HealthEd Connect Leadership
In late October 2015, Lauren joined the HealthEd Connect team with co-founders Sherri and Jac Kirkpatrick as Executive Director. Recently, she completed the Masters of Public Administration program from the University of Kansas and graduates in May 2016. With a heart for public service, worth of persons, social, economic, and environmental equity, Lauren feels guided by the spiritual covenant that we all belong to each other. Because HealthEd Connect’s work is in Central Africa and Nepal, our responsibility as global neighbors to mutually help each other where possible is practiced daily.
Prior to working with HEC, Lauren worked for the international denomination of Community for Christ as Project Manager for a complex publishing project. She managed a team of six staff professionals and a multitude of volunteers which produced the Community of Christ Sings hymnal and several other significant auxiliary products launched in the fall of 2013. During this time, Lauren served as Director for Outreach International for seven years and chaired the External Affairs committee for one term. Before entering the nonprofit sector, she experienced a successful 20-plus year career in the printing and communications industry of Chicago as a sales and marketing professional. For the last ten of those years, Lauren held the title of Vice President of Sales for Jet LithoColor, Inc., known as one of the largest manufacturer of stored value cards, fulfillment services, and fine paper multi-color high-end offset printing for Fortune 500 corporations and graphic design agencies.
Lauren has a close multi-cultural and diverse family. Raised with a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world, she is grateful for opportunities to travel, to study, and to participate in lay church ministry. As an undergraduate from Graceland University with an English Literature degree, Lauren’s life has been inspired by the transforming power of the human story and our shared life experiences in order to find wisdom, compassion, and common ground.
You may contact Lauren directly by telephone at 630.370.0060.
Co-founder and President
Sherri has long pursued a passion to empower women and children in developing countries. Serving as a foster parent for Mexican children having surgery at Stanford University Hospital in the 1970’s, she was first introduced to the giftedness and resiliency of those from other cultures. Soon after accepting a faculty position at Graceland University in 1980, Sherri, along with a physician colleague, took a group of nursing students to Haiti to train community health workers using World Health Organization guidelines for primary care. That rewarding experience launched a career that ultimately led to a PhD from the University of Kansas, with a focus in international nursing. Sherri conducted her doctoral research on the health beliefs of Haitian mothers living in the Dominican Republic and launched her first community health worker program based on participatory research methods.
In addition to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Sherri trained volunteer community health workers in Jamaica, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, India, and Nepal. The health workers, many of whom have been volunteers for more than 20 years, monitor over 25,000 babies and pregnant women annually. In addition, 40 health workers have been trained as traditional birth attendants and deliver hundreds of babies each year.
Sherri, along with her husband, Jac, co-founded HealthEd Connect in 2009 to build on this solid foundation of community health worker programs. Dramatic improvements in health status have been observed over the years as better sanitation practices, improved nutrition and oral rehydration therapies have been adopted in the villages. Many of the more urban areas, however, now face new and incredible challenges as the number of orphaned children, primarily due to HIV/AIDS, has grown dramatically and the typical surviving caregiver is an aging grandmother who has lost both her husband and children.
Having retired from a 29 year career at Graceland University in such varied roles as Professor, Provost, Vice President, Dean of Nursing, and Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Sherri is now devoting full time to her passion to empower women and children through HealthEd Connect.
Sherri may be reached by email at .Jac Kirkpatrick
Co-Founder and Finance Officer
Jac has had an unusual career which ranged from high-tech aerospace engineering to low- tech rubber-band and paperclip engineering in developing countries. After receiving an associate degree at Graceland College (now Graceland University), he transferred to the University of Kansas where he earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. His first career was with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) where he became chief of the Technology Branch in the Systems Engineering Division at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He earned a master’s degree from Stanford University. He served on a variety of spacecraft project teams and supervised the development of technology for future missions, especially in the thermosciences.
At the height of his career he resigned his position at NASA and accepted a full-time administrative position with his church, Community of Christ. He served in the domestic field for the first 10 years but later discovered his passion when he assumed administrative field responsibility for Africa, Europe, and later Asia. During his 20 year career in developing countries, he frequently tapped his engineering skills as he was forced to find creative solutions for low-tech problems. More than one truck was ‘fixed’ in route with miscellaneous items he solicited from traveler’s backpacks.
His devotion to children was central throughout his career in the developing world. He established the first children’s camps and women’s retreats in various locations in Africa. He mentored young adults and championed women’s causes wherever he worked. He worked hand-in-hand with Sherri, transporting trunks of supplies and supporting her efforts to empower community health workers.
Concerned that visa denials and lack of funds would prevent youth from developing countries from gaining a vision of the outside world, he worked tirelessly to establish international events where they too could develop leadership skills and be exposed to a bigger world. Working within the church’s mission and program emphasis, in 2005 he established and directed an international youth forum in Hong Kong for young people, from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Korea, Japan, and The Philippines, some of whom had never been out of their villages much less their countries. Building on the successful outcome of the Hong Kong event, he laid the groundwork and facilitated a similar event in Bangkok for over 100 youth in 2009.
Having officially retired from his administrative responsibilities, Jac is now devoting full-time to HealthEd Connect as he pursues his passion to empower children and women.
Jac may be reached by email at .