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Working Space Inspiration

4 Apr

What does a President of a large international relief and development organization get for a gift?

After all I’ve seen and experienced in my travels around the world, I’m convinced that I don’t need a thing.

However, it is good to have a comfortable office space in which to work, but it is even more important to work in a place that inspires you and reminds you why you do what you do.

Several weeks ago, my staff who was tired of coming into my office and looking at  blank walls decided that it was time to put something on those blank walls – this large display behind my desk. I couldn’t believe how wonderful it turned out.

What joy these faces are to my wife, Elizabeth and I as many of them are kids we’ve met during our travels around the world!

What responsibility we feel to make sure we are doing everything we can to help no child go hungry!

What hope these faces give us for the future!

Look at their beautiful smiles!

I loved my gift!

Attachment-1Now, every time I look at this large display, I think to myself ….. I love my job.

I think about how thankful I am to have such a supportive partner in my wife Elizabeth, who works (without pay) within in our Public Relations and Communications Department because she believes so strongly in our mission.

I think about how my life has been changed by the faces of these children– the hands that I’ve held, the hugs I’ve received, and the meals we’ve shared together.

And I pray that my heart continues to stay open wide for this incredible journey and for all that is to come.

So, until my next trip, I’m surrounded by this working space inspiration.

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It’s All About Just One

15 Jan

imageBeing in this line of work, people stop to ask me two kinds of questions.

The first is something along the lines, of (not really a question) “Wow, you must sleep so well at night knowing what kind of good work you are doing?” (These are the people who want to make me into the saint I am not).

And the second is, “How do you sleep at night after all the things you’ve seen in other countries? Don’t you just get so overwhelmed?” (These are the people who don’t realize having your heart exposed to such poverty and injustice is just a part of the role).

However, the real truth is that some nights I sleep just fine, and others….not so much.

I am 100% confident that I am doing with my life what I need to be doing right now, but at the same time, I do have restless nights. I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I don’t want to let down the hundreds of thousands of children — who are depending on Feed The Children. I hope that I am doing everything I can to let the staff know how much they are valued and appreciated so that we can focus our efforts on delivering for the children.

While I am encouraged by the good I know we are doing in many places that are in desperate need of hope, I am also filled with anxiety sometimes as to why we can’t do more. There are always sad faces that I see on children when I travel, kids who I know did not get enough to eat the day before, both in the US and around the world.  And there are always too few hours in the day to accomplish all that I dream about coming forth at Feed The Children.

However, there are new mentors I’m gaining along the way. They are teaching me that at the end of the day it’s always about just one child.

It’s about one family.

It’s about one opportunity presented.

It’s about one life changed.

It has been interesting as I have settled into my role with Feed The Children that there are several kids in different places I’ve traveled that have stuck with me. I’ve seen thousands of kids. I’ve hugged hundreds. But then, there is one or two in a country or a region of the world that have captured my heart in a special way. I know I am doing my job for them.

I know these are the ones that come to mind when I have a bad day. They encourage me to work smarter and lead more wisely.

In the wee hours of the night when I can’t sleep, I think of them. I remember as my mentors have taught me: it is always about one child.

And because of this one child, I keep on keeping on– long, sleepless nights or not.

New Thoughts for the New Year

31 Dec

New Year’s Day will be here so soon!

It’s that time of year when we all seek to sit down and make resolutions. We seek to get our financial life in order. We want to lose weight. We want to be better people.

I am not the kind of guy who often makes resolutions. Not that I am against them or those who do, but I rarely follow through with some lofty self-improvement goal that rolls off my tongue on December 31. So years ago, I just stopped. Now I just try to live the way I know I ought to live every day of the year. Sometimes I fail miserably. Other times I do pretty good.

G.K Chesterton said: “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.”

I loved this quote when I first read it for two reasons.

