"All change begins with a single individual. Yet, while one person can serve as a catalyst, big change only happens when many people pull in the same direction. And, when that's the case — together — we become an unstoppable force for good." - Susana
“I am grateful to work at something that creates positive change in the world. Every day, I remind myself what a gift that is.” - Claire
Claire finds inspiration in the passion of our CI staffers. This is even more so the case after a recent trip to the field, where she was blown away by the commitment and enthusiasm of our agency staff in Jalisco.
At CI, she leads the Marketing and Engagement team to spread the word and gather support for the work we do. Claire comes to us from MMGY, an advertising agency focused on the travel and hospitality industry, where she worked for nearly eight years. But after losing her mom to a tough battle with cancer, Claire began considering a career change: “In many ways, I feel like she sent me to CI to grow and learn new things about myself and the world.”
In her free time, she loves to bake with her daughter or do yoga and ballet. She’s also working hard at brushing up on her Spanish.
“There’s no shortage of opportunities to make a substantial difference in the lives of children across the globe, and we have great people who do that every day.” - Bill
At CI, Bill improves efficiencies, quality and service while developing and supporting initiatives for growth. He grew up in Shawnee, KS, and graduated from K-State. Before coming to CI, he worked at Hallmark for 17 years in many different operational roles and later had his own logistics business for 10 years.
Of the places he’s traveled, Bill especially likes Cartagena, Colombia. He’s inspired by the youth in Ecuador and Colombia who are part of the Youth Leadership Council: “They are so smart and committed to their projects as they learn business, life and team skills.”
He’s been married to his wife Jill for 28 years and has two grown children. Bill loves spending time at the lake in the summer and enjoys skiing in the winter.
“It was incredibly memorable. When we talked to the teens in the youth programs, it was so great to see how they were looking forward to life and were really excited. They had this light in their eyes; they believed in themselves.” - Carol
When Carol first became a developer, there were hardly any women in the information technology field. She’d attend IT conferences, and people would kindly, but firmly, tell her she must be in the wrong place. She got used to it. Eventually, though, she was asked to lead the teams of developers and spent more than 30 years working in corporate America, until she left the for-profit world to join Children International in 2014.
When she’s not at work, she loves to spend her time rehabbing her house, painting, knocking down walls and building something new. Carol took a trip to Colombia recently, and although the poverty was terrible, she loved the kids’ energy and their hope for the future.
“What I love about my job is how it’s always changing. Our staff around the world inspire me … they are incredibly driven and resilient people. There’s so much we can do, and it’s sort of like we’re helping raise more than 300,000 children.” - Jack
As a kid, Jack dreamed of growing up to become a meteorologist. One had visited his school, and he thought it seemed like a cool job.
Fast forward to college, and he was on his way to earning his business degree. His friends were coming back from the Peace Corps, talking about their experiences. He decided to study abroad for a year and have his own adventures. That was 50 countries ago. Jack spent more than a decade working in Africa for nonprofit organizations (one of them CI). While in Kenya, he met his wife and began raising a daughter and three sons.
When his family decided to return to the U.S., he thought of rejoining Children International. He returned in 2008 to oversee our programs and global operations
“The first country I went to was the Dominican Republic, and it had a profound impact on me … Our mission is second to none.” - Eric
An avid snow skier since birth (raised in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in New York), Eric doesn’t like spectator sports. He’d rather be in it, playing, rather than watching. He’s lived his life like that, too. Over the years, he’s lived in Houston, Nashville, D.C. and traveled to 15 countries, mostly with Children International.
As VP of Human Resources, he provides support to our staff and makes it easier for people to do their job: helping kids around the world.
“I never dreamed — as some digit head accountant — I would travel to these different countries and meet people from all over the world. I think we are called to be humble servants to the people we are helping.” - Danielle
Danielle grew up in a small town outside of St. Louis, Mo., where she met her husband in grade school. (They didn’t begin dating until years later, of course!)
When she graduated from Kansas State University, she began working for an accounting firm. Five years later, she took the position as controller for Children International (that was in 1998). Today, she’s responsible for keeping CI’s assets secure, as well as making sure we’re financially transparent and accountable to our supporters, board members and various regulators. In her free time, Danielle loves to cook and experiment with new recipes. She has two daughters and two Labradors, Scarlett and Pippa.
“Who could not love what we do? It’s incredibly rewarding and the staff at CI is like family. I’ve learned that anyone can make a huge difference in the life of another person. It doesn’t take a lot of money to do so; you just have to care." - Vickie
In 1975, a 10-year-old girl named Vickie Wiedenmann began working at CI. (Point of fact: she wasn’t really 10, but she’d like us to think so.) We love Vickie because she knows everything about everything and is an invaluable resource to every member of the CI team. In the time she’s worked here, she’s been most amazed by our expanding geography – from working in one location to helping kids in so many places around the world.
Vickie and her husband Bill are happiest spending time with their son Ben, who even admits that he has a good mom. (Who does that when they’re 13?) They live on a working cattle ranch, so between work and home, she spends most of her time tending to cows and kids. When she’s not, she likes to go antiquing and “falling into a good book and not coming out until the story has been told.”
Jim grew up in the small northeast Kansas town of Sabetha. (Although, as he points out, does anyone ever really grow up? He’s philosophical that way.) He joined CI’s Board of Directors in 1987 and jumped at the chance to join the management team in 1987. He became President and CEO in 1996 and retired in 2014. These days, when he’s not still pitching in at CI, he can be found reading, spending time with friends, or fly-fishing somewhere to the north.
He feels truly fortunate to have been part of something that made such a difference — and got to meet so many wonderful people along the way, from staff to kids to sponsors. He counts all of them as inspiration in his life, along with his wife, Cindy, and two grown sons.
“The work we do at CI makes our [kids] true agents of change, leaders in the community, responsible adults and able to take charge of their lives. For many — thousands of young people — sponsorship is the opportunity to transform their lives and break the cycle of poverty.”
“I grew up in an environment similar to those that many of our sponsored children are living in: difficult and often dangerous conditions. These and other experiences drew me to the field of philanthropy. I believe that, by joining forces, we can bring meaningful and lasting change to the needy in a way that just isn’t possible on an individual basis.”
“We have been encouraging children and youth to spend more time at our community centers, where they can read, use computers, play sports and spend time with their friends in wholesome activities, avoiding dangers such as gangs and drugs. I hope our supporters can come see for themselves the transformation and the hope that’s thriving in our communities!”
Born in Lima, Peru, Paola grew up traveling all over her native country, as well as cities in South America and the U.S. She is a Missouri State University graduate who has lived in the Midwest for the past 20 years. Her empathy for the disadvantaged developed early on, thanks in part to her upbringing and interactions with people living in remote areas. Making yearly visits to Peru has become a family tradition – just one of the ways she and her husband help their son appreciate different cultures.
Connie has been with CI for about as long as anyone can remember: Since 1988! As our receptionist, her smiling face is likely the first one you'll see if you visit our world headquarters. Connie has lived in or around the Kansas City area all her life. For the past 15 years, she's enjoyed raising miniature horses that serve as therapy horses for adults and children in need of healing. One of many highlights in her life was visiting her sponsored child. “That experience literally changed the way I view my life and all the many things that I take for granted.”
Emily was born in the Ozarks of Missouri. Her creative talent was uncovered by her first grade teacher (Sister Bernadette), and it was then that she knew she would be an artist. Twelve years later, she received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. Emily is a young empty-nester who lives with her husband and their two dogs (Fred and Ginger) in Lawrence, Kansas. When she's not rocking graphics for CI, she's walking dogs or carving linoleum blocks for pop-up art fairs.