The Project Amigo Board of Directors
Jan Grimes learned about Project Amigo in 1991 as a member of Mission San Rafael Rotary in San Rafael. California, She and her family attended two work weeks, and then from 2005-2008 she and her husband served as the Volunteer Coordinators at Project Amigo. Since 1987 Jan has owned a management consulting practice specializing in human resources, serving clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She now lives in Healdsburg, California where she is active in the Healdsburg Rotary Club and also serves on the Board of the Alliance Medical Center.
Bev Oster Ornelas is Chairman of the Board for Project Amigo. She has worked with the organization through the GROW program since 2006. Bev is the president and creative director of Oster and Associates, a local marketing agency that she founded in 1986. The agency has been involved in many non-profit endeavors in the local area, but the outreach to Project Amigo came on behalf of their client, Organics Unlimited. Over the years, Bev has participated in volunteer work weeks and in a three week summer Spanish immersion program that uses Project Amigo scholarship students as tutors for English speaking volunteers who would like to learn better Spanish. She has a strong interest in seeing the Project Amigo students excel and become leaders in the workplace and in their communities.
Jeff Salchenberg lives in Portland Oregon where he works as a Produce Category manager and merchandiser for New Seasons Market. Jeff learned about Project Amigo through the partnership New Seasons Market has had with Organics Unlimited and GROW since 2005. His first trip to Cofradia was in 2016, and he has been several times since. Jeff enjoys bringing friends and coworkers along with him in order to share the experience of the work weeks. Jeff’s best Project Amigo memory so far is dressing up as Santa Claus for the kids during the 2017 Christmas work week with other Juneau Rotarians. Since then, Jeff has become regular visitors and loyal supporters of the program.
Maria Concepcion Fonseca, or Conny as she is known, received her Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Colima (in Colima, Mexico) in 2009. She now serves in rural Colima as Medical Director of a community health clinic.
Conny is the first member of her family to complete primary school. She grew up on a remote ranch where her father was a minimum-wage worker, and her mother worked in the home looking after their five children.
Conny is the first Project Amigo university graduate to serve on the Board of Directors of Project Amigo. In April of 2015, she made her first trip outside of Mexico to attend the Spring meeting of the Project Amigo Board of Directors. She spent a week traveling with different Board members to Rotary Clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, sharing her story about how Project Amigo and its visitors and sponsors have changed her life.
Dennis B Knoles
Born in Fillmore, Utah. Raised in Bakersfield, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Graduated from La Vegas
High School, attended Nevada Southern University (University of Nevada Las Vegas) , B.A. from Brigham
Young University, D.D.S. from University of Southern California, certificate in orthodontics from USC. Has
practiced orthodontics in northern Utah since 1973. Member of Centerville-Farmington Rotary Club for
40 years. Life long Boy Scouts of America volunteer. Former and present missionary for the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Former City Council member and planning commission member for
Centerville City. Former county and state delegate for the Republican party. Hobbies include reading,
skiing, snow mobiling, jogging, fishing, wake boarding, bagpiping, singing. Seven children and 14
Bestbath owner, Gary Multanen, has been manufacturing bathing units in Boise, Idaho since 1972 where he located after completing his undergraduate degree from Portland State University. He served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1970. He is active in civic affairs having served 10 years on the Boise City Parks and Recreation Board and currently
serving on the Treasure Valley Air Quality Council. He is a founding member of the American Composites Manufacturers Association, the industry trade group representing over 1500 companies. He made his first trip to Project Amigo in 1995. He and his wife have made many trips since then and truly enjoy having the opportunity to participate in the education focused activities of Project Amigo.
Board Vice President
Cass retired at the end of 2016 after 20 years in county government, most of that time as the elected Yolo County Public Guardian/Public Administrator. Cass and her husband Craig Reynolds live in Davis, California and are old Humboldt friends of Ted and Susan long before Project Amigo. Seeing many evolutions of Project Amigo, they have been involved since its inception, participating in numerous events and PA fundraising. In partnership with Susan Hill and Rob Parks, they are owners in Casa Suegras. Cass and Craig visit Cofradia de Suchitlan 3 or 4 times a year. Cass is past president of Luna Vista Rotary of Woodland, CA and enjoys bringing Rotarians and other friends to Colima, Mexico.
