Patricia Shafer, who has traveled to African countries and served on a leadership council of Save the Children, and Dr. Lyndall Hare, a native South African long involved in grass roots community work and serving on the board of the South Africa Development Fund (SADF) met for lunch in 2006, discussing how they each had been approached by people, particularly women, who wanted to make a difference to orphans and vulnerable children, but didn’t know where or how to direct their interest and contributions.
What began as a non-profit initiative raising awareness of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa has evolved into a 501(c)3 and coalition of women catalysts with a global vision of conceiving, birthing, nurturing and replicating ideas to change lives. Projects are underway or being shaped in three African countries, in impoverished areas that don't receive significant government or large NGO support.
MAC believes aspirations to educate and nurture young people are omnipresent and that there's an untapped cadre of women social entrepreneurs compelled by the idea mothering is the act of developing responsible citizen leaders around the world. The goal is to empower women to surface, shape, monitor and report on initiatives requiring small amounts of money to launch. We have projects underway and launching in South Africa, Rwanda and Southern Sudan, and a vision of becoming global. Projects unfold like this – we design and develop an innovative pilot on “seed funds;” we monitor, measure and help ensure replication; and then we transition a developed program that others can sustain.
Patricia Shafer is the founder of the 501c3 non-profit Mothering Across Continents, now serving as chief catalyst (executive director). Her professional background includes roles as president of two international consulting practices that have provided management services and conducted organizational research in more than 40 countries. Prior to consulting, she was a senior vice president in the Retail Group of Bank One, now part of the retail bank of JPMorganChase. She also held the position of Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Kraft Foods, the second largest food company in the world. She has served on a Leadership Committee of Save the Children, one of the most long-established and highly-regarded non-profits serving children internationally. She holds an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management; an MSc in Consulting and Coaching for Change, a joint-venture of Oxford University and HEC France; and an MA in Journalism from The Ohio State University. Patricia is contributing author to the successful book Enlightened Power: How Women are Transforming the Practice of Leadership (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, 2005); certified in numerous leadership development, consulting and coaching tools; and the developer of the organizational development concepts Deeper PowerSM, Whole WorkSM and Deep DiversitySM.
Lauren James is co-catalyst for High Hopes Haiti, a Mothering Across Continents project focused on developing an empowerment center, vocational program, and life skills training for high school girls. Even before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti ranked as one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with a high rate of HIV/AIDS, and few career opportunities. The High Hopes Haiti project involves a collaboration with the long-established and respected Robert Ford Orphanage and School in Grison-Garde/Tovar, outside Cap Haitien, in rural Haiti. We are working with community leaders and assessing candidates for an integrated program of education in leadership, healthcare and agri-business training for young women.
Lauren began traveling to Haiti as a volunteer after she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, in French and International Business. On her first trip, she traveled with her father, a dentist with more than 25 years of humanitarian mission experience in Haiti.
Lauren holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In addition to volunteering in Haiti, Lauren held a position with microfinance provider Fonkoze in Port-au-Prince. Microfinance involves very small loans to encourage entrepreneurship and business growth among the poor. Lauren has vivid memories of meeting small business owners on a 2009 mciro-credit fact-finding mission in Dondon, Haiti. The women were asked: ‘Are you afraid of taking a loan?’ – a natural question to ask rural women living without running water, electricity, or more than basic education. ‘No!’ they said. To them, a loan as small as $100 is motivating, an opportunity to jumpstart livelihoods and ensure their children go to school.
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On the full-time career front, Blakely Rawlings is an experienced staffing professional who enjoys the demands and discipline of project management. In the personal realm, Blakely is known for her fearlessness, adventurous spirit (she’s been to countries on four continents – South America, Europe, Asia and Africa), and motivation to do what she calls “travel with a purpose.”
Blakely chose to become a co-catalyst with Lauren James for the High Hopes Haiti Girls Empowerment Center in order to empower and mentor girls and with a dream of promoting cross-cultural exchange between girls in the U.S. and Haiti. As a former competitive swimmer, Blakely believes strongly in providing young women with opportunities that stretch minds and bodies to develop leadership potential. She has volunteered with Girls on the Run, and been trained in a comprehensive mentoring program designed to serve low-income and at-risk communities.
