David Graben, President and COO of Soles4Souls, Dies at 49

David Graben, president and COO of Soles4Souls, died on May 6 following a long battle with cancer. He was 49.

During his 14-year tenure at the organization, Graben was a driving force behind its global expansion, developing opportunities in Canada, Asia and Europe, and managing its micro-enterprise operations around the world. He also saw the distribution of 40 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries.

“This is a tremendous loss for David’s family, friends and Soles4Souls,” said Buddy Teaster, CEO of the nonprofit. “It is also a tremendous loss for all those David served, loved and respected around the world. Whether working with a corporate partner, a traveler, a shoe donor, an entrepreneur or a colleague, he brought his full game, every time. He had an amazing capacity for hard work and results, fun and building relationships, always in service of our mission. His belief in entrepreneurship as the best way to end poverty has been fundamental to Soles4Souls’ progress in the last decade. We could not have done it without his leadership.”

Earlier in his career, Graben — who previously worked as a GM for Stamford, Conn.-based food and beverage firm Centerplate — welcomed the opportunity to join the nonprofit sector.

“I want to thank Soles4Souls for the challenge and opportunity to work for such a great cause,” Graben said in a LinkedIn post about accepting the role at Soles4Souls. “I am excited to use my experience to help impact millions of lives through such a simple gift. From the story of how the company started to the vision of its future, I feel lucky to be a part of this team.”

Noted Tauna Dean, senior director global social impact for Adidas, “David Graben was truly one of a kind, not only in his personal character and zest for life, but also as the most committed and passionate non-profit partner I’ve ever had the honor to work with. I hope (and trust) David knew the depth of our respect for him and his relentless fight against global poverty.  While his life has ended far too early, our dedication to his incredible legacy and the efforts of Soles4Souls certainly will not.”

Graben is survived by his wife, Pattie Graben, VP of corporate development at Soles4Souls; daughters Megan and Morgan, and grandson Jayden.

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