First, it speaks to the fact that there is nothing overtly magical about the ticking of the clock towards 12:01am on New Year’s Day. Yes, it’s great to stop and celebrate, to have a good time with friends and family. But, in the end, New Year’s is not that big of deal. It’s just another moment, another day, and another opportunity to breathe with thanksgiving for the gift of life. We are lucky to have so many of these moments through the year.

Second, I love the idea that Chesterton speaks of transformation. To truly be the “better people” that many of us crave to be, we have to allow something greater than ourselves (and I call this God in my own life) to change us– to give us a new soul, a new nose, a new backbone, new ears and new eyes.

Simply put, we have to see the world differently.

Over the course of 2013, I have had many opportunities through my work with Feed The Children to see the world with a new perspective.

I’ve met girls like Karen in Honduras who must go through the trash every day in order to earn her family a few dollars to live on. And though she misses school, she goes in later and gets the class assignments she missed from her teachers in an attempt to get the education that she hopes will lift her and her family out of poverty.
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I’ve met child care workers like those who run our orphange in Kenya who love and care for the children under their care as if they birthed these babies themselves.

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I’ve met boys like Oscar who our country staff calls “Kevin 2” although we are no blood relation– there is something about his spirit that has captured mine and vice versa.

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And through these experiences I am slowly and gradually changing.

This year I bought fewer Christmas gifts for those who really don’t need the excess and I gave more away.

This year as I sat around the Christmas table with my family, I couldn’t help but remember my larger family (and children!) around the world.

This year when late nights at work and piles on my desk sought to stress me out, I took a moment and remembered why I am working so hard– for the children– and I carried on.

I’m sure 2014 has much more to teach me and I am ready. New Years resolutions or not, 2014, here I come!

Waiting With Hope

11 Dec

This week, I contributed to my wife’s Advent devotional project called Baby Jesus Blog. She and her friends have been sharing birth stories all month long and here is mine:

People say that I’m a pretty optimistic person. Though I can make a good “worst case scenario” checklist, I always tend to fight for the most positive outcome. I really think in the end everything is going to turn out fine.

And this is my story. Growing up, I knew one day I’d get married and I always knew one day I’d like to be a father.

I grew up with some of the most amazing parents a child could hope for. Why would I not follow in their footsteps one day? I’ve had amazing relationships with my nieces and nephews through the years and would like to imagine that I served as a positive role model for them. Why not have my own kids? I knew I had a lot of love to give and I also knew I could be a great dad.

To read more click here.

Happy Advent to all my Christian friends out there!

Driven by Mission Not Geography

25 Sep

Kevin and ESince I began my position at Feed The Children last year, the number one question I’ve gotten around our Oklahoma headquarters is, “When are you buying a house in Oklahoma?”

(Feed The Children’s international headquarters is in Oklahoma City, OK).

Currently, my wife and I own a home in the Washington, DC area and have a apartment in Oklahoma City. We consider ourselves people who live in both places. If you look at my monthly calendar you’ll notice large chunks of time spent in both places. Feed The Children opened an office in DC this year.

The Washington DC area is where my wife, Elizabeth and I were employed and living before the FTC opportunity came to us. It is the city that we both have many professional and personal connections that are of benefit to furthering the mission of FTC. Washington DC is not only home of the US capital but is widely recognized in the non-profit industry as the NGO capital as well. When I set my agenda and goals for my first year, I felt it was very important for FTC to have a physical and personnel presence in DC as we seek to both be in step with our counterparts but also to grow our reach of influence.

I understand what they are getting at when the Oklahoma staff ask about home ownership, though. They want to know when they can be certain I’m all in– fully committed to Feed The Children. Owning a home in Oklahoma is perceived as a sign of my permanence at FTC.

But, what those closest to me could testify to is: I’ve been “all in” since day one. I love my job. And am so proud to be the CEO of Feed The Children.

With this said, the “being both” lifestyle is the best decision I feel not only for my family but for Feed The Children. There’s a much bigger story at play.

Our family is driven by mission not geography.

When Elizabeth and I sit down and plan our schedule for the upcoming weeks, we do so with one big picture question in mind. “Does this _____ fit our mission?”

