Lois Ephraim Nelson (’79): Producer and photographer for Harrison Ford’s Operation Smile airlift
February 22, 2010
February 22, 2010
You may have seen the photos of actor Harrison Ford’s early February visit to Haiti on TV, online, or in your local newspaper. What you didn’t see was Lois Ephraim Nelson, a 1979 Evangel graduate, writer, producer and fundraiser, working by his side. She also took all of those photos and produced the video segments.
“We were called to go to Santo Domingo on Thursday (Feb. 4), and by Friday, I was on a plane with my camera and notepad in hand, and my video cameraman in tow,” said Nelson, vice president and creative director of Russ Reid, the nation’s largest marketing and communications firm serving nonprofit organizations.
Operation Smile supporter and legendary actor/humanitarian Harrison Ford piloted his Cessna 208 Caravan to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Saturday, Feb. 6, to command a remarkable airlift of Operation Smile medical volunteers and supplies into Hinche, Haiti, and provide much-needed treatment for earthquake victims who had been transported there from Port Au Prince.
“Harrison Ford landed on Saturday, and we began our shuttles into Hinche on Sunday. Patients had been languishing in the clinic without the proper care — due to a lack of doctors, nurses and supplies,” she said.
According to Nelson, Mr. Ford decided to volunteer his time, piloting skills and aircraft in response to an urgent request from Operation Smile for logistical support after the organization announced that it was sending three additional medical teams and more than 2 ½ tons of medical supplies across three locations in Haiti.
“Our medical teams hit the ground running — helping care for those with untreated fractures, open wounds, and dangerous infections. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Nelson.
Operation Smile is known for its 28-year history of providing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in developing countries and is not traditionally a disaster relief organization. However, the organization made a commitment to utilize its unique resources and quickly mobilize medical volunteers from around the world to provide assistance in Haiti. The Operation Smile logistics team is skilled in deploying and organizing highly functional field hospitals in developing countries across the globe.
“Hopefully, this story will help ensure that people don’t forget the plight of children and families in Haiti who will need ongoing medical help,” said Nelson. “Our only regret is that we didn’t get there sooner.”
“To see more photos and stories, go to operationsmile.org.
Lois Ephraim Nelson graduated from Evangel in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. As a student, she was active in media and campus ministries. Several of her siblings also attended Evangel. The University’s Ephraim Media Center is named in honor of her parents, who were active supporters of Evangel from its beginning.
Nelson began her career in Chicago as a copywriter and co-founded a direct marketing agency before moving to Charlotte, N.C., to direct print and television campaigns for one of the nation’s largest theme parks and resorts. She served as affiliate marketing director for the INSP cable network before joining Russ Reid Company in 1991.
“I travel extensively, both domestically and internationally, to document the work of some of the world’s leading charities,” she said. “This allows me to identify the compelling stories and programmatic elements that will move donors to action, and provides clients with strategically sound message development.”
Nelson’s work has been honored with numerous ECHO, Caples, Pioneer and Telly awards.
She has worked with dozens of clients at Russ Reid, including World Vision, the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Best Friends Animal Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, among others.
“Lois is an outstanding example of an Evangel graduate who has committed her life to helping those in need,” said Chuck Cox, director of alumni relations at Evangel. “She uses her skills as a writer and producer to raise support for organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and mending broken bodies.”