2012-2013 Board Candidate Biographies

Thank you to everyone that nominated someone (or themselves)! We are looking forward to a fun and exciting year to come. Below are the Board Candidate biographies. Please refer to these biographies when voting.

President

Catherine Swanson, Samoa 2001-2003

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Catherine worked with Women in Business, an NGO organization aimed at improving livelihoods in rural communities through income generation and microfinance projects. In the past, she has worked as an Interpretive Park Ranger, Organic Farmhand, Financial Services Representative and Peace Corps Recruiter. Catherine looks forward to bringing her experience as a volunteer and staff member to SEAPAX. She has completed two years of SEAPAX board service and currently serves as the President.

Vice President

Lillian Baer, Cote d’Ivoire 1966-1968

Lillian is the current Vice President and is enjoying being part of the Seapax community of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in the Seattle area, finding it rewarding to help bring together the vast experience and diversity shared by the returned volunteers here. She spent most of her career in and around Africa, mostly Senegal, working for Peace Corps, the YMCA, and then co-founding a non-profit ACI, The Baobab Center. She is currently also on the board of three other non-profits working in Africa (ACI, ARED, Grandmother Project), and derives pleasure and sustenance from all the networking offered, based on accumulated experience of so many others. Lillian brings an intergenerational approach to the Seapax board, and hopes to encourage many others to participate in the diverse activities.

Co-Treasurers

Aileen Ly, Vanuatu 2006-2007

Aileen was a Coastal Resource Management/Environment volunteer on the island of Emao (a satellite island off of Efate) in Vanuatu. A University of  Washington grad with a BS in Biology, Aileen’s Peace Corps position involved working with the community to develop a resource management plan for their marine protected areas and helped to create emergency preparedness programs for schools and communities. Aileen is currently serving as Treasurer and would like to continue to help SEAPAX become more organized and continue the success that it’s had.

Carey Homan, Ukraine 2008-1010

Not only would serving on the SEAPAX board provide me with the opportunity to become a more active member, but it would also give me the opportunity to give back to SEAPAX. I believe that I would be an excellent treasurer and I ask that you please consider me for the position. I have received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, and I am currently working as a CPA at a boutique accounting firm in Redmond. As treasurer, I could use my educational background and professional skills to benefit the organization.

Secretary

Joshuah Marshall, Morocco 2007-2009

Joshuah Marshall is active and involved with the SEAPAX community and would like to continue helping the organization grow and serve its members by serving as Secretrary.

Joshuah was a Rural Health Educator in Morocco. He moved to Seattle afterwards and joined SEAPAX soon after. He currently serves as Secretary and Commissioner for the Seattle Human Rights Commission, is involved with local government and non-porfits, and enjoys the sights and sounds of the Emerald City. He currently works for Moss Adams, LLP.

He graduated with a BA from Creighton University in English and Philosophy and received a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University in 2011.

Membership Coordinator

Lori Espe, Kingdom of Tonga 1999-2000

I served in the Kingdom of Tonga from 1999-2000 after graduating from the University of Washington. When I returned home, I found a job in public service working for the US Department of Agriculture. Somewhere in there, I found some spare time and received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Seattle University. I spend my spare time on photographic adventures around the northwest.
I would like to join the board to be more involved in the RPCV community and to help increase membership. I am internet savvy and excited to work with the treasurer and the rest of the board to boost membership.

Membership Coordinator

Temma Pistrang, Kenya 1972-1974

I have been a member of a RPCV group for over 30 years. I have been actively involved for more than 20. I have served as Speaker’s Bureau chair, Membership chair, Treasurer  Vice-president under Charlotte where I learned so much. I have also been on committees for redoing the by-laws and have watched the organization grow and change since it began here in Seattle. I still want to participate and did so this year as Member at large. I am willing to do that again or take on the membership chair if I can be of help in that area. I am a still working substitute teacher and active volunteer for SIFF, Folk Life, AARP  income taxes, KCTS etc. I also belong to the League of Woman Voters and have been involved in various Environmental organizations over the years. I , along with my husband led Safaris to Kenya for over 20 years and brought the World Back Home for over 400 Americans. I like to think of our group as inter-generational and hope to recruit more seniors who have the time and energy to devote to our organization. I value our new returnees as well and hope we can do for them as much as their youth and ideas do for us.

Board Member At Large

Fred Kaplan, Togo 1972-1974

I would like to see SEAPAX become more involved in the reintegration process of returned volunteers. Within SEAPAX, there is a great deal of academic and professional experience that could be shared with fellow members interested in a career change. My own background is as a lawyer and a recently retired Foreign Service Officer. I would be happy to speak to any SEAPAX members interested in the Foreign Service, in law, or in studying at UW Law School where I have had recent
experience. I’m sure that many SEAPAX members would do likewise, say, in the field of education, health, teaching English as a foreign language, etc. We could have, for example, Health Career Night, where people working in health and those who want to pursue a career in that area get together to talk about how to go about getting a dream job. Even if just two people showed up, it would be worth it.

