Leah Barker – CEO
Ms. Barker has served in the non-profit sector for over 15 years, fulfilling her passion to improve her community and other communities worldwide. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of CHOICE Humanitarian, a grassroots organization with 34 years of experience in rural village development in 8 countries.
Ms. Barker’s expertise in administration and fundraising has improved CHOICE Humanitarian’s efforts and programs designed to eradicate extreme poverty. She works closely with her Board of Directors and staff in developing the CHOICE Leadership Model of Development that focuses on self-reliance and sustainability. Ms. Barker grew up in Puerto Rico which has contributed to her deep passion to serve low-income families and an understanding of programs that offer lasting solutions.
In addition to her work with CHOICE, Ms. Barker taught an Ethnic Minority Diversity course at the University of Utah. Prior to joining CHOICE Humanitarian, Ms. Barker managed Children First Utah, a non-profit organization focused on meeting the educational needs of low-income children statewide. Ms. Barker holds a B.S. in Human Development and an Executive Masters of Public Administration from the University of Utah.
Marissa Bernards – Development Associate
Marissa recently graduated with a BA in Latin American Studies and a minor in Nonprofit Management from Brigham Young University. Between semesters, she lived in Chiapas, Mexico for four months where she taught English and enjoyed the local culture.
Her passion for fundraising was discovered in a resource development course during her sophomore year of college. Inspired by the concept that funds are needed to really make a difference, Marissa quickly threw herself into the development world. She joined the CHOICE Humanitarian team in March 2017 and loves working to end extreme poverty.
Marissa is a hiker, a passive violinist, an avid reader, and a salad bar enthusiast. In her spare time, she can be found goofing off with her husband or completing DIY projects.
Brook Bowen – Graphic Design
Brook Bowen brings over 20 years of graphic design experience to CHOICE. This experience spans from business cards to billboards and everything in between including magazine and catalog design, brochures, books, video production, web design and working with a wide range of printing materials and formats. He has also worked extensively with tradeshow booth design and management. His CHOICE Humanitarian work can be seen the Annual Report, CHOICE Galas and in our day to day operations.
Alan Croshaw – Intern / Volunteer Coordinator
Alan is retired and has been full-time volunteer with CHOICE Humanitarian since September 2014.
He earned B. S. and M.S. degrees from Utah State University. In his career, he served for 5 years as a Medical Service Corps Officer in the US Army. He worked 9 years in sales and management for a small manufacturing company. For 25 years, Alan was an insurance agent.
He commutes to CHOICE each day from Spanish Fork. Alan’s involvement with CHOICE started in 2012. For seven weeks, he became a student in a Spanish Immersion Language School in Antigua, Guatemala. Later, in June 2012, he returned to Guatemala as part of a CHOICE Expedition building eco-stoves. Then in October, he went back “solo” for CHOICE to Guatemala for a month, working as a trouble shooter on water flow problems, small motor repair issues, internet connectivity, and other things. In 2013, he returned to Guatemala as a CHOICE expeditioner, building a community center in Chirixquitzac.
Volunteers and interns reach out to CHOICE regularly because they want to help end extreme poverty. One of Alan’s jobs is to facilitate this process. He loves volunteering with CHOICE and helping people generally. He also loves learning about photography, gardening, music, poetry.
Alan is the father of six children and 18 grandchildren.
Keith Ellis – Field Communications Director
Keith started with CHOICE as a volunteer in January of 2003. After a brief hiatus in 2004, Keith re-joined the organization as a full time staff employee in March of 2005. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University (1981) and majored in Business Management. Keith was born in New Jersey and raised in Southern California. He served an LDS mission to Hermosillo, Mexico 1974-1976 and has worked in the Transportation Industry for most of his adult life. He has been on multiple expeditions to Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, and Bolivia; both as a CHOICE expedition leader and/or as a representative of CHOICE on various field assignments. Keith has served CHOICE in a number of different capacities. He is currently the Director of Field Communications at CHOICE and helps to oversee the everyday managing of 7 dynamic field staffs in 7 countries!
