Arthur Keys earns Emory honor for international relief, development work
Written by Jeff Woodard January 17, 2012
Dr. Arthur B. Keys, President and CEO of International Relief & Development
In little time, Arthur B. Keys Jr. has made a lot of
Founder, president and CEO of International Relief and
Development, Keys is being recognized as an Emory University History Maker for his
leadership, humanitarian service and commitment to the university community.
"I am very humbled by the Emory
History Maker Award," said Keys, who has chaired the stewardship
campaign for his local congregation, UCC of Seneca Valley in Germantown, Md.,
for the past two years.
"I see it as recognition of the
significant impact International Relief and Development has had on people's
lives around the world as it has become a major humanitarian development
agency. The Emory Award is a motivation for us to continue
expand our influence in the coming years."
Keys founded International Relief and Development in 1998
and has overseen the distribution of more than $1.75 billion in humanitarian
assistance to Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and
the United States Gulf Coast.
In little more than a decade, Keys has grown the nonprofit, non-governmental organization
into a major provider of U.S. foreign assistance and a leader in
the international stabilization and development community.
With a staff of 4,000-plus working
in more than 40 countries and an annual cash flow of about $400 million,
International Relief and Development has become one of the largest
non-governmental organizations implementing USAID contracts in the world.
Keys served on the United Church Board for Homeland
Ministries from 1975 to1985 and was closely involved with community action
programs and social concerns throughout the denomination.
"I had the good fortune to be mentored by strong leaders,"
he said. "These leaders helped me understand the interface between social
ethics and current social and political issues. They taught me how to build
sustainable, community-based programs to address political issues
and shape the social order."
While with the Homeland Board, Keys was involved in many
efforts, including a farm worker ministry; the boycott of J.P. Stevens products;
labor union reform; passage of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment
legislation; welfare, tax and health reform; racial and economic justice;
Appalachian issues; ecumenical partnerships; and local and church-based
"When Yugoslavia fell
apart, because of his family ties, he ended up being personally aware of the
suffering that people were experiencing and the need for humanitarian aid,"
said the Rev. Carolyn Roberts, senior pastor at UCC of Seneca Valley. "It was
out of that personal experience and his own response to try and address some of
that that International Relief Development came into being.
"Arthur is unstinting in giving the members of the team ––
whatever that team happens to be, in D.C. or out in the field –– credit for the
work that they do to make things happen, to address the needs that are being
addressed," said Roberts.
Keys has more than 30 years' experience with domestic and international
humanitarian assistance, economic development and food/agriculture programs. A
native of Washington, Pa., he has a doctorate from Emory University and a master
of divinity degree from Yale University. He received his bachelor's degree from
Bethany College, where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees.
in meeting the needs of communities emerging from conflict or natural disaster,
the organization partners with donors, local organizations and many others to
deliver sustainable services in agriculture, governance, health and
"I am biased, but [International Relief and
Development's] track record of building roads and clinics in Afghanistan,
producing fortified noodles in Indonesia and/or providing services for refugees
in the Middle East is unmatched," said the Rev. John Deckenback, UCC
Conference minister for the Central Atlantic Conference.
A member of the organization's Board of Directors for the
past 10 years, Deckenback lauded Keys for founding a
multifaceted organization "capable of undertaking relief and development
initiatives in some of the world's most conflicted and dangerous places."
"Art once said, where others
rush out, we rush in.'"