Last week, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland staff was honored to receive a visit from Imperial Potentate Jeff Sowder and his wife, First Lady Cheryl Sowder. During their time in Portland, we were able to sit down with them and learn more about their vision for Shriners Hospitals for Children and Shriners International during the year of their leadership, from 2019 to 2020.
Imperial Sir Jeff Sowder was elected as Imperial Potentate in July of 2019 and will serve as CEO for Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children for one year. During his year of leadership, his goal is to challenge both Shriners and employees within the health care system to make a positive impact on others, as well as to increase the membership of the Shriners fraternity. “Cheryl and I both believe that everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves,” said Imperial Sir Sowder. “Whether you think you can make a difference yourself or not, if everyone pulls together then they can accomplish more.”
While Imperial Sir Sowder leads Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children, First Lady Cheryl Sowder will focus her time on amplifying the patient ambassador programs at the hospitals. Patient ambassador programs exist at most locations within the Shriners Hospitals for Children system. The program consists of current patients who represent Shriners Hospitals for Children through speaking engagements, events, fundraisers, videos and advertising opportunities. Her goal is to equip each hospital with the tools needed to launch a patient ambassador program, or grow their current program if it already exists.
“We’ve seen children blossom in these programs,” said First Lady Cheryl. “You can tell that these kids are proud of their story and of who they are, and these programs give them the self-confidence that will help them throughout their life. It’s about helping our patients achieve their dreams.”
This is the 11th year that Imperial Sir Sowder has served on the Shriners Hospitals for Children Board of Directors. “The journey is all about service,” said Imperial Sir Sowder. “Cheryl and I have been involved in masonry for almost 45 years. It’s pretty ingrained in us to be able to give back. It’s all about service to the fraternity and to the hospitals and the kids. That’s what keeps everyone going! You walk into one of the hospitals within our system, you see the kids, and you’re ready to keep giving.” During their visit, Imperial Sir Sowder and First Lady Cheryl toured the Portland Shriners Hospital, attended the annual Food Caravan event and dinner, and thanked donors for their contributions at a special evening donor event. It was an honor to host them and introduce them to the Portland Shriners Hospital!
Learn more about Imperial Sir Jeff Sowder.
Learn more about First Lady Chery Sowder’s patient ambassador initiative.