Keith enjoys the outdoors, traveling, camping, and riding his motorcycle! He’s the proud father of four children… and grandfather to six grandchildren! He currently resides in Salt Lake City.
Chris Johnson – Social Innovation Director
For the past 25 years Chris has been involved in sustainable development work. He has worked at CHOICE Humanitarian for the past 20 years and has held numerous positions at CHOICE Humanitarian. He worked as director of field operations for 12 years where he worked extensively to build and strengthen the Self-Developing Village Model. Together with Dr. James B. Mayfield and nine Country directors, Chris assisted as the Model was piloted, tested, and perfected in seven countries around the world. Chris worked as Executive Director for two years and as Program Director for three years and developed additional organization-wide initiatives. Chris now focuses his time on economic development: connecting products from small-scale farmers and artisans to US markets and establishing best practices, and profitable international trade ventures using a responsible sourcing and sustainable methodology.
Chris has a Bachelors of Science degree in Recreational Management from Brigham Young University and has completed the coarse work of a masters degree in Recreation Administration at California State University Chico.
Chris is the author of Revitalizing Glendale: People, Resources and Strategies for Community Building. He sits on two other non-profit boards of directors, has been instrumental in starting three non-profit organizations, and acts as an advisor to many more. He is father to three beautiful children, enjoys camping, traveling, cycling, mountain biking, snow boarding and just about anything that releases adrenaline into the bloodstream.
Irene Kelly - Venture Fund Manager
Originally from Mexico, Irene moved to the United States to pursue a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship at the University of Utah. As a student, she worked for a microfinance organization in Kathmandu Nepal and decided to start her own social business “Spread the love Inc.”, to provide market means for artisans living in poverty to sell their products. Upon graduation, she joined the policy arm of the Utah-based “Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center” focusing on international outreach and development. This position enabled her to understand the challenges of international development and the need for sustainability and accountability to truly help the poor.
Driven by the desire to work with and learn from the extreme poor, she joined the economic development arm of “CHOICE Humanitarian”, an NGO operating in seven countries whose mission is to eliminate extreme poverty. As CHOICE’s Impact Fund Manager she develops and oversees impact investment projects designed to connect entrepreneurs in impoverished villages with financial resources and mentorship to bring them out of poverty. She promotes data-driven decisions to provide structure and discipline to the process. Apart from CHOICE, she works as an advisor for small businesses in sectors like agriculture, production and impact measurement.
Kelly Martin – Event Coordinator
Kelly is an accomplished Event Coordinator, who has built a name for herself and her company Right-Hand Gal in the Utah event industry. She has over fifteen years experience and has worked in all aspects of the industry.
After taking a break from her career to raise her two young boys, Kelly’s passion for events, people, and social good led her to CHOICE Humanitarian where she has been on the team since 2014.
She is a detail-oriented professional with strengths in event creation, planning, and execution. When Kelly isn’t organizing the next CHOICE fundraiser, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her two active boys.
Jordan Menzel – Expedition Director
Jordan likes spending time with people who are working to improve the living conditions within communities, both at home and abroad. Currently helping corporations, families, students and more understand what it means to be a global citizen as the Director of Expeditions at CHOICE Humanitarian. Previously, Jordan spent time in the civic-tech industry as the founder of CrowdHall, an online townhall software. With a background in international development, politics, partnerships, and marketing, Jordan has worked as an assistant to Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, at the UN Environment Programme, and at the US Institute of Peace. He holds a BA from the University of Utah an MSFS from Georgetown University. He has been leading CHOICE expeditions since 2006, primarily in Bolivia and Mexico. He is a militant bike commuter and a mediocre, yet enthusiastic, rock climber.
Brit Meyer – Chapter Development Director
Brit and his family’s expedition to Nepal in 2014 set him on a path to join CHOICE Humanitarian. In his prior life, he worked for over 25 years for Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies in a variety of sales, support, and business development management roles. Most recently he was head of sale for a small data analytics startup. Academically, he has degrees from the University of North Carolina - BS Physics; Johns Hopkins University – MSEE; University of Denver – MBA.
