Want to know who’s going to India with you? That would be kinda nice, eh? Well, bios are below and we’ve set up a photo site with everyone’s pictures on there (this blog is kind of unwieldy with lots of photos on a page). We will continue to add bios as new team members confirm their spots on the team.

If you don’t see your bio on here, it means we either haven’t received one from you (so send it in!) or we are bums and lost it in the shuffle (so yell at us to find it!). 

And please send in your photos, too – just e-mail them to the indiawomenbuild@gmail.com account. Here’s the photo link where pics are being posted: http://indiateam2010.shutterfly.com/ 

Now, in no particular order, we present the suckers who signed up to travel with us

Judy Bickenbach

I’m 59 years old, from Tacoma, Washington. I’m a retired public school teacher after 34 years, now working at Tacoma Goodwill in the Workforce Development department as a YouthBuild construction site trainer. I have Habitat experience with the Tacoma/Pierce County affiliate where I have worked on 165 houses, many as a site crew chief, and have been a house leader on two Women Builds. I’ve traveled three times to New Orleans and once to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

I have visited 11 countries through on sports or personal travel. When traveling to other places I like to sightsee, but more than that I like to meet the people and try to learn and understand the beauty of their culture and history. I like adventure, but also want to be safe, so traveling in groups or teams with common interest are enjoyable and good. I enjoy being outside and using my hands and head.

Judy Carson

I was born and raised in the state of Mississippi. My educational background is a Bachelors degree in education from Delta State University and a Masters degree in Thanatology from Brooklyn College. In 1976, I was one of original founders of the first Hospice in the state of Mississippi. I have owned many businesses over my life. The last business was a consulting firm for automotive dealerships. This gave me the opportunity to become a corporate trainer for the Chrysler Corporation and travel the United States for 35 weeks a year. I have lived in Mississippi, New York, Louisiana and presently in the state of Washington. Since 1974, I have traveled the world whenever possible. My travels have taken me over 1.5 million miles and I loved every minute.

I am an incurable optimist and was given a charge by God at a young age to express kindness and generosity toward other people. It is imperative that I have a true appreciation for their hardships and struggles and extend a helping hand when possible. I travel through people’s lives in their times of need and offer guidance for them to see that the light is shining on each of them and that all hope is not lost. Each day of my life has been welcomed with a smile and joy in my heart. This is how I have lived my entire life, as one woman told me, being a “rainy day friend.” Since moving to the state of Washington, I have worked with Habitat for Humanity, which has given me another avenue to appreciate the hardships and struggles of others and to extend my hands in aid whenever possible.

Laura Fisher

Hi, I’m Laura Fisher from Denver, Colorado, by way of Chicago and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. My sister, Diane, and I are joining the Women Build in India; we are very excited to meet and work with all of you. I am a 55-year-old CPA and I retired as the revenue officer at the City of Boulder last year. Since retiring I have been doing volunteer work with Denver Health, our county hospital, working in the pediatric unit. I spend most of my time rocking and feeding infants. I was also very fortunate to be able to work at the Democratic Convention. I worked with the Host Committee and was assigned to drive Bobby Kennedy and his family around for a day. I am also going to be volunteering with Habitat in the Denver finance office. I’m hoping that this will be the first of many trips with Habitat.

Diane Fisher 

My sister and I are making this journey together and it will be our first trip to India. I have lived in Minneapolis with my husband and daughter for the past 20 years, after growing up in Chicago, and living in Colorado, Louisiana and New York City. I’m a CPA, having worked exclusively with nonprofit organizations throughout my career. I am actively involved in issues of housing and homelessness, serving on the board of an organization that provides shelter, transitional housing and support services to individuals and families in Minneapolis. From my past volunteer service experiences I know that I will gain far more than I can possibly give. I look forward to meeting with all of you and the women in Bangalore.

Zephreny Parmenter

Hello, I am a planner and historic preservationist, currently working for the City of New York. I have an avid interest in building materials, travel, and volunteering and am looking forward to experiencing all these during this trip!

Heather Binns

I’m really looking forward to being part of the Bangalore India Women Build team. I’m a native of Michigan but have called Portland, Oregon, home for the last 12 years. For the past five years, I’ve been an active volunteer with Habitat Portland’s Women Build program as a construction volunteer and planning committee member. It has been amazing being a part of Women Build and helping families build a safe and affordable home. To date, Portland Habitat’s Women Build group has completed four single-family homes and one duplex.

