Board of Directors
Volunteers provide leadership to Project Harvest Hope and its activities.
Will Saunders, President | Portland, Maine
Raised a Unitarian Universalist in Ithaca, New York, Will holds degrees from Oberlin College, Union Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Church History from Columbia University. From 1976 to 2005, he served congregations in Brunswick, Maine, Urbana, Illinois and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which elected him Minister Emeritus.
In Maine, he was a member of the board of the Maine Audubon Society and Chair of the Maine Humanities Council. In Illinois, he served as a member of the Chancellor's Task Force on Discrimination at the University of Illinois. In Portsmouth, well, he was tethered to the church.
Will was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association from 1982 - 85 and was elected for a second term beginning in 2003. He will complete his term in June, 2011. He has served on the Finance Committee, the Investment Committee, the Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, the Audit Committee, the Religious Education Credentialing Committee, the Worship Team and as liaison to the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.
He has long-standing friendships and connections in Romania beginning with his 1968 trip to the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the Diet of Torda. Will has two sons and two grandchildren and lives in Portland, Maine.
Tom Merritt, Treasurer | White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Tom Merritt was raised a Unitarian Universalist in Plainfield, New Jersey. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College and a Masters in Business Administration from Rutgers. He was an officer in the U. S. Navy Supply Corps from 1966-1971.
He retired in 2004 after working with The Upjohn Company and its successors including Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation. His career spanned various management positions including nine years in overseas assignments in Madrid, Spain, and in Seoul, Korea.
He is now engaged as a principal of a start-up pharmaceutical company.
Tom and his wife, Sharon, have been active members of Unitarian Universalist congregations in Plainfield, NJ and Kalamazoo, MI. They are now members of Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN. They are active in Unity’s partner church team, which collaborates with the village of Homoródszentpéter in Romania where they have visited several times.
Fred Howard | Macon, Georgia
Fred is bi-vocational, spreading his time between ministry at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Valdosta, Georgia and working part time as an emergency room physician. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and Candler School of Theology at Emory. In 1995, after practicing medicine as a family physician for twenty years, Fred began doing some lay speaking at a local UU congregation and they encouraged him to seek ordination.
With his special interests in cultural exchange and sustainable development, the work of Project Harvest Hope was an immediate attraction for Fred. He first visited Transylvania in 2005 when he took part in a pilgrimage to Szekelyudvarhely and the Homorod Valley sponsored by Project Harvest Hope. Since then he has returned to Transylvania twice, the last time leading a group of pilgrims there himself.
Fred is married to his college sweetheart, Kathy, and they have three grown children – Mandy, an optometrist, Misty, a first grade teacher, and Dustin, a graduate student at Georgia Tech. He also has twin grandsons, Kade and Bennett, who manage to get a lot of attention from their grandpa.
Ann Swardlick | Portland, Maine
Ann Swardlick is a writer with more than 30 years of experience in advertising and communications. Many of those years were spent with Swardlick Marketing Group, an agency founded by Ann and her husband, David, based in Portland, Maine. The Unitarian Universalist Association is among the many national and regional organizations their agency has served. Today she splits her time between two smaller agencies, focusing primarily on food, nutrition and higher education.
A long-time member of the First Universalist Church of Yarmouth, Maine, Ann is active on her congregation’s Partner Church committee and has visited the village of Gyepes in the Homoród Valley region of Transylvania several times. Most recently, she has helped organize two summer camps for the children in neighboring villages.
Ann graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and received her MA in Communications from Northwestern University. In her spare time, she sings world folk music (including lots of Balkan songs) with the women’s vocal ensemble, Zemya. She has three children, Abby, Betsey and Ben, who can be found in different corners of the world at any given moment.
Julie Draper | Eliot, Maine
Julie Draper brings strong organizational and people skills as volunteer staff for Project Harvest Hope. She’s present at all Board meetings and supports development efforts, website management and General Assemblies of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Trained as a primary school teacher, Julie has taught in Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Maine. Currently, she is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where she has also served in every volunteer capacity known to humankind.
In addition to supporting the work of the Board, Julie serves as a co-leader on pilgrimages to Transylvania. Her background with children and youth makes her particularly valuable on our pilgrimages. Julie lives with her husband and two teenage boys, Nicholas and Zachary.