A civil rights lawyer and RAVN member in the late 1970s, I went to work for the U.S. State Department in 1981 and returned to Seattle in 2010 to study international development law at UW. Since last September, I’ve been a legal intern at PATH, a global health NGO based in South Lake Union. Previous board experience includes president of the board of the American International School in Chennai, India, from 2006 to 2009. I also was active as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

Board Member At Large

Jean Lanz, Sierra Leone 1966-1969

Jean would like to contribute to the connection/service activities for local RPCV’s; particularly interested in a starting a hiking group. She is active in community organizations (e.g., Washington State Africa Network, Issaquah Alps Trails Club, NOW). Jean’s background includes working as a human subjects review administrator and social researcher for 12 years and program manager/casework supervisor/social worker for 15 years. Her interest in SEAPAX was piqued by the recent 50th Anniversary celebrations, and as a retiree, she has more time to be more active with SEAPAX.

Board Member At Large

Mike Wong, Lesotho 2006-2008

I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington.  I attended the University of Washington, where I studied Cellular & Molecular Biology.  For my junior year I studied abroad at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, where I got my first taste of the international experience.  I also had SARS.  After graduation I completed a master’s in International Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  As a master’s international student I entered into my Peace Corps service immediately thereafter, serving in Lesotho as an HIV/AIDS advisor.  I am currently working at the YWCA with formerly homeless women and men.
I want to serve on the board because the Peace Corps is and will always be one of the most important experiences of my life; I loved the people, the work, and the challenge (and the food).  I also loved working with my fellow Peace Corps volunteers, thanks to the adventurous open-mindedness inherent to each and every one of us.  I think it is important to strengthen the RPCV community here in Seattle, and believe we can harness the dedication, creativity, and infectious ebullience of our members to continue to develop and improve the world around us.  To be a member of the SEAPAX board represents an opportunity for me to work together with like-minded individuals to achieve more than we as individuals could achieve on our own.

Board Member At Large

Shahida Shahrir, Morocco 2005-2007

My two years in Morocco serving as a Maternal and Child Health volunteer (2005-2007) were some of the most challenging, exhilarating and transformative of my life.  The personal growth and camaraderie I discovered with my fellow volunteers was something I sought post-service, and have found amongst the members of the RPCV community.  SEAPAX, I feel, is the central forum through which we can celebrate our shared experiences and express all of the ways the Peace Corps has impacted us, both good and bad.  As an At-Large member of the board, I would like to foster the support, acceptance and identity for returned and future volunteers, for which I had once been searching in the Seattle area.  I hope to build upon the energy, diversity and spirit of social responsibility already alive in the SEAPAX community through their many social and service events.

Board Member At Large

Simone LaPray, Ukraine 2006-2011

I would be honored to serve as a SEAPAX board member in the upcoming year. I am interested in serving as an At-Large Member to support the current and future Peace Corps community. I recently moved to the area to work for Social Security Administration, and I am so excited to promote SEAPAX in every way that I can. Each day, I think about the remarkable experience Peace Corps gave to me and the remarkable people who dedicated their passion, tried their beliefs and silenced their doubt to help people in another part of the world.
I grew up in a small town in Southwest Washington and received a B.A. in French with a minor in TESOL from Western Washington University. Before Peace Corps, I volunteered on a communal farm in Israel  where I taught English, worked in the fields and peeled potatoes! I served in Peace Corps Ukraine from 2006 to 2011 as a TEFL volunteer. As you already know, your work is often determined by the community and I had the opportunity to also work in community development, youth programs, HIV/AIDS awareness and my own personal favorite-SUMMER CAMPS! Once arriving in country, a fellow PCV and I created the Multicultural Awareness Council (MAC) to be a working group dedicated to promoting ethnic and religious diversity. Since leaving,  MAC members (the MACnuggets!) have kept the dream alive of breaking down stereotypes and racism in a country that experiences an influx of immigration matched with an increase in hate crimes.
Coming home to a country in a fragile economy, I was shocked of how difficult it was for returning PCVs to find employment stateside. Working together as a Peace Corps community not only promotes the program and supports future Peace Corps volunteers but strengthening returning volunteers.  I use every opportunity available to inform employers and the public on Peace Corps and the value we present in the workplace and community. Our experiences helped us to become leaders and innovators and we bring it to the Seattle area through connecting with the community.  SEAPAX is the steward of the Seattle area’s perception of Peace Corps and together we can ensure the success of future and returning volunteers.
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