Profiles in Leadership . . . Dr. Loren Finnell

The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.  ~Sargent Shriver

I first met Loren Finnell about 30 years ago at a fund-raising dinner in Phoenix, Arizona to raise money for a hospital boat on the Amazon.  What impressed me most was his intense calmness and absolute certainty that “doing good is doing right”.  Ever since that evening I have followed, and tried to support, the distinguished career of Loren Finnell and his US-based non-profit organisation, The Resource Foundation.  This man is a leader and his journey is a story of leadership. He is a humanitarian, a pioneer, and a social entrepreneur with 47 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations worldwide.

Loren’s first (official) engagement with doing good was as a Peace Corps (sadly very few young people today know about the Peace Corps) volunteer in Ecuador during 1964-66. It was there that he experienced first hand the massive need for humanitarian assistance, as well as the warmth and generosity of mankind.  There was also ugliness in the form of greed, violence and oppression, but Loren deftly manoeuvred his way around these situations, as he has done all his life, focusing instead on improving lives and the standard of living.  During this time Loren became fluent in Spanish and also met his future wife, Pilar.

After several years with private aid foundations and working with USAID, Loren establishing The Resource Foundation in 1987. What makes The Resource Foundation unique, aside from having a passionate founder, is that it provides tailored advisory, consulting and grant administration assistance to corporations, individuals, and foundations interested in supporting high-impact programs throughout the region. The Resource Foundation has the regional expertise, multilingual staff, and knowledge of the region’s nonprofits and programs to safely and securely advise and support donor organisations about projects that make a difference.

In other words, The Resource Foundation makes certain your money goes to an in-country project that is well run and uses the money wisely.  In contrast, look at all the US aid money that quickly finds its way into the pockets of foreign government officials and dictators. (How do you think Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Papa Doc Duval became so wealthy? Not to mention the thousands of “officials” in third world countries driving Mercedes and shopping in Paris.)

And by “doing good”, The Resource Foundation has steadily grown with partnerships, technical assistance, and grants to carefully vetted organizations in 28 countries in Latin America and Africa.  The Resource Foundation fulfills its mission to empower the disadvantaged so that they can have the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to improve their lives.

To show you the type of person Loren is, when his newly established Resource Foundation was running out of money its first year, he looked up at the sky and yelled at God. “Make good use of me!”  (notice he didn’t bargain – I will if you will… or ask for special favours). He then went back to work telling the story of sustainable giving. Twenty plus years later the Resource Foundation has raised over $45 million and assisted development programs all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Among its corporate donors are Citi Foundation, Continental Airlines, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, and Pfizer Inc.

Loren has received many distinguished awards during his career. The National Peace Corps Association selected Dr. Finnell to receive the 2006 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service.  In 2008, Dr. Finnell received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degree from Manchester College. In 2009, the Foreign Policy Association, the nation’s oldest international affairs organization, invited him to become a Fellow. In 2011, he was invited to become a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. (For a biographical sketch of the life and work of Dr. Loren Finnell, click here.)

What I like most is that I get to call Loren Finnell a friend. And so do thousands of others!

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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1 Response to Profiles in Leadership . . . Dr. Loren Finnell

  1. Impressive man indeed.


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