Past Board Members
Terre Balof | Clarksdale, Mississippi
Terre Balof came to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1993 from the United Methodist ministry. Terre felt that she needed to be part of a faith tradition that was more welcoming to all people. Terre holds Masters Degrees in Divinity and Education from Emory University. In her early years of ministry coming out of the civil rights movement, Terre worked in Middle East peace education with the American Friends Service Committee, was an inner city community minister in Atlanta, and organized travel-study seminars focusing on cultural exchange.
Since changing her ordination to Unitarian Universalist, she has served Emerson UU in Marietta, Georgia, the Montgomery, AL, UU Fellowship, and the UU Fellowship in Athens, GA. She is currently the consulting minister of the UU Community Church in Glen Allen, VA. In her ministry she continues her commitment to interfaith and social justice work, encouraging her congregation’s sharing of their building with an Ahmadiyya mosque.
In 1995, Terre was fortunate to take a pilgrimage to Okland, Romania, the sister church of her Athens, GA, congregation. She felt that the trip was a “coming home” to her early childhood roots close to the land in the Mississippi Delta. It is an honor to serve on the board of Project Harvest Hope, for it gives her a way to support our sisters and brothers in Transylvania who have “held the faith” for centuries and to support those who still honor their connection to the Earth through farming, a way of life that has largely been lost in the United States.
Eva Kelemen | Okland, Transylvania
Eva Kelemen was raised in Marosvasarhely (Tirgu Mures), Transylvania. She graduated from Babes Bolyai University in Kolozsvar in 1996 with a degree in English and Hungarian literature and language; Her thesis was on Black American women writers. In 1993, Eva married Rev. Kelemen Levente and moved to Okland, the village where he served a Unitarian congregation and where they live today. She commuted to University before beginning a family. Eva and Levente have three children: Kincso, Elod and Tas.
Since graduation from University, Eva has taught English in the village school except for periods of time on maternity leave. From 1991-1994, was the school principal. She has been a licensed translator of English, Hungarian and Romanian since 1996.
In 1995, with her husband Levente, Eva helped found Project Harvest Hope and Harvest Hope pro Homorod and since 1966 has been the in-country PHH pilgrimage coordinator. Evidence of her deep commitment to the development of the Homorod Valley includes the building of a "youth house," arts and crafts for the children, summer camps, a village museum and the purchase of a school bus. She was the lead organizer of the 2005 and 2006 PHH sustainable development conferences in Illyefalva and helps manage the PHH program of Local Development Agents (LDA's) with CIVITAS. Eva is committed to nurturing the culture and traditions of Transylvanian Hungarians.
Beverly Smrha, Secretary | Oakland, California
Ms. Smrha is a founding board member of Project Harvest Hope, and facilitated the initial community discussions with local partners in Romania.
She is retired as the District Executive, Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, serving Northern California, Northern Nevada, and Hawaii.
Ms. Smrha has thirty years of grassroots organizing and community development experience, including employment as Project Director for Growth: Its Problems and Opportunities, of Houston, Texas, overseeing the design, funding and implementation of an urban planning project. She was responsible for identifying community needs, negotiating dialogue among two hundred community leaders from disparate interest groups to formulate areas of agreement and plan of action, and establishing a task force which addressed urban revitalization through public/private partnership.
Ms. Smrha was the Executive Director for Transportation Alternatives Project in Berkeley, CA, and an Associate with the World Institute on Disability. Volunteer service includes the Executive Committee of the City of Houston's Conference on Revitalization of Inner City, the Houston Committee for the Humanities and Public Policy, and serving as Vice-Chair of the City of Lafayette, California's Population and Housing Sub-Committee.
Linda Friedman | Rochester, New York
Einda Friedman grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended Brooklyn College. After earning a doctorate in biology at the University of Rochester, she did basic research in bacterial and yeast genetics, taught in the biology and environmental toxicology programs and developed databases with drug information and literature sources that were used in the field of breastfeeding and lactation.
Linda served as president, newsletter editor and on the Board of Trustees of both the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York and the St. Lawrence District Board. On the national level, she served 10 years on the UUA General Assembly Planning Committee, the last four as chair. She has been to Transylvania twice, first on a Grand Symposium Pilgrimage and then to help with a Unity St. Paul Camp in St. Peter.
After retiring from professional activities, she took up something she had tried 30 years early – pottery. Her chalices and bowls have been sold at General Assembly. She’s a very proud mother of graphic designer Tanya Friedman and UU minister the Rev. Lisa Friedman and the very proud grandmother of two engaging little boys, Benjamin and Sam.
