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From Sandwich Artist to CEO: Get to Know Myal Greene

On July 20, 2021, Myal Greene was named President and CEO of World Relief. Myal has been with World Relief for 14 years and previously directed our ministry operations in Rwanda and Africa. In his most recent role as Senior Vice President of International Programs, Myal was instrumental in increasing support for our international programming and more than doubling our global reach in the past two years. We’re excited for you to get to know him a little better.

Myal, to know you is to know two things: Your love for Jesus and the mission of World Relief, and your love for your family. We’ll talk a bit more in-depth about your vision for World Relief, but first, would you mind introducing your family to us?

Myal Greene: Absolutely. I met my wife, Sharon, while I was living in Rwanda. She is Rwandan and was a co-founder of the young adult fellowship group I used to attend. We’ve been married for 10 years and have three children. Since having kids I have become a bit of a homebody and love to spend my downtime hanging out with my family. In this current season, that means watching Dude Perfect and playing catch with my boys or having tea parties with my daughter.  

Can you tell everybody how you came to World Relief? 

Myal Greene: Very early on in my Christian faith, the interconnectedness of Christ and his love for the poor was just very evident to me. I would read all of the books of the Bible through a justice lens. I read books like Ron Sider’s “Rich Christians in the Age of Hunger,” which is still a classic more than 40 years after it was first published. 

After college, I began working on Capitol Hill and became active in the young adult ministry at my church. While attending an Urbana Conference with that group, I heard two amazing speakers from World Relief talk about the HIV crisis in Africa and how the church was responding to it. That was the first time I heard about World Relief. Then I found out from my Mission’s pastor that our church had just signed a partnership with World Relief. 

Next thing you know, I’m looking at jobs at World Relief. I was offered a job in Rwanda where I held a few posts. I was eventually promoted to serve as the Country Director for Rwanda before moving back to the U.S. to head up our International Programs Division.

What values guide your decisions as a leader?

Myal Greene: You know, not to sound cliché, but I really like to take a biblical perspective and look for leadership examples in scripture. When I teach and preach, I tend to use narrative theology, breaking down a particular story, putting it in context and finding the example in the story. 

I also try to be a consensus builder. Any good leader knows you can’t make everybody happy with every decision, but you at least want to help people understand why you made a particular decision and hopefully build support even if it’s not something they agree with. 

I also value the power of teams. Our faith calls us to serve in community with others. A key part of leadership is casting a vision for people and ensuring that everyone understands where we are going and what their role is in helping us get there.

How has your time at World Relief impacted your faith, and what has God revealed to you about himself through this work.

Myal Greene: That’s a great question. I think it’s really linked to living in Africa for eight and a half years where I repeatedly saw the blessings and the equipping of the Holy Spirit in all the situations we faced. When I returned to the U.S., I came back with a much more charismatic faith. I’m never shy in my requests to God in prayer! I also think that by working with so many churches and Christians from cultures other than my own, I have come to see the body of believers as God’s chosen means to restore this world. When we are gathered around the risen Jesus and committed to His work of reconciliation and restoration, we can do powerful things.

You’ve been at World Relief for 14 years. How would you say that World Relief has evolved over that time and how would you like to see it continue to evolve over the next 14 years?

Myal Greene: I think our commitment to empowering the church is a lot clearer now than it was years ago. For me, that’s really crucial. From where I sit, I see the organization poised for massive growth in the coming years.

On the international front, we plan to continue the expansion of our work in Africa, Cambodia and Haiti. We’re also responding to the increase in refugee arrivals in the U.S. from places like Afghanistan among others. We’re rapidly increasing our scale, considering partnership opportunities and opening new offices to meet this need.

We also recently completed a strategic planning refresh which we’re getting ready to roll out. Through this collaborative work, we sought to emphasize our shared identity in Christ and foster greater diversity, equity and inclusion within the organization and across our programs.

I’m excited to continue making World Relief a world-class workplace where people can bring their whole selves to work and contribute to an innovative culture. I’m proud of what God has created this organization to be and am incredibly humbled to have the privilege of leading our efforts.

OK, let’s end on a fun note. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

Myal Greene: So, I used to dig graves.

This sounds like a fabulous story. Please elaborate!

Myal Greene: After high school, my first summer job was as a “Sandwich Artist” at Subway. I hated standing inside all day behind a counter touching food. I told my dad that I wanted a job outside. And, you know, my dad had a friend from the Rotary Club who owned all the cemeteries in town. So, he got me a job, mostly cutting the grass, but at least twice a week we did an interment. Most of the digging gets done with a backhoe but they always made the college kid climb the ladder down to the bottom of the hole.

That’s amazing. I think we’ve found our title, “From Sandwich Artist to CEO…” Thanks so much for sitting down with us today, Myal!

Mary Milano served as the Director of Fundraising Content at World Relief from 2017-2022.

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