WE ARE A FAMILY
OUR COLLECTIVE OF BOARD MEMBERS, STAFF, ADVISORS, AND VOLUNTEERS BRING JERICHO'S VISION TO LIFE BY DARING TO BELIEVE THAT HOPE CAN CHANGE A PERSON. THAT HOPE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.
MEET OUR TEAM
Joanna Shields and her husband live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They are the parents of four children and have two grandchildren. Joanna co-founded the Mother to Mother mentoring organization, served as a leader for a small group women's ministry, provides tutoring to children through Kids Hope, and continues to be active in local community organizations. Prior to her full-time commitment to Jericho, Joanna was a Sales Director for an international cosmetic corporation. She makes bi-annual trips to BiH and stays in touch with her "Bosnian family" via Skype when back in the US.
Kellie lives in Kalamazoo with her 2 sons, late husband’s grandmother, and 2 very spoiled dogs (because of the mentioned grandmother). In 2014 she decide to make a career change and offer her 20+ years of office administration/staff training/management experience, to a virtual assistant to help other companies. KK Virtual Assisting is the result of that decision. Her guilty pleasures are a good cup of coffee, chocolate (not bias), riding her motorcycle, dance music - has been known to still bust a move even though mentioned sons will roll their eyes. Kellie was part of the 2019 Fall Summit team where she saw the impact the students could have in making a change for generations.
Bill Traywick, resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his wife. His focus on the Board has been in strategic planning and establishing the Foundation Endowment. His professional experience in sales management includes a 32-year career with Procter and Gamble and the Kellogg Company. Bill traveled to BiH in 2013 and 2016 to be part of the student leadership seminars. He also has extensive volunteer experience with Kentwood Public Schools. Bill is involved with Jericho because he believes we are making a difference by helping young people achieve a college education. These young people will become the future leaders of this recovering war-torn country.
Board Vice President
Dave Hoeskstra and his wife Ginny live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They are the parents of three children and eight grandchildren. Dave is employed at Ship-Pac as a Food Packaging Manager and has been involved with the Kalamazoo Township Fire Department for 28 years. He has also been involved in many outreach programs at Westwood Christian Reformed Church including their youth group spring break mission trips all across the United States. Dave was first introduced to the Jericho Foundation in 2006 through the Project Hope trip and has been giving his time, talent and resources ever since.
DR. SIME CURKOVIC
Board Director of Outreach
Dr. Sime Curkovic is a U.S. born citizen of Croatian descent and attends St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Portage, Michigan. He is a Professor of Supply Chain Management at Western Michigan University who received his undergraduate degree in Management Systems from Kettering University and his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University. He has been at WMU for 15 years and has taught several courses in sourcing, operations, logistics, process, environmental, and multinational management. He is currently the director of the business college's supply chain management program which is ranked 12th nationally. He has been a member of Jericho's Project Hope Team traveling to BiH in 2009. After returning from that trip, he was motivated to contribute to the Jericho mission to restore HOPE to children in BiH and joined the Jericho Board.
Board Member Secretary
Heidi joined Consumers Credit Union as a Consumer Lender 9 years ago but discovered a passion for mortgage lending. She enjoys helping and educating people so her role as a Mortgage Loan Officer is a dream job. Heidi graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education. Heidi's free time is spent happily with her husband and 3 amazing children, camping, boating, and biking. she also finds time for many volunteer organizations that include Meals on Wheels, helping in various schools, Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors, Women's Council of Realtors Southwestern as a founding board member, and the Jericho Foundation.
Lindsey and her husband Jordan live in Mattawan, MI. She graduated from Western Michigan University earning a degree in Personal Financial Planning. She's been working for Plante Moran as a financial advisor since 2017. Lindsey's family has supported Jericho from the beginning and Lindsey traveled with Jericho to Bosnia back in 2013. Lindsey is excited to continue her support by joining the Jericho Board in 2020.
Igor was born in Mostar, BiH. When he was six years old, his life tragically changed as the war tore his country apart. His family escaped but still paid a high price in losing their home, jobs and the country they loved. His family eventually settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Igor attended Western Michigan University, earning his BA in Business Management and Spanish. Igor currently lives in Portage, Michigan with his wife and daughter. He is employed with the US Social Security Office.
