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Donna Varner: MHI, MHEFI.

TITLE: Senior executive administrator at MHI; executive director, MHEFI

LOCATION: Charlotte, North Carolina

EXPERIENCE: 30 plus years in sales and marketing, including 12 years at MHI

DUTIES: Serve as the executive administrator, supporting the CEO and COO

Modern: Let's start with the simple question: What does MHEFI stand for and what does the foundation do?

Varner: MHEFI stands for the Material Handling Education Foundation Inc. It is a 501C3 charitable organization with the mission to engage and attract students to the materials handling and supply chain industries by providing financial support.

Modern: How did the foundation get started?

Varner: MHEFI was established in 1976 by the MHI Board of Directors. We received a $3,000 seed donation by Harnischfeger Corp. and Henry Harnischfeger, which was matched by MHI members. With that start, MHEFI awarded the first two scholarships for the 1976-1977 academic term. Since then, MHEFI has supported more than 1,000 students and educators seeking pathways to quality educational programs and fulfilling careers.

Modern: How is the foundation funded?

Varner: MHEFI receives its funding through contributions from MHI and MHEDA members, MHI Industry Groups, named funds and endowments, and other general donations.

Modern: MHEFI is going through some changes. Can you talk a little about what will be new for 2020?

Varner: In addition to the traditional scholarship program, the foundation will now offer scholarship opportunities to participating industry association member company employees and family members as well as employees and family members of participating industry associations.

Students must be pursuing a career in the materials handling and/or supply chain industries, which could include university programs and technical training, such as welding. With the workforce challenges many of our members are encountering, the foundation hopes it can provide value and further educate or reeducate employees to fill the needs of their individual businesses with this new initiative.

Modern: How do I, or someone at my company, get information about applying for a scholarship?

Varner: They should go to MHEFI. and select the MHEFI Scholarship Member Companies and Participating Industry Associations program. Students will need to be nominated first by a direct supervisor or senior company official at the member company or association on the Website. Eligibility and instructions are on the website as well. We will accept applications until Jan. 15, 2020, and scholarships will be awarded by April 30, 2020.

Modern: Last question. This is the time of year when many individuals contribute to non-profits and charitable organizations. How can I contribute to MHEFI?

Varner: The foundation accepts contributions by check or credit card. Checks can be mailed to MHEFI, 8720 Red Oak Blvd., Suite 201, Charlotte, NC 28217. Credit card donations can be made at MHEFI is a charitable organization, so contributions may be tax deductible. Donors should consult a tax professional with questions. And, 90% of contributions go to the foundation programs to engage and attract students to our industry.

MHI members also earn Loyalty Points for their donations to the foundation starting at a minimum of $500. For more information about MHEFI or to get involved in supporting students, visit the Website or you can contact me at
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Title Annotation:MODERN 60 Seconds with...
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Geographic Code:1U5NC
Date:Dec 1, 2019
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