Brit’s initial role with CHOICE is to help expand CHOICE’s footprint – donors and corporate partners – in Colorado and points eastward.
Brit and Kerri Meyer have 3 sons: Charlie, Sam and Zac - they enjoy travel. Brit also enjoys biking, road and mountain, tolerates running, and would like to believe he is a budding photographer.
Francesca Perkins – Economic Development Coordinator
Francesca attended Bowdoin College, in Maine, and earned a BA in Anthropology. After graduating, she moved to the Bahamas where she worked as teacher and reading specialist in a local school district. Her experiences there inspired her to earn her masters as in literacy from Columbia University, Teachers College, in New York. She then moved to Switzerland, where she taught first grade, and then Italy, where she taught English. In addition to working in the classroom, Francesca has also led groups of high school students on month-long expeditions building hiking trails in the backcountry of various US national parks with the Student Conservation Association. Her work with the SCA has allowed her to build trails in Denali, Glacier, and Lake Clark National Parks, as well as others parks. In her spare time, Francesca enjoys time outside, running, reading, yoga, paper mâché, and cooking.
Chris Phillips – Expeditions & Donor Coordinator
Mr. Phillips first came to CHOICE as a volunteer in the Nepal office before joining the team at HQ as a full-time employee in March 2017. Previously, he spent ten years in the private sector working on public health marketing and communications projects for the Federal Government. After graduating from St. Olaf College (MN) in 2001 with a double major in Philosophy and English, he taught English in Slovakia, China, and Brazil.
Driven by a love of other cultures and a desire to effect positive change, Mr. Phillips earned his master's degree in International Development at Tulane University because he wants, "to travel around the world and help people." As Expeditions & Donor Coordinator for CHOICE Humanitarian, he gets to do exactly that.
When his hometown Baltimore Orioles and Ravens are not playing, Mr. Phillips enjoys skiing, hiking, cooking, live music, studying languages, and working as a freelance photographer.
Angela Roundy - Accountant
Angela has over 20 years of experience in accounting and business management. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Accounting, she started her career working in the private sector and a few years later decided to begin her own accounting business focusing in the non-profit industry. Over the past 20 years, she has worked with many non-profit organizations doing everything from accounting and payroll to tax returns and oversight. In addition to her accounting work, she spent a few years as a business counselor advising startups in both the private and public sector.
Lonny Ward – Field Project Director
Lonny is the Field Director for CHOICE Humanitarian where he directs the in-country teams in the CHOICE model of development. He has a strong educational background in animal science, including a Bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a Master’s degree in reproductive physiology. In addition to his work and education in agriculture, Lonny earned an MBA from the BYU Marriott School of Business.
Lonny spent the early part of his career on the AgReserves, Inc. management team, where he helped manage two dairies and the quality control team for one of the nut farms. During this time, Lonny gained extensive experience with all aspects of dairy management and learned advanced technical skills such as bovine embryo transfer.
In 2009, Lonny found his true passion in life as he began working with non-profit organizations striving to solve international problems of hunger and poverty through small-scale agriculture and community development. Lonny has traveled extensively in this endeavor, working in the African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Mali, Central, and South America in the countries of Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bolivia and Mexico and in Nepal. He loves to work with the rural farmers throughout the world and finds great joy in helping them see how to improve their lives.
Lonny is the father of 7 children and lives with his wife and family in Genola, Utah, where he is currently the Mayor. He writes about his international travels on his facebook page and his blog at www.ethiopiancowboy.blogspot.com.
Pearl Wright – Marketing & Communication Director
Pearl started at CHOICE as a volunteer helping to craft the many stories of the donors, villagers, and partners and continues that work now as the Director of Marketing & Communication. As an advocate for social good, Pearl has been involved in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years in the capacity of both staff member and volunteer. Previous to working at CHOICE Pearl was the Executive Director of a STEM education foundation.
Pearl holds a Masters of Professional Communication from Westminster College with an emphasis in technical writing and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of Utah.
Pearl is learning to speak Spanish, an avid mountain biker, reader, scuba diver, and global citizen.