Judi Jackson – President

Judi has worked with ECG and APIEAT in Jalapa, Nicaragua since 2006. Judi has over 30 years of  healthcare experience providing therapy services, rehabilitation leadership, support for individuals with disabilities and for therapy teams serving these individuals (occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists).  Judi has worked with Boulder Community Health as Director of Rehabilitation Therapy Services and holds a graduate degree in Speech Pathology.  Judi has led several therapy delegations to address the special needs of children and adults living with disabilities in the Jalapa Valley and continues to bring this focus to her work with ECG projects in Nicaragua.  In addition, her experience in healthcare services has provided valuable direction of ECG health initiatives impacting our community development and education efforts.  She is highly committed to supporting community-based programs to provide basic health education and increase quality of life for those in the world challenged by poverty and limited resources.

Patrica Matus-Amat, MA – Vice President

Patrica was born in Santiago de Chile. She was seventeen years old when the coup d’état that deposed President Salvador Allende took place. Her father was at the time Minister of the Economy for Allende, and was sent to a concentration camp and prison for two years. Patricia went into exile to Venezuela with her mother, brother, and sister. In Caracas, Venezuela she earned a Masters in Child Development and Disabilities and has been working in the field since. Prior to coming to the United States she worked as Senior Researcher at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC) for 25 years, conducting experiments in Neurochemistry and in a very large and important project measuring iron levels in children’s diets. When she relocated to the United States in 2001 she worked in the Psychology Department of the University of Colorado Boulder, as a researcher in learning and memory, for 8 years. Her current positions are a consultant for the Colorado Department of Education training early childhood professionals with a focus on low income immigrant women. She also teaches as an associate professor at Colorado Community College and as an adjunct at Naropa University, both in the Department of Education.  She is multi-lingual and bring to AACC a depth of cultural responsibility, personal experience of political turmoil, and a depth of research skills supporting the validity and reliability of AACC’s work. Patricia joined AACC in 2013. 

Tyler Lewis – Treasurer

Ty has a B.S.  in Business Administration from the University of Colorado (Denver) and an M.S. in Environmental Systems Analysis (Industrial Ecology) from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Ty has worked in the environmental industry for over six years.  He has worked in strategy and operations, as a market analyst, in project controls and most recently as a management consultant for Hawksley Consulting.  He hopes to leverage his technical and consulting skill sets to advance social and environmental initiatives that make a positive difference. Ty is excited about the future of AACC and the opportunities it affords to do meaningful and productive work.

Soad Altaai- Secretery

When I fled my country (Iraq) in 2003 I did not know where I was going. I needed to find a safe place for me and my future children. It took years for my case to be accepted as a refugee to resettle. After all these years of being a refugee, I was able to learn some English to communicate with The International Organization for Migration staff members, to explain the reasons why I can’t go back to or stay in my country. The feelings I had to overcome from being in that situation made me stronger, compassionate, and determined to achieve my goals.  Finally, when I moved to the United States, where I was naturalized, I found myself needing a job to support my little ones. Wth some English I was able to find a job as a teacher’s assistant in childcare. I was terrified and was broke financially and emotionally. Luckily someone introduced me to a group of volunteers who were able to assist me to understand the new culture, coping with the stress this new life brought. Through my experience, I realized the most effective way to help others is to know about myself, my limits, and my biases and to work on all of them and change my thinking to be more positive and foreword thinking. Taking care of myself and my well-being by changing my way of thinking and not trying to not to forget what I went through but learn from it appreciate the new life that I have, love myself, my life, and spend my time with my family.

