I plunged into the broiling cauldron of the Middle East in 1973 — six years before I founded Mercy Corps — as an volunteer on a Galilee Kibbutz. My colleague Neal Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps' CEO, entered the fray in Lebanon in 1982 as the Regional Director for Save the Children. Turns out we were both there at the same time. Before that, we were in Thailand-based Cambodian refugee camps but never meet.
Neal and I first met in 1994 when he interviewed for the new CEO position in Mercy Corps' Portland headquarters. We discussed our shared travels and high interest in the Middle East. One day, we predicted, we would be together in "the eternal city" — Jerusalem.
But it was only last week that our paths finally converged at Jerusalem's historic American Colony Hotel. During our few days on the ground in the area, we met with Mercy Corps staff and observed programs in the area. Then Neal was off to Libya, Egypt and "flashpoints" beyond...and I soon returned to Seattle.
We came away impressed and inspired by our outstanding Mercy Corps team who labor daily under extraordinarily pressurized conditions to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families who hope for a better future.