The MEDA Board of Directors is composed of volunteer members who bring together diverse skillsets in areas including entrepreneurship, finance, business operations, and investment. The board develops and guides organizational strategy, provides governance oversight, and proactively monitors risk (fiduciary, operational, reputational, etc.). Members serve a maximum of three 3-year terms. Four core committees operate within the board: executive, finance, audit, and nomination. For more information on the work of each committee, click on the links below.
The Executive committee meets 5 times annually to review the organization status, ensuring alignment between strategy and performance. The committee reviews board nominations and supports the board chair in setting meeting agendas.Close
The Finance Committee is responsible for overseeing MEDA's administrative and financial activities.Close
The Audit Committee is responsible for ensuring that reliable financial and management audits are carried out on MEDA projects and that audit policies are current, safeguarding the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.Close
The Board Membership and Nomination Committee is responsible for identifying, recruiting, nominating and training new members of the Board and its committees. It ensures the recognition of the services of retiring directors, staff, advisors, and others who merit recognition by MEDA. In addition, this committee ensures performance evaluations are completed for the Board and individual directors.Close
Chair / Kansas, USA
Tim Penner has served as president of Harper Industries since 1998, which manufactures specialized agricultural, industrial and turf products – from flatbeds and hydraulics to bale loaders and all-terrain mowers. Under his leadership, Harper Industries has grown 500% since 1998 and continues to grow. Tim brings extensive experience in business planning, operations management, coaching, negotiation and sales to the MEDA board. Tim first learned of MEDA while serving with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Bolivia, "I was very impressed with how MEDA operated in economic development, job creation and micro-finance." Tim has traveled to numerous MEDA projects around the world – each trip validating that business is a sustainable solution to poverty. He lives with his wife Faith, in Kansas, USA. They have 2 adult children, Daniel and Jessica, who live in Seattle. Tim and Faith are members of Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church in Harper, Kansas.Close
Vice-Chair and Nominating Committee member/ Ontario, Canada
Jenny Shantz retired in 2018 after 27 years at Mercedes Corp and Stone Crock Inc. The Shantz family developed a diverse portfolio of enterprises across the food, retail, hospitality and real estate sectors until they sold the majority of their assets in 2018. Jenny was critical to the development of the St. Jacobs region as a tourist destination and was closely involved in multiple aspects of her family’s ventures over the course of her career. Jenny describes MEDA as a creative and effective organization that partners with those in need to become economically active and create sustainable livelihoods for their families. She says, “The world needs more MEDA because it's a positive force for good.” Jenny is vice chair of the Grand Philharmonic Choir, past president of the Waterloo Region Centre for Family Business, St. Jacobs Daycare, and currently serves on the board of The Mennonite Story Inc. Jenny and her husband, Willem Moolenbeek, live in Waterloo, Ontario. They attend St. Jacobs Mennonite, and St. Paul's Anglican in the summer months.Close
Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair/Colorado, USA
Zach Bishop is a Managing Director of Public Finance for D.A. Davidson & Co. in Denver, where he manages a team of bankers that specialize in raising capital for real estate development. He joined the board of MEDA in 2012 and is currently the Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee in addition to roles on subsidiary boards. Past and present board service includes MicroVest Capital Management, the Colorado Municipal Bond Dealers Association, and SupperBell Inc. Zach has an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and a BA from Goshen College. What drew Zach to MEDA was its sustainable, market-based approach that multiplies donor dollars with outside capital and focuses on combining technical assistance with investment. Zach has seen project impacts first-hand in Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and most-recently, in Jordan. He and his wife, Christina, live in Denver with their two young sons.Close
Secretary / Ontario, Canada
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 65 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 a semi-retired person, he felt the need for a new challenge. It was his belief in MEDA's mission, coupled with his business experience, that made MEDA a natural fit.
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 is a member of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church. His hobbies include golf, hockey, camping and fishing.Close
Board of Directors
Audit Committee Chair / Ontario, Canada
Abe Fehr is the owner of Uni-Fab, a metal fabricating company they founded in 1991. With 130 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 on 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). On his time on the Board they have also visited MEDA projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana & Nicaragua. Seeing projects first hand reinforces his support for MEDA.
He particularly appreciates MEDA's emphasis on creating multiple levels of value chain for the clients we work with.