I currently work at Portland State University (PSU) as a budget administrator for the National Policy Consensus Center. I received my Master’s in public administration with a focus on nonprofit management from PSU in 2004. Photography is another one of my passions. I’m really looking forward to documenting our trip to Bangalore and learning more about the region. Some of my other interests are yoga, travel, baking, sewing, and reading (including every book on India I can find right now, I’m a little obsessed!) I can’t wait to meet the rest of the team!

Kathy McGuire

Geez, how do you introduce yourself? Well, I look a little older on the outside but I have a big heart inside, like to laugh and I will try to get out of as much work as possible (only kidding). I am a schoolteacher so you “will” have to tell me to stop talking. I have a lot of schoolteacher friends and it is downright painful to ask them a question. They go on and on. But think about it. They pay us to stand up in front of a class and go on and on. Anyway. I have traveled and taught all over the world so I have lots of stories. See what I mean. 

I have a beautiful husband, two children and one grandchild. My sister and I are doing this build together so you will have to witness much sibling competition, mostly on my part. I love Habitat and am dedicated to getting people decent housing. I will also meditate anywhere. I am looking forward to meeting all of you and having a truly wonderful and joyous experience.

Peggy Benton

Let’s see – a few things about me… I love to travel, that is my biggest passion in life, and it is the people that I meet along the way that I love to talk to and hear their stories. I also believe that putting others’ needs first is important. We are all connected and if others are cared for then we will be cared for. We are not in this world alone. We are one big sea of humanity and how we treat each other is very important.

Many years ago, when a teacher said I could write a paper or volunteer, well, I volunteered and it was for Habitat. I really enjoyed it. Many years went by and I never forgot the experience. Raised my family and now the empty-nester has moved to Indian River County (Florida). I quickly got involved with Habitat. One day I was a Food Angel and met the girls on the Women Build team we got talking on their break and they said they were a little behind and the next day I was on site helping them build. From then on I was building. I have been a team leader for over a year, I have been on a few committees and I love to help wherever needed. I am very reliable and very dependable and a hard worker. And I laugh a lot. We have a great organization in Habitat and I am very proud to be part of it. The people that I have met here have all enriched my life in so many ways I can’t even begin to tell you! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of your India Women Build project.

Melissa George 

For the past 11 years, I have lived in the beautiful Northwest city of Portland, Oregon. I’m proud and delighted to call it home. I live with my boyfriend of five years, Larry, our dog, Tigre, and our cat, Jorge George. We take pride in finding ways of living a more sustainable lifestyle such as gardening, collecting rain water, driving vehicles powered by biodiesel, etc. I’ve been volunteering with Women Build since 2004 and have been an active participant with the planning committee as well as volunteering onsite. With my love of travel and construction, this India trip is an amazing opportunity that brings them both together.

For my paid job, I work as a residential real estate broker. It can be overwhelmingly busy and stressful at times, but it allows me to make my own schedule/be my own boss. This works well for someone who likes to travel and volunteer. Other hobbies include: camping, hiking, yoga, cooking, spending time with friends and working on projects around the house. We are currently in the process of a major remodel. Although it can be difficult to live in, we both love construction and working with our hands, so we find it to be a rewarding process.

Susan Latham

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Susan Latham and I just turned 66 years old—A number that relates to nothing that I feel. It’s sounds so old and I consider myself so energetic and youthful! Anyway, I spent my professional years-managing psychiatric programs for severely disturbed children and adolescents in Oregon. I have a Master’s of social work. I retired in 1997 and have not stopped helping others since. I had always wanted to try out other jobs but most of them could not support me so I put them on the back burner. Once I had retirement income, I found that volunteering became the way I could try out new jobs. I love to travel and so building with Habitat both nationally and internationally became a love. I believe in helping others in any way I can so that they might have a chance to grow and thrive in a safe place. 

Along with my Habitat volunteer experiences, I also volunteer for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley (a volunteer and mentorship program) my local church, the food bank, Interfaith Hospitality Network, and I chair the Oregon Board of Psychology Examiners. Speaking in public and organizing people for a cause are both easy for me so I find myself in many different situations—always though focused on the hungry, homeless, violated and mentally ill. 

Jim Down

I retired from my orthodontic practice in December 2001 and have devoted most of my leisure time since then to volunteering and traveling throughout the world. I went to Guatemala on a medical mission with Iowa MOST (a cleft palate-cleft lip team) and have enjoyed Global Village builds in Portugal, Hungary and Mongolia. Locally, I’ve worked on many Habitat projects including baking cookies for a Women Build. I love photography and bicycling, and I am eager to participate in another Global Village experience.

