HealthEd Connect Leadership

Sherri with The Boss, 2013
Zambia Leaderhip Team
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Phone: 816.423.4731
Address: 1401 West Truman Road
Independence, MO 64050
United States of America

Management Team


EMILY PENROSE-McLAUGHLIN
Executive Director


Emily joined the HealthEd Connect team as Executive Director in August 2018. Prior to that, she had served on the HealthEd Connect Board of Directors for four years. Driven by compassion and an understanding that we are connected to one another, Emily has long been interested in public service. She especially appreciates learning and engagement with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Emily and her husband, Jeff, lived in Zambia for a year as volunteers and traveled to many of the areas where HealthEd Connect community health workers, teachers, and schools now serve. This experience of living in community in Zambia was transformative and further enforced their commitment of care for one another in our world-wide family.   

Emily playing games with children in Zambia - 2007After serving in Zambia, Emily earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management. As an undergraduate, Emily earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Graceland University, designing her own program to study abroad for a semester in Spain and intern with a nonprofit, Outreach International, in Nicaragua for another semester.

Prior to working with HealthEd Connect, Emily served as director of the World Service Corps volunteer ministry of Community of Christ, effectively coordinating 103 assignments with volunteers from 16 countries. She also worked at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Institutional Advancement in Donor Relations, providing stewardship to top tier donors of the university and ensuring distribution of 60 scholarship funds to 550 students.

Emily and her husband, Jeff, have two children. They hope to instill in their children a curiosity in the natural world and a love for all people.

You may contact Emily directly at .

Sherri Kirkpatrick
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 .

 
Photo Gallery
Chipulukusu School
Zambia, Congo