Mercy Relief appoints Zhang Tingjun as executive director, first woman to head NGO in its history

Former national netballer Zhang Tingjun is the first woman to head Mercy Relief in its 12-year history.
Former national netballer Zhang Tingjun is the first woman to head Mercy Relief in its 12-year history.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Humanitarian aid group Mercy Relief has appointed former national netball player Zhang Tingjun as its executive director, the first woman to head the non-governmental organisation (NGO) in its 12-year history.

Ms Zhang, 33, was the co-founder of social enterprise The Chain Reaction Project and previously served as its director.

Mercy Relief has been engaged in disaster relief for the Nepal earthquake and Myanmar floods in the last six months. Its team has spent more than 180 man-days on the ground.

Said Ms Zhang: "My aim is to build on the positive momentum realised by the team in recent times."

This includes strengthening the organisation's responsiveness in providing aid during disasters and improving its assistance towards vulnerable communities, she added.

Over the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has also disbursed more than $32 million across 93 initiatives. It focuses on human tragedies in Asia and has consistently delivered emergency aid within 72 hours from receiving an appeal for assistance.

The group's recent leadership changes include the appointment of three new board directors as well.

Mr Suhaimi Rafdi, director of Tampines Town Hub at the People's Association, will be Mercy Relief's new deputy chairman. He is also the honorary treasurer at the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association.

Joining him are hotelier Loh Lik Peng, who is also chairman of the Singapore Philatelic Museum, and former Nominated Member of Parliament Nicholas Fang.

Mercy Relief has been undergoing a period of internal change in the past two years, according to chairman Michael Tay. These changes include developing its management bench strength and completing its rebranding campaign.

"It has been a particularly challenging time, but ultimately rewarding period for the organisation," said Mr Tay.

He added: "We now look ahead and introduce our next generation of leaders, relying on them to contribute their insights and experience towards our mission of supporting survivors, empowering lives and making Mercy Relief a leading humanitarian NGO in this region."

byseow@sph.com.sg