Dr. John Herron joined Outreach International as its president & CEO in February 2024, and the team in Kansas City and our partners around the world could not be more excited. Dr. Herron brings with him many years of experience in humanitarian services, overseeing the growth of organizations with the sole purpose of helping people. It’s this rare combination of leadership skill, growth mindset, and empathy that makes Dr. Herron uniquely qualified to lead Outreach into the future.

Dr. John Herron and his new team at Outreach

Here are five questions we asked Dr. Herron that will allow him to introduce himself as our new president & CEO.

1. What inspired you to join Outreach International?

I was drawn to Outreach International because of its incredible legacy of impact. I have worked for many different non-profit agencies and institutions—education, literacy, environment, social services—and while that work was rewarding, our impact was not always clear. When I was first approached about joining OI, I did a deep dive into the incredible legacy this organization has created around the globe. And what immediately struck me was how the work we do changes lives. I understand this sounds so very cliche, but it remains true. Working for Outreach International is a privilege for which I am daily grateful. ​

2. Are there aspects of being Outreach’s new leader that you particularly look forward to?

The team here is amazing. I am still learning my way around our offices, but already it is crystal clear that the staff is incredibly passionate. I am very happy to lead this team as we chart a course for our next period of growth. Now with the pandemic fully behind us, I am excited to build on the 45-year history of success of this institution. There are challenges ahead for sure, but I look forward to joining with the many dedicated supporters of Outreach International as we continue to expand our commitment to service and empowerment.   

3. What drew you to humanitarian services?

There are probably many reasons why I was drawn to this work, but let me share just one important influence. I loved math and science and attended college with plans to become a mechanical engineer. As I neared graduation, I took a human cultures course. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited about this class but any reservations I had quickly evaporated. The professor encouraged us to think — really think — a​bout our history in ways I had never before considered. The take-away from this course was a complete career reconsideration. 

It is amazing that this singular experience was so significant, but from this mentor I learned that there is nothing inevitable about our history. It is all too easy to look around our political environment and conclude that because the world is filled with really big actors doing really big things that nothing we do matters. Indeed, the near reverse is true. Yes, of course, there are events that are beyond our control, but a close look at our past reveals that individuals acting in small ways have made a huge difference. This lesson is as applicable now as it was when I first encountered it four decades ago.   

4. How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Even though I have been a midwesterner for the past two plus decades, I grew up in the Rocky Mountain West doing every outdoor activity imaginable. If you want to go on an adventure, let me know. I will be happy to dust off my old equipment and join you. Closer to home, I am an avid reader (and member of the world’s most interesting neighborhood book club). I also enjoy (perhaps too much for my waistline) our local food scene and spending time with my two exceptional children. 

5. Is there an area of philosophy or wisdom that guides you in your day-to-day life?

There are many ways to judge a civilization. We can look to the obvious: the strength of its armies, the extent of its territories, the power of its economy, or the vitality of its arts. All these have great value to be sure. But most significant to me is how well we treat those around us. This is a simple statement that sounds perhaps too much like a greeting card truism than I intend. Still, it is important enough to give me pause. Contemporary headlines are filled with such noise and pain that it is correct to wonder when it will all end. Imagining a world with just a bit more empathy, then, is where I try to return.  

Outreach partners work in regions like subsaharan Africa, where poverty is widespread.

Welcome Dr. John Herron

We’re sure you can see why everyone at Outreach International is so excited about Dr. John Herron joining the team as our new leader. The work of community-led development is such an effective way to bring lasting change to communities that live with poverty-related issues. The team here at Outreach works hard every day to help people help themselves, and now we have even more reason to be excited about the future we all have to look forward to.

How to Help

If you’d like to learn more about the work of community-led development, or reach out to Dr. John Herron, contact Outreach International.