Living Globally, Giving Locally
Tara Loyd and James Keck make a positive difference everywhere they go, and they’ve been a lot of places. Though both call Lexington home, their work in health care has taken them around the world, from the Arctic Circle to the Equator.
After college, Tara served in the Peace Corp in Lesotho, in Southern Africa, during the middle of an AIDS pandemic, then stayed another few years volunteering there. James has also worked on the front lines of public health, investigating disease outbreaks among the Inuit with the CDC in Alaska and as a World Health Organization consultant in Ecuador.
The two met at Johns Hopkins University when Tara was getting her Master’s in public health and James was doing his residency in general preventive medicine.
Today, James is a physician specializing in family and community medicine at the University of Kentucky, and Tara is executive director of PIVOT, a global health organization dedicated to breaking cycles of poverty and disease in Madagascar, one of the world’s least developed countries.
Tara and James have two children—Zeke, 7, and Zoe, 2. Since the birth of Zoe, Tara has worked remotely from Lexington, but the family spends summers in Madagascar’s Ifanadiana District, where Tara and James work to improve health and health care systems while providing their kids, as Tara explained, “some perspective on their privilege and a chance to run free alongside Malagasy kids.”
“Life is extremely difficult in Madagascar,” said Tara. “Patients frequently walk over five miles to get medical care at the clinic. And yet,” she continued, “you don’t see homeless people in rural Madagascar. If someone has no place to sleep, they are invited in by family and neighbors—even if all they have to offer is a mud hut with a leaky roof.”
When it comes to philanthropy, Tara and James believe it’s important to show the same kind of generosity to their local community in Lexington.
“In part because [James and I] have a global focus professionally, we have directed a lot of our giving to local causes as a way to have a stake in the ground here, too,” said Tara. “It’s a flip on the ‘think globally, act locally’ mantra.”
Knowing firsthand how precious food security is in Madagascar, Tara makes it a point to support sustainable food programs at home, like Seedleaf and GleanKY. Other causes include the built environment, homelessness, and the well-being of children and families in need.
“Many of the organizations we support in Lexington are run by friends and acquaintances, and we feel really grateful for their work to make our community a place we’re proud to live,” said Tara.
Several of those friends recommended Tara and James contact Lisa Adkins at the Community Foundation to make the most of their charitable giving. In 2017, after meeting with Lisa and talking with friends who had already established funds of their own, Tara and James opened The Z Team Fund (in honor of Zeke and Zoe).
Since then, The Z Fund has made dozens of grants to improve the quality of life in Lexington.