Gettysburg College alumni making a difference in Ethiopia



Ned Olney '88 lives in one of the poorest countries in the world where he saves the lives of children and their families on a regular basis.

He's the Ethiopia country office director for Save the Children, a global non-profit organization that works to alleviate poverty and assist those affected by disasters. The apolitical, non-religious organization also helps resolve other struggles people face on a daily basis, such as hunger, illiteracy, and disease.

Olney and his staff of more than 1,000 are currently working on projects that will help educate Ethiopians on issues that include HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, nutrition, and livelihood. He and his team are also responding to the Somali crisis, providing lifesaving assistance to the thousands of refugees suffering from famine.

Prior to serving in his current position, Olney was Save the Children's global vice president for emergencies in Washington, D.C. He has also served as the country office director in Bangladesh and in Bolivia. But Olney isn't the only Gettysburg College alum connected to this organization and living in Ethiopia. Laura Block '11 is an intern within Save the Children's TransACTION prevention and care services program, where she works to reduce HIV infection among the at-risk mobile population, such as truck drivers, seasonal farm workers, and discordant couples.

Olney, who majored in political science and Spanish, believes his Gettysburg College education and associated experiences helped prepare him for his future in international relief and development. He spent his junior year studying in Costa Rica, where he joined the Red Cross and volunteered in refugee camps during the Contra War. "I am adaptable, culturally aware, and find it easy to interact with government officials, rebel leaders, donors, and some of the neediest people in the world," he said. "My liberal arts education from Gettysburg provided me with that broad skill set."

Encouraging students to follow in his footsteps, Olney offers the following advice: "learn about history, culture, political science, and economics, travel as much as possible, and care for those who need it most."

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Tracey Dukert, assistant director of news content, 717.337.6521

Posted: Thu, 3 Nov 2011

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