Stephanie Vickers – President
Stephanie Schnabel Vickers served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sanniquellie from 1971-1973 and then worked as a trainer for Peace Corps until 1975 working all over Liberia. Stephanie worked initially as a teacher trainer with Liberian counterparts but then was recruited to teach 7-12th grades at St Mary’s for Father Francis (now Archbishop Francis). She has been a member of Friends of Liberia since the early 1990s and became more active in 2001 volunteering to be the site administrator for the LEAP teacher training project.
Stephanie has returned to Liberia in 2001, 2002 and twice in 2004 to work with LEAP trainers and teachers and help establish the new NGO, Liberian Educators for Action and Peace. After retiring from a 34 year teaching career, primarily in Portland, Oregon and raising her two sons, she has become more involved with FOL and has volunteered to serve as President. It is her hope that there are more returned volunteers like herself that may be able to carve out some time to support FOL’s projects.
Since 2002 Stephanie and other Portland Liberian RPCVs have held an annual fund raiser for LEAP. In addition to her FOL volunteering, Stephanie serves on the advisory council for the African Women’s Coalition, a local organization supported by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement that supports women and children who have fled Africa either as a refugee or an immigrant and have settled in Portland.
Peter Levitov- Vice President
Peter Levitov taught in Harper (Cape Palmas), Liberia from September 1969 through December 1971 as a lay volunteer with the Catholic Mission (S.M.A. Fathers), although he was not Catholic. He taught African History and Rhetoric at Our Lady of Fatima Teachers College (now defunct) and Geography and History at Our Lady of Fatima High School while coaching basketball and doing vocational counseling as well. His daughter, who was seven months old when they arrived, learned Liberian English as her mother tongue.
After returning to the U.S., the New Jersey native moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he worked in international education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1972 to 2012. As Associate Dean of International Affairs and Immigration Attorney, his principal responsibilities included securing temporary and permanent visa documentation for foreign faculty, post-doctoral researchers and other professional staff and developing international linkages with universities around the world. He has traveled to about 65 countries and was a co-author of a book on the admission and academic placement of students from Sub-Saharan countries in U.S institutions of higher education. In 2001 Levitov coordinated the university’s response to the September 11 tragedy and its impact on the international community and the institution at large. He also has served on the boards of the Lincoln Human Rights Commission, the Lincoln City Library and the American Civil Liberties Union-Nebraska Affiliate.
Levitov is married and has three adult children. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Friends of Liberia from 2003 to 2012 and served on the Executive Committee for several of those years.
Pat McGeorge – Secretary
Pat McGeorge was a Lutheran Missionary Nurse at Curran Lutheran Hospital in Zorzor, Lofa County, Liberia from 1970-1971. She met her husband Jim, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zorzor, while working at Curran Hospital.
After returning to the United States, Pat worked as a RN in a hospital in Tucson. In 1974 Pat completed the Certificate Program for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) and then earned a Masters’ Degree in Pediatric Nursing. Pat taught in the Nursing and Nurse Practitioner programs at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. She has also worked in a variety of clinics for uninsured or underinsured families as a FNP and started and ran a school-based program for uninsured children.
Pat is now retired and lives in Flagstaff, AZ with her husband, Jim. She volunteers with the US Forest Service in their trails and wilderness program, in a 3rd grade class at a local elementary school, and as a Docent at the Arboretum at Flagstaff.
Pat joined FOL in 1996 and has been the Secretary for FOL since September, 2009. Pat and her husband Jim have 2 children.
Jim Bowman served three years in Liberia (1968-70) as a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Maryland County. Returned with a Friends of Liberia election observer team in 1997.
Following his Peace Corps service Bowman worked for the University of Nebraska for 16 years in three different departments: English, Continuing Studies, and Engineering. In 1986 Bowman was employed by the Lutheran Church in Nebraska to work on social justice issues at the state legislative level.
In 1999 Jim became director of the Office of Public Policy in Washington, DC for Lutheran World Relief. In 2004 Jim retired to Albuquerque, NM. Other than treasurer duties for FOL which seems at times to be a half -time job.
- Serves on a national Advisory Committee for Corporate Social Responsibility for the Lutheran Church
- Goes to as many jazz and salsa music events as he can
- baby sits his grandchildren
- collaborates with an architect friend in Nebraska on building projects in Massachusetts, Colorado and Nebraska
- spends time in his woodworking shop
Jim was an election observer for the October 2005 election.
