Anne Lynam Goddard was in the middle of her very first board meeting as president and CEO of the Christian Children’s Fund on an April day in 2007 when she got a phone call.
It was her son Colin, who was then a junior at Virginia Tech.
The news was chilling. He said he was at a hospital emergency room in Blackburg, being treated for multiple gunshot wounds. He was expected to recover.
Colin Goddard was one of only 17 victims who survived the shooting spree by a Virginia Tech student on April 16, 2007. The experience brought a new direction and purpose for Colin, just as his mother was embarking on the latest chapter in her career of helping the most vulnerable peoples of the world.
Anne Goddard had spent 20 years working in pockets of poverty around the world before taking the Christian Children’s Fund job. She said her son’s experience helped bring her family together while – paradoxically – it helped her to focus on her new mission at the worldwide children’s aid organization.
Goddard was named “Influential Woman of the Year,” an honor bestowed by the votes of the 47 women of the Class of 2011 in the “Influential Women of Virginia” awards program held by Virginia Lawyers Media.
The program, now in its third year, honors high-achieving women in the fields of law, health care, business, education and real estate, among others. A photo spread of the May 21 event appears on page 2.
In the four years since Goddard took the reins of the Christian Children’s Fund, she has overseen a rebranding of the charity, a restructuring of its administration, and an alliance with related organizations around the world.
The group is now known as ChildFund International. A name change plan was in the works before she arrived, Goddard explained, but she developed the new brand and won approval from the organization’s board. The new identity rolled out in July 2009.
“It’s proving to be a success and an excellent move on behalf of the organization,” said A. Hugh Ewing III, vice-chair of the ChildFund board of directors.
The name change was driven by the desire to team up with 11 other organizations of similar purpose to create what’s called the ChildFund Alliance. The union with foreign charities increases ChildFund’s ability to execute its programs around the world and boosts fund raising, Goddard said.
“Now one third of our income is raised through them,” Goddard said.
Goddard also instituted a new management structure, with one executive vice president handling global programs and one focused more on administration.
One goal of the restructuring, Goddard said, is to free her from the desk “to make new relationships and advance our mission.”
That goal is already being realized, according to Ewing. “As much as anything, she has been out in the community, nationally and internationally, to raise the profile of ChildFund,” he said.
Goddard knows the territory when it comes to world poverty. Before ChildFund, she worked for two decades in the trouble spots and blighted communities of the third world. She worked her way up to chief of staff at CARE USA.
The CEO post at ChildFund was still a challenge, she said. Before, she always worked under someone else’s direct supervision. “It was a huge change. I was in charge of an organization.”
With the new responsibility came trauma – physical and emotional – for her family. Besides Colin’s injuries at Virginia Tech, Goddard’s husband Andrew faced a cancer diagnosis.
The crises seemed to bond the family, Goddard said. “I think we were close already, but now we’re incredibly close,” she said. “Having another big demand in my life kind of gave balance to the situation.”
“She’s a very strong person,” said ChildFund board chair Maureen Massey. “I think she’s a person of strong faith. Her composure through all of that was remarkable.”
It’s apparent that Anne Goddard’s values are reflected in her son’s new mission. “My mom has told me my entire life, ‘Try to figure out what it is you love to do and then figure out how to make a living from it,’” said Colin Goddard, who is now 25 and an advocate for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He also said his mother urged him to try to leave the world a better place than he found it.
Colin said that advice guided him in 2009 as he embraced his new role, urging lawmakers to restrict the availability of firearms for mentally disturbed individuals.
He said his parents support his cause 100 percent. “The shooting definitely did bring the family closer together,” Colin said.
As a family, the Goddards have added gun control to their mission of worldwide child welfare. “What happened at my school definitely changed the dynamics of my family,” said Colin.
Andrew Goddard has adopted his son’s cause, speaking out for controls on access to weapons. “I used to say we were a one-issue family,” Anne Goddard said, referring to world poverty. “Now, we are a two-issue family.”