The Board of Directors
President: Shiella Fodchuk
Shiella Fodchuk is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, Spiritual Director and retired educator at the Vancouver School of Theology, where she was Co-ordinator of Spirituality Programs from 2003 until her retirement in 2010. From 1993-2003, Shiella was the Executive Director of Cathedral Centre for Spiritual Direction at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, a Canadian Registered Charity within the Anglican Church. She has served as Chair of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors’ Ethics Committee; and served on the Task Group for Counsellor Regulation in BC. For many years Shiella and her husband, Bo, have felt anguished about the plight of women suffering gender discrimination in many parts of the world. They both know that the key to greater equality is to educate women. After retirement, Shiella decided to help girls in East Africa to obtain an education.
Director: Anne Kober
Anne Kober as a member of the Law Society of BC has practiced as a commercial corporate and real estate lawyer in Vancouver for the past 40 years. Anne is presently practicing law with the law firm of Clark Wilson LLP in Vancouver. Anne is also a director and officer of The Whonnock Foundation. Anne and several other members of the Whonnock area in the lower mainland area of British Columbia Canada created the Whonnock Foundation in 1994 to provide bursaries to deserving applicants to enable them to attend post-secondary educational institutions of their choice. Anne is also an active supporter of Covenant House and Child Haven. In 1991/1992 Anne as treasurer and director of Meadow Ridge independent School Society was instrumental in formulating and implementing a plan which raised three million dollars Canadian for the construction of the Meadowridge School in Maple Ridge. Anne is convinced that education is the key to lifting people out of poverty and enabling them to participate in the election of a government which represents the needs of the people.
Director: Dr. David Po Him Yeung
“Born in Hong Kong, old enough to remember the Pearl Harbour attack, I have experienced the fear of hiding from the advancing enemy soldiers, and seen the indignity and degradation of people in abject poverty. After attaining a medical degree in Hong Kong University, I was trained in Hong Kong, London and Vancouver for ten years before private practice in psychiatry for the next 35 years. My special interest in psychiatry is childhood trauma and gender inequality. Now retired, I like to work towards helping children in the developing world. I believe our hope for the future in the world rests on our children receiving love and education.” In early 2014 Dr. Yeung was in Kenya assisting and returned with several photographs that illustrate the work of the foundation.
Director: Anne Millar
Anne Millar grew up in New Zealand. She taught in secondary schools in both New Zealand and Canada, for a total of 35 years. During that time she also spent a year studying in Paris. After retirement, she went back to school again for a degree in Theological Studies at the Vancouver School of Theology, and now has a small Spiritual Direction practice in Vancouver. She also has strong ties to Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, BC. Anne has always been interested in languages, and now in retirement is also pursuing a love of art and art history.
“One of the great joys of my life has been continuing to engage in formal education of one kind or another. When I began studying for my first degree, my grandmother was opposed – I was a girl, what was the point? Four years later she attended my graduation with changed views and much pride. It is my hope that with some changing of views and with the support of organizations like this one, African girls will eventually be able to take for granted their right to advanced education and train for positions of leadership in their world.”
Director: Dr. Phil Sestak
Phil is a member of a group of volunteer physicians from Vancouver who has been working in Africa for the past ten years, and he has been in Kenya now four times, working with Kenyan medical staff, doing rounds, providing patient care, overseeing the most difficult cases, and educating clinical specialists and nurses on the most up-to-date treatment of HIV/AIDS. As many of our students have lost one or more parents to HIV/AIDS, and some have parents, grandmothers and young siblings who currently suffer from the disease, Phil’s presence on our board is an asset to the Foundation.
Director and Treasurer: Syd Gallinger
“In 2006, I retired from the Canada Revenue Agency with 36 years of service. I am a CMA (certified management accountant) and a CFP (certified financial planner). I have been working as a financial planner since my retirement. I have served as a treasurer and trustee of Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, BC. I was a treasurer and board member of the Cathedral Centre for Spiritual Direction, a Registered Charity within the Anglican Church. I am currently the president and treasurer of my strata. I have an interest and commitment to helping people to be empowered to better their situation through education. In my spare time, I enjoy reading.”
Secretary to the Board: Shaaron Fedora
Shaaron is a recently retired legal secretary.
“I am drawn to the work of the Foundation. It aligns perfectly with my fierce passion for the welfare of children and the ideas of justice and equality. By accident of birth, we live comfortable lives in a peaceful country. The peoples of Nyanza Province, Kenya, do not. I alone might not change the world, but I can profoundly change the future of one young student in a far away land. All of us, working together with the Foundation, can change the lives of many”.
Hospitality Chair: Lesley Blok
Lesley is a retired health care professional. In her 30-year career as a speech-language pathologist she worked with special needs children, latterly focusing on children on the autism spectrum. She has always believed in the importance of giving back to her community, and her involvement with The Power of Education Africa allows her to help a much more distant community. She believes education is a key element to real and long-lasting change for young people living in poverty.
Technology Advisor, Content Creator, and Digital Marketing Specialist:
Lauren graduated from Emily Carr University in 2010 with a Bachelors Degree in Film and Integrated Media. An avid user of technology, she currently works as an Online Education Specialist, researching and writing educational content for a prominent Vancouver startup.
Her lifelong passion for education, and her deep-rooted belief that girls and women should have equality in every sphere of life, have brought her to the Power of Education Africa Foundation, where she is overjoyed to have the opportunity to help share the stories of the brave and intelligent young women we sponsor.
Youth Ambassador: Lauren Lum-Webb
Lauren attends Magee Secondary School. She will be helping the Foundation by setting up fundraisers, starting a club at her school, and speaking at certain events. She writes: “I never really knew what trigged me wanting to help people. It was always just there and I never really knew about it until now. In a way, I feel like I have found my talent. Like how some people are good at sports or painting or riding horses. Helping people is my talent. If I can help the girls in Africa get an education, and help them have a better future, then why not? I thought to myself, why do I have an education and they don’t? What makes it so different? It doesn’t make sense to sit back and watch them suffer when they have been through so much. I know what it’s like to not to know what is going to happen next, and it’s scary. If they can have a better future, be safer and happier, then why should I not help?”
Kenyan Advisor: The Reverend Timon Ochieng Odeny
A gender inclusive Kenyan advisor, Timon Ochieng is a Roman Catholic Priest, a native of Nyanza Province, and member of the Luo community. He has been in active pastoral ministry to the Luo and Kuria peoples since his ordination eight years ago. Before that, he taught at St. John Minor Seminary, Rakwaro, and St. Georges Secondary School, Nyanza. He is a Director of St. Elizabeth Ndisi Health Centre. He has a background linking NGOs with educational institutions, scholars and researchers. Currently doing Doctoral Studies in Theology at Leopold-Franzens-University, Innsbruck, Austria, Fr. Timon is back in Kenya during the time of year that the Foundation’s representatives are there. He hosts them in his home in Rapogi, in Nyanza Province. He provides material support and practical guidance, interprets the local culture for them, and acts as liaison between the Foundation and the schools in which we place students. Fr. Timon participates in the interviews that the Foundations’ representatives conduct with prospective students and their guardian, if they have one. He communicates in Luo with the elders who do not speak English. His supportive presence puts everyone at ease.
“I have acquired broad knowledge and experience both in administration and pastoral work. The biggest challenge I have always faced as a Priest is how to alleviate poverty and empower our people through acquiring good education. A focus of my work is on advocating for gender equity and empowering both young and older women, who have been marginalized for a long time.”