(Little Rock, Ark.) After 20 years of being a guiding force in Heifer’s mission of ending hunger and poverty, Miller Davis, the Chair of Heifer Foundation’s Board of Trustees, has been awarded the 2008 Dan West Fellow Award.
Davis, whose board term ends this year, leaves behind a legacy of unparalleled service to the boards of both Heifer Foundation and Heifer International, including chairing both boards during times of tremendous growth.
Throughout his life and as Heifer International’s founder, Dan West maintained a deep commitment to helping the poor, hungry and those in the margin of the world. His vision guides the Heifer organization and speaks to the simplest and most basic principle of charity – helping people to help themselves. In his honor, Heifer Foundation, which is a separate nonprofit organization that develops and manages an endowment for Heifer International, established the Dan West Fellow Award to honor those who have given of themselves to help the less fortunate of the world. Each year, the Foundation’s Trustees Emeriti choose one outstanding leader to be recognized as a Dan West Fellow.
Heifer Foundation President and CEO Janet Ginn praised Davis for his “servant leadership.” “Miller is one of those individuals that exemplify the tireless commitment to the mission of ending hunger and poverty,” Ginn said. “Both Heifer Foundation and Heifer International have benefitted from his steady leadership and passion for the work.”
Davis, who knew Dan West personally, said he was “speechless” when he was informed he was this year’s recipient. “I’m overwhelmed and very humbled that the trustees emeriti have deemed that I have done enough to receive the award,” Davis said.
Davis first met Dan West in his teen years as a member of the Church of the Brethren, which was the religious organization that helped propel West’s initial vision that eventually became Heifer International. After graduating from Bridgewater College, Davis had the opportunity to work with Dan West while serving in Brethren Volunteer Service from 1965-1967.
“I felt very privileged to have known Dan (and the West Family),” Davis said. “To know and experience Dan and then serve on the boards of organizations he founded has been a wonderful experience.”
From 1988 to 2001, Davis was the representative for the Church of the Brethren on the Board of Directors of Heifer International. He was chair of the Heifer International Board for two of those years, one of which was during the 50th anniversary, which Davis describes as one of the highlights of his tenure. “I felt really blessed to have the international staff come to the Heifer headquarters to celebrate,” he said.
Another major highlight for Davis was his first visit to a project in Honduras that left him even more convinced of the validity and strength of Heifer’s mission. One project that had been involved with Heifer for 10 years showed a graph of the number of children that were malnourished when the project began. They then showed how through their involvement with Heifer there were no children in the community that were malnourished.
After his tenure on Heifer International’s Board ended, Davis was then elected to Heifer Foundation’s Board in 2001, where he will serve until his second term ends in September 2009. During 2003, Davis took a leave of absence from the Foundation Board to serve as Vice-President for External Relations for Heifer International. In his role as chair of the Heifer Foundation Board, Davis has represented the Foundation on Heifer International’s Board of Directors.
Davis grew up in Rockingham County, Virginia on a small farm and worked with his uncle and grandfather on their farm until graduating from high school. He was raised in the Church of the Brethren and first heard the Heifer stories as a child in Sunday school.
After Brethren Volunteer Service he worked for a construction company for four years before becoming an employee of the Church of the Brethren General Board at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Maryland. He retired in 1998 as Manager of the Emergency Response/Service Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, which combines Disaster Response, Refugee Resettlement and the Material Resource Programs into one unit. Davis and his wife Connie have four children.