Kendall was five years old when his father returned from Vietnam and divorced his mother. After the divorce, Kendall’s mother moved him and his four siblings to Harlem, NY, to live with his grandparents. Harlem was the epicenter of crime, drugs and gang warfare in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
His mother felt abandoned and alone in one of the most dangerous cities in the country. The strain of raising five children in the crime-ridden ghetto resulted in her frequent illnesses and hospitalizations. Eventually Kendall and his younger brother went to live with their father in Oklahoma. Kendall’s father was a Drill Sergeant in the U.S. Army, who paid child support and alimony, and could only afford a small trailer on the poor side of town. So at a young age, Kendall had lived in the epicenter of crime and drugs in Harlem, NY, and in a trailer park in rural Oklahoma.
Kendall didn’t let that stop him. He is the first and only person in my family to graduate college. He went to a small state school in Oklahoma and paid for it by working full-time delivering pizzas in addition to joining the U.S. Army Reserves. Kendall’s leadership training began at a young age. He commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army at 19-years old. Even though he worked full-time and served in the Army Reserves, he still graduated in four years.
After college, Kendall went on active duty as an officer in the Field Artillery. While on active duty, he held a Top-Secret security clearance with Special Background Investigation because he was responsible for tactical nuclear weapons. Kendall also served a tour in South Korea. As a result of an injury, Kendall decided not to continue his career in the Army and left with an honorable discharge to begin a new career in the private sector.
Marriage hasn’t always been easy for the Qualls’, but it’s always been worth it. Sheila and Kendall met in high school, and have been committed to each other ever since. The Qualls attended college together and got married in 1986 after Sheila graduated. Like any marriage, they’ve worked through challenges and differences and are have been married for over 30 years and have five wonderful children.
For 27 years, Kendall led sales and marketing teams in the healthcare industry with Fortune 100 companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Roche Labs and Medtronic.
For the past 15 years, Kendall worked to transform stagnant or declining business units in the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries by introducing transformative strategies before joining a health-care startup that helps cancer patients tackle their disease.
After running for Congress in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, Kendall continued his mission to ensure every child, regardless of their background has the same opportunity to live out their American Dream story by founding Take Charge Minnesota where he currently serves as their president.
Kendall became a Christian in his late 20s. His faith has guided the important decisions in his life. Kendall will readily admit he has not been perfect by any means, but his faith has been his “true north.” It’s one of the main reasons he is so committed to his family. Kendall’s faith is the driver in his desire to serve in organizations–such as Big Brother / Big Sisters, Colorado UpLift, an organization that serves underprivileged kids in Denver, and Minnesota Teen Challenge—that support broken families and now as President of the non-profit he founded, Take Charge Minnesota.