Board

Board

Karl Smith, President, 2016
Board Member 2014-2016

Dr. Karl SmithKarl Smith has a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Southeastern University. For 35 years, Karl taught mathematics at Santa Rosa Junior college where he served as department chairman. He is the past president of The American Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges and the author of over sixty college-level mathematics textbooks ranging from algebra, trigonometry, to calculus.

In 2006, Karl accompanied Bishop Mullen as a member of a delegation to Rwanda. As a result of that visit, Karl was presented a vision about building a school in Rwanda. Since that visit, the school has become his interest and his passion. In 2009, Karl returned to Rwanda with his wife, daughter, and granddaughter as he led a delegation from his church, Bethlehem Lutheran, to attend the dedication of the Rwamagana Lutheran School. In 2009, Karl returned to Rwanda with his wife, daughter, and granddaughter as he led a delegation from his church, Bethlehem Lutheran, to attend the dedication of the Rwamagana Lutheran School.  He also attended the opening of the school in 2011, as well as the dedication of Sorenson Hall (dorm), Kitao Hall (cafeteria), and Tally Labs (science building) in 2015.

 

Melissa Becker, Vice President, 2016
Board Member 2015-2017

Melissa BeckerMelissa Becker graduated from UCLA in 1990 and then earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University. She has been an educator for over 20 years. She is currently the principal at Meadow Elementary School, where her students have donated more than $2,000 to the Rwanda School Project. Melissa traveled to Rwanda in both 2009 and 2011, when she took nine fellow teachers to participate in a teaching exchange with The Rwanda School Project.

Melissa is actively involved in a powerful women’s charity group called The Fabulous Women’s Foundation. She lives with her husband Ben and her two children in Petaluma, California where they enjoy traveling, reading, playing together, the Giants, and working out.

 

Joy Petty, Treasurer, 2016
Board Member 2015-2017

Joy PettyJoy Petty has been a member of the board since 2008 as former President and current Treasurer and has traveled to Rwanda twice, once in 2009 with nine members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and again in 2014 as a leader of the Girls Faith Encounter in which we brought eight high school girls from the United States to Rwanda to live with, learn alongside, and pray together with eight girls from the Rwamagana Lutheran School.

Joy is married to her husband Alan, has three children and lives in Santa Rosa, CA. She is an avid bird watcher and enjoys traveling, hiking and camping with her friends and family.

 

Libby Bullock, Secretary, 2016
Board Member 2014-2016

Libby BullockLibby Bullock attended U.C Davis and received a B.S. in Renewable Natural Resources, specializing in Plant and Soil Sciences. She has worked at U.C. Davis over the past 25 years, all involving aspects of administrative computing for U.C. Davis. She and her husband Ernie have 3 children. Libby and her family are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento, CA, where she is involved in many activities including children’s ministry, WELCA, and the hand bell choir.

In 2004 Libby visited Rwanda with a delegation of 3 people from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento as a guest of Pastor John Rutsindintwarane. Libby describes it as one of the most profound experiences of her life. In 2005, Robin Strickler visited St. John’s in Sacramento and shared her vision about starting a school in Rwanda, and asked Libby to be a part of this project.

 

Sally Bullock
Board Member 2016-2018

Sally BullockSally Bullock is a native of Sacramento, California. She graduated in 1007 from Willamette University with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Fine Art. From 2010-2013 she served in both the Kyrgyz Republic and Azerbaijan, teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer. This transformative experience has made her passionate about the key role that education and English language learning play globally in developing countries. Sally keeps things lively with forays into the arts and travel, and uses baking as therapy

 

Greg Farrell
Board Member 2015-2017

Greg FarrellGreg Farrell was the founder and the recently retired president and CEO of Expeditionary Learning, a design and program and nonprofit organization aimed at creating and sustaining excellent public schools in cities, towns and neighborhoods where good schools are most needed. Before Expeditionary Learning, Greg was for 20 years executive director of the Fund for the City of New York, a foundation established by the Ford Foundation to help improve the quality of life in New York City. He and his wife Cathy have two sons and live in Brooklyn, NY.

Expeditionary Learning is the model chosen by the Rwanda School to guide its growth. It emphasizes high standards, both with respect to academic and character development; a strong and positive school culture; learning by doing; fieldwork; and an intensive program of professional development for whole faculties.

 

Debbi Holmerud
Board Member 2014-2016

DebDebbi Holmerud earned a Bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a Master’s Degree from University of San Francisco. She taught high school and elementary school for 9 years in the San Juan School District of Sacramento, CA. After marrying her husband, Mark, a Lutheran pastor who currently serves as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA, she moved to Stockton, CA, and the Lincoln Unified School District. There she taught for two years, served as an elementary school principal for 13 years and a high school principal for 12 years. Debbi retired in June 2014.

