Name: Zachary Edward Lawrence
Board position: President, Board of Directors
Occupation: Implementation Specialist for Elite Medical Scribes, LLC
When and how did you get involved with YSI?
Kevin Lombardi and I attended the same post-baccalaureate premedical studies program at Brandeis University and started dialogue about my involvement during the incorporation phase. I started assisting Kevin with management and business development in February 2015, and couldn’t say no when he asked me to step on as Vice President.
How many times have you visited Haiti/How much time have you spent in Haiti?
I have been to Haiti twice and have spent a total of thirty-three days there so far.
Why are you passionate about YSI in particular?
I am passionate about this type of service work because I care deeply about protecting the education, health, and safety of all people--especially those who are vulnerable because of economic disadvantage. YourStory was one of the many vehicles that helped me discover just how disenfranchised people of developing countries are.
What is your favorite memory from your trips to Haiti?
This is a particularly hard question because I have many great memories from Haiti. If I had to choose one memory, it would probably be a moment I had on my flight to Port-au-Prince in December 2015. I was working on my Haitian Creole and initiated some small talk with a man named Ernso who was sitting next to me. My Creole was probably pretty unintelligible at the time, but this didn’t matter to him–he was so enamored that I was learning Creole that he put his arm around me with teary eyes and said, “You are my friend, because we speak the same language--the language of my people!”
What is your biggest take away from the experiences that you have had with YSI?
My understanding of service work and global health has matured greatly since my time with YourStory International. I always knew that cultural competency was important to helping international communities, but I had no idea how pervasively important it was. In fact, I began to realize how attempts to help communities can do just the opposite if done in a manner that is not culturally relevant.
What is something that you think others should know about either YSI or Haiti?
The biggest difference between YSI and other aid organizations is the time and care that we take gathering local perspectives on where we can best direct our efforts. Although funding for our efforts is limited, we are able to accomplish more and make greater impacts than organizations many times our size. This is because of the personal relationships we work hard to build with the people we serve and the long hours that all of our volunteers put into ensuring the long term success of our initiatives.