by Al Larsen I’m going to save the world. Well, no. I have more self-awareness and humility than to think that. But, as a newer member of the GSGC board or directors, I do have good intentions, relevant skills and understand some of the challenges
Peter has lived and worked in Africa off-and-on since he was three years old. As a Peace Corps volunteer, he helped build schools and mud homes. As a professional water engineer, he’s assisted rural communities develop water and sanitation programs and worked on multi-million dollar projects across Africa.
“I’ve always felt the need to help others who, through no fault of their own, ended up in poverty and with lack of access to basic things such as water, education and health care,” offers Peter. “I love Africa; it’s where I ‘connect’, despite the hardships .”
“Priscilla’s and my many years in the field have transformed us into informed donors,” he continues. “Along with our integrity and reputations, we bring local knowledge to our service here.”
Heidi makes her home in Vancouver, WA, where she has chaired or served on many non-profit boards over the last 20 years. Heidi owns Johnson Bixby & Associates, LLC, a financial planning firm, and has been in the profession since 1991. She holds the Certified Financial Planner designation and has a B.A. from Marylhurst University.
Heidi has enjoyed six trips to Africa over the last 18 years, visiting Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Although my donations to charitable causes here in the U.S. make a difference, my contributions to the programs GSGC supports are clearly more impactful to the lives of the girls and their communities,” Heidi offers. “The impact of one person receiving an education, or simply being made aware of career options, can change many lives.”
Paige lives in Portland, Oregon. From the beginning, Paige has served as our Early Childhood Outreach coordinator and has hosted fundraisers in the U.S. She also writes and produces the GSGC newsletter.
With a teaching degree from the U. of Washington, this retired early childhood educator visits Africa to advise and volunteer with our partners. She meets with preschoolers and teachers, introducing educational materials made by students in the U.S.
“GSGC offers a wonderful opportunity to learn about Africa,” says Paige. “I believe early childhood education is critical, here in the U.S. and in every country. In Sub-Saharan Africa, GSGC supplies the fundamentals that allow our African partners to bring about change and opportunity.”
Linda has served on a number of boards in Denver, CO, including a stint as president of Denver Sister Cities. She won a Human Services Award at the national level for her work at Volunteers of America. Linda has a B.S in education and master’s degree in management.
Linda claims to have first gone to Egypt “when the pyramids were being built,” and most recently in 2011. She’s toured water projects in Mozambique and Ethiopia and, after joining GSGC, visited some of our partner organizations in the Sub-Saharan region.
“I’ve seen children in schools in Africa under dire circumstances: maybe 70 children in a class with no overhead light, sharing a tattered book and a desk with three others. The teachers lacked materials and may have had minimal training,” states Linda.
“I’ve also seen young children playing alone outside because they don’t have access to education , and feel an overwhelming desire to offer them a hand up.”
After receiving her Bachelor of Arts at Portland State University, Megan spent 15 years as a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. She is currently co-owner of Color Visions, LLC.
“Africa has held a spot in my heart since I was a child and my family hosted two young men from Ghana. What beautiful brothers!” says Megan. “After joining the GSGC in 2008, and traveling to Africa to visit several of our partners, I was hooked.”
Al Larsen is an accomplished lawyer who lives in Arlington, VA. Al has a BS/ BA in business administration from Bucknell University and a JD from Lewis and Clark Law School where he was a member of the Cornelius Honor Society and received the O’Rourke Natural Resources Award. Throughout his career, he has worked on issues related to energy, environment, ethics, and regulatory compliance. He has been recognized by the Council of Inspectors General Award for Law and Legislation, and received the Intelligence Community Inspector General Leadership Award as well as the Department of Justice Award.
In addition to his legal career, Al is a former board member of Low Income Families Emergency Center in Portland Oregon, served on the annual Green Expo steering committee for Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, was a founding member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and a Potomac Conservancy docent for C&O Canal.
Al first traveled to Africa as a US Delegate to the International Intelligence Oversight Agencies biennial conference in 2006 where he was privileged to meet members of all of the branches of the South African government. “When I returned several years later on a pleasure trip, I was struck by the way the locals were able to earn a living from the land without having to mine or deforest it,” Al remembers. “My wife, who is a preschool teacher, related to many of the children’s unmet needs. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and the GSGC gives us a direct way to make a difference.”
Lute Maekaeka Kazembe of Livingstone, Zambia, has worked for almost 20 years in international development with organizations such as USAID, DFID and the United Nations. Her experience has encompassed rural-based programs with youth, and girls in particular. She joined the board in 2014 after participating in the Believe Summit.
A fellow from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, Lute is also certified in project management, financial management, monitoring and evaluation, policy development, epidemiology and health communications.
“I am proud of my traditions, culture and history, but it breaks my heart that these are often used as an excuse to subjugate women. However, culture is dynamic and must be applied in the context of the modern world,” said Lute. “I enjoy working with communities because we can find practical resolutions to issues by working together and respecting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. “