AFEDJ Welcomes Heidi Shott as its First Communications Director
As a part of its commitment to raise awareness and garner support for the institutions it serves, the Board of Trustees of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ) is pleased to welcome Heidi Shott of Newcastle, Maine, as its first Communications Director. Shott has served as Canon for Communication and Advocacy in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine for the past ten years. Previously, she was the communications director for the Genesis Community Loan Fund, a Maine-wide community development loan fund.
The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, board chair and bishop of the Diocese of Northern California, said of the appointment, ”Heidi brings with her a breadth of communications experience that will be vital to furthering the work of AFEDJ. Her strong relationships with leaders across The Episcopal Church will help us to engage more people in the cause of supporting schools, hospitals, and other humanitarian institutions in the Holy Land. I am delighted Heidi has joined us and look forward to the stories she will help us share of transforming lives and building hope among the children and families in the region.
Shott attributes the three visits she has made to the Diocese of Jerusalem over the past two years as playing a key role in her discernment. “The opportunity to use my experience and gifts to support the work of AFEDJ exemplifies for me a vocation where, as the author and theologian Frederick Buechner describes it, one’s ‘deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet,’” she said. “I am thrilled to be invited to contribute to this critically important work.””
In early October, Shott will join AFEDJ trustees from across the U.S. on a ten-day trip to Palestine, Israel, and Jordan to visit 11 schools, hospitals and clinics, and centers for children with disabilities supported by the organization. This trip will mark the first time she will be permitted to cross into Gaza to visit the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, one of the 30 institutions owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The 136 year-old hospital serves all people irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, or ability to pay and is the only healthcare facility to offer cancer treatment in the Gaza Strip, home to 2 million people. Another institution on the itinerary, the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf located in Salt, Jordan, offers the only program to educate deaf-blind children in the region.
“No matter how well-schooled one is on the conditions in the this part of the world, no matter how many books read, a visit to meet and listen to people’s stories and to experience their exceptional hospitality is the real education,” said Shott. “And for those who cannot travel there themselves, I believe stories shared well – the hospital director talking about the conditions under which they serve in Gaza or the beaming pride the culinary arts students show in their work at the vocational school in Ramallah on the West Bank – wield the power to change hearts and minds and, ultimately, open checkbooks.”
“Heidi joins AFEDJ at a time when support for vulnerable and displaced children and families in the Holy Land has never been more needed,” stated AFEDJ Executive Director John Lent.“Her communications and advocacy experience will help us raise awareness of the vital humanitarian ministries of the Diocese of Jerusalem that provide quality education and health care to all. Heidi is a consummate reporter and storyteller – exactly what our organization needs to share the life-changing impact our supporters have on people’s lives and grow our mission partners. It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome Heidi to the AFEDJ community.”
AFEDJ is a nonpolitical, nonsectarian nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming lives of the vulnerable and displaced in the Middle East through support of the schools, hospitals, and centers for children with disabilities that are owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in Palestine, Jordan, and Israel. Since 1988, AFEDJ donors have contributed more than $30 million to the Diocese of Jerusalem’s humanitarian institutions.