Evangel Profile

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.

Creative career

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.”

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