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 has been involved with CHOICE Humanitarian for over two years working in development -- a fancy word for fundraising. She is passionate about connecting individuals and partners to the work of CHOICE in meaningful ways, whether through grants, The Village membership, the Corporate Partner Program, campaigns, or expeditions!
Marissa has a bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies with a minor in Nonprofit Management from Brigham Young University. She also lived in Chiapas, Mexico for four months as part of a solo immersion experience, where she taught English and enjoyed the local culture. She loves to travel and is grateful to work for an organization that is sustainably making a difference worldwide!
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.
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 and majored in Business Management. Keith was born in New Jersey and raised in Southern California. 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.
Susan Flake – Data Manager
Susan has a Bachelors of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah. She has utilized her education well by spending the last 24 years raising her own small village. She has loved getting back into the work force with CHOICE and contributing to a great cause.
Susan is an avid reader and has spent many years getting a free education through the library system. She loves photography and particularly enjoys photographing her kids participating in sports and other events. She also loves to ski and take road trips with her husband. Together they have 7 children and one granddaughter.
Riley Greenwood – Expeditions Program Director
Riley joined the CHOICE Humanitarian team in August 2017. He graduated from the University of Utah with an Honors BS in Economics and a BA in International Studies with a Spanish minor, and is currently pursuing his Master of Statistics at the U as well. He is joining CHOICE after previously working at World Trade Center Utah. Riley also spent 22 months living in central Chile and did some small business consulting in Cusco, Peru as part of a study abroad experience in college.
His time spent abroad opened his eyes and fueled his desire to do more to improve the lives of people around the world. He is a passionate believer in the CHOICE model for international development and is thrilled to be a part of such a great organization.
Riley is an avid NBA fan and spends his spare time with his wife Erin playing video games, watching movies or shows, and playing or listening to music.
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 course 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 the father to three beautiful children, enjoys camping, traveling, cycling, mountain biking, snowboarding and just about anything that releases adrenaline into the bloodstream.
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.
Sam joined CHOICE Humanitarian in December of 2017 to write a mobile app for the in-country teams to be able to gather measurement and evaluation data from rural villages on smartphones and tablets. Since the summer of 2017, he has also worked with the expeditions department. He works part-time during the Fall and Spring semesters at the University of Utah, where he is a second-year student pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science, and he works full-time during the summer.
When Sam isn’t coding for school or CHOICE, he is writing, hiking, biking, drumming, or driving. He loves all things creative and spends much of his free time on creative passion projects and endeavors.
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 and enjoy travel. Brit also enjoys biking, road and mountain, tolerates running, and would like to believe he is a budding 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.
Emily Wright – Expeditions Program Specialist
Emily recently graduated with a BS in Sociology and a minor in International Development from Brigham Young University. As an undergraduate, she lived in Ecuador for 18 months and spent 3 months in Peru working in program evaluation. She has also worked with various international nonprofits focusing on projects in nutrition, entrepreneurial education, and youth civic engagement.
Emily Ponder – Marketing & PR Coordinator
Emily is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. During her time at Texas A&M, Emily worked in a marketing role for a large student organization. Her love for international development led her to frequently serve internationally on humanitarian trips and eventually live in Lima, Peru where she worked with young adults and learned Spanish. Emily's background in literature and international development make her passionate about telling the stories of people worldwide.
As a Texas native, she enjoys Utah's mountainous landscape and spends as much time as possible in the mountains, whether it be skiing, hiking or climbing.