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Michael Howard
August 10, 2022

International studies prepared this logistician to deliver care — one shoebox at a time

The job of Michael Howard ’14 — an international logistics specialist with Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a far-reaching project of Samaritan’s Purse — entails the commitment of a caring heart and strategic mind. The program sends shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items to children around the world, with over 198 million individuals reached in more than 170 countries and territories since 1993. Howard, who majored in international studies, joined the organization after serving as a United States Marine Corps officer where he provided logistics support for an artillery battalion located in the Pacific.

“I coordinate the shipping of our gift boxes from stateside in the USA to our overseas teams. This involves understanding unique processes for each country and meeting with these teams to identify the best approach for importation,” he explains. “This is done by coaching these overseas teams in the nature of the gift boxes and, if needed, meeting with officials to translate the impact of these gifts.”

“Michael has always had a passion for logistics,” Professor of International Affairs Kirsten Taylor recalls. “His curricular and extracurricular activities at Berry gave him numerous opportunities to develop his organizational and leadership skills.” Especially formative was Howard’s participation in Model UN — a program in which college students take on the role of United Nations delegates, researching their countries’ positions on global issues and negotiating to find mutually diplomatic solutions, from political to technical.

“Model UN was a great education that prepared me to work with foreign governments, realizing requirements are in place for their best interest and understanding processes to get our Operation Christmas Child boxes into these countries. This club really helped me work alongside others and reach common ground and understanding,” Howard says.

He adds that college prepared him to see the world through the perspective of many countries and cultures: “This is now a daily practice in my role as I work with foreign nationals and officials to open doors for our project overseas. Each country is different, and my education at Berry allowed me to understand the nuances and how to see each country through its own lens.”

As a logistician, Howard finds satisfaction and meaning when everything arrives when and where it is supposed to. “In the case of OCC, it is when our incredible overseas volunteer teams are able to receive gift boxes packed by families in the USA and begin working to get these into the hands of children,” he says. “Hearing the impact stories coming out of the farthest hard-to-reach places is especially meaningful.”

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