Founder, Rwamagana Leaders’ School
Robin Strickler is the founder of the Rwanda School Project and is the outgoing director of Rwamagana Leaders’ School. In that role, she served for ten years as a missionary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Robin has a Bachelor’s in Music Education and an MA in English Linguistics and has been involved in teaching or educational administrative work for most of her career.
She spent eight years as an English instructor at Kansai Gaidai in Japan and enjoys languages, bird watching, music, art and writing. Her family includes her beloved husband, Pastor John Rutsindintwarane and two wonderful daughters.
Head of School Rwamagana Leaders’ School
Moses holds a Master’s degree in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) from the University of Rwanda, an MBA in Global Business and Sustainability from Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Italy, an Impact Entrepreneurship MBA from Uganda Martyrs University and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Kyambogo University.
Prior to Joining Rwanda Leaders’ School, Moses served as the Administrator and first Principal of Kivu Hills Academy, as a Director of Kigali Christian School secondary section and also lectured and developed programs at Akilah Institute for Women.
He has worked in the education sector in both Uganda and Rwanda. He has been in the Education field since his first graduation in 2007.
Moses is passionate about sustainable Education models and is eager to be part of this opportunity to make a difference in Rwanda.
Karl Smith, President, 2019
Board Member since 2007.
Karl 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 and 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 Leaders’ School. In 2011, he attended the opening of the school, and in 2015, he and his wife traveled to Rwanda for the dedication of the cafeteria, girls’ dorm, and Tally Labs.
Karl and Linda celebrate life with two children and six grandchildren.
Melissa Becker, Vice President, 2019
Board Member since 2011.
Melissa is most grateful to be mom to Hannah 22 and Cole 15, and life partner to Ben for 24 years. For 14 years she has been the principal of Meadow School, has been a school administrator for 20 years, and was a teacher. She is a graduate of UCLA with a masters degree from Loyola Marymount, and she will always be a teacher at heart. She enjoys instilling the belief in children that one person, no matter how small, CAN make a difference. She serves as president of The Fabulous Women of Petaluma, a non-profit that raises money and offers support to local families in the community. To date, Fabulous Women have donated over $45,000 to The Rwamagana Leaders’ School. Melissa has traveled to Rwanda four times to help establish and sustain the school, and her passion for the school has changed her life in ways she could not have imagined.
Travel is in her blood, both in the states and abroad, as she loves learning about cultures and experiencing the world. She is an avid runner, loves half marathons, reading, teaching MAKER workshops, spending time with family and friends, and cooking delicious meals with her daughter. She and her husband plan on living in Rwanda for a year when they retire.
Joy Petty, Treasurer, 2019
Board Member since 2008.
Joy 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 brought eight high school girls from the United States traveled to Rwanda to live with, learn alongside, and pray together with eight girls from the Rwamagana Leaders’ School.
Joy is the Director of Operations & Finance/Partner of Turrentine Brokerage, a wine and grape brokerage firm in Northern California. She has her B.A. in Anthropology from California State University, East Bay. She 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, 2019
Founding Board Member since 2005.
Libby 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 35 years, all involving aspects of administrative computing for U.C. Davis. She and her husband Ernie have 3 children, 2 are now grown, the youngest is in High School. 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. Libby said ‘Yes’ and Rwanda School Project has been part of her life ever since.
Kathy Ziegler, Financial Secretary, 2019
Board Member since 2014.
Kathy Ziegler attended Fresno and San Jose State Universities. She worked a variety of jobs before settling into a 24 year career at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat retiring in 2006 and then working 7 years as the assistant to a solo practice CPA. She served 8 years on the Oak Grove Union School Board and has been an active member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church since 1972, serving as president of the congregation several times.
She and her husband Tom have 2 grown sons and two grandsons. They live in Santa Rosa, CA. Her hobbies include puzzles (jigsaw-crossword-Sudoku) and genealogy.
Board Member since 2013.
Sally 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
Board Member since 2011.
Greg 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.
Board Member since 2014.
Debbi Holmerud earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a master’s degree from University of San Francisco. Although now retired, Debbi has committed to staying active in education. She is leading her former district’s efforts to transition from a traditional approach to discipline to one based on restorative practices and restorative justice. This work has been greatly influenced by her first visit to Rwanda and the work of this board.
Mark and Debbi have four children and eight grandchildren. 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.
Board Member since 2016.
Margaret R. McLean, Ph.D. is the Associate 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. She is a dedicated supporter of PICO Rwanda, including the work of SCU engineering students at Nyange, and The Rwanda School Project.
Board Member since 2015.
Melissa 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 Leaders’ 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 Leaders’ 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.
Board Member since 2014.
Karen’s interest in Rwanda began in 1994 and has shaped her since then. Until June 2018 when she retired, she taught History, Social Studies, and German at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School in British Columbia, Canada. As well, she coordinated the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Karen was privileged to take many students on overseas European trips over the years.
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 Leaders’ 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.
Board Member since 2011.
Cathy 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 in the summer of 2012 and again in 2014. In 2018 she took 3 members of Community Lutheran Church to visit the students the church currently sponsors and also former students that are now attending university. She looks forward to continuing to build relationships with students and staff of Rwamagana Leaders’ School.
Cathy lives in Sterling, VA with her husband Ken and their two dogs. They have 2 adult children. Cathy is a member of Community Lutheran Church in Sterling, and Christ the King Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Virginia.