Congratulations to Dr. Linda Pfeiffer of INMED Partnerships for Children for being a finalist this year for the 25th Anniversary of the Loudoun Small Business Awards! View the full list of finalists here. These awards will be held on November 8, 2019 at The National Conference Center. Register Here!
Dr. Linda Pfeiffer is a finalist for Loudoun’s Top Entrepreneur of the Year. Post submitted by Dr. Pfeiffer.
1. Tell us your story of how your business/nonprofit evolved into what it is today.
The vision for INMED began while I was completing my doctorate in archaeology and anthropology. As a single mother, I took my young daughter with me on excavations in remote indigenous communities in Latin America. In the evenings, I spent time with the other mothers in the village, sharing concerns for the health and wellbeing of our children. These mothers lacked access to the most basic healthcare, and their children’s suffering was heart-breaking. Even well-intentioned efforts to deliver medical assistance and supplies from the developed world sometimes caused more harm than good—with medicine arriving without instructions in the native language or a local network for proper distribution. I knew there had to be a better way to get basic healthcare to the people who needed it most.
On my return to the U.S., I decided to forgo my academic career to found International Medical Services for Health (INMED) in 1986, leveraging multi-sector partnerships to deliver essential medicines to under-served populations around the world. I quickly realized that the cycle of infection and disease would continue without follow-on preventive education and training—thus INMED became INMED Partnerships for Children to build pathways to enable vulnerable children, families and communities to achieve well-being and self-reliance. We established our international headquarters in Loudoun County in 1989, where we launched our U.S. programs to apply our international expertise to solve local socioeconomic challenges.
In Loudoun, we focus on vulnerable children and families through our INMED Opportunity Center, and we continue to evolve. We recently launched an INMED Aquaponics program for children and youth from low-income environments and those with health and developmental challenges—through education and vocational training in the burgeoning field of adaptive agriculture. INMED Aquaponics is a holistic program that involves hands-on technical training as well as business and financial planning.
2. What would it mean to you to win the Entrepreneur of the Year award?
This prestigious award, coming from the Loudoun Chamber, would help to elevate and raise awareness of INMED’s work in Loudoun and the opportunity gaps that still exist for so many of our neighbors—and how we can work together to change that. It also would demonstrate and spotlight how our presence in Loudoun County and our dedicated Loudoun staff have made lasting and positive change in the lives of millions of people around the world, as well as in Loudoun County.
3. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
It may have seemed a small thing at the time, as we were less than 3 years old and still very small, but the decision to move from Washington, DC to Loudoun County made the largest impact on INMED. Our original location on Capitol Hill and driven workforce promoted a very structured and political environment. Loudoun County, on the other hand, encouraged our entrepreneurial spirit and offered a more like-minded workforce. INMED and Loudoun County have grown together. This would not have been possible in our original location.
4. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
This is my husband. I met him within two months of starting INMED, and he has been a guiding light as well as comfort ever since. He is an immunologist/infectious disease specialist who lived and worked in Bangladesh for 5 years, starting the Children’s Hospital for severely malnourished children when he was head of the Indian subcontinent research team for Johns Hopkins University. He has been the Yin to my Yang, offering quiet comfort to the stresses of building an organization, while also being a Renaissance Man who has developed key innovations that are improving lives through our programs in Loudoun County and around the world.
5. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
As indicated above, moving to Loudoun County in 1989 was perhaps the most important decision in our history. Its proximity to the Nation’s Capital and Dulles Airport are, of course, extremely helpful, but it is Loudoun County’s unparalleled entrepreneurial spirit and focus on partnerships across sectors that is most stimulating and important to me.
6. How do you see your nonprofit evolving in the next 10 years?/ future goals
INMED is currently at a critical inflection point, poised for dramatic growth and impact on key social and environmental issues affecting us locally and globally. We currently are one of 3 finalists representing less than 1% of applicants from around the globe for an international award for proving solutions to food security and sustainable livelihoods.
Over the next decade, we plan to focus on scaling sustainable solutions that we have developed to address poverty. We also are adding a social venture division to generate revenue for the continued sustainability and success of our organization and its programs, while we are raising the standard of living for the people we serve.
In Loudoun County, in partnership with the Paxton Trust, we are implementing a commercial aquaponics program that will provide business and entrepreneurial training for at-risk children and youth in a growing industry while also generating revenue for our organization to continue and grow its programs in Loudoun. It also will serve as a model for similar ventures that are planned in South Africa, Jamaica, Brazil and Peru. An exchange program for children and youth in Loudoun County with our global programs is part of this plan.
7. If you’re not in the office where can we find you/what is another passion you have?
When I’m not in the office, I’m usually visiting our international affiliates and programs in Brazil, Peru, Jamaica and South Africa. I also take time to enjoy the local culture.
When I’m not traveling for humanitarian business, I enjoy occasional retreats in the mountains, where I love to walk and rejuvenate.
8. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
I never had a specific career goal as a child, but I always dreamed of living with and learning about different cultures—and what made them different from each other. In fulfilling my dream, I learned there are more similarities than differences!
9. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
Dance (by myself) and walk in the woods.
10. What is one book that you would recommend everyone read?
A Tale of Two Cities
11. Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit about you?
Yes. Even as a small child I designed villages and towns, making bricks out of mud and dried grass to plan a development—including the businesses needed to make it flourish!
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