Holt International
Holt International-About Us

Leaders Trusted to Keep the Holt Promise
Profiles of Holt International's US Leadership

Holt's approach is unique - it's centered on the child.
Holt is much more than an adoption agency. We also develop and maintain programs overseas to give orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children safe and nurturing environments in which to develop.
Holt's Vision
A world where every child has a loving and secure home.

While children are waiting for permanent families, we place them with foster families where they will enjoy an attentive, family-like environment. The quality care helps children develop, and it helps them to better prepare to bond with their adoptive parents. In situations where we must use institutional care, we use a high ratio of childcare workers to children along with attentive childcare methods that ensure children receive physical and verbal affection and stimulation. We consider each child's situation individually to find the best long-term solution for that child. Because we also investigate the possibilities of preserving the birth family or domestic adoption, you can be assured that international adoption was the best solution for your child.

With our staff at work on both sides of the ocean, the rights and lives of all involved in the adoption are safeguarded - the child, the birth parents and the adoptive parents. Our ultimate goal is always to see the child safely, happily and permanently in the right loving home.

Holt's Management Team:

Holt International Appoints New President and CEO

Phil Littleton
Phillip Littleton
President & CEO

The Holt International Children's Services Board of Directors elected Phillip A. Littleton as President and Chief Executive Officer on April 28, 2012. Since 2008, Phil has served as Senior Vice President. In this position, Phil provided guidance and leadership for all aspects of the organization, while directly overseeing Holt's marketing, communication and development efforts. In the last few years, under Phil's leadership, Holt has successfully expanded its scope of services overseas, particularly in China and Africa.

Phil joined Holt in 2003 as the Vice President of Marketing and Development. In the ten years before he joined Holt's leadership staff, Phil worked for what is now the world's largest marketing and communications agency exclusively serving nonprofit organizations – the Russ Reid Company in Southern California. As the manager for the agency's largest single account – Christian relief organization World Vision U.S. – Phil crafted messaging and media strategies that created record growth in donations, ultimately expanding the organization's capacity to serve people in need. During his tenure as Vice President-Group Director at Russ Reid, Phil also led the charge for the most successful launch in the history of Time Life Music and directed efforts that quadrupled membership in Columbia House's Christian Music division. As Phil says, he helped organizations grow.

In 2003, Phil moved from California to Oregon to devote his time to helping just one organization grow. As Holt International's new Vice President of Marketing and Development, Phil began developing strategies to expand Holt's donor base, particularly through one already existing program – child sponsorship. Following a model that also proved successful for World Vision, Phil created a team to develop partnerships with 25 different performing artists and speakers – all dedicated to sharing Holt's mission and promoting child sponsorship. Over seven years, Holt's donor revenue from all marketing efforts grew by four times, enabling significant expansion of services for children and families in Holt's programs overseas.

While devising strategies to grow Holt's international programs, Phil also led a redesign of the way Holt recruits and educates adoptive families. Moving from print to web-based promotion, over five years these efforts helped double the share of adoptive families Holt now finds for children.

A father of three, Phil adopted his two sons domestically at birth. After fostering several children in their home, he and his wife recently adopted their youngest – a daughter – from the local foster care system.

Susan Cox
Susan Soonkeum Cox
Vice President of Policy and Advocacy

Susan Soonkeum Cox is the Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs for Holt International Children's Services. She has worked with international adoption and child welfare issues for more than twenty five years. Adopted from Korea in 1956, her life experience as an early international adoptee gives her a unique and personal perspective. Susan is a frequent presenter and trainer and has testified before Congress on issues related to adoption, child welfare and foreign affairs. She is a member of the Hague Special Commission on Intercountry Adoption.

Dan Lauer
Dan Lauer
Vice President of Africa and Haiti
Dan Lauer began working for Holt in 1986 as the organization’s Latin America Representative.  Based in Costa Rica for four years, he developed and supervised Holt intercountry adoption and child welfare programs in Central and South America.  In 1990, Dan moved to Holt’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon to serve as the home-based Latin America Representative as well as supervise Holt programming in Cambodia and Romania. During this time of critical need, in which thousands of children were found languishing in Romania’s institutions, Dan directed Holt’s USAID-funded child welfare programs, leading to eventual deinstitutionalization of children in Romania’s orphanages over the next 12 years.  As Program Director and later Associate Department Director and Senior Executive, Dan has played a vital role in introducing innovative child and family services throughout Eastern Europe, Latin America and most recently, East Africa.

As Vice President of Africa and Haiti, Dan oversees these country programs and continues to explore new opportunities to serve children and families in need.  He particularly enjoys mentoring Holt’s overseas staff, empowering them with the skills they need to be effective in child welfare.  Dan holds a Master of Science degree in International Development, Community and Regional Planning from the University of Missouri.  A father of three, he adopted his first son from Honduras over 25 years ago, before joining Holt.  Honduras is also where Dan began his career in community development in the early 1980s, as a volunteer in the Peace Corps.

Kevin Sweeney
Kevin Sweeney
Vice President of Finance

Kevin Sweeney joined Holt International as a staff accountant in 1979.  He quickly advanced to become Holt’s chief financial officer– a position he has held under several different titles since 1981.  In this role, Kevin provides oversight of the organization’s budget, ensuring continuity of services for children and families in Holt’s programs overseas.  For more than 20 years, he has provided leadership and guidance to Holt’s finance, human resources and information services staff.  As Vice President of Finance and Administration, he continually works to safeguard Holt’s resources and achieve organizational goals.  Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Oregon.  A father himself, Kevin says he finds it exciting to work for an organization that has such a positive impact on the lives of children and families every day.

