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Two New Disaster Response Executives Join UMCOR

NEW YORK, April 14, 2008—The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) introduced new staff at their semi-annual board meeting last month. Melissa Crutchfield, scheduled to begin on April 21, will serve as the assistant general secretary for International Disaster Response. Sandra Kennedy-Owes began her new role with UMCOR April 14 as executive secretary for Domestic Disaster Response.

New Leader to Direct International Disaster Response Team

A life-long United Methodist, Crutchfield most recently worked for Aurora Associates, International where she specialized in capacity building through education for women and in education for refugees. “Melissa’s experiences in tough international situations combined with her understanding of the church’s role in responding to disasters make her an ideal fit to lead the International Disaster Response unit,” said the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR’s top executive. “I welcome her diverse background and ability to empower local leaders to create partnerships with local agencies.” Crutchfield will be UMCOR’s on the ground person within central conference settings—Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

Expanding Domestic Disaster Response

Kennedy-Owes has worked in the disaster response field for more than twenty-five years, most recently with the Alabama West Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry as Director of Casework Services. She is a member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. "I look forward to bringing Sandra's years of experience in disaster management and response to UMCOR as we work to increase UMCOR's ability to train and respond to disasters of all types in the United States." said the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, executive for UMCOR, Domestic Disaster Response.

Both Crutchfield and Kennedy-Owes are part of UMCOR’s effort to establish a greater ministry of presence through their work. Kennedy-Owes will be based in Mobile, Ala. to increase UMCOR’s presence in the hurricane and tornado-prone Southeastern United States. Crutchfield’s work with the central conferences will also increase UMCOR’s presence by more proactively reaching out to the global church.


UMCOR is the not-for-profit global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States. Our mission, grounded in the teachings of Jesus, is to alleviate human suffering—whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people. UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community's ability to recover on its own.