needs to be discussed more.  But generally I am impressed with how open that discussion is here compared to how hush-hush it is in Chicago. The food here is really good, so that makes up for a lot.

Clint:  Public transport is really terrible.  We work in Decatur but all of the interfaith networks we work with are in Atlanta near Downtown.  That is a difficult commute.  A strength and a weakness is that Atlanta has some people doing interfaith work, but there are not a lot of people doing it.  When we first came here, it wasn’t like the experience our colleagues in DC or New York were having.  There was not an explicit interfaith network that had been around for many years.  While there are not many people working on it, it does mean that Atlanta is fertile ground for new interfaith projects.

What are some of your favorite organizations or things around town?

Clint:  To start, MedShare is our favorite place. Also, FAMA has been so great to us. The people that we talk to have been very welcoming.  We have been working with universities.  Morehouse, Georgia State, Georgia Tech.  Emory.  And groups like Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation, Youth Universe. These people have really come out and supported us.  For the art auction, the Southwest Arts Center has been fantastic.

Sana:  The mosques here are the coolest mosques I have ever been to.  I hadn’t been to Friday prayer yet so I went there and I was the only South Asian person.  Everyone was African American.  It was so awesome with a different style and culture.  The Imam was giving a sermon but in a very Christian preaching style. It was really neat for me to see.  People are really kind and warm here.  I think the Clarkston scene is really cool. People should explore it more. I have been impressed with the NGO and nonprofits working there on refugee issues.  RRISA and Fugees Family are really cool. There is a lot of cultural and ethnic diversity happening in Atlanta.

Where can interested readers find you?

They can find us on our project website or on the MedShare website.  They can also come to our interfaith panel discussion or our art auction.

What FEEDs your soul?

Sana: I FEED my soul with Turkish cuisine.

Clint: I FEED my soul with origami.

I feed my soul with...

To learn more about FEED Atlanta, visit their website or become a Facebook fan.

Thanks for the wonderful coverage, FEED! We appreciate it.

 

MedShare CEO to Speak at en2emTalks

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, Enterprise2Empower Talk is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At the event,  video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.  en2emTalks will feature four high-profile social innovators who will give TED-style (18-minute) talks on their businesses and experiences. Our very own Meridith Rentz is one of the four innovators that will be speaking, and we invite you to join us in hearing her speak.

The event is on March 10th, 2012 from 12-3pm at Georgia Tech’s Klaus Atrium. You can find more information about the event here.

We hope to see you there!

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: Angie Fife Engelberger

By Angie Fife Engelberger, MedShare Southeast Regional Council

Sign posted in the Men's Ward of St. Mary's Mission Hospital, Nairobi

My name is Angie Fife Engelberger, and I am currently a member of the Southeast Regional Council. This trip, which was originally scheduled for November, did not fit into my calendar.   As soon as I found out the trip had been rescheduled I jumped at the opportunity to join the traveling group  As a late addition I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to join this trip; I’ve been able to participate in many different phases of the MedShare process, from sorting supplies to sponsoring a container, and this is the perfect opportunity to “complete the picture”.  I have been so excited to see the beneficiaries of many MedShare containers and witness first hand how the supplies are being used.

Medshare-provided supplies

First thing Monday morning our group left the hotel for St. Mary’s Mission Hospital in Nairobi. The hospital was founded by Dr. Father Bill Fryda and opened in June 2001. We arrived at the hospital and were met by Fr. Barati, who took us through a waiting area filled with at least a hundred people, to meet Dr. Walter Konya. St. Mary’s has received 19 containers from MedShare since 2001, and I am so impressed by the number of people this long term relationship has affected. In addition to inpatients in this 325 bed hospital, 250,000 outpatients are seen each year by a staff of 20 doctors. Just do the math – the numbers are staggering!  Dr. Konya took us on a tour of the postpartum ward where encountered a room of premature babies, including this little guy, who has been spending the first days of his life in an incubator provided by MedShare.

Preemie in Medshare-provided incubator

We continued our tour and saw patients using wheelchairs provided by MedShare, boxes of supplies provided by MedShare, and an operating theater with much of the equipment provided by MedShare. I am truly in awe by the long reach a simple box of supplies has, and even more impressed by the gratitude Dr. Konya and the entire staff of St  Mary’s expressed for the supplies sent by MedShare. Believe me, I will not look at latex gloves, masks and gowns the same way again. Many thanks to St. Mary’s for their hospitality.  I look forward to following this well run hospital in the future!

