Friends of Liberia Leadership
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.
Pat Reilly - Vice President
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.
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 - Treasurer
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.
Jim McGeorge – Membership Coordinator
Jim McGeorge served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zorzor, Lofa County from 1968 – 71. He taught at Antoinette Tubman Junior High School for two years and worked as a rural construction volunteer in Zorzor District for another year. He met his future wife who was a nurse at Curran Hospital in Zorzor where they got engaged.
Before retiring to Flagstaff, AZ, Jim worked for the City of Tucson and the City of Tempe. He has BS and MPA from the University of Arizona. In addition to helping FOL, Jim currently volunteers with the US Forest Service---Coconino National Forest, assists the Peace Corps coordinator for Northern Arizona, serves on Fiesta Bowl and Insight Bowl committees and is active with Friends of Camp Wildcat.
Jim traveled to Liberia in 2009 with the FOL Trip and again in 2011. He joined FOL in 1996 and has served as Membership Coordinator since 2003.
Friends of Liberia Board of Trustees
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.
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Delaware.
Resident and scholar of Liberia, 1951 - Present (My father was the Forestry Advisor to the Liberian Government (with AID) from 1951-1960). Founding Editor of the Liberian Studies Journal, begun in 1968 (now run by Liberian scholars).
Founder of the Institute for Liberian Studies, Philadelphia (the extensive research collection is now at Indiana University).
Participant of several AID and World Bank Projects in Liberia
Wide variety of publications, the latest "Zolu Duma, Ruler of the Southern Vai, 17??-1828: A Problem in Historical Interpretation," Liberian Studies Journal, XXVI, 2 (2001), 1-18, and most recent paper read was "Matilda Newport: The Power of a Liberian Invented Tradition," presented at the Liberian Studies Conference, Indiana University, March 2007.
Like many members of Friends of Liberia, Terry Anderson's connection with Liberia is through the Peace Corps. Terry worked as a high school science and math teacher in Totota, Bong County, from 1979 through 1981.
In his professional life, Terry is a writer and editor on issues of international public health and economics. His interests include public health macroeconomics; the epidemiology and social ramifications of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and hematology; cross-cultural understanding; and disability issues and rights. He has written human interest articles, complex medical studies that are accessible to lay audiences, and white papers to summarize scientific meetings. One of his current major projects is working as a writer/editor on a State Department contract that provides technical support to countries finding difficulty implementing their grants from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
A progressive communitarian, Terry manages to hold community service jobs in addition to his paid work. Among them are serving as an invasive weed specialist for Montgomery County, Maryland, and singing as a tenor in the Cathedral Voices choir at the Washington National Cathedral.
Terry became chairman of the Friends of Liberia Board of Trustees in March 2006. Terry lives in suburban Washington, DC, with Steven, his partner of 22 years.
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.
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.
A native of New Jersey, Peter Levitov taught in Harper (Cape Palmas), Liberia from September 1969 through December 1971, working 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., Levitov moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he has worked in international education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 1972. Currently, as Associate Dean of International Affairs and Immigration Attorney, his principal responsibilities include securing temporary and permanent visa documentation for foreign faculty, post-doctoral researchers and other professional staff and in developing international linkages with universities around the world. He has traveled to about 65 countries. 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 and the library.
Levitov is married and has three children. He joined the Board of Trustees of Friends of Liberia in 2003 and serves on the Executive Committee.
Verlon Stone - Electronic News Coordinator
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.