As we continue to listen and respond to God’s desire for us to be involved in serving the marginalized and powerless in Ukraine, we look for new and relevant ways to serve the neediest people in our community and region. This is where we live. These are our people. This is what Jesus told his followers to do. How can we do anything other than this? We are so encouraged to have you as a part of this effort with us.
This is the beginning of our 20th year. We began as a humble effort with hopes of seeing the promises of God become reality. Actually, it is still a humble effort dependent upon God’s faithfulness to his promises. The difference now being that we have seen the real power of a God who loves the people we serve.
This past year we have realized that, even as needs increase around us, our need to focus on the specific reasons God brought us together to serve Him is greater than ever. This desire to fix our eyes both on Jesus and the goals that we have set has led us to a change in leadership structure. We operate for two very specific and different reasons in two countries. Our staff and service is in Ukraine. Our base of financial resource and expertise support is in the US. For the last two years Ira Venglovska had the task of leading responsibilities in both countries. Experience has now shown us that this is not a realistic approach at this time. Our efforts in Ukraine continue to expand and the responsibilities to lead that expansion amidst the relative chaos in Ukraine are a tall order for anyone.
As a result, the MTU board recently decided to allow Ira the ability to stay sharply focused on our core purpose by creating the position of Director – Ukraine. In this she will be able to lead the significant future plans that are in the process of being finalized and will be communicated to you in the near future. However, this decision does not end the need for strategy development, coordination of planning and execution in two countries, communication with the board and communication with donors. This has led the board to a second decision to bring on an Executive Director who has a history with MTU and also international leadership experience. So, we are delighted to announce that someone who many of you have known for years, David Helmer, is now our Executive Director. He will be serving in this role on a voluntary basis. It is also an interim assignment with the task of staging us to be ready for the years ahead. We estimate that David will be in this role through 2017.
David has been a friend, donor, coach and board member of MTU for the past 16 years. He has also been the leader of the MTU Board Executive Team this past year. He has had an interest in Slavic nations and people since high school, and has had extensive international travel in his business life, as well as 29 trips (and counting) to Ukraine. David’s wife, Inessa, is Ukrainian and his twin 15 year old daughters are adopted from Russia. He is the father of six children total (five daughters and one son) ages one to 27.
Professionally, David is the owner of Helmer Scientific, a global medical device company he co-founded in 1977. He is a partner of VisionTech Partners investment group, President of The Center for Global Sports, and serves on the board of a policy think tank, Sagamore Institute. He has been a previous Executive Director with an organization working in South Africa, and is presently partner in a coaching/investing company he cofounded in Rwanda. David’s collaborative, humble and strategic leadership has benefitted these organizations and we expect the same to occur as he leads MTU. His favorite word is “opportunity”. He enjoys empowering and launching people and organizations toward higher levels of impactful capability. He says that is his “hobby”. We think it is his passion.
Please feel free to communicate with David directly at the following email firstname.lastname@example.org. We think that he would be delighted to wake up tomorrow with 500 new emails welcoming him to this new role!
One final note of importance to us. Along with this change in leadership structure we also have an additional personnel change to mention. Michael Fischer, our US-based Development Director, resigned in August to pursue other opportunities. We are very grateful for the contribution that Michael has made these past two years. He joined us at a critical time of growth and transition. He led the effort to establish systems for better donor communication, and further developed relationships with organizations and individuals who resonate with our mission. Michael also oversaw significant growth in revenue last year, which has directly impacted our efforts in Ukraine. We are thankful to God for Michael and his time with MTU. We wish him continued success in the years ahead, as he endeavors to use his talents in impactful ways.
Finally, thank you for your partnership with us. We are very aware that MTU is really not an organization. It is a group of like-minded people who have chosen to engage together for the benefit of our neighbors, who need us to care about their situations and boldly love them in tangible ways that show a loving God in action. As we care for pregnant moms who wonder how they can support one more child and are afraid for their future, when we work with a disabled child until she can hold a spoon to feed herself, you are right there with us. We are so grateful.