People at Planet Aid
Board and Officers
Meet Our Staff...
Rodolphe “Rudy” Chavannes is a warehouse employee at Planet Aid’s Elkridge, Maryland location. He’s spent his six-year tenure with Planet Aid doing just about everything in the warehouse, as well as traveling to and working at the Hatboro, Pennsylvania and Charlotte, North Carolina locations. “I enjoy the traveling part,” he said. “That combined with the physical labor, I love it.”
After waiting 10 years, Rudy received a United States visa in 2000. “I grew up in Haiti and wanted to come to the States for the better opportunities available here,” he said. “Since I came from a developing country, I know what it’s like to be less fortunate. Working for Planet Aid allows me to help others in developing countries have better opportunities. I know my work is not in vain.”
Rudy was introduced to Planet Aid by his cousin and has cottoned to the agile and familial environment. “My job is not monotonous,” he said. “It’s also been wonderful to be able to cultivate relationships with other Planet Aid employees.”
Abdi Erazouki began work with Planet Aid in June of 2009 working with businesses and organizations in hosting Planet Aid bins. He is now the territory manager for Washington, DC and Virginia, and is responsible for all bins within that area. Though territory manager is the official title, Abdi says he’s more of a “relationship manager.” “The relationships with the owners of the sites are the most important part,” he said.
The other important part of Abdi’s position is connecting with the community. He interacts with the area’s public schools, chambers of commerce, legislators, and charities to help spread the word about Planet Aid’s work. “I find my position very fruitful because I believe in Planet Aid’s mission,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit for me. When I get up in the morning I have a goal to help people and working at Planet Aid means I know I helped someone.”
In 2013 Abdi had the chance to go to Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and see the work Planet Aid is implementing. “It was an amazing eye-opener,” he said. Now Abdi feels that when he speaks with potential sites owners about Planet Aid, its mission, and its work, he knows how it impacts people across the globe. “The trip helped educate me,” he said, “and now I can better explain why it is my mission, and should also be the site owner’s mission, to make a better life for others.”
Kim Lipfird is the Administrative Assistant at Planet Aid’s Ohio location. She’s been with Planet Aid for over ten years, and her title hardly reflects the full scope of what she does today. Kim, who was out getting new hoses for a warehouse forklift at the time, said, “I do anything that needs to be done, and I really enjoy the diversity of tasks.”
Kim joined Planet Aid because of the community-focused work and what Planet Aid stands for; she’s stayed for the camaraderie and family-like atmosphere. “It’s always all hands on deck,” she said. “It’s all about the teamwork.” Kim is also passionate about Planet Aid’s overseas programs. “I like helping people and hearing the stories of how we have impacted their lives.”
About three years ago, Kim initiated a partnership with the Ohio prison system to help provide shoes and clothing for prisoners being released. That program has now expanded to a work-training program where the inmates volunteer to work on Planet Aid collection bins. After a lot of time and energy, countless meetings, and getting all the necessary approvals, Kim and her team, and a handful of dedicated prisoners, have made this a strong and viable program. “I’ve been to the prison multiple times and worked with a lot of the inmates,” she said. “I’m very proud of the program.”
Beth Sheehy has been a consultant with Planet Aid for over 10 years. As a senior representative to the U.S. Government, she helps find support for Planet Aid’s development initiatives overseas.
Beth began her career in international development as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan. “I started working on global health and food aid programs,” she said, “and that’s what I continue to do today with Planet Aid. The organization has a unique model of delivering foreign assistance, with cost-effective and responsible programming and an emphasis on the beneficiary. I feel lucky to be a part of the team.”
Beth was instrumental in developing Planet Aid’s highly successful Food for Knowledge program in Mozambique. “It’s wonderful to have the program funded and to see how it has grown over the years,” she said. “We’re now feeding over 80,000 children and started a new literacy intervention component that is a global model. It’s incredible progress.”
While the work has been gratifying, Beth is ready for the next challenge. “We’re currently facing a reduction in funding for foreign assistance,” she said. “We have to work hard to advocate the importance of foreign aid and reach out to a greater expanse of people. However, I believe that foreign assistance represents the best of the American spirit, compassion, and generosity.”
In addition to her work in international development, Beth is also a real estate agent in the DC area. “I feel fortunate to have two professional passions,” she said.
Chris Thompson has been a member of the Planet Aid family for eight years. He was originally the Operations Manager at our Michigan location and then took the Transportation Manager position, working to ensure the smooth collection of donations. Chris oversees eight employees including collection drivers, a warehouse manager, a receiver, and a bin maintenance employee.
Along with managing others, Chris is responsible for determining how often bin sites need to be serviced and when, and making adjustments to the routes and schedules. “Every day is different,” Chris said. “I deal with whatever crops up during the day and it’s never the same.”
Before taking a position with Planet Aid, Chris worked in the automotive industry but wanted to be more green conscious. He was attracted to Planet Aid because of its recycling efforts. “It was a great way of putting my thoughts into action,” he said. When Chris learned details about Planet Aid’s mission and its programs overseas, he was even more excited to be a part of the team. “It was the icing on the cake,” he said.
A couple of years ago Chris got to see some of the benefits of his work. “In Detroit we have harsh winters,” he said, “and there are a lot of people in need.” Chris and his team took part in a coat drive for a shelter in downtown Detroit. “We wanted to help, but didn’t feel like we had gathered enough,” he said. “When we dropped off the coats though, it was amazing to see the faces of the people we were helping. They were so grateful and our contribution went much further than we thought it would.”