The MEDA Team - Board of Directors

Board of Directors - Officers

ALBERT (BERT) FRIESEN, Chair

Bert-Friesen-PSBert Friesen
Member-at-Large
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Bert Friesen is CEO of Genesys Ventures Inc., which helps scientists commercialize their human therapy research. "Research scientists call us to say, 'I found a cure for cancer. It has commercial potential. Would you be willing to help us commercialize this?' I get a dozen or more of those a month," says Bert, who has a PhD in biochemistry and a stellar reputation dating back to his early work developing WinRho for the treatment of Rh disease of the new born. Genesys selects the most promising prospects and helps them form a company, license the technology, provide all the regulatory and financial expertise, and try to commercialize the business. "We've done about 20 companies in the last 30 years," he says.

"What intrigued me most initially was the combination of providing a forum to explore and discuss work and faith, and secondly to help people with a business thrust," says Bert. He found the emphasis on efficiency and sustainability appealing. "That's what I do for a business, so I really associated with that."

His appreciation for the international dimension deepened when he joined a MEDA trip to Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia with Gerhard Pries to see how business solutions relieved poverty. "The entrepreneurship surprised me," Bert recalls. "To see firsthand the excitement and entrepreneurship of Bolivian farmers at work was awakening."

Bert is a big sports fan. He loves golf and plays whenever he can. He played hockey in university and still straps on the skates. When he turned 65, his kids rented a rink at the local Iceplex for an intergenerational game that included him and wife Lee, three daughters, three sons-in-law and nine grandchildren. "All 17 of us were on the ice playing hockey," Bert says.

GARY LEIS, Secretary

Gary-LeisGary Leis
Member-at-Large
Wellesley, Ontario

Gary Leis is President and CEO of Leis Pet Distributing Inc., which distributes pet food and supplies to independent pet retailers across Eastern Canada. Between the head office in Wellesley, Ontario and a second location in Moncton, New Brunswick, Leis Pet employs 55 full and part time employees.

As a long-time social and peace activist, Gary has always struggled trying to justify feeding pets for a living but has found comfort in MEDA. "Belonging to an organization like MEDA, meeting other business people and financially supporting the poorest of the poor in an entrepreneurial setting has given me a sense of social responsibility. What better way to achieve world peace by meeting the basic needs of people around the world?"

Gary was first introduced to MEDA through the local Waterloo chapter, where he became a member of the local board for nine years and served six years as Board Chair. As he approached retirement age, he felt the need for a new challenge. It was his belief in MEDA's mission, coupled with his business experience, that made it a natural fit. As a new member to MEDA's Board, Gary is looking forward to seeing firsthand MEDA's work during his upcoming visit to the GROW project in Ghana. He strives to become an ambassador for MEDA, sharing the good news story.

Gary says it's not only important to help people start businesses, but also to complete the value chain from producer to the end user, as MEDA does. He added how rewarding it is to see their lives improve in a sustainable way. "My MEDA dollars are multiplied many times over by government and other funders. The management and staff at MEDA are second to none. I trust them with my donated dollars."

Gary and his wife, Brenda Sauder, have three children and six grandchildren. Active in his community, Gary is a member of the Wellesley Lions Club and the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival. His hobbies include golf, hockey, camping and fishing.

TIM PENNER, Vice-Chair

Tim-Penner-PSTim Penner
Prairie U.S. Regional Director
Harper, Kansas

Tim is president of Harper Industries, which manufactures specialized agricultural, industrial and turf products – from flatbeds and hydraulics to bale loaders and all-terrain mowers.

Tim got to know MEDA while serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Bolivia and says he was "very impressed with how MEDA operated in economic development, job creation and micro-loans." Ever since then, economic development has been in his blood. His children caught it, too. Son Daniel spent part of last year with MEDA Paraguay, and daughter Jessica works with Plowsharing Crafts, based in St. Louis.

Tim and his wife, Faith, like to bring fellow employees to the annual MEDA convention. "That has been a lot of fun," he says. "It's just amazing how often during the year those times together as a business group, with spouses, come up in conversation as people reflect on what they learned."

A MEDA investment club that former MEDA staffer Peter Wiebe helped start a dozen years ago still meets on the first Saturday of each month. "I don't think we've ever missed a Saturday," Tim says. The group has invested in two MEDA entities – Sarona and MicroVest.