Alison McReynolds– Membership Coordinator
Alison McReynolds grew up in Lexington, KY where she attended a performing arts school and was exposed to people from all over the world. As a junior in high school, she got the opportunity to spend a month in France with a host family and it ignited her desire to live and work abroad. She went on to study Anthropology and Mathematics at Ball State University in Muncie, IN but it was a semester abroad in England during her junior year that cemented her decision to apply to Peace Corps. She found a kindred spirit in a fellow Sri Lankan student and knew that she had to go live and experience something completely different. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania until 2009 at which point she immediately applied for a Peace Corps Response position in Liberia. She served at ZRTTI in Fissebu, Lofa County, Liberia, where she helped start the new library on campus.
Robert Sharer -Board Chair
Robert Sharer was born and raised in London, England, and educated at the London School of Economics and the London Business School. After a brief spell working in finance in London, he joined the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. He has spent the majority of his long career with the IMF working in the Africa Region, serving as an economist and eventually as an assistant director. He has led teams that negotiated economic programs with countries that the IMF supported with substantial, highly concessional loans to help development. During 1980-83, he served in Liberia as the IMF’s resident representative, working with officials in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank. He met his future wife in Liberia. He has subsequently worked in many African countries and has traveled extensively throughout the continent.
A member of FOL since its early days in the 1980s, Robert has recently joined the Board to use his background and experience to help FOL in its efforts to help Liberians.
He has served as a FOL Board Member since 2007 and has been nominated for a final three-year term. He was born in Monrovia and educated in both Liberia and the US. Joseph is a banker and entrepreneur and is actively involved in developing private sector projects to help Liberia grow and develop.
Don Drach is an independent consultant, trainer and volunteer with over 35 years experience in international relations and capacity building. Don completed federal service in January 2009, serving most recently as director of international relations in the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Strategic Planning and External Liaison office. He also served as the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Government Auditing and was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the INTOSAI Development Initiative, an international training organization. Don was an Adjunct Faculty member in GAO’s Learning Center and now conducts training seminars and workshops domestically and internationally. In addition to his work with Friends of Liberia, he serves on the board of Solas Nua, an Irish arts organization and mentors returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
Prior to joining GAO in 1981, Don was manager of teacher training programs and reading education curriculum for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education from 1975-1980. From 1971-73, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer elementary teacher in Salayea, Lofa County, Liberia. Don holds a Bachelors Degree in political science and international relations from the Pennsylvania State University and a Masters Degree in education from Boston College.
Candace Eastman is a Liberian whose family moved to the United States in 1980 after the first coup d’etat. She began her work with Friends of Liberia as the Secretary of the organization from 2002 to 2007 and is now a board member in charge of development. She spent much of her teenage years through adulthood dedicated to community service through organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha and Mentors Inc.
Professionally she has extensive experience working in the biotechnology industry for close to 20 years, both on the corporate and non-profit side. Advancing from a bench scientist to managing business development projects, she has worked for organizations like the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH). Her experience includes investor relations, positioning emerging firms to attract investors, marketing, and launching organizations. She received a BSc in Biology from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and a MBA from Johns Hopkins University.
Richard Fahey was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia from 1966 to 1968. Since that time Mr. Fahey has returned to Liberia numerous times and has maintained strong relationships with many of the people with whom he worked in Liberia during his years in the Peace Corps.
For 38 years Mr. Fahey practiced law first as Attorney-in-Charge of the Navajo Legal Aid in Shiprock, New Mexico, then as Assistant Attorney General of the State of Ohio, Environmental and Natural Resources Section, and for 29 years as Partner specializing in Environmental and Natural Resources Law at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLC, one of the largest law firms in Ohio.
Upon retirement from his law firm in 2010, Mr. Fahey was selected to be a Fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative where he formulated the program to address the energy needs of the people of Liberia through a social enterprise, which became the Liberian Energy Network.
Mr. Fahey is a graduate of San Francisco State College, B.A., and Northwestern University School of Law, J.D.
Virginia “Ginny” Hesel
As a former public and independent school educator and principal in coed and single sex boys and girls’ schools in New York City, Cambridge and Boston, I am passionate about single sex education for girls during their middle and high school years and an enthusiastic proponent of institutional change via strategic planning. After twenty years of heading grade 5-9 schools my belief in the importance of effective and successful school leadership in creating a healthy and dynamic school culture and climate is unflinching. My FOL Board goals are to help grow FOL membership and fundraising and expand the reach of Friends of Liberia in areas improving the quality of life for Liberian infants, children, youth and adults. I enjoy my work as FOL’s Volunteer Coordinator.
