Lutheran World Relief’s Light Street headquarters. Image via Google Street View.
Lutheran World Relief’s Light Street headquarters. Image via Google Street View.

Lutheran World Relief, the 74-year-old humanitarian organization based in the Inner Harbor, has merged with IMA World Health in D.C. in an effort to expand their international footprint and combine their poverty-fighting resources.

The merger happened the first of the year, the NGOs announced today. According to this press release, both will be retaining their decades-old names while combining under one larger umbrella organization with a single CEO and board of directors. They’ll now have 550 staffers combined in 21 countries.

Lutheran World Relief spokesman John Rivera said in an email today that both organizations’ offices will stay open and house members of their leadership team. A smaller office in St. Paul, Minnesota, will also remain. Lutheran World Relief is based on Light Street, across from the Maryland Science Center, while IMA World Health is located on M Street in downtown D.C.

Daniel V. Speckhard, a former U.S. ambassador to Greece and Belarus who’s served as Lutheran World Relief’s CEO and president since 2014, is now CEO of both entities. Rick Santos, IMA World Health’s CEO since 2010, will stay on as a senior advisor during the transition.

Since 1945, the faith-based NGO has fought poverty abroad, primarily in Asian, African and Latin American countries, and particularly after natural disasters. It’s known in part for its Quilts and Kits program that sends millions of dollars worth of hygiene items, school supplies, baby care goods, sewing kits and more to those in need.

IMA World Health has focused its energies similarly since 1960, distributing more than $75 million in medical supplies and other aid to dozens of countries. With the merger, the organizations hope to expand their programs and international reach. A couple examples of collaboration they’ve already fielded include improving water and sanitation to fight cholera in Haiti, and halting the spread of Ebola along the Uganda-Congo border.

They’ll also have a much larger funding base, Santos and Speckhard noted in a joint letter.

“Our complementary fields of work minister to the whole person, leading not only to exponentially more impact, but also results that will endure,” they wrote. “In short, as one organization, we can reduce poverty at the same time as improving communities’ health.”

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...