by Max Brantley
Heifer International, the hunger relief charity based in Little Rock, has announced that it had completed layoffs of 61 people in the U.S., 28 in Little Rock, in the budget reduction it said last month would be necessary.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., June 12, 2009 – Heifer International has implemented a 20 percent global work force reduction. In the United States, 61 positions have been eliminated, including 28 jobs at the Little Rock-based headquarters and 33 additional positions located in 16 states. Approximately 169 jobs will be eliminated outside of the United States.
“The global economic situation has created a shortfall in donations of around 22 percent from this time last year,” Jo Luck, President and CEO of Heifer International, said. “We did our best to avoid layoffs but have had to make some extremely difficult decisions to ensure Heifer’s sustainable community development work for years to come.”
Cost-cutting measures in the past year have included a $10 million cut in operational expenses, salary freeze for U.S. employees and 3 percent salary reduction for top management.
Separated employees were notified of layoffs beginning June 8. From late May through June 5, 33 employees in the U.S. were offered reassignment to alternate positions, with 29 placements. Layoffs involved all areas of the organization.
“Heifer’s work to end hunger and poverty is even more important in these difficult economic times,” Jo Luck said. “We will maintain and grow the number of families directly assisted by Heifer by allocating funds where we have the most impact and will inspire social action for change through education and advocacy. Our mission is our top priority.”
Country program offices will focus on current commitments to project participants, empowering families to lift themselves from hunger to self-reliance through the gifts of cows, goats and other livestock. Plans to expand programs into new countries will be suspended in order to concentrate resources on high priority programs where Heifer already has staff capacity. While current project commitments in the U.S. will continue to be honored, future program activities will be concentrated in the Southwest, Mississippi Delta and Appalachian regions
Six zone offices located in Sacramento, Calif.; Seal Beach, Calif.; Decatur, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Goshen, Ind.; and Philadelphia, Pa.; will close during the next 12 months, replaced by teams consisting of home-based zone volunteer coordinators, Little Rock-based phone representatives and zone-based major gift officers. Heifer-owned properties, including the zone office in Goshen, Ind., and a former education center in Ceres, Calif., will be leased or sold.
The 20 percent global work force reduction includes 230 positions of the 1,119 Heifer employees worldwide and will generate approximately $6.8 million in compensation savings for the organization, with the closure of zone offices yielding additional savings of $1.9 million.
Statement from Jo Luck:
“The community’s interest in Heifer International is appreciated. This is a difficult time, and Heifer is doing all that it can to support those staff members directly impacted by our painful yet necessary decisions. We respect their personal dignity by allowing them their privacy to inform their friends and families when and how they choose. We are deeply grateful to them for having shared their talents and skills with Heifer International and those we serve around the world. Their work and contributions will always be a part of Heifer’s legacy. We are confident that Heifer International will emerge through this period as a stronger organization even better equipped to handle the important task ahead of us: ending hunger and poverty.”
Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 50 countries and has helped 50 million people become more self-reliant.