Dr. Konya discussing MedShare-provided supplies

This post is part of a series we’re doing over the coming days while MedShare staff, Board of Trustee and Council members travel through Kenya from February 17 – 27. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip“  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: Terry Blum

By Terry Blum, MedShare Board of Trustees

Monday, February 20, 2012

I am Terry Blum and I have the privilege to serve on MedShare’s board.  This is my second trip with MedShare, and it is a wonderful journey in terms of learning and sense-making.   Quite frankly, I am not sure I can construct meaning from all that I am sensing from my eyes, ears, mouth, fingers and nose.  I am also sensing from my heart, making this whole experience so difficult to justly describe.  As someone who is quite cerebral in everyday life, this adventure touches below my head into my heart and reaches into the region of feeling and intuition.  The incredibly rich tapestry of the lenses of the people with whom I am touring, all of whom awesome in their own way, is coupled with the wisdom of those we visit.  I know I will not be the same when I return as I was when I left Atlanta in that huge airplane.

Spotted in Kenya

After wonderful bonding and familiarizing ourselves with the agenda, we got into the reason for MedShare today by first visiting St. Mary’s Nairobi and then Partners for Care.   I will report on Partners for Care which is part of the mHealth alliance which engages in mobile health initiatives among other things.

The group transitioned from St. Mary’s to Partners for Care with lunch at the incredible Safari Park Hotel, where Sam (communications director) and Samuel (director in Kenya) from Partners for Care joined us.  The grounds of the Safari Park are quite elegant and could have been a movie scene from colonial times or an upscale suburb anywhere.   The food and the group’s camaraderie are awesome, but the contrast with the needs of so many is evident as one passes by the slums of Kibera (2nd largest in the world after Soweto with estimates of 1-2 million residents), near St. Mary’s, or the living in Mararui (estimates of 26-30,000 people).

En route to the clinic, we rode on a really bumpy road that went on for quite a while.  Somewhere in the middle of the road, we crossed a functional bridge, which may or may not be completed connecting segments of the bumpy road.  We passed banana trees, construction sites, snakes, local markets and lots of scenery.  We came to a stop outside a building that was the initial Partners for Care destination for most of us.  The signage said,  What if?  Life Changing Center.   “What if?”  is a question of what it would be like  if there were no AIDS in Kenya.

"What If" signage in Kenya

While most of us went into the clinic building, Lindsey Barber and Charlie Evans went into Mararui, lined with drainage system that empties into the river where the drinking and washing water come from, with Peter from Partners for Care.  Peter took them to visit a friend’s home as well as take some measurements to show how the mHealth android works.  The device relays vital signs information and pictures to Dr. Vincent at the clinic. It is a triage device with Dr. Vincent gives instructions for caring for the patient or asks for more information.  Each entry is a new record, but the patient’s information gets integrated into a record stored on the server.

Partners for Care Clinic

Partners for Care was founded by Atlanta nurse, Connie Scheren, who came to the MedShare store for supplies for her medical team mission trip.  It has 8 programs in addition to the clinic.  As we walk past the goat on the corner into the What if?  building through the door with Clinic written on it, we found a world of hope and love.  In the space that was opened 2 years ago, there is a one room clinic, class room for their Second Chance program that prepares 20 students for the national graduation exam with 2 years of education.  There is also a computer room, with no internet access, that serves 20 adult students at a time.  Forty-five or so have received or are receiving training and 20 have found jobs.

PET cart that was sent to Kenya on a MedShare container

Going into the clinic run by Dr. Vincent we saw a PET, personal energy transport vehicle which was sent in a MedShare container.  Other programs include sports programs for the kids, with volunteer coaches, including a policeman who was tired of just arresting them, a home for orphans run by Pastor John who also help widows, distribution of 500 treated malaria nets to households with kids under 5,  the wonderful music group Temple of Worship that draws crowds for AIDS awareness and prevention.  There is also an 8k race that is run at the same time as a 5K in Atlanta (the Kenyans finish the longer race quicker!).

A Kenyan Doctor

The Marcibit program is really striking.  Partners for Care serves one of the most impoverished sections of Kenya.  350 people with jiggers, a kind of parasitic flea that enters the skin and reproduces so the people, especially kids, can’t walk.  The inflammation is incredible and 350 have been treated with  antibacterial soap and water after which the site is covered with Vaseline.  89 have been provided with shoes that can help prevent it.

The health programs are important as 473 Kenyan children under 5 die every day, 71 due to HIV/AIDS, 93 to malaria….90% of these deaths are due to preventable causes!  So Partners for Care is there to help reduce child deaths.

Our visit was truly inspirational….we were sung to with a Jambo (welcome) song which included Hakuna Matada, reminding me of the Lion King and the Circle of Life!  They also sang a song “Smile”…happy for you… will lift you up, hold your hands, loose your pain, so you smile again. They ended our visit by singing “That Little Light of Mine” in English and Swahili….We left on our bus singing “That little heart of mine, let it shine,” knowing the love in the hearts of the Partners for Care.  The passion and inspiration of the Kenyans who spend so much energy to do their work to serve their own people is a memory I will always cherish.  They are rich in spirit, and thanks to them there is a little more light shining for many.

This post is part of a series we’re doing over the coming days while MedShare staff and Board of Trustee members travel through Kenya from February 17 – 27. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip“  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!