Irina Karic

Irina holds a Master in International Human Rights and a Certificate in International Humanitarian Assistance from Josef Korbel School of International Studies, where she focused her research on the role of and links between Education and Transitional Justice in post-conflict settings. At present, Irina works as a M&E Manager at CARE International in Jordan, where she helps develop evaluations, assessments and case studies and reports on programs’ indicators, measuring the reach and impact of services provided to refugee and host community members in Jordan. Moreover, she has successfully secured over $15 million by a variety of international donors through continuous fundraising efforts, writing grant proposals and developing SMART indicators that further support CARE’s humanitarian and development-focused programs. Prior to her work in Jordan, Irina had worked in Palestine, as well as in the US, with independent consultants and ngo’s on a range of humanitarian projects that tackled various issues including gender-based violence, education, and child protection.

Her engagement with ECG began in 2012, when Irina participated in a participatory action research, the Baseline phase, which aimed to decolonize the national educational curriculum in Bhutan and align it to the country’s framework of Gross National Happiness. Irina is looking forward to the future phase of ECG and the myriad opportunities it grants to affect change and do meaningful work in the global community.

Jane Wathagana – Director of Mother Beth’s

Jane is a native Kenyan who was born in Kijabe. Her family didn’t have much. Clothes and food were scarce as her mother was a single parent raising twelve children. Her passion for children really grew once her mother, Mama Beth, could no longer take care of the children in her program. Since 2006 she’s overseen the ministry at Mama Beth’s and taking care of the roughly 100 children in the program. Jane loves to see the growth of young people and she believes in the potential they have.

Jane believes that Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. That’s why she’s so passionate about changing the poor conditions of our local schools and creating a space where the children can get quality education.

Argentina Morales

I was born in Tauquil, Jalapa, a small village located in the northern region of Nicaragua. I have been working with Programa Educando con Amor y Ternura-APIEAT(The Program Educating with Love and Tenderness) for 19 years. I started as an educational and parent promoter, providing home visits to the hardest to reach communities in the mountains. now I am the manager and supervisor. I am the mother of two beautiful daughters and grandmother of a lovely child.

Before being part of this amazing program, I was a 27 years old lady with only four years of schooling, and had to work at the tobacco fields to support my family economically and to send my children to school.

Being part of this great APIEAT program improved my life significantly. It has been a great learning experience as I have created lovely trust relationships with my community and other community members, and very importantly, I have improved my interactions with my children, grandson and other family members.
By  being empowered by this program and the training taught by Debbie Young, I was able to finish my high school, and learn a lot of information about community and child development, which in turn has become a great tool for me to use in supporting families around my  communities.

Dr. Douglas Johnson

Douglas has a PhD in Physics. He has been employed in the Physics Department at the University of Colorado for 25 years. Douglas has over 15 years of experience working with non-profit organizations. Between 2006 and 2010, he was the president of the board of directors for AACC. During that time, he oversaw the construction of a primary school in Jalapa, Nicaragua. He has worked with children living in the Managua landfill, La Chureca. He taught the teens radio public service announcement production. Their announcements were aired on the largest radio station in Managua; Radio YA In the fall of 2014, Douglas was awarded a Fulbright appointment and worked for 6 weeks at the Institute for Language and Culture Studies in Taktse, Bhutan. He helped the college improve their computer infrastructure configuration. For the past 3 years, he has been volunteering his service to a number of computing departments at colleges in Bhutan. Douglas joined AACC in 2004.

Dr. Joel Edelstein

Joel is Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he taught political economy courses and seminars from 1976 until 2002. He has written articles and books on development and globalization.  He has served as the Interim Dean of the Graduate School at UCD, as Chair of the UCD Department of Political Science, and as Chair of the Board of KGNU and also of the Boulder-Jalapa Friendship Cities Project. Edelstein has produced public affairs programs on KGNU-FM, Boulder County Public Radio since 1982, and from 2003 until 2014 he served as KGNU News Interim Director and as Co-Director. To study the effects of global economic integration and national policy responses, since 1969 he has worked in Havana, Stockholm, in the capitals of Eastern Europe, Israel and the West Bank, Guatemala, Syria and Jordan, and Brazil, and with support from the CU-Denver Institute for International Business (IIB), in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the United Arab Emirates, and in Chile. Joel has been part of the AACC board since 2003.