Mark lives with his wife, Ann, in Lawton, Michigan. They have two kids and five grandkids in West Michigan who all love and support the Jericho Foundation. Throughout his adult life, Mark has worked in the financial services industry and founded Drake Financial Group, located in Portage. His passion lies in educating individuals on managing their finances and ultimately achieving their goals. His passion eventually led him to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 to teach our scholarship students about personal finance. He came home from that experience impacted by the resiliency and positivity displayed by the people he met there and devoted himself to serving Jericho in an even larger capacity. Ever since he has assumed the position of a leader in our yearly golf event, sits on the board of directors, and along with his spouse, hosts Jericho's summer interns.
Kalyn lives with her husband and daughter in Kalamazoo, MI. She graduated from Western Michigan University earning a Masters Degree in International Development Administration. Kalyn joined the Jericho family in 2013 with our Project HOPE Team. Her love for the students and belief in God’s unconditional love has kept her returning to BiH ever since.
Tyler Dewitte, his wife Laura, and their four children reside in Hudsonville, MI. Currently, Tyler works as an Area Sales Manager at Ferguson Enterprises. He completed his bachelor's degree in general business from Trinity Christian College in 2007, where he discovered his passion for aiding people and participating in missions. Over the years, he has been involved in various philanthropic activities, including contributing to the establishment of a business mentorship program in Malawi and spending two years with Remember Niger to construct schools in Niger. Tyler enjoys coaching his son's sixth-grade travel basketball team and watching his children compete on the swim team. His favorite activities are barbecuing with friends, golfing, attending sports events, and socializing with new people. Tyler became interested in serving the Jericho Foundation after attending his inaugural Night of Hope event.
Director of Finance
Ann and her husband, Mark, live in Portage, Michigan. They have two grown children and three adorable grandchildren. They have been in the financial service industry since 1985. Ann has been employed at Primerica Financial Service as an administrator and a financial administrator assistant at Southridge Reformed Church in Kalamazoo. In the spring of 2013, she felt called to commit more time to the family business and her grandchildren, so she resigned from her position at Southridge. "My flexible schedule, my heart for serving God and a great cause, brought me to the team at Jericho."
Marketing and Communications Manager
Kera resides in Lansing, MI with her dog and two cats. She completed her undergraduate studies in Advertising at Michigan State University and obtained a Master's degree in Business Administration from Walsh College. During her free time, she loves to spend time with her family, participate in outdoor activities, travel, and learn new things. Her strong desire to help others and to have a sense of purpose led her to Jericho Foundation.
Barbara lives in Portage, MI, with her husband, Mikel. They have four daughters and seven grandchildren. Barb retired in 2020 after 21 years of teaching professional communication courses at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business. Board member Sime Curkovic introduced Barb to Joanna to help with some communication projects in 2020, which has now morphed into a regular staff role. “Every interaction I have with Jericho students, staff, and the board helps me appreciate the amazing impact we have on the lives of youth in BiH. It’s an honor to be part of this foundation!”
BiH Director - Sarajevo
Nejra Vreto was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She graduated with a Social and Political Science degree at the International University of Sarajevo as the best student in her generation. She later pursued a Master's degree in Democracy and Human Rights at the University of Bologna, Italy, and Sarajevo. For the past six years, she has worked as a Program Manager. During this time, she successfully developed numerous initiatives and educational activities for youth and women in Bosnia & Herzegovina and the wider Western Balkans region. She is a certified trainer for political academies and youth-related workshops. In her free time, she likes to learn new languages, travel and spend time with her family and closest friends.
BiH Student Coordinator - Mostar
Ena lives in Mostar, BiH, with her husband, Adan. Ena and Adan were students in the Jericho Scholars program, and she graduated from the Faculty of Teacher Education in the Department of Psychology at the University of Mostar in 2018. Ena enjoyed an internship in the US at Stryker and Kalamazoo Psychology. In BiH, Ena volunteered at the Bijeli Brijeg Hospital in Mostar and the Mostar Penitentiary as part of her master’s thesis research. For a year after graduating, Ena worked as a project counselor to people with disabilities from all over BiH. She enjoys traveling, being outside in nature, and spending time with family.