Lisa Vertulfo
Lisa Vertulfo
Vice President of Adoption Services

Informally, Lisa Vertulfo began her Holt career while still in college, as a summer volunteer at Holt’s Ilsan Center in Korea.  She formally joined the organization in 1990, as the director of a special project to promote the adoption of children with special needs in Thailand.  In 1991, she moved to Ecuador to oversee development of an international adoption program and, a year later, relocated to Holt’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. As Program Manager for Thailand and Vietnam from 1992-1994, and later India and the Philippines, Lisa managed multiple child welfare programs while also coordinating adoption services with partners overseas.  In 2000, Lisa began to pursue a master’s degree in social work, and subsequently shifted focus from international program administration to adoption services.
After holding several director positions in social services, Lisa became Vice President of Adoption Services in 2008.  As VP, Lisa provides guidance and leadership for every step of the adoption process – from family intake to post-adoption – and continually seeks creative ways to develop Holt’s services to children and families. She’s proud of her team’s success in placing children with special needs and enjoys the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of people, in the U.S. and abroad.  Lisa holds a Master of Social Work degree from Portland State University.  A mother of two, Lisa has two adopted siblings – a brother and sister from Korea – and a niece also adopted from Korea.

Lisa Vertulfo

David Lim
Vice President—Asia Programs

David Lim began his career in 1969 as a social worker with Holt Children’s Services of Korea.  As Director of Social Services, he created several innovative programs that have continued to flourish throughout the years, including counseling services for single mothers.  In 1972, David came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in social work.  After six years of working for The City of Chicago and the United Christian Community Services in Chicago, he accepted a position as Holt’s Field Director for South India where, from 1982 to 1983, he coordinated with orphanages to place India’s orphaned and abandoned children in loving homes.  Upon return to the U.S., David was tasked with opening Holt’s Kentucky Branch Office and, in 1989, he became the director of Holt’s Southern California office. 

After resigning in 1993, he returned two years later as Director of International Programs for Northeast Asia. While in this position, he started to build a close working relationship with overseas governments in Northeast Asia, advocating for both international and domestic adoption programs to find homes for homeless children. He also established Holt's Mongolia program and North Korea orphan projects to improve child and family welfare programs in the region. David continues to oversee Holt's programs in South Korea, Mongolia and India and works with overseas governments to advocate for adoption programs and services for orphaned children. His work with North Korea orphan projects continues. David holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree. He is also father to two children, including a daughter adopted from Korea in 1985.

Lisa Vertulfo
Jian Chen
Vice President—China Program

A native of China, Jian Chen came to the U.S. in 1986 on a scholarship from the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. In 1993, she joined Holt's staff in Eugene, Oregon as an assistant for the China program. Since joining the China team, Jian has played a crucial role in expanding services to children and families throughout the country. As Project Director in 1996, she built and maintained critical collaborative relationships with Chinese officials, and created and trained a highly dependable in-country staff. Through these efforts, Jian has helped grow the China program to one of Holt's largest, serving thousands through child welfare programs and placing hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children in loving homes every year.  Today, Jian continues to seek new and innovative ways to serve more children and families in China.

Jian endured considerable hardship growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China.  The harsh treatment she experienced as a child set the tone for the rest of her life, she says, moving her to a career in service of those in need.  In recognition of her service to China’s orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, Jian received an Angels in Adoption award in 2005.  She holds a Master of Arts degree in Applied Anthropology from Oregon State University.  Jian has two children, a son and a daughter both born in the United States.

Thoa Bui
Thoa Bui
Senior Executive, Southeast Asia Program

Thoa Bui began working for the Holt-Vietnam office in 1998 as a social worker, focusing on child assessment and permanency planning for orphaned children, including family reunification and preservation, and domestic and international adoption. In 2004, Thoa was awarded a Fulbright scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to pursue a Master's degree of social work in the United States. Four years later, Thoa began work at the Holt International headquarters in Eugene, Oregon as director of adoption services for Holt's Vietnam program. Over the years, Thoa has also managed Holt's Nepal, Mongolia and Thailand programs. In these roles, she oversaw the international adoption process, supported families in obtaining U.S. immigration approvals, provided country and cultural orientation for families prior to travel, and assisted families and children with adjustment difficulties.

As a Vietnam native, Thoa has a unique perspective and understanding about the country's culture and society. In her various positions at Holt, Thoa has frequently traveled back to Vietnam, working with government agencies and Holt partners.

Thoa currently holds the position of Holt senior executive for Southeast Asia. In this role, she implements vision and strategic priorities that ensure growth in programs and services for orphaned and abandoned children, provides leadership and strategic oversight of regional programs and operations, and represents Holt with government officials and overseas alliances, advocating for country laws and policies that provide stability and opportunity for vulnerable children.

Jack Wharfield
Jack Wharfield
Vice President of Development

Jack Wharfield began working at Holt in 2000. Prior to Holt, he had more than 25 years of marketing and management experience for several non-profit and for profit organizations.

His first responsibility at Holt was to direct and grow the child sponsorship program, paving the way for hundreds of children in Holt's care to benefit from monthly donations of generous sponsors.

In 2004, Jack became Holt's director of marketing and development, responsible for daily operations and administration of Holt's development activities.

Today, as vice president of development, Jack serves as a senior member of Holt's leadership team and is responsible for the planning, design, organization and implementation of strategy for all fundraising activities, including Holt's Gifts of Hope catalog, a year-round catalog that provides donors an opportunity to give much-needed gifts and services to children and families in our overseas programs. Jack's direct responsibilities include managing Holt's fundraising, organizing long-term planning strategies and managing development staff.

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