Anne Greenwood | San Pablo, California
Anne Greenwood is retired after serving 27 years on staff in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology for the University of California at Berkeley. She has degrees from Vassar College, Columbia Teachers College, and the San Francisco Theological Union.
Anne served many years as a Partner Church Networker, acting as liaison between the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council and five US congregations partnered with Unitarian congregations in the Homoród Valley in the Transylvainian region of Romania. She is Co-chair of the Partner Church committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, coordinating exchanges between the congregation and its partner church, Homoródújfalu and has traveled to that region often.
Anne has held elected offices in the Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, is a member of the Balázs Scholar Committee of the Starr King School for the Ministry, a visiting scholars' program that provides for a year of post-graduate study for Transylvanian Unitarian ministers, and is a member of the International Association for Religious Freedom, attending congresses in Japan, the US, Germany and Korea.
Cecilia Kingman Miller | Portland, Oregon
Cecilia Kingman Miller is a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, where she received a Masters of Divinity in 2003.
In her seminary studies a primary emphasis was the role of the church in the creation of civil society. Raised in Montana, Cecilia is also concerned with the link between farming and the foundations of democratic society, and with the preservation of traditional cultures. These values bring her to Project Harvest Hope’s board.
Cecilia spent part of her seminary education among the Unitarians of Transylvania, living there with her children and working with PHH’s project partners. This experience led the family to make changes in their lifestyle and engage more deeply with issues of sustainability, poverty, and human rights. Each year Cecilia leads a Project Harvest Hope pilgrimage so that our friends and supporters might have similar opportunities for transformative experiences.
Cecilia has served congregations in the Bay Area and in Portland and Eugene, Oregon. Primarily engaged in raising children, Cecilia serves as a stewardship consultant for congregations, making use of her prior experience in fundraising. Cecilia was trained as a community organizer with the Portland Interfaith Project, and has received human rights training as well. Her other volunteer service includes serving as a board member for the Pacific Northwest Unitarian Universalist Growth Foundation, and various local projects. She lives with her two teenaged children, Isaac and India, in Portland, Oregon.
Naomi King | Clinton, New York
Naomi King is minister of the Unitarian Universalist church. Prior to becoming minister, Naomi was an entrepreneur and restauranteur. She grew up in rural Maine and remains highly interested in sustainable and cooperative agriculture, cottage industries, and asset-based community development.
Naomi has previously served on many non-profit organizational boards that required a community development focus in economically marginal and recovering areas. Naomi finds Project Harvest Hope exciting for its potential to help transform rural Romania and empower our Unitarian partners in the new environment (created by Romania's entry into the European Union in 2007).
She also hopes that PHH will inspire and eventually assist similar rural community and sustainable agricultural development in North America with partner Unitarian Universalist congregations.
Rob Eller-Isaacs | St. Paul, Minnesota
Rob Eller-Isaacs is co-minister of Unity Church Unitarian in St.Paul, Minnesota. He has served the church since fall of 2000. Before arriving at Unity Church Rob and his wife and co-minister, the Rev. Janne Eller-Isaacs served the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. There they helped to guide the growth of the congregation and the restoration of both the church's mission and its historic home. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago and trained at Starr King School for the Ministry, he has served in Boston, Massachusetts and Whittier, and Oakland, California before settling in St. Paul.
A hallmark of his ministry has been the recognition of the importance of the urban church as an instrument for long-term community development. Over the course of seventeen years of service in Oakland Rob has been deeply involved in many community efforts. He helped to found the community based planning effort known as "Oakland: Sharing the Vision." He served as Chaplain of the Oakland Union of the Homeless and played a key role in shaping Oakland's response to homelessness as founding chairperson of the Oakland's Commission on Homelessness. As president of Dignity Housing West, he helped develop more than a hundred units of service-enriched transition housing. He also helped envision and then establish the Center for Urban Family Life. Since coming to Minnesota Rev. Eller-Isaacs has been active in support of the Farmer's Union, worked to help establish the Minnesota Center for the Common Good and has been deeply involved in making strong connections among communities hoping to engage in sustainable agriculture.
Gary DeCramer | Mendota Heights, Minnesota
Dr. DeCramer is the Director of the Master of Public Affairs Program, the Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota.
