Just as Chicago is known for the Chicago Board of Trade, great food and professional sports, Oakbrook, Ill., is known as an affluent suburb just east of the Windy City. Home to McDonald’s Corp., it has also served as headquarters of Lions Clubs International since 1971.
In a sprawling building reflective of an organization with a global vision, University of Arkansas at Little Rock alumnus Scott Drumheller wears his business suit with ease while leading hundreds of paid staffers and support volunteers around the world.
Earlier this year, Drumheller was appointed executive administrator of Lions Clubs International, where he oversees operations for both the association and Lions Clubs International Foundation, the charitable arm of LCI.
And, with 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members worldwide, Drumheller is eager to share the good news about the work being done by the world’s largest service organization.
It makes sense that Drumheller’s life trajectory has landed him in Oakbrook, since he is a midwesterner by birth. However, Drumheller became easily acclimated to life in small-town Arkansas when he relocated in 1988 to attend Harding.
Following graduation, opportunity came quickly with a job at Arkansas Farm Bureau in Little Rock. His new employer supported his continued educational pursuits, and Drumheller earned his master in business administration from the UALR College of Business in 1994 after two years of evening classes.
Drumheller remembers that attending UALR gave him access to professors who offered their professional experiences, which he was able to put into immediate practice. He said the important business and critical thinking skills he gained at UALR came in handy completing his law degree at DePaul University in 1996.
At age 32, he quickly caught the attention of Lions Clubs International leaders while working for a law firm in Chicago. He was offered a job as general counsel and corporate secretary of the organization.
“We were founded with a mission to perform vision screenings, equip hospitals and clinics, and raise awareness of eye disease,” he said.
“Our reach is expanding everyday, and I rely on the broad base of employment law, business and legal skills. It is a power punch focused on issues.”
Many of the issues stem from providing 153 million treatments for river blindness and 19 million sight screenings for children since Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in 1925.
“We seek to save sight, support youth, provide disaster relief, and meet humanitarian needs on a wide scale,” Drumheller said, looking out the window in his new executive office that accompanies his new role.
Still early in his tenure, the office he occupies is remarkably empty of any personal mementos. The 12-to-18 month transition in which Drumheller was involved has given him and the organization he now leads insight to meet opportunities and challenges ahead.
Headed quickly into a meeting about the Centennial Celebration scheduled for 2017, Drumheller is passionate about preliminary plans to host the 100-year celebration in downtown Chicago.
The theme of the historical anniversary will be “Where There’s a Need There’s a Lion.”
Each year, the annual convention brings 20,000 people to a city large enough to meet the logistical demands of an international organization. This year, the convention is held in Toronto.
“Service will be a key component leading up to the anniversary,” Drumheller said.
Indeed, the “Centennial Service Challenge” was recently launched, which hopes to reach 100 million people by December 2017 through participation in Global Service Action Initiatives.
“I am proud of our ability to get boots on the ground; it has come in handy herem and in the 200 countries we serve. It is very much a country-by-country approach for us,” Drumheller said.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carter Foundation, and pharmaceutical companies who are sympathetic to needs of visually impaired people often provide support to Lions Club International.
“Just like vision is important to us in America, many still die in other countries of measles … which is why we raised $30 million to eradicate the disease with the help of the British Government and Bill and Melinda Gates,” said Drumheller.
The organization provides mobilization, education, and support, according to Drumheller.
The mobilization extends to India, now home to 239,000 Lions Club members, and even the Chinese government supports the international efforts of Lions Club, which has provided funding to rebuild schools following natural disasters in that country. Drumheller said he expected to see see 21,000 Lions in China within the decade.
“Mr. Drumheller is well-prepared to oversee the continued growth of Lions Clubs International,” said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson, in a statement.
“Leading such a well-regarded organization takes energy, intelligence, and integrity, and we are proud UALR played a role in preparing him for such an important task.”
Drumheller encourages UALR students, and alumni to get involved in service.
“I personally feel my reward is helping someone with a need,” he said. “It is an honor to serve other people though the Lions Club International.”
It is safe to say that Scott Drumheller has found his niche.