From a young age, Rev. Dr. Todd Collier learned to build bridges to help those in need. His desire to serve led him in many directions, from joining the military, starting the medical mission Faith In Practice and eventually becoming director of the Center for Interfaith Initiatives and Inquiry at the Memnosyne Institute, a Dallas-based nonprofit on a mission to help communities thrive in an increasingly interdependent and connected world.
From Serving His Country to Aiding God
Raised in Oklahoma City, Collier comes from a family that is no stranger to bravery and commitment to service. For his great-grandparents, that meant braving the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 to establish a place for their family. For his father, it meant serving his country during WW II and the Korean War.
At only 14 years old, Collier was also introduced to military service when he joined the New Mexico Military Institute, which allowed him to grow his character and discover his leadership capabilities. He candidly looks back at that period as a very formative time in which his talent to build bridges emerged when he learned on a foundational level to develop coalitions between the ranks.
After leaving the military, Collier began his life as a civilian. In that same period, he also started to find his Christian faith. A conversion experience in 1979 was the unexpected spark that lit the fuse, eventually leading him to study theology and graduate with a master’s at Princeton Seminary and a doctorate at Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta.
Collier’s First Rodeo–Guatemala and the Start of Faith In Practice
Another formative moment in Collier’s life came when, in the early 90s, he started to volunteer in Antigua, Guatemala. He fell in love with Guatemala but also learned about the many hardships its people experienced. His subsequent desire and efforts to help the Guatemalan people resulted in him founding the Faith In Practice medical mission in Houston, Texas.
Around that time, Collier was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, which helped him take Faith In Practice to churches where he served, expanding its reach and growing it into an organization that now helps 30,000 Guatemalan patients annually.
Joining the Memnosyne Institute and Launching FoodSource DFW
After leaving Faith In Practice, Collier joined the Memnosyne Institute. There, he launched the food rescue program FoodSource DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) after discovering a significant gap in how aid products were collected and transported to organizations capable of handling large volumes.
As the driving force behind the organization’s initial delivery operation, Collier attached a U-Haul behind his Honda Pilot and personally brought food to those in need. Eventually, 18-wheelers replaced Collier’s U-Haul when large organizations partnered with FoodSource DFW.
Since its launch, FoodSourceDFW.org has transported 25 million pounds of food and beverages, helping people during disasters, including, most recently, those affected by the chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio.
Providing Care and Support as a Father
In 2019, Collier had to shift focus to help his youngest son, Rowan, who was born with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease. That condition eventually led Rowan to receive a liver transplant at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He pulled through but needed aftercare due to post-op complications. During that period, Collier was always at his side while at the same time never losing sight of others in need.
Due to UPMC Children’s support system built around liver disease patients, Collier could free up time to work together with World Emergency Relief and PepsiCo Atlanta, to transport truckloads of Gatorade to Hurricane Dorian disaster-struck areas, which was a project that helped FoodSource DFW expand its operations nationally.
More Food Aid and Establishing a Center of Excellence for Liver Care
With Rowan, now a lively 4-year-old, receiving follow-up care from children’s hospitals in Dallas and Plano, Collier continues his work for the Mysonene Institute, which is expanding its food-sharing operation with the help of its new partner, the Akshaya Patra Foundation.
Besides delivering more aid, Collier is helping Dr. Jorge A. Bezerra, M.D., the current pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, to establish a center of excellence in Dallas for liver care. It is a meaningful cause for Collier because his son’s illness made him realize how confined people are to their geographic location when their children need help with biliary atresia. Because of that experience, he encourages parents to seek help elsewhere if their children cannot receive good quality professional care locally.