Angela Garcia: Sharing Surplus and Saving Lives

Each year, hospitals and other medical facilities change vendors or update their protocols. When they do so, they may discard unused medical equipment in the transition. Global Links is a Pittsburgh non-profit that rescues that medical equipment and makes sure it goes to good use in other communities. Angela Garcia, Executive Director of Global Links and BHS alumna, explains, "we process 250–300 TONS of materials every year, thanks in large part to over 4,000 community volunteers who donate over 16,000 hours of service annually. Volunteers at Global Links come from all ages, backgrounds, faiths, professions, and abilities." These donations are processed at Global Links headquarters in Green Tree by diverse volunteers who come together to reduce waste in our community and bring life-saving resources to communities around the world.

Garcia shares, "Global Links is a Pittsburgh-based 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving health in resource-poor communities, locally and globally. Since 1989, Global Links has collaborated with US healthcare institutions and the community to rescue hundreds of tons of usable surplus medical materials every year that would otherwise be sent to landfills. These materials are shared with public-health facilities around the world and safety-net organizations in Western Pennsylvania that are providing care for their community's most vulnerable people."

After graduating from Baldwin High School in 1991, Garcia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Spanish from the College of Wooster. Having studied abroad during college, Garcia knew she wanted to experience more of the world before settling into a career. She explains, "After receiving my Bachelor's, I wanted to spend more time traveling before committing to graduate studies, so I spent a summer working for a tourism bureau in France, then a year volunteering at a senior care facility in Brussels, followed by 4 years in Mexico. I worked with a mobile health clinic in rural Mexico, focusing on literacy, parenting, and primary health care for Mayan women. I also volunteered at a senior care home, a center for homeless children, and a boarding school for girls escaping domestic violence. All of these experiences together had a defining impact on my career goals and upon boomeranging back to Pittsburgh in 2000, I knew I wanted to work in the non-profit sector, focusing on health and international development."

She found a perfect fit in Global Links. Garcia has held numerous roles at Global Links over the last two decades and now serves as the Executive Director. Her role directs the mission and function of the non-profit. Garcia explains, "I oversee all of our organization's programs, finances and fundraising, community and media relations. I also work with our Board of Directors on strategy and planning for the future of the organization. A typical day will find me meeting with various stakeholders—donors, foundation or corporate leaders, or partner agencies—to discuss upcoming projects, potential collaboration, or sharing best practices and brainstorming around current challenges facing our community and sector. I then connect with my staff and stop by to greet our volunteers who turn our hundreds of tons of surplus into life-saving and life-improving donations." Sometimes her duties take her farther afield, as she regularly travels to meet with partners in countries where Global Links works, including Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, or to the World Health Organization headquarters in Washington, D.C. Her experience in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District gave her a solid foundation for the leadership role she now holds. Throughout her education she grew academically and in self-confidence. Garcia recalls, "I can remember distinct interactions with dedicated BWSD faculty from as early as elementary school up through my senior year in high school that always made me feel comfortable trying new things and making my own decisions. I am grateful for the quality of teaching that fostered creative and independent thinking, offered plenty of opportunities for customized learning experience and exploration of new activities."

Garcia lives in Emsworth with her husband and two children.

If you are interested in learning more about Global Links, taking a tour, or volunteering, visit their website: https://www.globallinks.org/