Jan Down

I am a retired elementary school teacher who volunteers with church, community and international organizations. My husband, Jim, and I were blessed to raise three terrific daughters who added two wonderful sons-in-law and two amazing (of course) grandsons. In addition to family and volunteer fun, our penchant for moving takes us on long-distance bicycle treks and other trips both in the United States and abroad. This will be my sixth international trip with Habitat and I have worked with our local Habitat affiliate for the past 15 years. I am grateful for the good health to be able to actively pursue the things we love to do.

James and Erna Yackel

We are looking forward to our second Global Village trip to Bangalore, India. Our first was in 2007. In 2008 we participated in a Global Village trip to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, on an Indian reservation in the US. We have friends who live in Pune, India having recently moved from Bangalore. Our first Global Village trip to Bangalore was a very positive experience.  We are retired from academia. Jim was Chancellor at Purdue University Calumet and Erna is retired from the faculty there. We have three grown children and five grandchildren. 

Charon A. Frazier-Parks

I am the wife of Cornelius N. Parks, Jr. and a mother of eight (6 boys and 2 girls).  I have volunteered for many organizations.  I get so much joy by seeing the faces of those who have received as a result of the host of millions who unselfishly volunteer their time. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois, and am currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, a very recent transplant.  I first began working with Habitat for Humanity in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1993.  Just a few years ago in Denver, Colorado, I got my feet wet again with Habitat. It was such a rewarding experience that my girlfriend and I said each year we would travel to a different state and volunteer, as we have with other organizations.  I have taught every grade from kindergarten to high school.   

I recently had the opportunity to visit my brother who lives in Shanghai, China.  It was such a blessing, and so is technology.  I went online and found a church to attend because I would be there for a month, and boy was that an awesome experience, worshipping with people from all over the world, of various denominations, and practices.   

I love music, to travel, bowl, read, sing, and help others!  I am looking forward to meeting each and every one of you, as we share in the blessing of giving back!  What a privilege it will be to see God’s people from all walks of life, all areas of the world, and all different religions, working together!  I thank you so much for this opportunity to give back.   

Beverley Laub

I currently live in Los Angeles, California, but am a Canadian who moved to the USA from Vancouver in 1998.  My career, in both Canada and the U.S., was as a management professional in information technology and telecommunications.  Since retiring I have been able to enjoy several wonderful travel adventures and am now very happy to be combining volunteer work with new cultural experiences. This is my first trip to India, as well as with Habitat for Humanity. When I’m not traveling, I enjoy hiking, golf, cycling and music. And since both of my daughters live in Canada, I still spend lots of time there. 

Rebecca (Bec) Langdon

I am a 28-year-old female who currently resides in Brisbane, Queensland.  I spent the first 25 years of my life growing up in Tasmania.  I took a career change this year to work in the print and mail industry after spending 10 years working in Information Technology.  I have a wonderful partner of eight years who I married earlier this year.  I love to read and spend time with family and friends.  I have traveled to a few different countries but never in the volunteering capacity.  This will be my first trip to India and I am very excited about it!  I enjoy any opportunity to try something different and am always looking for ways to help others less fortunate than myself.

Diane Katsikas

I was born in 1955 outside of NYC on Long Island. I have been happily married for 27 years to Bob, who has worked for the airlines since ’85. We did manage to get in a bit of non-rev traveling back in the days when the airlines were doing well. We are proud parents to two wonderful daughters, Jessica who is 27, and lives and works in Philadelphia in the financial world, and Nikki who is 24, my starving artist (her website is “nikkikatsikas@artspan.com”). She is back home with us now after a four-month backpacking trip through northern Europe. Myself…I am lucky enough to be self-employed. It took me a while but I found my niche…I create English gardens and maintain them, along with a ton of container gardens too. I do it all myself, soup to nuts, physical…but so rewarding. I have many interests… a few being: cooking (soups and breads my favorite), reading anything and everything, music (again all kinds), spending time w/family and friends, as much as possible, traveling whenever  I can, and the list goes on.

I have always been an involved volunteer … school, church, sports, community, along with certain causes close to my heart (breast cancer, AFSP and diabetes).  Habitat has been something I’ve always wanted to volunteer for. I am so excited I took the leap. All it  took was a letter from my dear friend Peg (who is signed on for this trip) that gave me the nudge i needed. Look forward to meeting you all!