Tim enjoys sports and reads widely. Recently he and his brother planted native grasses and several hundred trees on their farm in Nebraska to create a wildlife habitat and return some of the land to its natural state. Another "hobby" is the sister church relationship between his local congregation and a Mennonite church in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. "About every other year there is some kind of fraternal visit – either we go there, or they come here," Tim says. "That church started in Santa Cruz in the 1970s, and now there are 10 churches in the area."

ZACHARY BISHOP, Treasurer

Zach-BishopZach Bishop
Member-at-Large
Cherry Hills Village, Colorado

Zach Bishop is Senior Vice President, Public Finance for D.A. Davidson & Co. in Denver, specializing in investment banking for local governments. His work primarily involves raising capital for real estate development, whether for a new residential neighborhood or the redevelopment of blighted urban projects. That gives him a lot of affinity for the deeper undercurrents of MEDA's investment activities. His father, Tom, was a long-time member of MEDA's board of directors who also served as MEDA treasurer, chair of its finance committee, and as a member of the board of MEDA Investments Inc./Sarona.

"What attracted me to MEDA is the sustainable, market-based approach," says Zach. That was reinforced in February when Zach toured MEDA's Ethiopia project, which assists rice farmers and weavers. He was struck by the number of non-government organizations (NGOs), as seen by all the signs in the towns and along the roadside. While he does not doubt those organizations' good intentions, he believes MEDA scores higher on long-lasting sustainable impact. He was also highly impressed by MEDA's Ethiopia staff.

Zach and his wife, Christina Alderfer, have two sons, four and two, and keeping up with them almost constitutes a hobby for Dad. "They're big train lovers so we're always looking for the next train ride for them," he says.













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Board of Directors - U.S. Regional Directors

BRYCE BERGEY, Northeast

Bryce-Bergey-PSBryce Bergey
Northeast U.S. Regional Director
Hatfield, Pennsylvania

Bryce is an investments officer with Univest Corporation of Pennsylvania, Souderton, Pa., working with the Institutional Investments team to assist clients with corporate retirement plans. He was recruited while a business administration and economics student at Eastern Mennonite University. Ken Hochstetler, a senior Univest executive and MEDA past board member, came to EMU and invited Bryce to become a corporate management trainee at Univest. Bryce agreed, and ended up staying.

When he succeeded Hochstetler on the MEDA board (at 25, its youngest director) he continued a decades-long tradition of Univest involvement with MEDA. Bryce attended local chapter meetings in Harrisonburg, Va., and attended a number of MEDA conventions while a student. "I believe in the power of the markets and the power of people," he says. "MEDA uses the best of both of these to provide new business solutions to entrepreneurs around the world."

He's also likes MEDA's first-to-market track record, which combined with MEDA's faith emphasis "allows for a powerful platform that reaches out to millions of families. This is also exciting because it allows MEDA to be flexible to adjust to new market conditions. Entrepreneurial thinking can lead to new opportunities for our stakeholders."

Work ranks high as a hobby for Bryce, but he rounds it out with volleyball, golf and skiing. He and his wife, Maureen, "absolutely love" to travel and have spent three weeks in Vietnam.

GREG GAEDDERT, Great Lakes

Greg GaeddertGreg Gaeddert is a managing partner with B12 Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm located in Kansas City, MO. He has experience in investments focused on manufacturing and distribution entities primarily located in the central region of the United States. Greg moved to private equity investing in 2000 after 11 years in commercial banking, where he started as a commercial loan trainee and worked his way up to executive vice president and commercial banking group manager. A graduate of Bethel College, he earned an MBA with a focus on finance from the University of Kansas.

Greg enjoys the work of MEDA and its ties to the global community. The “blended finance” that MEDA has become known for resonates with him due to its similarities to the private equity investing, consulting and end market customer engagement roles of his “day job.” Providing business solutions to poverty is more than a passion, it’s a responsibility for those of us fortunate enough to offer assistance to the working poor with aspirations for more.

Greg and his wife, Terri, live in Leawood, Kansas. They have three children. Greg’s interests include travel, history, art and outdoor sport.

JAMES MILLER, Gulf States

Jim MillerJim Miller is founder and CEO of JMX Brands, a Florida e-commerce company recognized as one of the top 1,000 internet retailers in America. The company’s flagship brand, DutchCrafters, is the largest e-commerce brand of Amish-made furniture.

Jim was also founding director of Goshen College Sarasota, and has taught at Goshen and Eckerd colleges. He served as associate pastor at Bahia Vista Mennonite Church (1993-1998), in various capacities with Southeast Mennonite Conference, and in a transitional role as bi-vocational pastor at Covenant Mennonite Fellowship (2011-2013), where he still attends.