Read more about High Hopes Haiti.
Jerri Hatch, our catalyst for projects in Rwanda, grew up in a small town in Northwest Indiana. Yet, as she often says, “My wanderlust turned me into a traveler.” Jerri has lived in Chicago, Singapore, New York City, Los Angeles, and currently Bethesda, MD. She has managed a catering business serving international companies. Today, as an interior design consultant, Jerri integrates her passion for global art, design, culture and wildlife into all that she does.
What Jerri calls her “long love of Africa” emerged when she was child adorning her bedroom walls with posters of lion cubs. She wed and honeymooned with husband Larry on a South African safari. In 2009, she trekked to see the famous Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. While there, she visited Mwiko, a primary school of 700 children without electricity, water, books or playground, and was overwhelmed by the joy and energy in a place so seemingly lacking. Jerri promised the teachers and students at Mwiko — and herself — that she would invite others to join her in helping. With support from Mothering Across Continents, the Mentoring Mwiko project launched in the summer of 2010, anchored by a 20-foot mural called “This is Our Dream” and a program to combine practical teaching support with creative expression through painting, drama and conservation.
Read more about Mentoring Mwiko.
Karen Puckett, Project Catalyst for the Mothering Across Continents project Raising South Sudan, is a school Media Specialist in the Rowan-Salisbury Public Schools in North Carolina. Her interest in global issues began with a three-week trip to Haiti with Mecklenburg Presbytery in 1983.
Karen graduated from West Charlotte High School and received a BA in English from Appalachian State University. After working for several years in commercial scheduling with independent television stations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Karen took time off to raise two daughters. She received an MS in Librarianship (1999) while a stay-at-home mom in New Jersey. She also has an MS in Teaching from Rowan University (2001).
In 2007, Karen saw The Lost Boys of Sudan during movie night at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Salisbury, NC. Taken by the story of struggles endured by the Lost Boys when they were children, she felt compelled to learn more about southern Sudan. Karen befriended Lost Boy Ngor Kur Mayol of Atlanta as he dreamed of a school-building project in his home village of Aliap. Never having been to Africa before, she went home with Ngor to learn firsthand about the needs of the village. Then, through a series of contacts, Karen was introduced to Mothering Across Continents (MAC) and Lost Boy James Lubo Mijak, a Charlotte, NC, resident also working toward building a school in his village of Nyarweng. Serendipitously, Aliap and Nyarweng are both in southern Sudan’s Ruweng County, Unity State. A collaboration was established and the Raising South Sudan project was born.
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Phillips Bragg is vice president of planning for wealth management firm Bragg Financial Advisors. In helping clients meet their charitable objectives, Phillips advises on the myriad alternatives available, including donor advised funds, charitable trusts, private foundations, and supporting organizations.
A cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University, Phillips is actively involved in the Charlotte community. Organizations to which he has given his time and talents include St. John's Baptist Church, where he currently serves as a deacon and was a member of the Sudanese Scholarship Committee; Right Moves for Youth, a Charlotte-based group whose goal is to provide the resources and guidance to help underserved youth graduate from high school with a plan for future success; Leave a Legacy, a public awareness campaign created to increase the quantity of charitable legacy giving; and Catawba Lands Conservancy, a non-profit land trust in North Carolina's Southern Piedmont.
In 2001, he and Lubo Mijak became friends when Lubo and 46 other Lost Boys of Sudan began attending St. John's. It was Lubo who brought to Phillips' attention the desperate need for schools in South Sudan. In 2010, they brought their dream of building schools to Mothering Across Continents, where they joined forces with Sudan Rowan to create the Mothering Across Continents project Raising South Sudan.
Read more about Raising South Sudan.
A former high school teacher, Elizabeth Peacock is Education Program Manager, leading the Mothering Across Continents initiative The Global Class. In addition to developing curricular content and resources, Elizabeth coaches and consults with teachers and student leaders to develop globally-focused youth challenge projects.
Elizabeth graduated from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she was a co-organizer of Carolina United, a leadership development and diversity program for student leaders. She has also been active in the arts community and advocated for campus-based arts groups in student government. She is a graduate of the Northwest School of the Arts.
Read more about The Global Class.