Deanna Gray

Hi everybody, my name is Deanna but you can call me Dee.  I am 36, originally from Sunnyvale, California (just outside of San Jose), but now I call New York home.  This will be my second Global Village build as my first one will be a month before this one in New Zealand.  I am a pretty easygoing person. I get great strength and support from my family and I love to travel.  My favorite thing to do is spoil my two nieces (Savannah, 9, and Shelby, 2) and my nephew (Maverick, 6). They are my pride and joy!  I can’t wait to meet the rest of you and I know we will have one life-changing experience together! 

Paula Coughlan

I live in Vancouver, Canada (the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics), on the west coast. I am a retired speech pathologist, having worked for many years with neurologically compromised adults in hospitals. Now I am doing some volunteer work with a Hospice Society and a Stroke Recovery group here and I “hobby” with such things as a community choir and tap dancing lessons. It’s all really fun. I’ve also been lucky enough to do a lot more traveling since retiring. In the last few years I’ve gone to South Africa, Greece, Turkey, Vietnam and more. I’d love to experience India – with its rich history and culture – from more than a tourist’s perspective, and so Habitat for Humanity seems a great way to do that. It’ll be exciting and rewarding, I’m sure, to help with a grassroots project like the Women Build. Thanks for the opportunity to give a little something back!   P.S. I love Indian food.

Leslie Williams

My parents were medical missionaries in India for 15 years when I was growing up.  They worked in several towns in Maharashtra state where I learned Marathi. I went to a boarding school in south India through high school and returned to the States for college in 1964. Now my daughter, Rachel, works for Habitat and I have this chance to share in her work, make some contribution to the country which used to be home, and share a bit of India together. We invited my sister Carolyn to join us. This will be my first trip back after 45 years.

I’ve worked part-time for the local library system for 9 years, a job which includes a great balance between helping people find what they want and getting to see both classic and current books. Lately more of my time is taken up with helping my parents who are both 90. To fill out my family, my husband Dusty grows organic vegetables and berries for local farmers markets.  My son Jesse is an RN and enthusiastic paraglider. Looking forward to meeting all the other builders!

Robert (Bob) Danbeck

This will be my second Habitat for Humanity project after having just returned in November from a build in Cambodia – which was just great. I’m currently living in Maryland, outside of D.C., after retiring in January 2008.  During my business career I spent 35 years with the IBM Corporation and six years with the federal government.  While at IBM I had the opportunity to live for six years in Hong Kong, two years in Beijing and three years in Bangalore, India – yes Bangalore, so I know all of the good restaurants!  I’m really looking forward to getting back to India.

During my six years with the federal government I worked at the Office for Personnel Management and the Small Business Administration.  It was extremely interesting to move from the private sector to the public sector, but more interesting to move to retirement, which is the best job I’ve ever had!

I have three great children and one grandson born this past May.  My oldest son is currently in the Army stationed at Fort Leavenworth, my middle son is in advertising working in Manhattan and my daughter lives and works in D.C. for a defense contractor.  All employed and off of my payroll!  I look forward to seeing you all in March.

Stephen Williams

This is my first Habitat build and, discounting some impressive pillow forts recently constructed with my nieces, my first significant build of any kind. I’m currently on sabbatical from my role as communications specialist at a Toronto hospital foundation and am spending seven months discovering Asia with my partner, Melissa. I’m thrilled to be a part of the team going to Bangalore and hope this is the first of many adventures in India.

Melissa Chang

Since my first flight to Greece for a high school trip I knew travel would be an important part of my life. I’m very fortunate to have seven months to travel Asia and this build is one of the ways I am contributing back to the countries and communities I’m visiting. This is my first time in India and first Habitat build. At home in Toronto, Canada, I work as a communications consultant primarily in the healthcare sector. In my day-to-day life I’ve seen what women can achieve with just a little support and I’m excited to be lending a hand to help women in Bangalore.

Madelyn Bushnell

I served in the U.S. Department of Justice for 20 years. I was an executive director for the USO in Okinawa, Japan, supervising a staff of 28. The USO promoted intercultural understanding and orientation to our troops who were assigned to foreign locations.  The USO provided language classes, cross cultural studies, trips and tours, and a host of other programs to help soldiers adapt to their new surroundings.

I was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, Africa, and my area of work was community development.  This included health and hygiene projects, building schools, women’s cooperatives, crop production, creating clean water sources and rural development.

