After an extensive national search, World Vision U.S. has selected Edgar Sandoval to serve as its president and chief executive officer, effective Oct. 1.
Edgar, 53, has served as the organization’s chief operating officer for the past three years. He will succeed Rich Stearns, who will retire at the end of 2018.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to build on World Vision’s 68-year tradition of helping some of the world’s most vulnerable children,” says Edgar, who led a distinguished 20-year career at Procter & Gamble that culminated in an internationally acclaimed #LikeAGirl campaign to empower girls and women.
The Rev. John Crosby, search committee chair, says, “Selecting a new president is the most important decision we can make as a board. We clearly felt the Lord guiding us during the extensive and competitive search process.”
A journey and calling
Born in Los Angeles, Edgar grew up in Central and South America, where he first witnessed poverty. With $50 in his pocket, he returned alone to the U.S. at age 18. He worked minimum-wage jobs while pursuing an education that started with courses in English as a second language.
Edgar spent 20 years in various leadership positions with Procter & Gamble, including marketing director of North America fabric care and vice president of North America marketing. In his last role as vice president and general manager of global feminine care, he made it his mission to advocate for girls and women around the world and help empower them to live life to their fullest potential.
Edgar says he and his wife, Leiza, felt a strong calling from God to join World Vision in 2015 and move with their four children to the Pacific Northwest. He regards having been selected as World Vision president, given his humble childhood, “an improbable miracle of God.” He says his travels with World Vision have magnified his feelings of empathy and compassion — creating a strong affinity with the children and families World Vision serves.
‘Collaborative and decisive leader’
As chief operating officer, Edgar deepened the World Vision U.S. leadership team, strengthened the World Vision brand, and leveraged the organization to execute its strategic plan.
“Edgar embodies World Vision’s core values and has demonstrated his commitment to the mission of World Vision since he joined three years ago,” says Joan Singleton, World Vision U.S. board chair. “He has a consistent track record of delivering financial growth and organizational health during his successful corporate career and most recently during his time at World Vision. We believe God has been preparing him to lead World Vision for such a time as this.”
All of this enabled Rich to invest more time in external affairs, including writing, public speaking, and partnership development.
“World Vision staff, management, and the board have been impressed with Edgar’s leadership in his role as COO,” says Rich. “He is a collaborative and decisive leader who brings a fresh perspective and a disciplined approach to the challenges and opportunities we face.”
We spoke with Edgar to hear more about his journey to this new role.
Q: What set you on your personal faith journey?
A: I was at a Promise Keepers conference in Dallas with a good friend and spiritual mentor. I had never attended such a large Christian meeting before. Walking into a stadium filled with 14,000 men singing felt unfamiliar at first. But it was a worship song that caused me to recommit my life. It was a song I’d never heard before, “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God.” It was at that powerful moment I realized I had never bowed down to anyone. I recommitted my life to Christ and never looked back. He is my Savior and Lord.
Q: What was it like initially coming to World Vision?
A: My wife and I felt strongly called to serve at World Vision. When I joined, I didn’t know what the Lord had in store for me, only that it was where I was meant to go. God has blessed my family greatly through World Vision. We have collectively grown closer together, and each of us has grown closer to Jesus in ways we could not have imagined. It has been our complete honor to serve the Lord in this way.
Q: What have you learned from the children World Vision serves?
A: I’ve seen so many kids in the field, and what I see is optimism, is hope, is energy, despite the most challenging circumstances. I don’t know that I could survive a week in some of the places I’ve seen, but the kids, they are incredible. So, do their conditions break my heart? Yes. Do I want to change them? Yes. But the kids are ready — they are eager, they’re waiting for an opportunity. And that helps me to reignite. God breaks your heart not just to be sad, but to help you bring your very best to spur you to action for those children in need.
Q: How do you feel about being the new president?
A: I’m humbled and grateful. I am so humbled because I am nothing without Jesus Christ. Everything I do, I do to honor him. During the time of waiting and interviewing process, the Lord gave me Scripture and two verses. One is Romans 8:28: that speaks of all things working together for good to those that love God and are called by him. The Lord is working for the good, and I knew I loved the Lord and that I was called to World Vision. Whatever the outcome was going to be, I found so much peace with that scripture.
The other Scripture is Ephesians 2:10: God has created us; he made us who we are. He has created us in Christ’s image to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our purpose and way of life.
Q: How does your family feel now that the news is out?
A: They’re so excited. The kids had a hard time keeping it to themselves, you know with social media these days. They’re thrilled. One of the amazing blessings of coming to World Vision is that we felt we had each individually grown closer to Christ. When you grow closer to Christ, in a family, in a team, there’s something that happens in that triangle — you grow closer to each other. We’ve grown stronger as a family. There are so many things happening on the home front; I see the hand of the Holy Spirit.
Q: As you move into this new role, what will be your priorities?
A: My priorities will be to accelerate the impact of our work in the communities we serve with the faithful support of our donors and partners, to strengthen our fund-raising capabilities, and most importantly be a witness to the love of Jesus Christ in everything we do. These challenges and opportunities are both exciting and urgent.
Lauren Fisher of World Vision U.S. contributed to this story.