A graduate of Goshen College, he earned a Master’s Degree in management from the University of South Florida, and studied at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Eastern Mennonite University and Bethel Theological Seminary.

Jim gives generously of his time through community service, including twice as president of MEDA’s Sarasota chapter and playing a formative role in the chapter’s development. He is currently a member of the board of directors at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.

“For me MEDA’s faith perspective is compelling. MEDA blends compassion with effective solutions to change economic systems. While this is not the only appropriate response to poverty, it certainly resonates with me as a way to use my gifts as a business leader to following the way of Jesus in a complex world.”

Jim and his wife, Linse, have two adult sons, James and Alexander, and two teenage daughters, Alysa and Brielle. His interests include tennis, boating, fishing, reading and traveling.

MARIANNE UNRUH, West Coast

Marianne UnruhMarianne Unruh
West Coast U.S. Regional Director
Reedley, CA

Marianne Unruh developed a passion for produce selling peaches out of an old pickup truck in high school. After studying Biology at the University of Kentucky, she decided to return home to California and jump head-long into produce. For numerous years she worked as a commodity manager for a large retailer buying and selling fresh produce.

In 2006, Marianne decided she missed being in the fields and decided to start her own business, Fresh Solutions. Today Fresh Solutions provides on-the-ground buying services to retailers and food service vendors in several states following the produce seasons. She also serves on the board of the Mennonite Aid Plan of the Pacific Coast.

Marianne attends First Mennonite in Reedley, California, and is Auntie M to numerous nieces and nephews. She is a huge San Francisco 49er fan and loves watching college football. She also enjoys classic cars.

Why MEDA? "I was first drawn in by like-minded business people who were willing to open up about their business experience. Through the years I have kept coming back to MEDA because of their creative, business-minded solutions to poverty."

PAT VENDRELY, North Central

Pat-Vendrely-PSPat Vendrely
North Central U.S. Regional Director
Flossmoor, Illinois

Pat is president & CEO of TGI Systems Corporation, which provides signage, graphics, display systems and services (design, install, event management) to the sporting sector of the marketplace. If you've ever watched a soccer match on TV you've probably seen his work – the bright graphics and dazzling perimeter signage along the sidelines.

Pat has been active with MEDA at the local level, helping start a MEDA chapter in Chicago and heading up planning for the annual entrepreneurs conference in Palm Springs, California. He likes the Mennonite church's "best-kept secret," especially the way it multiplies donations by 10 times for greater impact on the field. "With a ratio like that, why not invest/donate?" he says. "What better form of stewardship and utilization of talents with our values?"

"I enjoy attending conventions and forging lifetime relationships with other businessfolk whose goals and objectives are similar to mine," he says. "As Coach John Wooden said when asked why he coaches basketball, 'Where else do you find more splendid company?'" A newcomer to the board, Pat "can't wait" for a trip to a MEDA field.

Pat likes to travel with his family – wife Ann and twin children, Chris and Kate – to new and favorite places like Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Europe. "Certainly we like to watch soccer matches live, like the FIFA World Cup matches," he says. "Hanging out at our Lake House in the summer is always a favorite fun time."

TIM PENNER, Prairie

Tim-Penner-PSTim Penner
Prairie U.S. Regional Director
Harper, Kansas

Tim is president of Harper Industries, which manufactures specialized agricultural, industrial and turf products – from flatbeds and hydraulics to bale loaders and all-terrain mowers.

Tim got to know MEDA while serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Bolivia and says he was "very impressed with how MEDA operated in economic development, job creation and micro-loans." Ever since then, economic development has been in his blood. His children caught it, too. Son Daniel spent part of last year with MEDA Paraguay, and daughter Jessica works with Plowsharing Crafts, based in St. Louis.

Tim and his wife, Faith, like to bring fellow employees to the annual MEDA convention. "That has been a lot of fun," he says. "It's just amazing how often during the year those times together as a business group, with spouses, come up in conversation as people reflect on what they learned."

A MEDA investment club that former MEDA staffer Peter Wiebe helped start a dozen years ago still meets on the first Saturday of each month. "I don't think we've ever missed a Saturday," Tim says. The group has invested in two MEDA entities – Sarona and MicroVest.