Pam Merrill

I have enjoyed Habitat as a volunteer, a Women Build volunteer, and a deconstruction volunteer, and feel it’s time to be a Global Village volunteer.  India, with its magic and tragedies and amazing people, holds a special place in my heart. I just finished my fifth trip to SE India working with a group of HIV+ women, and am fascinated by the opportunities this Global Village venture is offering to women, empowering them and providing a way out of a seemingly perpetual cycle of poverty and discrimination.

My day job, which allows me to follow this passion, is as one of several owners of a Home Health agency in Denver, Colorado.  The ski slopes of Colorado are a far cry from the tropical climate of India, but variety in one’s life is good:-)

Lori Mitchell

I am so pleased to be a small part of adding security, stability, and dignity to a family. And I know personally how it affects all. I have made my home in the Pacific Northwest for the last 15 years along with my son, who is at university, and an aging cat that’s just started snoring. The majority of my work life has been in bookstores that have especially good children’s departments. For exercise, recreation, and enlightenment I trail behind (pun intended) a group of cancer-surviving women hikers on roughly a weekly basis to explore the areas surrounding mountains. This is my first trip with Habitat.

Hugh Brown 

Hugh’s interest in working overseas started in high school, thanks to the JFK inspiration, resulting in Peace Corps service after college and, soon after getting married, in Gujarat, India, for two years.  After a break for two kids, college, work and other life episodes, he and Lynne recently returned to their interest in international development with work on GV trips in Northern Ireland and Jordan.  He is very excited to return to India for the first time as part of this Habitat project.  His career was in city management, having worked for several cities in Colorado and as a city manager in Oregon.  He also worked with financial management for nonprofits and is active in their historic downtown Denver neighborhood.  He currently works part time managing two commercial properties for the city and a nonprofit organization.  He enjoys assisting with two granddaughters in Denver, occasionally seeing two grandsons in Seattle and rooting for the Colorado Rockies. 

Lynne Brown

Lynne was raised in Iowa and joined the Peace Corps upon college graduation.  She served with her husband Hugh in Dahod, Gujarat, India.  After returning from India they settled in Colorado.  While raising their children Lynne volunteered extensively for the League of Women Voters and local, city-wide, and state PTA in Denver.  After returning to Denver from seven years in Oregon, Lynne worked at a large community school as the volunteer/public relations coordinator for 4½ years.  In 1994 she began working for Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver as their Director of Administration and Finance.  Last year she assumed the new position of Director of Community Development. She has gone on Global Village trips to Belfast, Jordan, Honduras, and built in New Orleans. Lynne and Hugh have two grown children and four grandchildren.

Claire Thomas

I’m eighteen years old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am a student at Chatham University, expecting to graduate December 2011. I just recently switched my major to environmental studies, which I am very excited about. In high school, I did a program through Habitat for Humanity called “Summer Youth Blitz.”  We worked on homes in Bakersfield, California, and it was a really good experience for me.  I prefer the kind of experiences that involve me getting my hands dirty, so needless to say I am ready to get to work. 🙂

Katie Hughes

My name is Katie Hughes and I was born and raised on the West Coast, primarily in Oregon.  After going to school in Portland and getting a degree in Social Work, I decided to do a year of AmeriCorps, which landed me on the East Coast for the first time in my life.  There I was able to serve six months with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Boston, working in family services.  After that I moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I was able to get on site and finally swing a hammer, which I found that I dearly loved. That year of service started me down a path I have yet to leave, working for a contractor, then working with Habitat again, this time as staff, leading the construction on site for the first Women Build.  It was my dream job. 

I now work with a local nonprofit called Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. where I teach women and girls the basics of carpentry and the benefits of careers in the construction trades.  This is a very rewarding job and I love that I can mix my backgrounds of carpentry and social work together, as well as help women in the effort to end the cycle of poverty. I have also been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Portland since 2004, moving from site to the Women Build committee.  It has been a great, ever-evolving, ever-learning experience.

Aside from my life 9-5, I live on a little over a quarter-acre in Portland, and am currently building a small dwelling in my backyard.  I have two cats named Noodle and Clancy, and four chickens named Big Mama, Bessie Mae, Mimi and Flossie Sinead.  To get myself to work I love to ride my bike and in my free time I like to bake, read, build things, drink chai, go on runs and laugh. I am excited to learn and experience all that is Habitat in India, not to mention eating Indian food everyday!