Abe and Lisa, married 35 years, have three grown children: Helen, married to Geordie Hagerman, she is a teacher in Kitchener-Waterloo; David, is working in construction in Calgary; and Mary, who is studying for her Master's in Business at Wilfred Laurier University. Besides being an avid golfer, Abe also owned the Leamington Flyers Junior Hockey team for the past 8 years.Close
Past Chair / Manitoba, Canada
Albert D. (Bert) Friesen is founder, CEO and Chairman of Medicure Inc. He is also founder of Genesys Venture Inc. (GVI), which provides the expertise for launching and managing emerging health and biotechnology ventures.. Dr. Friesen has been instrumental in the founding and development of several health industry companies, including ABI Biotechnology (now Apotex Fermentation), Canada's first profitable biotech company, and the Winnipeg Rh Institute, where he led the development of Canada's first biotech product, WinRho. Bert has also played a key role in a number of regional and national organizations, including a founder and first Board of Director Chair of the Industrial Biotechnology Association of Canada (now BIOTECanada). He holds a Ph.D. in protein chemistry from the University of Manitoba. Bert was attracted to MEDA by its mission to explore the intersection of work and faith, and its emphasis on efficiency and sustainability in building business solutions to poverty. His appreciation for the organization’s work deepened when he visited MEDA’s projects in Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia, witnessing the entrepreneurial spirit and impacts of the projects there first-hand. Bert and his wife Lee live in Manitoba, Canada, and attend Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg They have 3 children and 9 grandchildren.Close
Nominating Committee member / Pennsylvania, USA
Crystal Weaver is a visionary entrepreneur who thrives on creating businesses that contribute to the social landscape of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is passionate about creating job opportunities within the hospitality sector that are meaningful, empowering and forward-thinking while also connecting people to places in ways that have lasting impact. Her strong work ethic and commitment to the city have been evident in the success of Prince St. Cafe, Passenger Coffee Roasting, as well as prior city business ventures in a market stand and residential housing. Crystal is co-owner of Commons Company, Passenger Coffee Roasters, Prince Street Café, Surveyor Hotel and Blue Line Lancaster. She is active on multiple organization boards, including Fields of Hope and the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. Crystal brings expertise in human resources and business management alongside a background in psychology from her studies at Westminster Theological Seminary. Her experience running a B Corp Company and leveraging the capacity of business to address social issues brings a social entrepreneurship lens to her role with the board. Crystal became a director in 2017, led by her belief that business is a force for good. Crystal lives in Pennsylvania and attends The Worship Center church.Close
Dallas Steiner is CEO/COB of Venture Products Inc. with its headquarters in Orrville, Ohio. Venture is a global company that designs and manufactures two product lines; VENTRAC, a compact tractor with over 30 commercial grade attachments for markets that include slope mowing, golf courses, landscape/snow contractors, and municipalities, and TILMOR, a small agricultural tractor with implements and tool equipment that provide innovative solutions built for small-scale farms.
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.
"MEDA provides that spark of 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 nine grandkids and enjoy spending time with them; they are such a joy."Close
“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.Close
Finance Committee member/Kansas, USA
Greg Gaeddert is a managing partner with B12 Capital Partners and B12 Real Estate Advisors - private equity investment firms located in Kansas City, Missouri. He has experience in investments focused on manufacturing, distribution and real estate-related entities. Greg has an operational background in manufacturing and commercial banking, with equity investment and fund management roles at Capital for Business and the B12-related entities. He has an MBA from the University of Kansas, and serves on the boards of numerous manufacturing, distribution, financial services and non-profit entities. Greg is a firm supporter of MEDA and resonates with its work in blended finance. Greg and his wife, Terri, live in Leawood, Kansas. They have three sons and are members of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City.Close
Jeremy works in global sales and scale engagement with nonprofit customers in the Microsoft Philanthropies Technology for Social Impact group. He has worked for both Microsoft Ireland and Microsoft Vietnam, recently serving as Chief Operations Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft Vietnam. Jeremy is an avid learner, earning degrees from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, George Washington University, and Rose-HuIman Institute of Technology. Jeremy first connected with MEDA when he was in college through the Northern Indiana chapter. He appreciates MEDA's intersectional values of faith and development through the medium of business with a focus on vulnerable populations in emerging markets. Jeremy has acted as advisor of several technological improvements at MEDA over the years prior to joining the board. Jeremy and his wife Pa'lee have enjoyed raising their three children across different cultures and being active members of church communities wherever they are living. Currently they are members of Soma Eastside Church in Seatle, Washington.Close
Jim 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 Goshen Health System in Goshen, Indiana, and Mennonite Health System in Puerto Rico. Jim lives in Goshen, Indiana.
“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.Close
Finance, Audit and Nominating Committee member / Florida, USA
Jim 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.Close
British Columbia, Canada
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 perennials, ornamental grasses, herbs and succulents. John and Kelly have four daughters and twelve grandchildren to keep them young.
John has been involved with MEDA since his university days, more than 40 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.