Tim enjoys sports and reads widely. Recently he and his brother planted native grasses and several hundred trees on their farm in Nebraska to create a wildlife habitat and return some of the land to its natural state. Another "hobby" is the sister church relationship between his local congregation and a Mennonite church in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. "About every other year there is some kind of fraternal visit – either we go there, or they come here," Tim says. "That church started in Santa Cruz in the 1970s, and now there are 10 churches in the area."

YVONNE SIEBER, Mid West

Yvonne SieberYvonne Sieber
Board Member (Mid West)

Yvonne Sieber is the new Chief Philanthropy Officer of Bluestem Communities, a growing corporation of retirement communities in South Central Kansas, effective July 2014. For the past seven years, she was VP of Advancement at Hesston College and had previously served on their Board.

With an MBA and undergraduate business degrees from Hesston College and Bethel College, most of her career has been in health care, undertaking various management and executive roles in the areas of human resources, finance and philanthropy. She notes that MEDA's "business approach to poverty solutions, as well as the quality of leadership and membership, was impressive. I'm pleased to join the Board of a growing organization that is diligently measuring results and outcomes."

Yvonne has attended the last six MEDA conventions in her role at Hesston College and has encouraged the college's business students to get involved with MEDA. "I value the engagement of MEDA's clients, staff, members and Board. I also value MEDA's innovation, flexibility and results-oriented approach."

Yvonne looks forward to learning more about MEDA and visiting a project in the field during her first term on the Board. She hopes to help spread the word about MEDA's impact on improving lives, a quality Yvonne appreciates. "I support MEDA because I see it making a difference to many."

Married to Gerry Sieber, a cross-country coach at Hesston College, they live together on an eight-acre farm along a peaceful creek. The couple has two adult daughters - one married with three children in Illinois and the other married with two children in AbuDhabi. Yvonne enjoys country living, travel, sports, historical fiction and a newly formed gospel choir.

Board of Directors - Canadian Regional Directors

ABE FEHR, Eastern

Abe-Fehr-PSAbe Fehr
Eastern Canada Regional Director
Leamington, Ontario

Abe Fehr and his brother are co-owners of Uni-Fab, a metal fabricating company they founded in 1991. With 102 employees, Uni-Fab specializes in custom metal fabrication of machine enclosures that they ship across North America as well as globally.

Abe and his wife Lisa became acquainted with MEDA in 2005 when their friends, Roger and Laura Tiessen, invited them to join a MEDA tour to Egypt. They liked what they saw, and in 2008 went on a MEDA tour to Romania. In 2009, Abe also visited MEDA's Ukraine Horticultural Development Project (UHDP).

He particularly appreciates MEDA's emphasis on sustainability and its long history of providing affordable credit to small business operators who might otherwise be unable to access loans. "Being in business, I know how important it is to secure financing," he says. "It's hard to grow without it."

Abe and Lisa, married 28 years, have three grown children: Helen, a teacher in Kitchener-Waterloo; David, an architectural design student in Calgary; and Mary, who is studying marketing on a hockey scholarship in Dudley, MA. Besides being an avid golfer, Abe owns the Leamington Flyers, a Junior B hockey team (ages 16-20). He counts several National Hockey League players as his alums, including Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars and Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes.

JANELLE UNRAU, Western

Janelle UnrauJanelle Unrau
Western Canada Regional Director
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Janelle Unrau might be considered lucky – she has two day jobs. For one (30% of her time), she and husband Grant own and operate Stun Collective, a strategy, marketing and design company. It has no outside staff but calls on a roster of specialists across North America, depending on the job at hand.

She is also the executive director of the Saskatchewan Association of Architects (70%), which looks after licensing of all architects practicing in Saskatchewan, working with other provinces to negotiate policy and ensure labour mobility for architects across Canada. The job is more fun than it looks, she says, as “there are all kinds of interesting things going on in the profession right now.”

With MEDA, Janelle is also a key part of the Board's Resource Development Advisory Council, and the “Marketing Think Tank,” an advisory sounding board to broaden MEDA’s practical marketing perspectives.

Janelle was initially drawn to her first MEDA convention for the business networking. “Typically, unless you’re networking in your field, there’s just not a place for that,” she says. In addition, MEDA fulfills convictions she formed in the 90s when reading Jimmy Carter’s book, Talking Peace. “He wrote about meeting people’s basic needs for food, shelter and healthcare, and said that until we’re able to meet those needs there can’t be peace in the world. MEDA really helps me put that belief forward, and in a way that rings with my faith background. It’s a really nice fit.”

