Erna Maj, MA, US Fundraising and Outreach Coordinator, Board Member
Erna was born and raised in Denmark and immigrated to the US in 1978. She received her undergraduate degree from City University of New York in American Studies and her master’s degree from the University of Colorado in Linguistics and Teaching English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL). After raising three sons and working as a language teacher and translator for 20 years, Erna now devotes her time to philanthropy in general and Maji Safi Group in particular. Erna has volunteered for aid organizations in the US, Tanzania, Guatemala, and Argentina. She visits Shirati annually to provide educational instruction and help with the development of MSG teaching materials and methods.
Matt James, MBA, Chairman of the Board
Matt has oriented his career to generate value to the organizations and communities in which he works. His career has encompassed financing of affordable housing, community development, education, and renewable energy. As Matt’s career progresses, he hopes to contribute new ideas and solutions to the problems that affect our society nationally and globally by creating and supporting sustainable businesses. Matt has a master’s degree in International Business and a B.A. in International Studies with a focus on international development.
Larissa Ortiz, Board Member
Larissa Anstey Ortiz has more than 20 years of experience in non-profit and development work. Her focus has been primarily on reproductive and maternal health in the United States and abroad including over three years of living and working in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has completed international assignments with United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The Global Health Foundation and The Level Market. Locally, she has worked for the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Finance and the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved. Larissa holds an MA in International Development with a certificate in Gender and Health from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at DU along with a BA from Duke University.
Nanna Smith, Board Member
Kristen Daly, Board Member
Kristen M. Daly received her doctorate from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where her research focused on technology, new media and cinema. Kristen has worked in independent film, documentary, and community radio both in the United States and abroad. Working with WITNESS and Ciné Institute, she has pursued her interest in technology and new media in development, a passion continued through a Master in Global Public Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. Working with Healthy Boulder Kids, Kristen campaigned for the excise tax on sugar drinks in Boulder, and with Boulder County Public Health, she co-designed and evaluated a targeted social media campaign for HIV testing. She has published chapters in edited volumes of Transitioned Media and The New World of Transitioned Media as well as articles in journals such as Cinema Journal, Peace Review, and The Human Touch.
Alison Adams, Board Member
Alison Adams has worked in the Boulder Valley School District for 18 years as a kindergarten teacher. She received a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Development from Keene State College and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction from Colorado Christian University. She is a published author and copyrighted recording artist of music and instructional materials to teach all areas of curriculum in early childhood education. Throughout her years of teaching, she has continuously shared her passion for humanitarian causes as a teacher and faculty leader in organizing and helping coordinate student-led clubs, fundraising events, and service opportunities for students in the classroom and families in the community. Alison’s love of children and her desire to help care for them internationally has resulted in her sponsorship and correspondence with five children on three continents through Compassion International. She and her family have been active volunteers with the Craftworks Foundation, Operation Christmas Child, Sister Carmen Community Center, Meals on Wheels, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Agape Community Kitchen, and Denver Rescue Mission. The local, national and global water crisis has led Alison to work with such organizations as Bridge House, United Way of Genesee Valley for Flint Michigan, Blood:Water Mission, and WaterAid. In 2016, Alison organized the first ever Water Walk at her school with over 800 students and 100 staff members participating – raising both significant funds and awareness for water crisis aid. This event brought her to begin working with the Maji Safi Group.
Paul Lander, PhD, ASLA, LEED A.P., Board Member
Paul has worked in the fields of water, energy, and land conservation for over 30 years. He spent 16 of these years directing the Water Conservation Office for the City of Boulder. His teaches courses in Western US Water, World Water, and Landscape Sustainability at the University of Colorado at Boulder and through professional webinars.
Max Perel-Slater, Board Member
Max grew up in Berkeley, California. He received his B.A. in Environmental Studies & Earth and Environmental Science from Wesleyan University. As part of his degree, Max completed a graduate-level field course in Hydrogeology at Clemson University. The course included well drilling and borehole geophysics. He also studied abroad in Tanzania with World Learning and completed an independent research project about the water situation in Shirati. He continued his research the following summer as part of his Senior Capstone Project at the Wesleyan College of the Environment. In 2009, he led the construction of a ferro-cement rainwater catchment system and has worked on similar projects ever since. In 2011, Max worked for the CBO Shining Hope for Communities in the Kibera slum, coordinating a water project and co-leading a summer program for American university students.
David Gordon, PhD, Board Member
David is now retired. He has a PH.D. in Psycholinguistics and Masters degrees in English Literature and Linguistics. As an academic, David published papers in theoretical linguistics and developmental psychology and taught courses at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State. After his academic career he practiced as a clinical psychologist and wrote technical documentation for a number of computer companies. Since 2006, David has been interested in promoting development in rural Tanzania. In addition to MSG, David is on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit REACH Shirati, one of our partner organizations. REACH Shirati focuses on education and health in the Shirati area of Tanzania.