BiH Student Coordinator - Tuzla
Eldina lives in Tuzla, BiH, with her husband, Pera, and son Aron. She has a bachelor's degree in Theology and has work experience in many areas. She is happiest when she can support young people with goals and dreams they want to achieve. During her studies, Eldina missed the support she needed, so her goal was to be a strong support to young people. As a result, she began working for Jericho. Along with supporting our Jericho students, Eldina helps others by being a scout leader in her community. She also is passionate about singing and motivational speaking, and she enjoys camping, traveling, and spending time with her son, family, and friends.
BiH Student Coordinator - Sarajevo
Alisa comes from a small town called Doboj and has resided in Sarajevo since college. She obtained a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Telecommunications. Additionally, she participated in the Jericho scholarship and US internship programs. After completing an internship at a BiH company, she began her career in the IT industry. As a Jericho student, she always thoroughly enjoyed participating in various activities organized by Jericho in BiH.
Alisa finds pleasure in baking and decorating cakes during her leisure time. However, spending quality time with her young daughter is what brings true joy to her life. Alisa is a remarkable illustration of how our alumni utilize their education to secure better job opportunities to provide for their loved ones.
BiH Student Coordinator - Sarajevo
Jasenka and her husband live in the beautiful city of Sarajevo. She graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Sarajevo and is currently working for an insurance company using her power of attorney as a lawyer to represent them in cases of compensation for damage.
She started primary school during the war in improvised classrooms, with pupils and teachers often risking their lives for education and primarily relying on humanitarian aid for classroom supplies. Ultimately, this led her to believe that education and support are the most critical things for BiH youth, eventually leading her to the Jericho Foundation. She enjoys being outdoors and exploring with her family during her free time. As well as she finds joy in traveling and discovering new locations.
Marsela Pecanac grew up in Sarajevo, & witnessed the aggression of 1992. She is a former private banking executive at Raiffeisen International, and currently a senior vice president at New Resource Bank. Marsela loves to empower youth through education & human rights, and currently serves on the Board of Rainforest Action Network. and supports many Bay Area-based nonprofits.
Una Hrjank is originally from BiH. She is passionate about vulnerable populations and advancing women’s rights. She has successfully helped international development organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and the federal government with developing and executing tactical plans, implementing communications initiatives, managing high-profile initiatives, and adopting change. She currently works on the Sustainability team at Gap Inc.
Dijana Beganovic was born in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dijana’s world turned upside down when the armed conflict began when she was 7. Dijana is now living in California.She works as an area director for an International Cultural Exchange Program. A lot of her work consists of helping the students deal with everyday life challenges and providing insight on how to cope with challenges in a foreign and unknown culture.
Cathy and her husband live in Portage, MI. They have two grown children, who are both married, and two adorable grandsons. Cathy first connected with the Jericho Foundation when she was seeking information on Bosnia because her daughter was traveling there for a short-term mission trip. Since then, Cathy has transformed the way we fundraise with her artistic eye and way for design. We love Cathy and all that she brings to the Jericho team!
Emina is the Head of People Operations at Symphony.is but her talent goes far beyond her job title. She has a Master's Degree in Psychology from the University of Sarajevo making her a people guru and our goto girl in the area for our Professional Development Seminars. She has helped Jericho in our scholarship selection process as well as led seminars on a variety of topics to better equip our scholars for the workforce. We are thankful for Emina's skillset on our team!
DAMIR & AIDA KAMBER
Aida & Damir Kamber are Bosnian war refugees living in the US whose education changed the trajectory of their lives. They are passionate about their two girls, Sara & Maya, giving back to communities in Bosnia and the US and making the world a kinder place. They enjoy cheering their girls on in gymnastics and swimming, cheering Bosnian students in being open-minded, working towards their education and life goals, and working through the war trauma by offering mentoring, community, and financial assistance these students need to move forward with their lives and make a positive impact on their own communities.