60 seconds with Donna Varner, MHI, MHEFI
Modern spends 60 seconds talking to the executive administrator of MHI and executive director of MHEFI about Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc.
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Donna Varner; MHI, MHEFI
Title: Executive administrator, MHI; executive director, MHEFI
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Experience: 20+ years in sales and marketing, including nine years at MHI
Duties: Serve as the executive administrator, supporting the CEO and COO
Modern: So, what does MHEFI stand for, and what does the foundation do?
Varner: MHEFI stands for the Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. It is a 501C3 charitable organization with the mission to promote the study of materials handling, logistics and the supply chain by exposing students and educators to the industry through financial support.
Modern: Tell us a little about your role with the organization.
Varner: I serve as the foundation’s executive director. I provide general supervision and management of the property, operations, business and affairs of the foundation, and I ensure all policies and programs are carried out according to the direction of the MHEFI Board of Directors.
Modern: How did the foundation get started?
Varner: MHEFI was established in 1976 by the MHI Board of Directors. We received a $3,000 seed donation by Harnischfeger Corp. and Henry Harnischfeger, which was matched by MHI members. With that start, MHEFI awarded the first two scholarships for the 1976/1977 academic term. Since then, MHEFI has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships and grants to nearly 1,000 students at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Forty scholarships were awarded for the 2015/2016 academic term for a total of $127,150.
Modern: That’s a lot of grants given a modest $3,000 start. How is the foundation funded?
Varner: MHEFI receives its funding through contributions from MHI and MHEDA members, MHI Industry Groups, named funds and endowments, and other general donations.
Modern: Why is exposure to the industry so important? What is the need?
Varner: From its start 40 years ago, the goal was to bring the industry to the attention of the next generation of talent. That is as important, if not more important, today as it was in 1976. For instance, according to the U.S. Material Handling & Logistics Roadmap, by 2018 there will be 1.4 million new supply chain jobs. The concern is that we won’t have the talent to fill all of those jobs. The foundation is doing its part to educate students who have committed to our industry so they can help to fill the talent shortage.
Modern: How do I, or my organization, get involved with MHEFI to support the foundation’s work?
Varner: There are a number of ways to get involved. The easiest way is to simply send a contribution to the general fund. Companies and individuals who have gone above and beyond have established a named scholarship or have established a named fund or endowment into perpetuity. Another option is to name the foundation as a beneficiary to an estate or even an insurance policy.
Modern: Where can I get more information about MHEFI?
About the AuthorBob Trebilcock Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.
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