Janelle spends the summer gardening. “I have a beautiful yard full of perennials,” she says. “Winter I’m in the kitchen making really good food for friends and family.”

JOHN SCHROEDER, Pacific

John-Schroeder-PSJohn Schroeder
Pacific Canada Regional Director
Abbotsford, British Columbia

John and his wife, Kelly, own Valleybrook Gardens, a leading North American producer of containerized perennials for independent garden centers. They established the company right after John graduated from university in 1980, and today grow 1,500 varieties of herbs, creepers, groundcovers, ferns and ornamental grasses. John and Kelly have four married daughters, with seven grandchildren and "multiple more on the way."
John has been involved with MEDA since his university days, more than 30 years ago. MEDA's work with small-scale producers in developing countries resonates with his own entrepreneurial spirit. "I love to see opportunity, get something started, get in there and be hands-on," he says. He likes MEDA's efforts to create business solutions to poverty. "I've always been a great fan of using good business principles to solve problems," he says.

Last year John signed up for a tour to Ethiopia to see firsthand MEDA's work with weavers and farmers. It was "really cool" to sit in a farmer's mud hut and hear how his life has been transformed thanks to better crops and more income. "You can read about it and you can watch videos but to actually be face to face and see it allows you to personalize it in a dramatic way," John says.
John is an avid reader (especially history) and photographer (his library contains 30,000 photos). "I love to travel," he says. "It's my favorite activity. I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning."

PETER DUECK, Midwest

Peter-Dueck-PSPeter Dueck
Midwest Canada Regional Director
Arborg, Manitoba

Peter Dueck is co-president of Vidir Machine Inc., which specializes in storage and handling solutions for big box stores such as display and storage mechanisms for carpets, vinyl flooring, tires and bicycles. They sell widely to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile and Australia.

A former pastor, Peter sees a great deal of skills transference between church ministry and business. "Seminary prepares you to be an ethical, moral businessman," he says, "and business teaches you how to behave, act and interact with people, which you need in the church."

While some agencies seem like "big black holes that you just pour money into," MEDA aims to create durable business solutions to poverty. When Peter speaks to others about MEDA, "they always want to know more" and would like to become involved. "It's a charity that kind of sells itself."

In 2009, Peter joined a MEDA tour to the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Paraguay, and enjoyed visiting early MEDA sites there as well as touring current projects in Peru. He also climbed to the top of Machu Pichu with MEDA president Allan Sauder. "It was an absolutely exhilarating experience."

Peter and Trudy, parents of two adult children, enjoy summer visits to their Hecla Island cabin on the shore of Lake Winnipeg. In winter Peter enjoys downhill skiing and snowmobiling.

RICK MARTIN, Atlantic

Rick 2 002 Rick Martin
Atlantic Canada Regional Director
Elmira, Ontario


Rick is general manager of Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd., Ontario's largest feed mill. The business his father began in 1958 now operates 24 hours a day, six days a week, providing a complete range of nutritional solutions for Ontario's livestock and poultry farmers.

Rick is a director of Ontario Agri Business Association and Farm & Food Care Canada and is also chair of Floradale Mennonite Church council and treasurer of Chesley Lake Camp. He enjoys playing golf and curling, chess and math puzzles and reading.

Rick likes the way MEDA uses microfinance to help women (and families) gain independence and status in countries where this is not the norm. He and his wife, nancy, live in Elmira, Ontario. They have two daughters and one grandson.

Board of Directors - Members at Large

ALBERT (BERT) FRIESEN, Manitoba

Bert-Friesen-PSBert Friesen
Member-at-Large
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Bert Friesen is CEO of Genesys Ventures Inc., which helps scientists commercialize their human therapy research. "Research scientists call us to say, 'I found a cure for cancer. It has commercial potential. Would you be willing to help us commercialize this?' I get a dozen or more of those a month," says Bert, who has a PhD in biochemistry and a stellar reputation dating back to his early work developing WinRho for the treatment of Rh disease of the new born. Genesys selects the most promising prospects and helps them form a company, license the technology, provide all the regulatory and financial expertise, and try to commercialize the business. "We've done about 20 companies in the last 30 years," he says.

"What intrigued me most initially was the combination of providing a forum to explore and discuss work and faith, and secondly to help people with a business thrust," says Bert. He found the emphasis on efficiency and sustainability appealing. "That's what I do for a business, so I really associated with that."