Rachel Williams

I am very excited about traveling to India, a country I have never visited but have heard so much about. My grandparents lived in India for many years as medical missionaries, and my mom grew up there, so India looms large in our family’s history. I currently work for Habitat for Humanity as the construction coordinator for a small affiliate on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I grew up in northwestern Washington, and attended the Evergreen State College, where I studied sustainable community development. After college, I spent two years as an Americorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), one working with a rural economic development organization in Montana, and the second with Habitat for Humanity, which led to my current position. When I’m not helping build houses, I enjoy playing my guitar, cooking with locally grown food, and running on the beautiful trails and beaches that surround my home.

Tawanda Scott

A Southern girl, born and raised in Macon, Georgia. Tawanda Scott resides in New York City along with her newly wed husband Toussaint. Before New York, Tawanda worked as a photojournalist for a local television station in Las Vegas. In 2004, she moved to the Big Apple after receiving a job offer from CNN.  Tawanda has worked as an award-winning photojournalist for nearly 12 years covering some of the nation’s largest news stories. She absolutely loves her job and feels so blessed to have such an exciting career.

Tawanda enjoys traveling, meeting new people and being exposed to different cultures. In her spare time she loves to read, write poetry and dance. As a young teenager, Tawanda began her days of giving when she volunteered as a candy striper at a local hospital. Since then, her volunteering has ranged from soup kitchens to mentorship. The Global Village trip to India will be Tawanda’s first Habitat experience.  She says she feels honored to be among those selected for such an amazing opportunity. 

Fran and Dean Biddle

We are from Gig Harbor, Washington. We have done a build for Habitat for Humanity in Louisianna after Hurricane Katrina. It was the best vacation we ever had. We have travelled some to Europe, never to Asia or India. Fran works in Gig Harbor for a nonprofit company, The Institute for Functional Medicine. This organization focuses on educating clinicians in treating chronic disease and the causes. Dean is the CFO of this company. Dean works in new construction, managing our rentals and plumbing. Dean has worked in the building industry over 30 years. We have three great children and have been married 25 years. Can’t wait to meet many new friends!

Fran Ferguson

I’m a retired IT director who now just wants to be a worker bee – not the queen bee. I’m a New Yorker by choice – born in Liverpool, UK, and yes, a diehard Beatles fan. I live in NYC and love it. Living in this melting pot gives me a taste of many cultures and retirement affords me the opportunity to travel and experience these cultures.

“Service is the rent we pay for living…” When Marion Wright-Edelman spoke these words she didn’t say what joy we would receive from service. This will be my fourth visit to India (first to Bangalore) and hopefully not my last. Each trip is a unique experience whether visiting old friends or meeting new. This is my first Habitat experience and I look forward to being part of the Women Build project.

Katie Pekarek

Hi everyone!  I currently live in Boulder, Colorado – a transplant from Cleveland, Ohio. I work for Kristin Lewis Architects where we do mostly residential design. I made my way out west after I signed up to serve in AmeriCorps*NCCC at the Denver campus. I stayed for two years both as a Corps member and team leader working mostly with the Forest Service in wildfire. I love all things outdoors and love to challenge myself with new experiences. I am extremely excited about our upcoming Indian adventure. I am hoping that this experience will help steer me towards a career that utilizes both my architectural background and my desire to provide humanitarian aid.

**I plan on traveling around India for the week before we start work in Bangalore.  If anyone is also traveling at that time and might be interested in meeting up, please let me know.  Katie_pekarek@yahoo.com** 

Sangeeta Naidu

Writing introductions about myself reminds me of the process of online dating: I need to help you visualize an outgoing, relaxed, but intense individual that has a desire to change the world.  But that’s exactly who I am.  For the last five years, I have been working as a Hindi translator, but searching for something more.  I am recently divorced and working on a Masters in Leadership.  In the spirit of “starting over” and regaining my independence, I applied to be a part of this Global Village project.  For me, human service is the greatest religion.  I am ready to devote my time, energy and spirit to this wonderful cause.  Building in partnership with underprivileged Indian women to help them create better lives for their families is so empowering.  I know I will be learning and gaining more from them then they will be from me. 

Carolyn Servid

I was born and spent the early years of my life in India as the daughter of medical missionaries. We moved back to the United States when I was 13. I made one trip back to India in 1973, but that was a long time ago and I’m eager to revisit the place of my childhood again. I’m joining my sister, Leslie Williams, and my niece, Rachel Williams, on the build and look forward to sharing the experience with them as well as all the others who will be participating.