Although now retired, Debbi has committed to staying active in education. She is
teaching a course in the fall to aspiring administrators focused on equity and access in education and leading her former district’s efforts to implement a restorative justice program. This work will be greatly influenced by her recent visit to Rwanda and the work of this board. Mark and Debbi have four children and five grandchildren.

 

Val Jennings
Board Member 2014-2016

Val JenningsValerie Jennings is a graduate of the University of California, Davis where she earned a BS in Human Development, and is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute. Her 20 year career at Cisco brings a variety of experiences to our board. A Human Resources Talent Manager, she practices her heart’s passion: empowering people to live their best life. Engaging with people and connecting them to their passions inspires her to participate in the Rwanda School Board. Valerie lives in Petaluma, California with her husband, 3 children and her 2 stepchildren.

 

Jessica Knudtzon
Board Member 2016-2018

Jessica Knudtzon is a graduate from U.C. Berkeley, with a B.A. in history, I started my working career in an industry close to what I trained for, museums. The museum world is where I started to develop programs and skills in prospect research, special events management, donor stewardship and outreach, as well as volunteer training and support. Currently I work as a Philanthropy Database Management Specialist for Sutter Health in Sacramento, CA which has me serving on a team that helps develop and support both local and system-wide fundraising efforts. Jessica is passionate about supporting philanthropic communities, and she believes that the powerful impact created when we give or when we receive goes far beyond the initial transaction experienced between a donor and a cause.

 

Margaret McLean
Board Member 2016-2018

Margaret McClain head shotMargaret R. McLean, Ph.D. is the Associate Professor and Director of Bioethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University (SCU). A Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies and affiliate faculty in Bioengineering, she teaches courses on ethics including health care ethics and ethics and biotechnology. Holding a doctorate in clinical pathology from the Medical College of Wisconsin and a Masters of Divinity from Luther Seminary, she has a second doctoral degree in ethics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is a member of a number of Bay Area hospital bioethics committees and a consultant to the California Department of Public Health. When recently asked, “Why do you teach?” the instant reply was, “Honestly, because I can do no other. I fall out of bed teaching! It’s who I am and what I do in the classroom and elsewhere.”

Margaret is an active member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco where she has served on the Council, as Congregational President, member and chair of the Endowment Committee, and currently chairs the Call Committee. She is a dedicated supporter of PICO Rwanda, including the work of SCU engineering students at Nyange, and The Rwanda School Project.

 

Melissa Roussin
Board Member 2015-2017

melissaMelissa Roussin graduated from Bethel University in 2008 with a dual degree in Reconciliation and Elementary Education. One year later, she found herself immersed in the magnificent culture and surroundings of Rwanda, falling more in love with the country day by day. Melissa soon crossed paths with Robin and spent the next two out of three years in Rwanda volunteering with the Rwamagana Lutheran School. Upon her return to the U.S., she spent one year as the Development Manager for The Rwanda School Project before delving back into the world of social services.

With over 10 years experience in the social services sector and an avid dedication to the welfare of the poor, marginalized, and under served, Melissa was thrilled to be a part of The Rwanda School Project and the impact they are making across the country of Rwanda. Every child has the right to a high quality education and Rwamagana Lutheran School is courageously leading the way in Rwanda.

Melissa is actively involved at Cityview Church and serves on the Leadership Board and Missions Committee. She currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota and thoroughly enjoys spending time in the great outdoors, trying out a new recipe, or relaxing by the lake at her cabin.

 

Karen Saenger
Board Member 2014-2016

karen saengerKaren Saenger is a high school teacher in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. She teaches students History, Social Studies and German. As well, she coordinates the International Baccalaureate programme at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby BC.

Karen met Robin Strickler in 2008 during her first trip to Rwanda. She watched from afar how the concept of a school evolved and developed. January and February of 2014 Karen returned to Rwanda and volunteered at the Rwamagana Lutheran School.

Her interests are many and varied but a great delight is watching her 3 nieces growing up to be thoughtful and caring young ladies. She lives on an acre of paradise in the beautiful Fraser Valley.

 

Cathy Whitlow
Board Member 2015-2017

Cathy WitlowCathy Whitlow is a biology teacher at Potomac Falls High School in Potomac Falls, Virginia and an adjunct professor of biology at the Northern Virginia Community College. She earned her B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, and her teaching certificate and M.S in Biology from George Mason University. Cathy traveled to Rwanda the summer of 2012, and again in 2014, to meet and build relationships with students and staff of Rwamagana Lutheran School. Cathy is a member of Community Lutheran Church in Sterling, Virginia and Christ the King Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Virginia.