We have been lucky to encounter extraordinary people around the world. Our work is informed by their passions, knowledge, and skills.
Gwen was a special education teacher in Eugene Oregon before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon in the College of Education in 1989 where she worked for 17 years in the training program for teachers who work with students with developmental disabilities. After a trip to Kenya in 2002, Gwen and her husband founded the non-profit organization Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife (FKSW) which works with Kenyan NGO Network for EcoFarming in Africa (NECOFA) to support and empower rural Kenyan communities to meet the challenges they face in the areas of education, health and hygiene, food and nutrition, clean water and income generation for the alleviation of poverty. Gwen is the Director of FKSW and also a member of Rotary International.
Samuel Muhunyu is the of Director Network for Ecofarming in Africa (NECOFA), a Kenyan non-profit promoting sustainable community development with responsibility. His professional background is agricultural engineering and he has acquired vast experience working in government and civil society with resource-poor Kenyan communities in marginalized arid and semi-arid Kenya. He is firstborn in a family with seven sons. Their illiterate peasant parents struggled hard and provided education for all their children. This lesson from his parents taught compassion and guides him in his work with the communities. In partnership with FKSW, Samuel coordinates resources mobilization efforts and implementation of different projects within the partnership in different parts Kenya. He is also in international leadership with Slow Food International which works towards biodiversity conservation and advocating for the rights of all people to access quality food.
Our Board and Team in Kenya
Roz Slovic is a retired University of Oregon College of Education faculty member. Roz has been on the FKSW board for 14 years and has been in Kenya three times, spending several weeks each time visiting FKSW villages/projects/people and learning about the good work that is being accomplished there. Roz chairs the Women’s Opportunity Worldwide coalition and is also on the steering committee of the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County, the Tikkun Olam (repair the world) committee of Temple Beth Israel, a panel member of the Citizen Review Board reviewing cases of abused/neglected children who have been removed from the care and custody of their parents, and on the board of a local cemetery.
Stanley Lemukut is the Chairman of the Kirepari Primary School Committee on Kokwa Island. A former educator, Stanley is also the Vice-Chairman of the Ruko Community Wildlife Trust, a 19,000 acre conservancy on the eastern shore of Lake Baringo which includes a secluded wildlife sanctuary. Stanley has been a friend and partner to FKSW since 2004.
Grace Koinale is the Head Teacher at the Kirepari Primary School on Kokwa Island and a member of the school committee. She has become a leader and an inspiration in her community, especially to women and girls, bringing new ideas and organizing and managing projects at the school. Grace has been a valuable partner to FKSW since 2004.
Nancy Burbank has been an active member of the FKSW board since 2011.
John Munene has been a friend and collaborator with FKSW since 2007. John farms in Molo, growing a variety of crops, many for the commercial market. As President of the NECOFA board of directors, John has participated in many of our projects over the years. He is also our technology expert while we are in Kenya.
Irene Lechingei, a native of Kokwa Island, is a recent college graduate with a diploma in Community Health and Development. She finished at the top of her class and graduated with honors. Irene currently works with the nurse on the island, delivering babies and seeing patients in the dispensary. Irene conducts trainings for the community on many aspects of health and sanitation and issues like early marriage and the dangers of FGM. She also works part time for NECOFA and FKSW, managing community projects on Kokwa Island.
John Neumeister grew up on a sheep farm in southern Ohio. He and his wife, Gwen live on a farm outside of Junction City, Oregon, where they raise certified organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers for seed in partnership with Hands on Organics. John was a co-author of the Certified Organic standards for livestock adopted by Oregon Tilth in the 1980s. John is a board member and active volunteer for FKSW.
For over 20 years, Karen has worked with non-profit community organizations in Oregon and elsewhere, whose efforts focus on reducing chemical contamination in the environment, clean up of toxic hot spots and initiating pesticide reduction programs in agriculture. Formerly a staff member at Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Karen currently works as the Development Director for the Eugene HIV Alliance, raising funds and awareness to stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. When Karen first learned about FKSW and the potential for working with Gwen and John and the others on the Board she was really excited to help out.
Beginning his passion for photography in 2007, Peter has been leisurely honing his craft by taking photos for friends, non-profits, and for fun. He started taking photographs for FKSW in Summer 2016 when he was invited to join FKSW as a representative of Kenya Dream. Since then, Peter has returned to Kenya with FKSW, helping to capture the lives and growth of the partners of FKSW. Aside from photographing for others, Peter enjoys photographing nature.
Silas Alesso is the Chairman of the Board of Management at Kachiuru village. He works closely with the head teacher at Kachiuru Primary School, with the parents and with other community members and has emerged as a leader at Kachiuru. We have appreciated Silas's guidance and support since 2006.
Paul Slovic is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and a founder and President of Decision Research. He studies human judgment, decision making, and the psychology of risk. With colleagues worldwide, he has developed methods to describe risk perceptions and measure their impacts on individuals and society. His recent work examines "psychic numbing" and the failure to respond to mass human tragedies. He has been a board member with FKSW since 2004. His academic background leads him to a deep commitment to improving the lives of individuals and communities in Kenya.
Karangathi Njoroge is the Director at Maendeleo Endelevu Action Program (MEAP) in Molo, Kenya. Involved in development work for over 25 years, he worked with Wangari Maathai at the Green Belt Movement and has facilitated rural communities to create initiatives that address a range of needs, including: natural resources management, forest conservation, civic participation, settlement, village saving and loan programs, peace building, livelihood and food security, children’s education and youth development and mentorship. Karangathi became a Rotary Peace Fellow In 2011, and with another Peace Fellow initiated the Rift Valley Community Dispute Resolution Association (RICODRA) that trains community mediators. Since 2007, Karangathi has been collaborating with NECOFA and FKSW in their community development efforts, tapping synergies and sharing ideas and experiences.
Lucy Mathenge has worked with NECOFA and FKSW since 2007. Trained in social work and in community development, she is an administrator with NECOFA. Her passionate participation in the work of the partnership has provided her with experiences in different Kenyan communities in the areas of education, health, food security, water and sanitation and poverty alleviation. She is grateful and happy to be associated with the work of FKSW and NECOFA