His areas of experience and expertise are political leadership, rural and cooperative development, program evaluation, and transportation policy. Dr. DeCramer has served as a state senator, representing the southwestern region of Minnesota; as state director of USDA Rural Development; principal planning analyst for Hennepin County's Office of Planning and Development; senior fellow in the Humphrey Institute's State and Local Policy Program and the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies; and as interim president of Southwest State University in Marshall.
As state director for Rural Development Dr. DeCramer reported to the Undersecretary of USDA Rural Development, and was responsible for program delivery by 124 employees in 16 offices across Minnesota. Rural Development provides financial and technical assistance to the towns and eleven tribal communities of Minnesota. The agency provides direct financing toward low-income housing, community facilities, rural water and wastewater infrastructure, distance learning and telemedicine infrastructure, rural business and cooperative services, and community development.
Currently, Gary is the director of the Humphrey Institute's mid-career Master of Public Affairs program. He teaches in that program and in the University's leadership minor. He holds a master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas.
Sherman Eagles | St. Paul, Minnesota
Sherman Eagles is a Technical Fellow at Medtronic, Inc. He has over 30 years of software experience, including development work on operating systems, communications, software development tools and software development processes.
Sherman is a co-chair of the Medical Device Software Committee of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, an alliance of industry, health care professionals, and government. He is also chair of the medical device software task force of AdvaMed, the health industry manufacturer's association. Sherman is the chair of two international standards working groups, responsible for developing international consensus standards for safety requirements for programmable electrical medical systems, and software life cycle processes for medical devices.
Sherman is a past co-chair of the St. Anthony Park Community Council, a non-profit organization that works to advance citizen participation in local government in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was a co-founder in 1973 of Hampden Park Foods, a consumer food cooperative that continues to serve the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. In 1980 he helped initiate the St. Anthony Park Community Gardens, a community owned and volunteer-managed space that provides gardening opportunities for approximately 200 neighborhood gardeners each year. Sherman served for eight years on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Food Association, including two years as chair of the board. The Minnesota Food Association is a non-profit, membership organization whose mission is to form a coalition of informed, connected, activated urban and rural citizens to work together to build a more sustainable food system.
David Keyes | Atlanta, Georgia
David Keyes is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and founding president of Project Harvest Hope. Dr. Keyes is the author of "Most Like An Arch: Building Global Church Partnerships," (Center for Free Religion Press, 1999.)
He is a past president of the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council, an organization linking more than 200 congregations in the United States, Canada, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Philippines, and India. He has been a member of the Working Group on Mission to the United States and Canada of the National Council of Churches of Christ, and was cofounder of the Oakland Violence Prevention Project, a church-based community organizing program in Oakland, California.
Dr. Keyes served in the mid-1990's as an advisor to the global ministries programs of the United Church of Christ, in which he has ministerial standing.
Katalin Voros | Orinda, California
Katalin Voros, Operations Manager of the University of California at Berkeley's Microfabrication Laboratory since 1986, came to the University with 14 years of process engineering experience in the semiconductor industry. She is a member of the Electrochemical Society and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She is a recipient of the University of California, Berkeley, Administrative & Professional Staff Distinguished Achievement Award, 1991, and the Berkeley Staff Assembly's Excellence in Management Award in 1995 and 2001.
Katalin has been an active member of the Hungarian-American community since she came to the United States in 1960 as a refugee. As a troop leader (for over 10 years in the Hungarian Scouting Association), she developed and wrote a training program for assistant troop leaders, which was adopted for the organization across continents. She was also a member of the HSA Board of Director's Executive Committee for 4 years, and currently is a member of the President's Club.
Katalin and her late husband Charles W. Tobias, were the major supporters and program developers of the Tobias Youth House in Torockó, Transylvania. The program involved acquiring and redeveloping an old village farm for youth cultural and recreational activities; establishing a small exhibition gallery in the city hall; renovation and renewal of the local history museum; and, publication of an informational booklet and tourist guide of Torockó.
Olga Zoltai | St. Paul, Minnesota
Olga is a Unitarian who was born in Hungary. She is retired from the International Institute of Minnesota, where she worked as a casework supervisor for over 20 years. She was in charge of refugee resettlement and immigration counseling.
She has written hundreds of political asylum cases and worked with the foreign born on many levels.
Presently Olga is the vice-president of Altrusa International, a service club for women, and is on the board of the Summit Hill Association.
Olga says "All my life I tried to do volunteer work as much as time permitted as a way to pay back this country for the tremendous opportunity I have enjoyed when I was a refugee who had no place to go."