His appreciation for the international dimension deepened when he joined a MEDA trip to Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia with Gerhard Pries to see how business solutions relieved poverty. "The entrepreneurship surprised me," Bert recalls. "To see firsthand the excitement and entrepreneurship of Bolivian farmers at work was awakening."

Bert is a big sports fan. He loves golf and plays whenever he can. He played hockey in university and still straps on the skates. When he turned 65, his kids rented a rink at the local Iceplex for an intergenerational game that included him and wife Lee, three daughters, three sons-in-law and nine grandchildren. "All 17 of us were on the ice playing hockey," Bert says.

DALLAS STEINER, Ohio

Dallas Steiner PSDallas Steiner
Member-at-Large
Orrville, Ohio

Dallas Steiner is President/CEO and Director of International Sales for VENTRAC. A company that originates in the Steiner family, VENTRAC designs and manufactures compact tractors and equipment for slope mowing, golf courses, landscape and snow contractors, and municipalities. VENTRAC was recently awarded the President's "E" Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., the highest recognition any U.S. entity may receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

Steiner describes himself as passionate about MEDA's mission, vision and values. His own acquaintance with the organization goes back to the late 1970s when he served with Mennonite Central Committee in Bolivia and worked collaboratively with MEDA's agricultural team there.

"MEDA provides that spark/hope in a person's life that can ignite into a flame," Steiner says. "When that flame ignites, it makes such an impact and changes their own personal life, their families, schools, churches, communities and countries. I am honored to be a part of this type of activity!"

Since Steiner spends half his time on international sales to keep up with the volume of VENTRAC products exported, he is on the road a fair bit. With his frequent travels, Steiner admits, "I just love to come home. I have such a wonderful family and enjoy them so much. I have five grandkids and enjoy spending time with them; they are such a joy."

DONOVAN NICKEL, Colorado

Donovan-Nickel-PSDonovan Nickel
Member-at-Large
Windsor, Colorado

“I started in digital electronics when the computer industry was in its infancy,” says new MEDA board member Donovan Nickel of his long career with Hewlett‑Packard, where he ended up as a vice‑president leading two global divisions. When he retired in his early 50s he wasn’t ready to “sit on the porch and sip lemonade.” Today he keeps busy with business and investment management, consulting, a house construction project, a farm operation of wheat, milo and beans in Kansas, and involvement with non‑profits.

Donovan appreciates MEDA’s track record of effectiveness based on strong leadership and solid management processes, as well as its “congruence and alignment between who we say we are and what we say we do, and who we actually are and what we actually do.” He also likes MEDA’s focus on sustainable economic and opportunity development through market‑based principles and investments. Not only does it work, he says, but it also fits well with his own values and beliefs on how to accomplish positive outcomes in areas of need.

Donovan and his wife, Jewel, who have three daughters in various stages of advanced education, travel “for fun” when possible (such as MEDA’s recent board tour to Ethiopia; in the photo above he’s getting a quick course in weaving). He enjoys scuba diving in island locations and exploring Colorado’s back country on his mountain bike. Donovan also maintains a well‑equipped woodwork shop, where he builds furniture, as well as a metal machine shop complete with lathe, milling machine and welder to enable his hobby projects.

GARY LEIS, Ontario

Gary-LeisGary Leis
Member-at-Large
Wellesley, Ontario

Gary Leis is President and CEO of Leis Pet Distributing Inc., which distributes pet food and supplies to independent pet retailers across Eastern Canada. Between the head office in Wellesley, Ontario and a second location in Moncton, New Brunswick, Leis Pet employs 55 full and part time employees.

As a long-time social and peace activist, Gary has always struggled trying to justify feeding pets for a living but has found comfort in MEDA. "Belonging to an organization like MEDA, meeting other business people and financially supporting the poorest of the poor in an entrepreneurial setting has given me a sense of social responsibility. What better way to achieve world peace by meeting the basic needs of people around the world?"

Gary was first introduced to MEDA through the local Waterloo chapter, where he became a member of the local board for nine years and served six years as Board Chair. As he approached retirement age, he felt the need for a new challenge. It was his belief in MEDA's mission, coupled with his business experience, that made it a natural fit. As a new member to MEDA's Board, Gary is looking forward to seeing firsthand MEDA's work during his upcoming visit to the GROW project in Ghana. He strives to become an ambassador for MEDA, sharing the good news story.

Gary says it's not only important to help people start businesses, but also to complete the value chain from producer to the end user, as MEDA does. He added how rewarding it is to see their lives improve in a sustainable way. "My MEDA dollars are multiplied many times over by government and other funders. The management and staff at MEDA are second to none. I trust them with my donated dollars."