Sitka, Alaska, has been my home for 30 years. My husband and I run a small nonprofit organization, The Island Institute, that uses the literary arts and civic engagement to cultivate conversation about vital communities. We are particularly interested in issues of sustainability, both locally and on a broader scale. Our small island community is one of engaged and active people who love the extraordinary mountainous coastal temperate rainforest where we live. I am also a writer interested in issues of place and the environment, and enjoy being out in the forests and mountains that surround Sitka. I’ve admired the work of Habitat for Humanity for a long time and have paid even more attention since my niece Rachel started working for the Port Townsend, Washington, affiliate. I look forward to learning a lot from this experience and meeting a group of incredible people.

Stacy Nelson

Hi all. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area but now live north of Los Angeles in Valencia, California. I bopped around a bit in between. If you’ve been out west, I live down the street from Magic Mountain Amusement Park. Guest room available for anyone who feels the need to take in the roller coasters … but I do have a dog. 

I am obsessed with travel and think Global Village trips are such a amazing opportunity to participate in local community, experience new places and meet new people while traveling. I am so excited to go on this trip. This will be my third Global Village trip but my first Women Build trip and my first time in India. I’ve heard so much about the country and have wanted to see it for years. This is also my first trip knowing another traveler. Elizabeth Schnell and I were friends when we lived in Japan.  I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to travel with her. I look forward to meeting you all!

Karla Fraguada

I’m 29 years old. I’m from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I currently live in New York City where I work as a packaging engineer with a Conneticut-based company. A little about me: I love traveling, I love Christmas, and I am constantly on the move. I have three sisters (I’m the oldest), which helped me decide on this build as my first build. I loved how it was geared towards helping women and I couldn’t turn it down. I have never actually built anything in my life, so this was a surprising decision – to me and to my family. I’ve never been more nervous – or more confident – about a decision in my life. I am looking forward to meet everyone (my sister says I’m a people person!) and to help those in need. See you in a few months!

Elizabeth Schnell

I have been a volunteer with Habitat for over four years. While living in Omaha I was very active with the Women Build program and became part of a regular Friday crew. I worked with some amazing ladies and we became close as we worked together. I, also, worked on other homes and did some fundraising. Now that I am in Denver I haven’t been able to be as active as I would like. I am part of the deconstuction crew and have enjoyed doing something different. My friend Stacy, who is on this trip with me, has done GV trips in the past and her stories have inspired me to particpate in a GV trip. I am excited about this Women’s Build trip, and that I get to do it with a great friend.

A little bit more about me; I am a massage therapist (13 years) and a nutritionist (3 years) and have my own practice in the Denver Metro area. My husband retired from the Air Force two and a half years ago and we returned home to Colorado. The Air Force allowed us the priveledge to travel and see many places around the world. India is on that long list of “places-to-see”. I enjoy all things outdoors, food, gardening and movies. I am active in my church and help in the food bank. I am looking forward to this trip to India and the chance to meet and work with all of you.

Stephanie Schuster

I’m 24 years old, from Seattle, Washington, by way of Lake Forest, Illinois. I moved out to Washington to get my degree in Business Leadership at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. After college Iwent to work at my current job as a financial analyst at Boeing.

I started working with Habitat my sophomore year of college when my statistics professor and now good friend, Alison Paradise, invited some of my classmates to participate in a Women Build with the Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity affiliate (where I met Judy Bickenbach and Judy Carson – two ladies who are also coming along on this excellent adventure). I was hooked immediately. I have a SEVERE case of Habititus! Along with my love of building I also have developed a love of traveling and have spent the last four years putting the two together as best as possible. I have lead three Habitat Collegiate Challenge trips to the Gulf Coast (Thibodaux, Louisiana, in Jan. 2007, Mobile, Alabama, in March 2007, and Biloxi, Mississippi, in March 2008), participated in a cross-country bicycle trip called “Bike and Build” which raised money and awareness of the affordable housing situation (summer of 2006), and just recently returned from the 2009 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Cambodia. I look forward to meeting all of you and adding this India Global Village trip to the mix.

Carol Schultz

Carol Schultz is from Fairfax, Virginia, and has experience with Habitat builds. Her first time volunteering with Habitat was on a trip in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Traveling, art and music are among her favorite hobbies.

