Outreach International announced today that Lorna Labayen – physician, humanitarian and most recently Outreach International Senior Field Consultant – passed away at the age of 65 on April 10, 2012 in Independence, Missouri, after succumbing to cancer.
Dr. Labayen, known to friends and colleagues as “Lorns,” had a truly remarkable career and life. Although she officially joined Outreach International in 2004, her earlier influence and advocacy helped shape Outreach International’s approach to development, with its focus on the authentic participation and empowerment of people living in poverty.
A Remarkable Career
As Senior Field Consultant for Outreach International, Dr. Labayen strengthened the organization’s field reporting systems and represented Outreach International as a consultant with some of the world’s largest international charities, including Plan International.
Lorna Labayen, M.D., earned her doctor of medicine degree at the University of Philippines Manila medical school. She might have pursued a lucrative practice – as many of her 1972 graduating class did – but instead chose to work in poor rural communities with the University of Philippines Comprehensive Community Health Program. Her distinguished career in global development had begun, and her work would take her to places such as Vietnam, Rwanda, El Salvador, Paraguay, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
In 1997, the University of Philippines medical alumni honored Lorna Labayen (along with her husband, Dr. Dennis Labayen) with its Community Service Award. In 2010, Community of Christ honored the couple with its International Human Rights Award for Service, citing Lorna’s compassion, generosity and deep intellectual curiosity. She was “a reformer of institutions on the critical issue of gender equality among the poor.”
“We are so deeply saddened by the loss of Lorna Labayen, our colleague and friend,” said Kevin Prine, Outreach International president and CEO. “Lorna’s unswerving commitment to impoverished communities – especially women and children – has helped transform lives, systems and organizations worldwide. Lorna was a uniquely remarkable person, and on behalf of the worldwide Outreach International team, I wish to express our most heartfelt condolences to her lifelong partner and Outreach International’s director of field operations, Dennis Labayen, M.D., and to her daughters, Kweet, Yllah and Lea.”