Name: Ali Al Sudani
Title: Senior Vice President for Programs and Chief of Staff
Organization: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston
How did you become interested in this work?
My background is in training, engineering, process improvement and project management. I was born and raised in Iraq. After I graduated from college, I worked with different organizations in Iraq and Jordan as a trainer, translator and leading workshops on democracy and conflict resolution. In 2008, I applied to resettle in the United States as a refugee. One year later, I was on a plane heading to Houston. I was greeted by a team member from Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. Two months after arriving in the United States, I took a position as a case worker at Interfaith Ministries. Now, 10 years later, I am humbled to serve as the organization’s Senior Vice President for Programs and Chief of Staff.
Meals on Wheels is our largest program at Interfaith Ministries. We serve more than 4,400 seniors and adults with disabilities every weekday. I enjoy the community service, program development and fundraising aspects of our work.
What drives your passion?
Every day I am fueled by serving the needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community. I am grateful for the ability to do this work and I believe it’s our moral commitment to feed the hungry. Seeing our staff and volunteers go the extra mile to provide meals and care to our clients every day continues to inspire me.
Does your organization offer any programs other than home meal delivery? If so, what are they?
We offer several programs, including:
- Animeals on Wheels – This program delivers pet food to Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels clients, so they do not feel compelled to share their food with their pets. We feed more than 1,300 pets every month.
- Chore Corps – This is a sub-program under Meals on Wheels where we offer our home-bound clients assistance in helping them with basic chores around their home they are no longer able to do.
- Friendly Visitor – This is a Chore Corps program where volunteers visit with our clients.
- Healthy Women Houston – This program provides a meal and well check to post-partum mothers that are home from hospital after delivery a baby.
- Hospital to Home – Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels works with three area hospital systems and also managed care organizations to provide an extra level of care to high-risk patients as they are discharged from the hospital. Our goal is to work collaboratively with the patient and health care organization by providing meals and wellness checks to prevent a hospital readmission.
What’s the biggest challenge in your work?
Our biggest challenge is to ensure the sustainability of funding to provide the meals to all seniors in need, frequent staff turnover and recruiting volunteers.
What’s the best advice that you have ever received?
I am a risk taker. I was once told, “If you try 1,000 times and you fail at 999 of them, then you didn’t fail, but instead you tried 999 times until you succeeded.” The lesson for me is to never give up.
Was there a client, volunteer, or poignant moment in your work that has had a great impact on you?
Every single day when I see the staff and volunteers coming to work, smiling, happy to serve the seniors, that’s the moment that I say things are great! The mornings in the distribution center when everyone is working together as a team and motivated around a common purpose, that has the greatest impact on me every day.