Key Individuals

2022 Foundation Board

Brian Benham, Ph.D., is the Treasurer of the MEF Board. Brian holds a PhD in Agricultural Engineering and is a Professor at Virginia Tech. Brian’s academic career has focused on the conservation and restoration of water resources. Brian is also a faculty advisor to Service Without Borders and has led three student teams working at the Engaruka English Medium Primary School (EEMPS).

Rebecca Caldwell, along with Essra Kibler, were the first to meet with Martha Olemisiko and learn of her vision for EEMPS. Rebecca has a B.S. in education from the Univ. of Tennessee, and a M.S. in special education from the Univ. of New Mexico. She taught in public schools for over 35 years working with children of all handicapping conditions. Rebecca is retired and loves international travel to developing countries.

Steve Conner, P.E. joined the Board in 2021. He is the Principal Engineer for Schnabel Engineering, LLC in Blacksburg, Virginia. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering and over 30 years experience as a professional engineer. His primary areas of expertise include foundations for structures, construction of earthworks, stability of natural and constructed slopes, retaining walls, dams, highway widening, bridge replacements, water and
wastewater systems, and the electrical transmission grids. He served on the Board of Directors of Schnabel Engineering for three years and has been responsible for the operational and financial management, performance and stability of Schnabel’s Blacksburg operations for over 30 years. Steve visited the EEMPS in 2022, while co-leading service-learning students from Virginia Tech who donated and set up a computer lab at the school.

Theo Dillaha, Ph.D., P.E., is the Chair of the MEF Board of Directors. Theo has a PhD in Engineering and is a Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech where he taught and conducted research for 30 years. Theo served in the Peace Corps in Morocco, worked in Guam and Micronesia for two years, did a one-year Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Mauritius, managed approximately $25 million in development assistance projects for USAID and has worked in 30 developing countries including 10 in Africa. Theo has co-led four Service without Borders service-learning trips to Engaruka to work at the school.

Karen Scalf-Benham holds a M.S. Degree in Family Nurse Practitioner from Old Dominion Univ. Karen has extensive experience as an oncology & geriatrics primary care provider . She has participated in annual medical clinics in Haiti since 2010. Karen is an Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker & enjoys international travel to developing countries.

Margie Lee, DVM, Ph.D., is our newest board member and joined the board in April 2020. Margie is a Professor and Head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. She obtained her BS degree in Biology from Virginia Tech, her D.V.M. from Virginia Tech and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology from The University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the epidemiology of meat and poultry-borne food safety pathogens, microbial pathogenesis, and ecology of poultry intestinal microbiome. In addition to research, she teaches microbiology to veterinary students, graduate and undergraduate students and veterinary residents. She is formerly the coordinator of Graduate Affairs for the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and graduate coordinator for the Masters of Avian Medicine program. She is an avid motorcycle rider.

Audrey Spielmann is the MEF Canadian Representative. Audrey is a Diagnostic Radiologist in North Vancouver, Canada. She completed her B.S. in Zoology and Biology, her medical degree, and her Diagnostic Radiology Fellowship at the Univ. of British Columbia. She is an academic Diagnostic Radiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and the University Hospital for more than 10 years, publishing and lecturing internationally.

Randy Stith is the MEF Secretary. He earned his BA in Radio/TV from Miami University and his MA in Communications/Film from Ohio State. After serving in the Peace Corps in Mali, working in television, and teaching at Central Michigan University, he became Director of Visual & Broadcast Communications at Virginia Tech for over 30 years, responsible for the university’s photographic and video production. Through Virginia Tech he served as media consultant on various USAID projects working in the Caribbean, Senegal, Nepal, and Cambodia.

Nina Tarr joined the MEF Board in 2021 after working as a MEF volunteer for several years while a student at Virginia Tech. She is currently the Program Coordinator at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. She obtained her B.S. degree in Human Development from Virginia Tech in 2020. While a student at Virginia Tech, she led two Service without Borders service-learning trips to our school in Tanzania, completed a two-month summer internship with the Engaruka Community Initiative Organization in Tanzania and completed another semester-long internship as the executive director trainee for MEF.

MEF Board Officer Responsibilities

Tanzania Liaison and Development Consultant

Martha Olemisiko, is Executive Director of the Engaruka Community Initiative Organization (ENCO), Manager of the Engaruka English Medium Primary School (EEMPS), and MEF Tanzania Liaison. Martha is Maasai and obtained her B.S. in Sociology from the Catholic Univ. of Eastern Africa, Nairobi. She worked for the Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO) for 8 years as the Education Program Officer and Program Manager. At MWEDO she coordinated scholarships for more than 500 pastoralist girls, coordinated the MWEDO girl’s secondary school, and managed an adult literacy program for > 6000 women. After leaving MWEDO in 2016, Martha established ENCO and EEMPS.

Advisory Committee

Colin Kibler, CISP, CISSM is the MEF Information Technology Chairperson and Webmaster. Colin earned his B.S. in Accounting and Information Systems from Virginia Tech. Colin is passionate about integrating technology into the educational strategy for EEMPS. He is currently the Vice President of Information Security and Compliance for Performance Food Group.

Abby Olemisiko is the EEMPS Facilities Director and Farm Manager. Abby has a BS degree in Wildlife Management & Conservation from the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka. He is Maasai, from Engaruka and the husband of Martha. He is the Managing Director of Boutique Safari Ltd., a high-end safari company. He is renowned as a safari guide for his birding expertise.

Development Committee

Essra Kibler is the Co-Chair of the MEF Development Committee. She earned her B.S. in Accounting and Information Systems from Virginia Tech. Essra is a passionate advocate for adult literacy and numeracy programs that will be facilitated at EEMPS to empower women. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and the Director of Digital Sales for Verizon.

Jen Sporl is the Co-Chair of the MEF Development Committee. Jen earned her B.A. in Political Science and Communication studies from the Univ. of San Diego. She has volunteered for Ocean Discovery Institute (a Presidential award-winning STEM organization) in development and organizational capacities for the past seven years. Jen is also a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and the Director for B2B Sales, West SoCal Business Markets, Verizon Business Group.

Former Board Members

Kerry Brisco is a graduate of the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy. She has 28 years of experience in community pharmacy and has been the team pharmacist for the Virginia Tech Athletic Department for 15 years. She has done international medical volunteer work in Haiti, Peru, and Guatemala. Nov. 2016 – January 2021.

Evelyn Parrish, D.O., F.A.C.O.I., is an Internal Medicine specialist. She earned her B.S. from the Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte and her D.O. from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Evelyn has been practicing hospital-based medicine since 2001. She has been a domestic and international medical volunteer since 1991 and has volunteered in a Haitian medical clinic every year since 2010. She enjoys traveling and working with MEF to help Maasai children become future leaders. Nov. 2016 to February 2020.