Kate Meador

Born and raised in the Midwest, I live and work in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have long had a passion for travel, which was initially cultivated during the time I spent living in Honduras while adopting both of my children. They are now college aged and I am able to travel again because I know they are safe at home starting off in their own adult lives! I am a social worker by profession but decided after many years of dabbling in home construction to start a renovation and remodeling business of my own. It has served me well, and has been a great way to get my hands dirty and help others in my community. I was raised in the UCC church but as an adult I joined the Unitarian church and remain very faithful and spiritual. As a social worker, I have had the privilege to work with many women over the years, and am looking forward to combining my passion and my desire to see more of our amazing world during my time in India.  

Amie Cole

Well a little about me … My name is Amie Cole and I am 22 years of age, currently living in the beautiful city of Christchurch New Zealand. I have been married to my amazing husband Dan for two years and we have a 7-month-old son Nathaniel who brings us so much joy! I love to travel and have been all over the world, love to sing, love my church and love people. I am passionate about helping those in need and consider it a privilege to be apart of this trip to Bangalore India. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Jo Ann Soker

Hi!  I’m very excited about going to India with Habitat!  I’ve been to India before and have wanted to return for years.  It’s such an amazing place – and probably much changed from what I remember.  I’m a “recovering lawyer” who now works in municipal finance (always guaranteed to evoke a yawn at cocktail parties).  My eclectic resume (some would say “checkered past”) includes work in higher education, affordable housing, human resources management, politics, and volunteer stints at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, and Queretaro, Mexico.  My true passion is travel – I love it!  New people, learning amazing things, fascinating food treats.  And to build houses while traveling – that’s got to be the greatest.  I’m looking forward to meeting all of you soon.

Nailah Ellis Timberlake

Hi everyone! My name is Nailah Ellis Timberlake and this will be my second Global Village build and overall my fourth build with Habitat. I live in New York City and I work at CNN. In my spare time I travel quite a bit, read, write and spend time with family and friends. I also do a lot of volunteerism including working at a soup kitchen once a week, at a shelter once a week, I’m a prep school mentor and a “Big Sister” through Big Brother, Big Sister. I’m excited to meet you all and I look forward to the great work we’ll be doing!

Jonna Wissert

Hi everyone!!! I’m 24 years old and from Manchester, Vermont.  I have a degree in dance and psychology.  This will be the first stamp in my passport! I am very excited to be a part of the Women Build project and to visit India, which is a lifelong dream of mine.  I look forward to meeting you all!!  




Terry Gaar

I’m looking forward to co-leading this Global Village trip to India. I started my full-time work with Habitat for Humanity International by working in the Operation Home Delivery program, which helped rebuild the U.S. Gulf Coast – and I was able to participate in several builds there. Now working in HFHI’s Women Build department (since early 2007), I lead, plan and direct Women Build leadership training sessions several times each year. I have traveled to many countries, and hope my first trip to India will not be my last! 

Phillip Jordan

Hey everyone. I work with HFHI, as well, in our Communications department. Through my position, I help write and edit publications, web pages and program materials – including for Habitat programs such as Global Village and Women Build. So Terry Gaar has the unenviable task of working with me fairly regularly on Women Build materials! I grew up in Tennessee and went to college in Alabama where I studied history and journalism. I worked at newspapers before coming to Habitat in 2007, and love being able to tell the stories that I come across through my experiences here.

Lori Vaclavik

Lori has worked for Habitat for Humanity for 14 years. She is currently a Global Engagement officer with Habitat for Humanity International, focusing on connecting donors with Habitat’s international work. Prior to her current role, Lori was the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver for 12 years. She started with Habitat as a volunteer in 1994, where one of her roles was leading the affiliate’s first comprehensive Women Build project in 1995. Lori loves Women Build, and credits the program with inspiring her to quit her corporate job and find work she was passionate about. She found it at Habitat. Lori was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved with her husband to Denver in 1984. They have a 10-year-old daughter and all three of them love to travel – especially internationally!

Nell Pittman

Hello all: I’m the director of Family Services at Habitat Stanislaus in Modesto, California. Because I work so closely with homeowners, I’m particulary enthusiastic about meeting some of the hardest-working women in the world while learning about the microfinance programs that unlock their potential. Prior to this position I had the privilege of working with Terry and Phillip in the Women Build department at Habitat for Humanity International. I’ve been a Global Village team leader for a trip to Guatemala and was around for Terry’s famous Women Build House and Crew Leader training in Citronelle, Alabama. I’ve also helped build homes in Virginia, Georgia, California, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I’m excited for this opportunity to build in India!