While the headquarters in Oklahoma is a very important part of the identity of FTC, I also recognize that FTC is an international organization. We have country offices all over the world. We have employees stationed all over the US. From the Philippines to Malawi to Tennessee and California, there are reasons for me to engage my physical presence in lots of different places.

To best understand the kind of visionary leader I need to be, I have to often physically get out into the field. I have to see the work with my own eyes. I have to be wherever our mission has already or might take us in the future. I can’t be in Oklahoma all the time and do my job well.

I want to do everything I can to ensure that no child around the globe goes to bed hungry.

And as I learn and lead, Oklahoma City and Washington DC then just become two of the many landing points my schedule might take me in the year.

Our family mission also includes things my wife feels called to as well. She’s a writer, a preacher and passionate nurturer of building community with folks all over the world. In the past year along with supporting my international travels with FTC, she’s found work both in Oklahoma and Washington DC as well as in places such as Tennessee, Georgia, and soon Hawaii.

We certainly know about how to find good deals on plane tickets.

Is this a traditional life? Is this a life I ever thought I would have? No and no.

But, because Elizabeth and I feel so called both to the mission of Feed The Children worldwide and also the mission of the global community we feel so naturally a part of right now, this is our life.

It’s not easy living this kind of life. Some days I can’t remember where I left my favorite brown belt. Some days I wake up and have to quickly remind myself where I am. Some days I think it would be easier if we just lived in one place. Then I remember our mission and I know I’m in exactly the right place.

The wide world is truly our home. And this includes Oklahoma too.

What the “L” ?

11 Jun

I’m often asked why I use my middle initial whenever I sign my name. I thought I’d start my blog with a little introduction to who I am.

I am Kevin L. Hagan, the “L” being the most important part of my name.

After having grown up in a town of 3,000 people with another Kevin Hagan (1 year older), the “L” signified which Kevin Hagan I was my entire childhood and adolescence. It defined who I was.

So who do people think am I today?

Most people would tell you I’m a really nice guy.

My hometown would say that I outgrew it by the time I turned four years old (someone actually did say that!)

A former C-level executive at the Postal Service describes me as having a political prowess unlike anything he had ever seen (I’m pretty sure that statement put in context of the conversation was NOT a compliment)

My former boss of nearly a decade would say that I’m a wizard – able to fix any problem. She even gave me a framed wizard puppet as a going away gift.

My former co-workers would say that my mind is very strategic and I get laser focused when I set my mind to something.

People who have worked for me would say that I have lots of crazy ideas and I’m downright dangerous if I have time to think.

My friends would say I’m a lucky man, have a strong moral compass, but I work too much.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently described me as low key and self deprecating

The detractors in my industry question virtually everything about me and say I’m not doing enough, fast enough (guess I’ll just have to show them)

My barista at Starbucks would say that I’m a caffeine junkie

My wife would say that left to my own devise I am highly unorganized and not allowed to touch the laundry (but she loves me regardless of my laundering deficiencies)

While there’s probably some level of truth to the above perceptions of me, I’m fortunate to be confident in who I am.

I am Kevin L. Hagan – a man of quiet, but strong faith; lucky beyond imagination because I was blessed with an amazing family and upbringing, and won the lottery when I found and married Elizabeth Hagan, a woman who loves me, challenges me, and makes me a better man every single day.

Professionally, I am a transformer (no, not the robot/car kind). I thrive on helping organizations and people reach their maximum potential. I do this by challenging every business practice and assumption.

Currently, I am the President and CEO of Feed The Children and am excited to lead the transformation of one of America’s largest nonprofit relief and development agencies. At the ripe age of 39, I took the helm of this legendary and storied organization despite countless people’s advice that I should run in the other direction. For the record, I haven’t regretted it a single day since my arrival.

I’m currently serving Feed The Children because this is my calling – this is where I’m supposed to be, where I’m supposed to make a difference, where I’m suppose to challenge the status quo and challenge the industry to do better and be better than we’ve ever been before.