Max is Mertz CPA and Advisor in Juneau, Alaska. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Management. During his nearly 30-year career in public accounting, Max has served clients in a variety of industries including healthcare, government, retail, financial institutions, not-for-profit entities and construction industries. He has a passion for community service and has been recognized for his leadership roles at the local and district levels of Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, United Way, the Alaska Society of CPA’s and youth swimming to name a few. His commitment to Project Amigo began in 2005 when he and his two young daughters joined a work week with other Juneau Rotarians. Since then, the Mertz family has become regular visitors and loyal supporters of the program..
Nicole went on her first service trip to Mexico in 1999 when she was in high school. She fell in love with the country, culture and language immediately and that love has only grown. She first visited Project Amigo in Cofradia in 2015 and has been back at least twice a year since. Nicole was born and raised in Indiana, and has lived in Utah with her husband, Jed since 2001. They own three barber shops in Salt Lake City and have brought many employees and friends down to Cofradia to participate in service weeks.
Eric Holloway first visited Project Amigo after seeing a Rotary Club presentation by Ted & Susan Rose. His now teenage sons Will & Luke attended work weeks with him in years past. Eric lives in Colorado and works as a financial planner. His connection to Mexico began at age 11 when he took part in a work project/mission from his hometown in Indiana. They built an adobe dining hall in a Juarez orphanage. This was the first of many such trips throughout Mexico. He completed foreign study at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Getting to know the students, staff and supporters of Project Amigo has been very enjoyable. He looks forward to working with such a worthwhile cause and travelling to this special corner of the world.
Tom and his family have been involved with Project Amigo in many ways for almost 25 years. Their first Work Week was the Christmas Fiesta in 1997. They were instrumental in obtaining the original AmigoBus which they drove to Cofradia and delivered to Project Amigo in 1999. For the next five years they lived in Colima and volunteered full time with Project Amigo. During that five-year, period Tom was the Director of a Homework Club, he led the effort that established Casa Amiga (Project Amigo’s boarding house for its university level scholars), he led Work Week activities, and much more. In 2009, Tom and his wife, Francy, returned to volunteer for five months as Innkeepers and managed all the Work Weeks in the 2009-10 season. They have returned periodically to attend Work Weeks. Tom is now retired after a long career in financial planning and business consulting.
Charlie resides in Juneau, Alaska where he owns and operates a Retail Paint store which he founded in 1986. He attended Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California and the University of Alaska Southeast. He is an active Rotarian and Chamber of Commerce Board member. Through his Rotary service Charlie has led various fundraising committees and community service projects -his favorite the construction of four large playgrounds in Juneau. He has traveled to Project Amigo several times and has enjoyed working on the various building projects at the Queseria migrant camp and the university student housing in Colima.
In Memory of
1924 - 2021
Joyce Palmer, a retired Math teacher, continued to be active in community activities in Novato, CA. She was Program Chairman for the local association of American University Women. Joyce spent more than 40 years singing and touring with the Winifred Baker/San Francisco Chorale (including several concerts at Carnegie Hall). She enjoyed the game of bridge, played at tournament level, and was a bronze life master. After the death of her husband Clark in 2005, Joyce carried on his work on the Endowment and World Service committees of the Novato Rotary Club. Her late husband was charter president of the Novato Rotary Club and was also a charter member of the Board of Directors of Project Amigo. Joyce served as Secretary of the Board for many years.
(1928 - 2014)
Founding Board Member: Catherine Munson passed away quietly of pneumonia on March 3, 2014 in Terra Linda, California. She was 86 years old. A native of Nebraska, and forever a pioneer, she earned dual bachelors and then dual masters degrees in microbiology and biochemistry in the 1950s, then moved with her husband and children to California, where she quickly became one of the leading real estate professionals in the region. She drove the formation of "Rotary Project Amigo" in 1996, serving as Board president and Board member for nearly 18 years. She was instrumental in the continuing development of Project Amigo, and was an inspiration to children, staff, and her fellow Board members.
Dr. Harry Johnson the family man, the dentist, the Rotarian, the dear friend to us all...