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ADRA Int’l Names New President


Jonathan Duffy, country director of ADRA Australia, has been named the new president of ADRA International, after Rudi Maier was dismissed last June.

ADRA International’s board voted unanimously to elect Duffy on Wednesday, and ADRA staff were informed of the appointment just before lunch that day.

Duffy’s appointment is effective immediately, and he is expected to visit ADRA Intl’s headquarters at the General Conference next week.

Duffy’s arrival means that interim president Robert Rawson, a retired world church treasurer who served for four months after Maier’s departure, can go back to retirement.

ADRA board chair Geoffrey Mbwana described the search for a new president as “a very transparent, very objective process.” A search committee solicited suggestions from around the world, put together a shortlist, interviewed several candidates, and brought two names to the board – a stark contrast to the sudden dismissal of Chuck Sandefur and election of Maier in October 2010.

Duffy has worked in Australia his whole career, and has been country director of ADRA Australia since 2008. Before that, his career for 28 years was in health services management and promotion. From 2001 to 2008, he was director of health for the South Pacific Division, advising Division management on its health institutions, as well as devising health and temperance policies and resources for workers. Prior to that, he worked in management for Warburton Adventist Hospital and Sydney Adventist Hospital.

Duffy has a bachelors degree in education with a double physical education and biology major, and a masters degree in public health, both from Australian universities.

He is married to Cathy, a pharmacist, and they have two adult children.

In his selection, the ADRA board seems to have prioritized management skills, rather than international development experience. “We believe that Jonathan brings the leadership qualities we were looking for,” Mbwana said. “He has the managerial experience and a very clear vision, as well as experience in the organization.”

One former ADRA staffer says she believes Duffy was a wise choice because “he has considerable experience with three of the main stakeholders by which ADRA (and its presidents) live or die: the Church leadership at the Union, Division and gobal levels; public donors like AusAID, with whom USAID and other international donors closely coordinate; and the staff and leadership within the ADRA network.”

Another former staffer believes that Duffy will be a good leader because he is “completely up to speed” on what is happening with ADRA. She also says she has “found him to be very good with people, friendly and quietly confident, as well as very thorough and systematic.”

Duffy has been praised for being particularly good at recruiting and keeping talented staff – a skill that some would say was sadly lacking in the former leadership.

Duffy’s work with AusAID (the Australian government agency responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid program – roughly equivalent to USAID in the United States) should translate into helpful experience in his new role at ADRA Intl.

When ADRA Australia was re-accredited by AusAID this last summer, the three accreditors emphasized ADRA Australia’s strong financial and project management procedures in their report, along with the depth and breadth of the staff’s talent and experience.

Those who work for ADRA Intl know that the new president will have a real challenge in bringing ADRA back from the turmoil it faced over the last few years, while improving its reputation and recovering or replacing lost talent. While many of the staff don’t know Duffy yet, they are hopeful that he will bring the needed turnaround to the agency.

See the earlier article: Looking for Lessons in the ADRA Leadership Change

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