After relocating to Cape May, New Jersey from Boston in 2003, I helped found the Cape May County Federation of Democratic Women and was its president for three years. I am currently working with two Federation women to provide scholarships to senior girls at a local high school in need of financial assistance for a college education. I am active in local politics, a Master Gardener who enjoys three-season flower and vegetable gardening, and an avid reader. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I have a fervent interest in current events on the African continent and in Liberia’s post-war development.
My experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer elementary and adult literacy teacher on Bushrod Island teacher opened many doors to my future after returning to the U.S. I wrote and designed an Africa South of the Sahara curriculum for Grade 4-6 students. A recipient of two Fulbright-Hays summer scholarships, I worked and traveled in Ghana, Togo and Kenya gathering and collecting materials and books to develop an Africa curriculum for NYC public schools and the former African-American Institute. As an escort-interpreter for African visitors who were guests of the U.S. Government Language Services Division of the Department of State, I accompanied visitors on professional programs, home stay visits, and travel throughout the U.S. and Caribbean. My career path as an administrator and principal began at the Collegiate School in NYC. Subsequently I was the Head of Middle School at Poly Prep County Day School in Brooklyn, the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA and the Winsor School in Boston. As a school evaluator for the Middle States Association and the New England Association of Independent Schools and Colleges, I evaluated schools in the mid-Atlantic region, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Uganda. I returned to the UAE with a NEAISC colleague to work on education project for the UAE Minister of Education. In March 2012 I returned to Liberia to assist with the ECE teacher training program in Kakata. I remain a devotee of international travel and the learning experiences and professional opportunities evolving from it.
Jefferson King arrived in the US in 2000 after living as a Liberian refugee in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana for much of his life. In the US, he graduated from Cornell University and Virginia Tech with a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering, respectively. He has since been involved in projects promoting entrepreneurial activities among the youth in Liberia. King has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2008 and currently works at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
I am currently working on my Doctorate in Educational Administration through Texas A&M University in Commerce. I received my Master of Education degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston and my Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education from Syracuse University. I currently work as a District Attendance Officer for San Marcos CISD. I also worked as a 9th Grade Academy Assistant Principal at San Marcos High School in San Marcos, Texas, as well as an assistant principal both at Clements High School and First Colony Middle School in Sugarland, Texas.
I studied a semester abroad during my senior year at Syracuse University, in Poitiers, France, where I learned French fluently. Upon graduation from Syracuse, I went into the Peace Corps and served in Liberia, West Africa for two years as an English teacher. I also became a trainer of new education volunteers that were preparing to serve in Liberia as teachers.
Harmon Lisnow served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, Group II, from 1963 to 1965. He taught elementary school and high school at the Lutheran Training Institute (LTI) in Salayea, Lofa County. Harmon has stayed active in Liberia putting past students through school, and working to initiate for-profit and non-profit corporations. After his Peace Corps service, he worked as a professional trainer for the Peace Corps in the United States. He has traveled to Liberia six times since 2005 working through the Steelworkers Union (USW) and the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center with the Liberian Ministry of Labor, training Liberian labor leadership at Firestone, as well as other unions. In 2011, he returned to Liberia for three months to help rebuild the Liberian Education Trust, (LET). LET, which was founded and strongly supported by President Sirleaf, delivers education programs and opportunities to young girls and market women who otherwise would not have access to educational opportunities. Harmon has also been involved in international programs working with the Tibetan Refugee Resettlement Project and has represented the United States on trips to Taiwan and China sponsored by the U.S. China Committee of Foreign Relations.
Harmon has had a long professional career as an executive administrator and organizer. He was the Executive Director of MADCO/MACEP, two programs designed to create business opportunities and economic development programs for Mexican Americans in Texas. He worked for OEO/Vista for three years helping to develop and implement a national evaluation program and served as a VISTA Program Officer in Texas for two years. From 1975 to 1990, he was the chief administrator for two Texas state agencies: the State Attorney General’s Office, and the Texas State Comptroller. He was also the Executive Director of the State of Texas Veteran’s Land Board. From 1990 to 1994, Harmon was the President of Trian Strategies, a private management consulting firm specializing in management efficiencies, running political campaigns (he has managed five major political campaigns), and conducted professional mediation and conflict resolution services. (Harmon is a certified mediator). From 1994 until he retired in 2007, Harmon worked for and was the Executive Director of the Institute for Career Development, (ICD), a national joint labor/management education, training and research corporation serving the United Steelworkers (USW) and the steel, tire and rubber industries. Harmon has served on many national governing boards for education and training programs and is presently the Chairman of the Board of “Architecture 2030”, a national environmental, non-profit corporation located in Santa Fe, N.M., engaged in finding solutions to global warming through redesigning building and construction industries.
