Cheryl Wilson Griffin, COO of Lupl, Top 10 Admired Leaders of 2022

Don Stephens
Mercy Ships

Cheryl Wilson Griffin, COO of Lupl

“Providing Hope and Healing”

Five billion people around the world are unable to have safe surgery. Every day, thousands of children, adolescents, and adults suffer and die from preventable diseases. One out of every eight children will die before the age of five. Don Stephens, the founder of "Mercy Ships," sees Mercy Ships as a way to mobilize people and resources around the world to help the forgotten poor. Mercy Ships was founded over 40 years ago with the purchase of the first hospital ship on July 7, 1978. All patients are treated without charge, regardless of their religion, color, or gender by the organization. We follow Jesus' example of delivering hope and healing, which dates back more than two millennia, adds Don.

Don is a visionary leader who manages others by giving clear instructions, demanding and expecting measurable results, and have compassion for the poor, especially in Africa, where the bottom billion of the world's 8 billion people have a lot fewer options than people in the West.

Don is pleased to share that Mercy Ships assisted His Excellency President Macky Sall of Senegal in enabling the signing of the DAKAR DECLARATION on June 1, 2022, in Senegal by the Ministers of Health of 29 African nations. This sets a standard for measuring the health care systems in each of the African countries that signed the agreement. Don asserts that hubris and hyperbole have the potential to undermine all prospective leaders.

“Mercy Ships puts faith in action — bringing hope and healing. Their floating hospital restores people’s dignity with free surgery and life-changing medical treatment. I fully support and commend the work of Mercy Ships.”

- by Max Lucado

Pat Gelsinger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Intel, and VMware, which is now a part of Dell, have done a lot to make sure that our two world-class hospital ships, AFRICA MERCY and GLOBAL MERCY, have the most up-to-date hardware and software for their systems.

According to Don, the business strategy of Mercy Ships is unique that utilizes professional volunteers who directly pay for travel, housing, and board as well as crew expenses onboard our hospital ships. It is a lengthy "build-out" and "scale-up" process, but it is vital to our organization's ethos, which currently includes volunteers from approximately 100 nationalities. Mercy Ships has licensing agreements with charitable organizations in fourteen different countries. These "satellite" offices serve their respective nations in the areas of human and financial resources. The headquarters office is responsible for all operational and program-based tasks aboard our two hospital ships, which are registered in Malta and surveyed by Lloyd's Registry, says Don. The Mercy Ships Global Association is based in Switzerland and works to organize, communicate, and work together on all country branding and service projects.

Don explains that Mercy Ships Ops Corp manages, maintains, and supplies our hospital ships with staff. We are effectively a "shipping company" with hospitals onboard, managed by professional volunteers and backed by tens of thousands of market-level donors ($25-$50) for our Hope and Healing collaborations in Africa. Our business model is to remain in port for as long as is required [at the invitation and in partnership with African Heads of State], which enables not only surgery for those with the least access, but also the training of local African health care providers for the purpose of building national capacity. Free surgeries are done on the impoverished by some of the world's finest surgeons.

Don explains that since its founding in 1978; Mercy Ships has served more than 2.86 million people. A total of $1.77 billion worth of services and materials have been provided by Mercy Ships in developing countries, including the repair of more than 108,000 cleft-lip and palates, cataracts, orthopedic, facial reconstructions, and the release of burn contractures, as well as the repair of pediatric, general, and obstetric fistulas. In addition, 6,680 local experts (including surgeons) have been taught, and they in turn have trained a large number of others. Mercy Ships has done over 521,000 dental procedures on more than 197,000 patients. More than 50,300 local professionals have received specialized training from Mercy Ships (anesthesiology, surgery, nursing, biomedical, sterilization, trauma, leadership). Significantly, 268,000 people in the region were trained in the basics of healthcare, and over 1,115 infrastructure projects were completed.

For Don, humility and truth are held in high value in the culture created by Mercy Ships. Our ships are the finest means of getting state-of-the-art medical care to the half of the world's population that lives near the coast, says Don. IE


Mercy Ships


Don Stephens
Mercy Ships


Our mission to provide hope to those in need began in 1978. Each year we send hospital ships filled with volunteer professionals who selflessly provide life-changing surgeries.

Admired Leaders Magazine