Media Contact: Jeremy Jacobs [email protected] (858) 531-3362 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 4, 2022 — ShelterBox USA, a global disaster relief organization, announced today that an international development expert with more than 40 years of experience evaluating federal and United Nations programs has joined its board of directors.

Richard Columbia brings extensive experience with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Population Fund, and non-profit organizations and universities around the world.

Since its founding in 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter and other living essentials to more than 2 million people around the world in disaster areas and conflict zones. It has responded to more than 300 disasters and deployed to 100 countries.

“Richard has a long and distinguished record of leading humanitarian assistance programs in developing countries and improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable people in many of the places ShelterBox is actively working,” said ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray. “As we scale our emergency shelter programs at ShelterBox to better serve the growing needs related to global displacement, Richard brings deep technical, managerial, and operational skills to enable our organization to better achieve its humanitarian objectives.”

Dr. Columbia, who lives in Kinnelon, N.J., is an expert on Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning Initiatives, or MERL, a key process used by USAID and the United Nations ensure accountability to results and improve programs and develop new processes.

I have come to realize the essentialness of providing families shelter…understanding how important it is to stabilize the situation giving people security, the beginning of normalcy, a sense of hope.”

An anthropologist by training, Dr. Columbia said the importance of shelter became apparent on one of his first assignments to Nepal in 1981. There, he conducted a humanitarian needs assessment in a community of internally displace people due to a flood earlier in the year.

“It was devastating,” Dr. Columbia said. “Shelter was one of the very first things people needed for protection from the elements, personal and family security, and to restore dignity and a sense of normalcy and hope.”

Dr. Columbia has worked in over 65 countries during his career, working on poverty reduction, global health, education, agriculture, anti-trafficking in people, combatting gender-based violence and child marriage, and cross-cutting issues such as humanitarian crisis, social inclusion, women and youth. He’s held leadership position of programs funded by USAID, the United Nations, Non-Governmental Organizations, foundations, private companies and universities.

Currently, Dr. Columbia is senior vice president of MERL at P3 for Humanity, a startup based in Falls Church, Va., that specializes in humanitarian program design, assessment and impact evaluation.

Dr. Columbia said he was attracted to ShelterBox because of its reputation in the field of humanitarian crisis, its leadership and the direct impact it provides to vulnerable populations stricken by disaster and conflict.

“I have come to realize the essentialness of providing families shelter – especially women and children,” Dr. Columbia said, “understanding how important it is to stabilize the situation giving people security, the beginning of normalcy, a sense of hope, and place to care for children, the elderly, and sick or injured. It gets people out of helpless and dangerous situations into an environment where they can better protect family, receive humanitarian support in a safe organized setting, take stock of their situation and even begin thinking about and planning for what comes next.”

Dr. Columbia earned his master’s degree and PhD. from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Richard and Kerri are available for interviews. Email [email protected] to arrange one. 

Dr. Richard Columbia


ShelterBox USA has added two Santa Barbara locals, John Glanville and Jeremy Jacobs, to its board of directors and staff.

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