World Vision Int'l Appoints New Head

World Vision International, the world's largest Christian humanitarian organization, announced a new head this week.

Kevin Jenkins, managing director of a Canadian investment firm and vice chair of the board of World Vision Canada, has been appointed as the organization's new president and chief executive officer.

The WVI board combed through 300 candidates from 40 countries before selecting Jenkins during its semi-annual meeting in Kenya last week.

Jenkins said he was deeply honored and humbled to be chosen to lead the faith-based relief organization.

The Calgary resident, who will assume the position on October 1, brings over two decades of business leadership experience to WVI.

Before joining TriWest Capital Partners in 2003, a Calgary-based independent private equity firm, he worked for seven years as president and chief executive officer of The Westaim Corporation, a technology research and commercial product company. Before that, he worked for 11 years at Canadian Airlines, serving as president and chief executive officer during his last two years with the airline.

"My Christian faith is at the core of my life. I'm feeling called to move beyond the business vocation that I've had for the last 25 or 30 years and into focusing on the world's poorest children and their families," said Jenkins, according to Canadian newspaper The Calgary Herald.

In his new leadership role as the seventh president of WVI, Jenkins will oversee the organization's operations in 98 countries, 40,000 staff and an annual budget of $2.6 billion.

While Jenkins is likely to face a myriad of challenges as he takes reigns of WVI amid a global economic recession, Richard Stearns, president of the U.S. offices of World Vision, called him "just the kind of leader World Vision needs."

"He has the management and leadership experience required to navigate a $2.6 billion global charity through the daunting challenges of the 21st century and a deep commitment to serving the poor in the name of Christ," Stearns said.

As a member of the World Vision Canada board for the past nine years, Jenkins launched three significant initiatives with major donors related to HIV/AIDS in Zambia as well as microfinance in Ethiopia.

He holds a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School and a law degree from the University of Alberta in 1980.

Jenkins was named the new head of WVI after Dean Hirsch, who served as the organization's chief executive since 1996, announced last year he was stepping down because he felt it was time for a leadership change.

World Vision was founded in 1950 by Bob Pierce, an American evangelist who sought help for Korean war orphans.