Gary and his wife, Brenda Sauder, have three children and six grandchildren. Active in his community, Gary is a member of the Wellesley Lions Club and the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival. His hobbies include golf, hockey, camping and fishing.

JENNY SHANTZ, Ontario

Jenny ShantzJenny Shantz of Mercedes Corporation, and co-owner of Stone Crock Inc, a family operated restaurant and food service business, has actively been involved in St Jacobs’s operations since 1991. She has managed and developed the St. Jacobs Country brand since 2002, creating a partner marketing consortium and taking an active role in regional tourism development efforts. Jenny also participates in the strategic development of several company entities, including St Jacobs Outlets and the village properties. From 1992-2006, she produced and presented an annual series of music, dance and theater performances at St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre.

Jenny is president of Grand River Child and Youth Services, vice chair of the Grand Philharmonic Choir and past president of the Centre for Family Business, Waterloo Region. She continues to be active with a number of community organizations including The Mennonite Story Inc.

“MEDA is hopeful and positive. In a world of distress and turmoil, MEDA’s work and involvements encourage us to keep looking forward. Not only is it motivating for those businesses and clients who we partner with around the world, but also for us as donors who get involved and contribute on various levels. MEDA is creative and not paternalistic. It actively creates projects and partnerships that have potential to outlive MEDA’s involvement.”

Jenny and her husband, Willem Moolenbeek, live in Waterloo, Ontario and are the parents of three nearly grown up children. Jenny enjoys singing with choirs and backcountry hiking.

JIM ALVAREZ, Indiana

Jim AlvarezJim Alvarez is chief financial officer of Everence Financial, which offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. He joined Everence in 2006 after gaining broad industry experience in food processing and international grain markets in Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Texas. He got his start in the family grain and feed business in 1988 after earning an MBA in Marketing from Pennsylvania State University and a BA Economics from Goshen College.

Jim serves as board member for the Greencroft Goshen retirement community, Bethany Christian Schools and IU Health Goshen Hospital in Goshen, Indiana, where he lives.

“It is fulfilling to be a part of MEDA. This is an organization that closely connects donors, staff and board members with people in significant need around the world. While we engage rationally by providing business solutions to poverty we also experience the emotion of literally improving the livelihood of people. Travelling and personally visiting with recipients of of our services fill me with tremendous joy.”

Jim enjoys endurance bicycling and travelling.

JOYCE BONTRAGER LEHMAN, New Hampshire

Joyce-Lehman-PhotoJoyce Bontrager Lehman
Member-at-Large
Keene, New Hampshire

Joyce Bontrager Lehman has been working in international economic development for the past 15 years, first with the MEDA Consulting Group and most recently as a Program Officer with the Financial Services for the Poor team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she managed a $100 million grant and contract portfolio that funded projects throughout the developing world. From 2003 through 2007, Joyce spent most of her time in Afghanistan working with the World Bank, USAID and other bi-lateral donors to establish and support a microfinance sector. Currently, she is working as an independent advisor with a focus on financial inclusion.

While she admits to having been invited to join other boards, she acknowledges MEDA's "is the one I felt was most closely aligned with my own work and passion. I also like the way MEDA staff involves the board in the field projects or MEDA investments as appropriate." She is now on the board of MiCredito, a microfinance institution in Nicaragua that's partially owned by MEDA and MEDA members.

"The business approach to poverty encourages, even demands, innovation and flexibility in project design. Things change quickly in the industry and MEDA has been good at responding to new priorities...if I didn't love and believe in what the organization is doing, I wouldn't be able to support it."

While hard to pick a favorite memory, Joyce shares that she'll never forget the first microcredit client she visited in Managua in 1998. She recalls being so impressed at how an illiterate woman knew both the CHISPA (a MEDA-supported microcredit program) loan terms and how much additional daily income she was able to make by using the $75 loan to purchase four months of firewood for her tortilla stand in bulk instead of every day. "The increase in income was enough to permit her to send one of her boys to school and also to buy fruits and vegetables so her family could have a more nutritional diet. Illiteracy does not imply incompetence."

Living in New Hampshire, Joyce has two adult children who live on the west coast – one in Seattle and one in Portland, Oregon. She loves to travel, especially to places she hasn't been before, and is looking forward to joining MEDA president Allan Sauder on the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb this July.