Harmon has an undergraduate degree from Goddard College, and received an MA degree from Penn State in International Relations under the auspices of a Ford Foundation Fellowship for International Relations. He and his wife of 41 years have two children and three granddaughters and currently reside in Western Colorado.
Garrett Mason served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zorzor, Lofa County from 2010-2012 as part of the first group of two-year volunteers to return to the country since the civil war. While in Liberia, he served as a secondary education teacher, Peace Corps Volunteer Leader, and teacher trainer for incoming volunteers. Prior to the Peace Corps, Garrett worked as the Director of Operations for an international non-profit association in Washington D.C. and as a physics and humanities teacher in New Orleans.
Garrett is currently the Director of Innovation and Design at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana, where he works with teachers and students to utilize a design thinking approach to learning and to generate creative, innovative solutions to real-world problems. He received a B.A. in Physics from Colgate University in 2003.
Pat Reilly was a volunteer Peace Corps English teacher at Bassa High School in Buchanan, Liberia, from 1972-75. On returning to the United States, she was a Peace Corps recruiter in New York City and on the campus of Ohio University while earning a master’s in Journalism. A career in newspapers brought her to Washington, D.C., in 1990, where she worked until 2002 for the Washington Post as an editor on the national desk. She has been on the executive committee of Friends of Liberia for more than 20 years as the former social/alumni group transformed itself into a force for advocating peace in Liberia throughout the 1990s. Since 1998, Pat has helped to design and secure funding for the Liberian Education Assistance Project, LEAP, a teacher-training project focused on early childhood education in Liberian schools. The project has sent master U.S. teachers annually to Liberia to train primary grade teachers. She edited “Liberian Cookhouse Cooking,” a popular cookbook that has raised money for FOL projects. Pat has worked as a public affairs officer for the EPA and Homeland Security. She is a former chair of the board of the National Peace Corps Association. She lives in Virginia.
Verlon Stone – Electronic News Coordinator
Mike Waite – Webmaster
Mike Waite served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tapeta from 1974-1975 where he did forestry work.
In 1997 Mike traveled to Liberia as an Election Observer with the Friends of Liberia and assisted the LEAP teacher trainer group in 2004. He has been a member of the Friends of Liberia since the early 90’s.
Mike worked for the US Forest Service for 30 years in various locations in the Pacific Northwest and in Mississippi. In 2007 he retired from the Forest Service and moved from Mississippi to Vancouver, Washington.
He was one of the members of the 2009 FOL group that traveled to Liberia, where he co-ordinated transportation for the group and headed up an environmental survey project. Mike travels frequently and enjoys photographing people and places.
Mike remarried in 2011 and has three children and five grandchildren who all live in the NW.
Thad Kerosky – Webmaster
Thad Kerosky served as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Kakata in 2011 at the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI).
After finishing his term, he continued to work for another year in Kakata through 2012 with a startup agricultural social enterprise, Farmbuilders as a technology lead on a core team of 12 Liberian bankers, agricultural experts and trainers and many others.
The venture grew out of a Harvard Kennedy School project of its founder, had vast potential, and garnered many awards. By the end of 2012, a sudden shock to its incubating company sadly forced its close.
He has also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania from 2007 to 2009 and continues to work to further tech development across East and West Africa.
Board Members for Election
He is coordinator of the Indiana University Liberian Collections (IULC) and has been involved with Liberia for decades. During his first trip to Liberia in 1970 with his wife, Ruth, to record and photograph Kpelle music, he shot 35mm slides and collected artifacts for his P.S. 68 elementary school classroom in Harlem. By the time they left after six weeks, they’d fallen in love with Liberia. Five years later they returned to the Totota area to do their Indiana University dissertation research. He has been coordinating the weekly FOL list-serv of Liberian news stories since 2003. Verlon has been involved with teaching and education since 1965, and FOL since about 2003. He is especially honored to be nominated to serve on the Board of Directors and has stated that he supports the Core Values of FOL as well as their Strategic Plan