Connecting Hearts Abroad: Helping Others; Sparking Imagination; a Better Lilly

Tomorrow, my wife and two young boys will take me to the airport. We'll hug and kiss 20 times over, and get a little misty as we say our goodbyes. That's just the way we do things. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

After our goodbyes, I'll fly from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Newark, New Jersey, to New Delhi, India. Why? Because I am fortunate enough to be one of 200 Lilly employees who will serve as a Lilly Ambassador in the 2011 Connecting Hearts Abroad program. I will be with the first of 23 teams leaving to assist people and communities around the world who face challenges many of us can't even fathom, who lack the basic resources I take for granted daily. The goal: to help others while sparking my own--and more importantly, our own--imagination and innovative ideas to make us a better company.

In February, after 14 years with Lilly, I started my new role as a communications adviser on Lilly's corporate responsibility team in Indianapolis, which is sponsoring these trips. Mary--my wife of 10 years, who also works at Lilly--and I knew this position would be life-changing for me and our family. We just didn't know it would happen this fast.

Two months from the day I started in this role, I will be setting off on a journey of a lifetime. I will be working at a charitable day boarding school for underprivileged children, teaching English and environmental science to third, fourth, and fifth graders, assisting teachers, organizing projects and activities, and playing with the kids. (I excel at this last part, a gift of silliness passed down from my late and greatly missed father.)

I also have a secondary role: to help launch our communications for this program--to share my experience and help our other ambassadors do the same. ?From today's press release (the link doesn't exist anymore) to a story in The Indianapolis Star to a new interactive site at lilly.com, we're inviting all of our stakeholders--from media reporters and policymakers to family, friends, and neighbors--to follow along as we begin to span the globe and serve people and communities in need.

People prefer to get information in different ways. So we're using lots of channels--including some new ones--to share our stories. I invite you to follow along using the channels you like best:

  • www.connectingheartsabroad.com is a new site that features an interactive map as well as ambassador profiles, photos, videos, and blogs. The site will focus initially on ambassadors bound for India in April and will expand to highlight the global service of many of the 200 ambassadors in 2011.
  • LillyPad and our Twitter feed will feature regular posts from me and others to keep you up-to-date.
  • Connecting Hearts Abroad Facebook fan page also will highlight ambassador blogs, videos, and photos--as well as media coverage of our program and the work of our ambassadors. If you have a Facebook page, be sure to "like" us.

Enough of the communications promotion.

I am honored...humbled...excited...nervous. I will miss my family dearly. But I go--we go--for a greater calling. May I--may all of us--deserve the experience and make something of it.

When I come back, I will hug and kiss my wife and two precious boys. I will give them presents from India. But I know the gifts won't stop with what comes out of my suitcase.

I'll be in touch.

David