MICHAEL HORSCH, Germany

Michael-Horsch-PSMichael Horsch
Member-at-Large
Schwandorf, Germany

Michael and his brother Philipp operate Horsch Machines, a leading European manufacturer of agricultural tillage and seeding equipment. Michael founded the company in 1984 with his father, Dankwart, and his uncle, Walter. Horsch Machines, with more than 500 employees, has operations in Germany, Ukraine and the U.S., and exports 70 percent of its goods to the European Union, Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union states.

Michael grew up in a home where the name MEDA was well known. Back in the 1970s and 80s his father was the main driver behind MEDA Germany, which for many years carried out its own programs in South America. More recently, Michael has been helping MEDA establish a new European presence. He is fervently committed to "business solutions to poverty," but also enjoys the interaction with other entrepreneurs who put their faith into action through business. "I like to be around people who are also business-minded and do it because of passion and responsibility," he says.

Like many dedicated entrepreneurs, Michael says "What I am doing is my hobby." By that he also means his family, which includes wife Cornelia, daughter Lea, and sons Lukas Constantin and Frederic. "Other than that I try to keep fit for skiing because this is what my family also likes to do," Michael says.

MYRL NOFZIGER, Indiana

Myrl Nofziger PhotoMyrl Nofziger
Member-at-Large
Goshen, Indiana

Myrl Nofziger has had a 50-year career in real estate. He is board chairman of Hoogenbomm-Nofziger, which has developed many areas in the vicinity of Goshen, IN. the company has a variety of holdings - from apartments, commercial, retail, office, bank and industrial buildings to gas stations.

A graduate of Goshen college and Indiana University, Myrl has served on many boards in his community - churches, businesses, banks and public companies, and many different committees. He is passionate about philanthropy, estate planning, deferred giving and working with endowments for non-profits. His hobbies include travel, jogging, golf, woodworking and reading.

A long-time MEDA supporter and Sarona investor, Myrl has attended many conventions and traveled to various MEDA projects. In both a seminar at a MEDA convention and in Marketplace magazine he has expressed the importance of planned giving, philanthropy and preparing one's testament.

Myrl and his wife Phyllis, split thier time between Goshen, where they attend College Mennonite Church and La Quinta, California. They enjoy spending time with their four children and six grandchildren.

ROD BRENNEMAN, Missouri

Rod BrennemanRod Brenneman
Member-at-Large
Loch Lloyd, Missouri

Rod Brenneman is a CEO, Board member and advisor to CrossFirst Holdings, Goldsboro Milling, Maxwell foods, Clemens Family Corporation, BAS LLC. For 13 years he was president and CEO of two companies, each with over $1B in annual sales.

After studying Business Administration at Wichita State University and becoming a certified public accountant, Rod spent his early career in tax accounting. In addition to the many for-profit boards that he serves on, Rod is also a member of the Board for LifeSong for Orphans, which aims to bring joy and purpose to orphaned and vulnerable children.

Why MEDA? "I have a passion for using business as a tool to further the Kingdom, including addressing poverty. I am very interested in what MEDA is doing to create sustainable platforms to further this mission."

Rod and his wife Shelley live in Loch Lloyd, Missouri, where they attend Christ Community Church. They have two adult children, a son and daughter and recently became first-time grandparents to twin boys.

ZACHARY BISHOP, Colorado

Zach-BishopZach Bishop
Member-at-Large
Cherry Hills Village, Colorado

Zach Bishop is Senior Vice President, Public Finance for D.A. Davidson & Co. in Denver, specializing in investment banking for local governments. His work primarily involves raising capital for real estate development, whether for a new residential neighborhood or the redevelopment of blighted urban projects. That gives him a lot of affinity for the deeper undercurrents of MEDA's investment activities.

His father, Tom, was a long-time member of MEDA's board of directors who also served as MEDA treasurer, chair of its finance committee, and as a member of the board of MEDA Investments Inc./Sarona.

"What attracted me to MEDA is the sustainable, market-based approach," says Zach. That was reinforced in February when Zach toured MEDA's Ethiopia project, which assists rice farmers and weavers. He was struck by the number of non-government organizations (NGOs), as seen by all the signs in the towns and along the roadside. While he does not doubt those organizations' good intentions, he believes MEDA scores higher on long-lasting sustainable impact. He was also highly impressed by MEDA's Ethiopia staff.

Zach and his wife, Christina Alderfer, have two sons, four and two, and keeping up with them almost constitutes a hobby for Dad. "They're big train lovers so we're always looking for the next train ride for them," he says.