E&E RPCVs Group News

Notes from the business meeting of E&E RPCVs

Crystal City Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia
September 24, 2016


Ethiopian Ambassador
Ambassador Girma Birru speaks at the E&ERPCV business meeting

Ambassador Girma Birru speaks at the E&ERPCV business meeting

At the general business meeting of the Ethiopia & Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in conjunction with the National Peace Corps Association annual conference —Peace Corps Connect 2016, His Excellency, Girma Birru, Ambassador of Ethiopia, was in attendance to answer questions of concern and interest.

Ambassador Girma thanked the audience for the opportunity to speak, and commented on the close connection that RPCVS from Ethiopia have maintained with Ethiopia since their service. He appreciated the huge investment Peace Corps Volunteers have made on education and continues to make through the development process. Peace Corps teachers had a great impact on education, the success of which continues to today.

Speakers included from top — Sarah Pentico Samuel, unknown, Karen Blanchard and Chuck Kreiman

Speakers included, from top — Sarah Pentico Samuel, Gerry Jones, Karen Blanchard and Chuck Kreiman

The Ambassador fielded questions respectfully submitted from the floor of an audience of approximately 50 individuals. The comments and questions were on topics including:

  • the reports of civil unrest in the country and the response from the government,
  • investment from outside,
  • telecommunications,
  • plans to increase per capita income,
  • supplying power to the countryside through a variety of means including wind and hydropower,
  • the success of government controlled Ethiopian Airlines,
  • the significant influx of refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan,
  • the border conflict with Eritrea,
  • and the increase in girls’ education.

Ato Misgina Tesfay Gebreselassie, Minster Counselor at the Ethiopian Embassy, took copious notes for further review. E&E RPCVS are grateful to the Ambassador and Ato Misgina for the time taken to have this conversation.

Coffee ceremony
Sara prepares and serves the coffee

Sara prepares and serves the coffee, here to Ted Vestal and Laverne Berry (64-66)

Tebabu Assefa and his wife, Sara, Founders of Blessed Coffee performed a traditional coffee ceremony that was enjoyed by all in attendance.

tebebu-assefaTebabu explained his journey in coming to the U.S. and eventually founding Blessed Coffee. He has graciously offered to work with E&E RPCVS in fundraising activities.


The E&E business meeting
Stephen and Leo run the business meeting

Stephen and Leo run the business meeting

Leo Cecchini (Asmara 1962-64) ran the business meeting and Steve Cristofar (Asmara, Adi Quala, Debarola — Eritrea 1962-64) served as chief organizer of the program. Leo gave a brief overview of events during the last year upon the resignation of Marian Haley Beil (Debra Berhan 1962-64) a year ago.

The new board has five new members, several from the D.C. area. The financial operations will reside with Randy Marcus (Asella 1966-68), the new treasurer, who lives in the  Maryland suburbs of Washington.  All banking services have been transferred to a nearby bank.  Leo introduced all of the board members in attendance:  Amanda Sutker, John Coyne, Steve Cristofar, Randy, and Janet Lee.   Leo announced that the board had voted and the new President would be a co-presidency held by Amanda and Janet.

Janet then gave a report on the RPCV Legacy Program projects for Kristen Barados (Fenote Selam from 2007-2009), board member and Legacy Project lead, who was unable to attend. The E&E RPCV Legacy program started in 2003 and has raised $260,000 for eight projects. E&E RPCV is a 501 (c) 3 and donations through the organization are tax deductible.  RPCVS are urged to consider planning a Legacy project, and submitting a proposal to the Board for approval. The champion of the project must personally pledge 10 percent to the project. Once sanctioned, the project is included on the E&E RPCV webpage  and fundraising may begin. Current projects include:

Janet also notified the membership that back issues of The Herald have been scanned and can be found at: The Herald Archives

Janet also encouraged members to “like” the E&ERPCV Facebook page.

Finally, Janet announced that the next NPCA conference will be held in Denver, June 23 and 24, 2017. She will form a local arrangements committee to work on housing, an Ethiopian meal and the business meeting.


Past and present presidents

As the meeting closed, Co-Presidents, Amanda Sutker and Janet Lee presented Marian Haley Beil a small bouquet of flowers and a gift certificate on behalf of the membership.


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