Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is primarily responsible for strategic planning, public relations and fund raising duties but may participate in specific, regular operational activities.
Our Board of Directors is made up of the following distinguished individuals:
Mary Skinner-Stone, Chair
"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten." --BF Skinner
Mary believes strongly in the power of education. She received her BA from New York University in 2002, her EdM from Columbia University in 2005, and her PhD from Fordham University in 2013. She is currently a professor at Marist College. Presently the Vice-Chair, Mary has proudly served on the Board of Directors of Help Educate since 2006.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world."
- Nelson Mandela
Keenan was raised on his family's farm and exotic animal ranch in western Nebraska. He received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He completed his Master's in International Agriculture and Rural Development and Ph.D. in Animal Science at Cornell University. He is now pursuing startup business opportunities in agricultural science. From 2001 to 2005, Keenan served as a Peace Corps Agriculture Volunteer in Ococona, Nicaragua and as a Peace Corps Technical Specialist and Trainer in Estelí. Keenan founded and managed a Nicaraguan high school scholarship program that helped 57 students achieve their educational goals in an area without public high school access.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
"Sometimes those with vision lack the tools and skills to create the impact they wish to make in the world. I am inspired by the visions of our students, for themselves, their families, and their communities, and believe that with a higher education, these students will do far more for their communities than I ever could have during my Peace Corps service."
Kat served as an Agriculture Extension Peace Corps Volunteer in Ococona, a village on the northern border of Nicaragua from 2004 to 2008. One of the most memorable parts of her service was working with an energetic youth group in leadership development, sexual and reproductive health, and entrepreneurship in combination with a savings and loan program. She was inspired by the advances these young people made in themselves and within their community, so she joined Help Educate in 2007 during her third year in Peace Corps in order to provide an opportunity for them to reach their goals. Kat holds an MA in International Development and MBA in International Business from the George Washington University. She is currently the General Manager for Organic Products Trading Company, which imports Fair Trade and Organic certified coffee from around the world, including Nicaragua. Kat joined the Help Educate Board in 2016 after serving as our Executive Director for 7 years.
Linda is passionate about creating equal access and opportunities to education, especially among disparate societies. With roots in Nicaragua, Linda’s upbringing was shaped by her country's historical social struggle and thus since an early stage she decided to work on social and environmental justice issues. Alumnae from the Pan-American School of Agriculture, Zamorano University in Honduras, she also holds two master degrees, one in International Land and Water Management from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and the other in Agricultural Public Policies from the École Nationale d’Agriculture Montpellier SupAgro, France. Linda has worked on a diverse array of rural development projects, from small-scale irrigation in Nicaragua and microfinance for women in Senegal, to office research on environmental and human rights to support campaigns for International Rivers. Before joining the California office of Environmental Defense Fund as a research analyst, she completed a research project on land and water reform processes in post-apartheid South Africa. She lives in the Bay Area and hopes to fulfill her life dream of becoming a teacher one day. Linda has been a Help Educate board member since 2013.
“Believe you can and you're halfway there.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
Shelby Stahler served in Peace Corps Nicaragua, developing agricultural programs for local farmers in Paiwitas, Nicaragua. He continues pursuing international development in Nicaragua and Mexico. He holds a Master’s degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University and has served on the Board of Help Educate since 2014, as well as being a contributor to the organization since 2010. Currently, Shelby is a Project Manager for global clinical oncology trials. He began his career in cancer research in San Diego and has 17 years’ experience in Clinical Research.
“Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God.” – Muhammed Ali
Karen grew up on a plum farm in the Central San Joaquin Valley of California, helping her parents on the family ranch. She majored in Psychology at U.C. San Diego, and fell in love with Southern Cal, deciding to make it her permanent home. Post college, she spent the next 20 years in the corporate world, working in Human Resources, Finance, Marketing and Compliance. A very positive and outgoing person, Karen feels that her true calling is to help people; she is happiest when volunteering and working directly with non-profits to help support their mission. One of her goals in joining Help Educate is to use her strong skills in networking to help form and strengthen Help Educate’s partnerships with outside businesses, schools, and organizations, in order to help further its cause and mission. Karen has been a Help Educate board member since 2016.
“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”
Eric Starr is presently Chief of Staff at the Foreign Policy Group, a private international consulting firm in Washington, D.C.. Mr. Starr was a former Associate Vice President at Morgan Stanley. An avid outdoorsman, he has been an outdoor guide for Calleva Adventures as well as a whitewater kayak instructor on the Potomac River for two decades. He supports and volunteers his time with several non-profit organizations including American Whitewater, Recycle Life, and Help Educate. He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from the country of Nicaragua, and is the author of a book called, A Couple in the Corps: A Peace Corps Journey from a Couple’s Perspective. Eric joined the Help Educate board in 2016.
As a child, Marco travelled to Nicaragua multiple times to visit family and looks forward to taking his kids to do the same. Marco always had a passion for math and wanted to by an accountant since middle school. He doubled degreed in Accounting and General Business at the University of Maryland. He is currently a trustworthy and friendly CPA and consultant with a special focus on providing audit and business advisory services to a wide array of nonprofit organizations, for profit businesses, and government contractors. He also assists his clients in cleaning up their books on a monthly basis, so management can accurately determine cash flows and financial positions to accurately budget for the future. Where necessary, he provides clients with internal control improvements and recommendations to strengthen internal control processes. Marco has been a Help Educate board member since 2016.
Amanda began social justice work through an internship with Student Action with Farmworkers in 2003. She then taught in a bilingual school for Teach for America in Philadelphia while earning a MSEd from the University of Pennsylvania. Amanda taught adult ESL for the first time while living in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has continued to teach adults in South Carolina and Virginia for the last nine years. Her passion is working with immigrant students and families, empowering them through language and knowledge of resources. Amanda strongly believes education is the best way to change our world, and is thrilled to support students in country to earn an education, empowering them to create their own change. With her own family Amanda enjoys traveling, hiking and spending time outside. Amanda joined Help Educate board in 2016.
Ben served as a Public Health Peace Corps Volunteer based in Ocotal, Nicaragua from 2005 to 2007. During his service, Ben created the “Gran Sueno” project, training youth in video journalism. Understanding the importance of leadership development and serving in a central location for Help Educate students, Ben joined the team.
Ben is a Senior Vice President at Ichor Strategies, a public affairs consultancy headquartered in New York City. Before joining Ichor, Ben was the Policy Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and served as policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman Charles Schumer’s leadership committee. He also served as a health policy advisor to Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Tom Udall.
Ben grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and Legal Studies from Northwestern University in 2004. After his service, Ben earned a Master's in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University.