The Jirani Project was founded as a non-profit (501 c 3) organization in the U.S. in Tempe, Arizona in 2006 by Beth Blue Swadener, a professor from Arizona State University and Mark Okello, a social worker from Kenya, assisted by Stefanie Sidortsova, attorney and founding board member, then from Arizona.
Beth Swadener is the current Jirani Project Board President and Amy Papacek, also a faculty member at Arizona State University, serves as Vice-President. Lacey Peters, assistant professor at Hunter College in New York City, is the board Secretary. Debby Chadwick is the current board Treasurer, and serves as director of Indian Education at Arizona State University. Deborah Jacobs, a long-time board member and former Treasurer, remains on the board as technology leader and Member at Large. Aysegul Ciyer, originally from Turkey and active in animal rights and child advocacy has led fundraising efforts for the Jirani Project as Member at Large. Diane Adams, retired staff member at University of Wisconsin-Extension, is Member at Large for Donor Communications. Assistant Professor Maggie Bartlett, UW-Milwaukee, and Professor of Special Education at Alabama State University at Tuscaloosa Kagenda Mutua (a native of Kenya) round out the Members at Large on the Jirani Project Board. Nick Melin, formerly from Wisconsin and a Quest Kenya team member from The Crossing in 2009, has recently moved to Arizona and will be taking a seat on the board in the next month.
Board members serve 3-year terms, which may be renewed. The Board meets monthly, in person in Arizona and by teleconference for members in Wisconsin, New York, and Alabama. Board members are recruited from among donors and supporters and others interested in Kenya’s orphaned and vulnerable children.
An annual “harambee” (fund raiser) is held in several locations and includes an on-line auction, and an Arizona event is held in the spring, along with other small fundraising events including yard sales and a “virtual 5K” run.
Our all-volunteer board encourages recurring donations, one-time donations, and every possible method for securing support for the important work of education for Kenyan children who otherwise would not be in school on a regular basis. We also do outreach and provide information about children in Kenya to interested groups in our communities.