As everyone knows, it’s the season to be thankful and here at CoEd, we have seven new Board members to be extra thankful for this year!
In just a little over a year, we almost doubled the size of our Board of Directors. With seven new smiling faces comes even more expertise and creativity to draw from in the years to come to help us on our mission to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education. We are so grateful for the new perspectives that these Board members will bring to the table and we can’t wait for you to meet them!
Rolando reading with Spark students on the GLP Tour
First up is Rolando Archila! Rolando was born and raised in Guatemala City. And did you know, Rolando was a kid star in a Frosted Flakes commercial while he lived there! Now that’s grreeeaaattt! (Just imagine the Tony the Tiger voice)
He moved to the US to attend Indiana University. From there, he moved to Cincinnati for an internship that turned into a full-time job working as a Marketing Consultant. Rolando went on to be the Founder of Atalanta Consulting and Art of Wanderlust. Rolando and his wife Jenn love to travel. They even travelled for nine months, visiting 15 different countries!
Rolando first connected with CoEd as a volunteer. Since then, he’s sponsored five Rise students: Dany, Maycol, Marleny, Melisa, and Sergio. Rolando’s favorite thing about CoEd is the mission. “What CoEd is doing is the answer to change Guatemala and lift families out of poverty,” Rolando said in our interview with him. He also admires the structure of CoEd’s four educational programs, their sustainability, and the devotion of the CoEd team, in Cincinnati and in Guatemala.
As a Board member, Rolando hopes to contribute even more to CoEd from a creative and technological standpoint. His Guatemalan roots will help give the Board an accurate perspective of Guatemalan life. Rolando is a big picture thinker and wants to help push CoEd forward and continue to contribute to CoEd’s world impact. Oh and he can’t wait to travel back to Guatemala soon. (We can’t wait either, Rolando!)
Next up on our list is Michelle Hanavan! Michelle was born and raised in Cincinnati. She’s been married to her husband for over 22 years and they have four children, ranging in age from 17 to 22 years old. “All of our children were born in Guatemala and we are proud to be their parents!” Michelle said.
Michelle first heard about CoEd all the way back in 2004-2005 through a group of adoptive families in Cincinnati called Friends Through Guatemalan Adoption and her family has been involved in one way or another ever since! The Hanavan family has even sponsored three Rise students: Pedro, Melvin, and Elvis. She believes in CoEd’s mission and her favorite part is the “understanding that education breaks the cycle of poverty. It’s not a one-time handout; CoEd provides a path to education which creates a lifetime of opportunity.”
As a new Board member, she hopes that her time and talents will help push forward CoEd’s mission. She’s looking forward to visiting Guatemala again (hopefully in 2021!) saying, “A part of my heart is in Guatemala.” Fun fact: Michelle never travelled growing up, but developed a passion for it as an adult. She’s now visited 39 states in the US, four cities in Australia (Sydney, Cairns, Broome and Melbourne), Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala (13x’s so far), Honduras, the Bahamas, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia! (Whew! Now try to say all of that three times fast!)
Jennifer celebrating at Fall Fiesta 2019 with her husband Donald
Our third new face is Jennifer Mooney, the Founder & President of The Mooney Group! Jennifer is excited to join the Board because she loves that CoEd changes lives and that the CoEd team is so passionate about educating children in Guatemala. Jennifer says, “I look forward to traveling to Guatemala and helping out on the ground with the people whom CoEd impacts.”
Fun fact about Jennifer: She recently co-authored a book called “Hope Interrupted: America Lost and Found in Letters” that will be published in the spring!
Next up is Laura Trujillo! Laura is a mom of four and a former Journalist who’s now the Senior Manager for Public Relations for Fifth Third Bank. She spends most of her time outside of work cooking, reading, and walking her dogs! One cool thing about Laura is her passion for reading. “The main reason I wanted to buy a house was to have my own Little Free Library. I love seeing neighbors and strangers sharing books,” Laura mentioned.
Laura’s friends introduced her to CoEd. “I have two good friends who both adopted amazing children from Guatemala and both support CoEd. Hearing about their work with CoEd and their Helping Hands trips made me want to help in any ways I can,” Laura said to us. Now, Laura is a Rise sponsor for a student named Alex!
One of her favorite things about CoEd is our far reach of supporters from around the world. She said, “I love that while Cincinnatians think of CoEd as their own special organization, it has supporters and people who love it all across the country and even into other countries. It really helps show how we need to take care of each other all across the world.” As a Board member, she’s excited to help more people connect to the students they sponsor through the Rise Program and help high school and college students get more involved with CoEd too.
Ken with his family and their Rise student, Edy, on the Helping Hands Tour
Meet out fifth new Board member, Ken Petren! Ken is the former Dean of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Cincinnati and is now a Professor of Biology at UC. (Go Bearcats!) He studies the evolutionary ecology of birds and lizards, including Darwin’s finches and the famous Lazarus lizards of Cincinnati. (Cool, right?!)
Ken learned about CoEd through a network of families who have adopted children from Guatemala. Since 2017, Ken has sponsored his Rise student, Edy. Ken says his favorite part of CoEd “is the perfect intersection of heart and mind. The core value of breaking the cycle of poverty through education is very simple, yet very impactful. Execution of the mission is done in such an incredibly collaborative, thoughtful way, it has become endemic and sustainable. What’s not to love?”
Ken says he’s looking forward to learning more about how to increase the impact of the organization through a number of possible avenues. “This is an exciting time to think creatively about how to smartly achieve an even bigger impact on many more people.”
And although retired now, Ken used to play competitive ultimate frisbee at a national level!
Next up is Eric Landen! Eric lives in Cincinnati and works as an Attorney at Law at Frost Brown Todd, LLC. One cool thing about Eric is that he served in the United States Peace Corps in El Salvador building potable water systems in rural areas! During this experience, he saw first-hand the need for development assistance and education in that part of the world.
Along with his experience in the Peace Corps, Eric got involved with CoEd for a variety of reasons. He’d been a long-time friend of CoEd’s Founder and Executive Director, Joe Berninger. Eric’s mom was also a CoEd tour veteran and a life-long educator and literacy specialist. Just like his mom, Eric believes in the power of education to change lives. This led him to join CoEd’s Board of Directors and sponsor two Rise students, Gladys and Nelson!
Last but not least is Sister Louise Lears! Louise was born in Baltimore to a large family (3 brothers and 3 sisters!). She entered the Sisters of Charity 35 years ago. During this time, she’s served in health care and education in Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. She even has a PhD in Health Care Ethics from St. Louis University.
Sister Louise has taken trips to Cuba, Mexico City, El Salvador, and longer trips to Guatemala. After returning from a month-long stay in Antigua, Sister Louise received a phone call from a former CoEd Board member, Sister Victoria Forde. When asked about serving on the CoEd Board, she jumped on the opportunity!
Her favorite thing about CoEd is the dedication to education as the means to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala. Since she’s an educator, she too has seen the positive impact of education on students who are the first in their family to read, graduate from high school, or attend college. She believes that education has the power to change lives (we do too, Sister Louise!). As a Board member, Sister Louise is eager to learn from the CoEd staff and her fellow Board members. She hopes to travel back to Guatemala soon.
And did you know…Louise is a huge sports fan and has run a number of marathons, including the Boston Marathon!
We are so happy we could introduce you all to our seven new Board members. Mixed with our veteran Board members, we can’t wait to see where this experienced and passionate Board of Directors will take CoEd in the years to come!