John has participated in a number of MEDA related trips, including Ethiopia and Nicaragua. Seeing some of the projects and meeting with farmers and entrepreneurs whose lives have been changed dure to MEDA's work is "humbling and fulfilling at the same time" he says. "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 is an avid reader (especially history) and photographer. "I love to travel," he says. "It's my favorite activity. I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning." John and Kelly share their love of travel by organizing and leading garden tours to destinations around the world.Close
Joyce Bontrager Lehman
New Hampshire, USA
Joyce Bontrager Lehman has been working in international economic development for the past 20 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 an independent advisor with a focus on financial inclusion using digital delivery channels.
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 nearing her goal of travel to 100 countries.Close
Karin Krahn works for an oil and gas company (Nexen, A CNOOC Limited Company) in Calgary, AB. She is currently the Manager, Operations and G&A Accounting for the Canadian Operations. Previously she was the Manager, Risk Management and Internal Controls for the company. Karin received her Canadian CPA designation in 2002 after graduating from University of Saskatchewan with a BA, majoring in Psychology and a BComm, majoring in Accounting. In between degrees, she worked with adults with developmental disabilities placing them into wage-earning positions.
While serving on the Abundance Canada (formerly Mennonite Foundation of Canada) board, Karin met Abe Fehr, a current MEDA board member. After many conversations about similar values and interests, Karin found herself drawn to the mission that MEDA has to reach out globally to assist people to enhance their livelihoods and support their families through business opportunities that they see, but need a little assistance.
Karin and her partner, Harold, enjoy watching sports, specifically football, both Canadian and the NFL. Both have spent time travelling with previous jobs and roles so spending a little more time around home and at their little place in Radium Hot Springs, BC are high on their relaxation list.Close
Audit Committee member/California, USA
Marianne Unruh is a serial entrepreneur and the owner of Fresh Solutions. Fresh Solutions provides fresh fruit and vegetable quality inspections for retailers and food service customers throughout North America. Prior to starting Fresh Solutions, Marianne worked for Loblaws, as the fresh grape & tree fruit category manager. Marianne brings expertise in the agri-food sector, business planning and operations, and an entrepreneurial spirit to the MEDA board. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where she studied biology. Marianne joined the MEDA board because of its alignment with her faith values and commitment to collaboration, accountability, transparency and innovation. She lives in Selma, California, USA and attends First Mennonite in Reedley.Close
Audit Committee member / Indiana, USA
Myrl Nofziger has had a 52-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 Green Valley AZ. They enjoy spending time with their four children and six grandchildren.Close
Executive member and Nominating Committee Chair / Indiana, USA
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?'" With an appetite for international business in his own pursuites, Pat "can't wait" for a trip to a MEDA project.
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."Close
Executive and Nominating Committee member / Manitoba, Canada
Peter Dueck is co-president of Vidir Solutions Inc., which specializes in automated vertical storage systems, industry solutions for safe storage and efficient retrieval of inventory. Sold internationally, Vidir Solutions Inc is a family business with a solid hold on the storage and retrieval sector. Peter brings expertise in business establishment, growth management as well municipal governance to the MEDA board. A former pastor, Peter sees a great deal of skill transferability 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 in a professional way .” In 2009, Peter visited the site of MEDA’s first project in Paraguay and has enjoyed visiting other organization projects during his time on the board. Peter values MEDA’s work creating durable business solutions to poverty. Peter and Trudy, parents of two adult children and two grand children, live in Manitoba, Canada, and attend ConneXion church in Arborg.Close
Finance Committee member / Ontario, Canada
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, Chesley Lake Camp and Hallman Chapel. 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 two grandchildren.Close
Verda is no stranger to MEDA, having served on the board of the Sarasota chapter, assisting with audits, and helping plan MEDA board tours to Tajikistan and Tanzania.
Verda, her husband Dale, and their grandchildren participated in the recent Tanzania board tour to see first-hand the impact of MEDA's projects. Verda's 25 years of involvement with MEDA has inspired a passion and interest in international travel, experiencing different cultures, and meeting new people.
Verda attended Hesston College, then pursued a career in Property and Casualty Insurance. She proceeded to own her own agency, Mutual Aid Services, for 20 years.
Since retiring, Verda and Dale enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and attending their various music and sports events. She also enjoys golfing, reading, and walking.Close
Nominating Committee member / Kansas, USA
Yvonne Sieber is the Chief Philanthropy Officer of Bluestem Communities, a growing corporation of retirement communities in South Central Kansas. An alumnus of Hesston and Bethel Colleges, Vonnie obtained her MBA from Friends University in Kansas and has worked as Vice President of Advancement at Hesston College. Her career has spanned several executive roles across the healthcare industry, including positions in human resources, finance and philanthropy. Yvonne was drawn to MEDA by its results-oriented business approach to poverty solutions, its focus on innovation, and the quality of leadership in the organization. Yvonne and her husband, Gerry Sieber, live in Kansas. The couple has two adult daughters and 6 grandchildren. They attend Hesston Mennonite Church in Hesston, KS.Close