Retired from a career with roles as diverse as news reporter and autism consultant, Anne Batzer has pursued an interest in improving the lives of children. Believing it is a mother’s duty to prevent nuclear war, she spent many years volunteering and traveling internationally with the nonprofit organization Beyond War. Following her passion for nonviolence, she trained as a mediator and for many years served on the Board of Directors of Mediation Works, an alternative dispute resolution center, in Medford, Oregon. Anne was honored by her hometown with an Imagine Award for Community Peacemaking. A published fiction and nonfiction writer, she co-edits the Makena Musings newsletter with her sister-in-law Mary Jo Baich, whose love for Kenya first introduced her to this fascinating culture.
Sherri Middleton Mills – Founder and President Emeritus
After more than 20 years of fund-raising and public relations, Sherri Middleton Mills, served as Vice President for Children’s Advocacy and Community Development at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama. She resigned in 2000 to devote more time to the Makena Children’s Foundation. A long-time advocate for children, Sherri was involved in the passage of the first child passenger safety legislation in Alabama, served on the Governor’s Task Force for Birth to Five Development and developed Alabama’s first million-dollar telethon – a benefit for Children’s Hospital. A life-long Birmingham resident, Sherri enjoys reading, knitting and spending time with her five grandchildren, all born in the last five years. In 2000 she received the Children’s Hospital’s annual Friends of Children Award, in 2003 Sherri was selected Humanitarian of the Year by Lions Clubs of Alabama and in 2011 she was honored with the prestigious national Giraffe Award—for people who stick their necks out to help others. Visit the Giraffe Heroes Project at www.giraffe.org
Mary Jo Baich – Vice President
Retired from careers at Pitney Bowes and International Expeditions, an international wildlife travel company, Mary Jo Baich has traveled the world and spent time in cultures as far-flung as Norway and Antarctica. She became captivated with Africa on her many excursions there to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. She once designed food-and-wine tours of Europe and is well-known as an accomplished world-class cook and wine aficianado. With her husband Ed she moved from Atlanta, Georgia back to her hometown of Medford, Oregon in 2001. She fulfills the role of family matriarch for her large extended family, deftly maintaining relationships. For many years she served on the Board of Directors for the Rogue Gallery and Art Association. She serves on various committees for Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Mary Jo is co-editor with her sister-in-law, Anne Batzer, of the Makena Musings newsletter. She and her husband sponsored Makena student, Daniel Kamani.
Shari formed her company SLP Solutions LLC in 2006. She provides accounting, bookkeeping, and consulting for clients representing a variety of industries. She loves working closely with her clients and becoming a valued member of their management team, while also developing what has become close long-term relationships. Prior to 2006, Shari was a Partner with Kosmatka Donnelly & Company CPA’s and worked for the firm for 27 years, joining the firm after moving to Southern Oregon from Manhattan, Kansas in 1979. She still works closely with the CPA firm on some joint projects and clients. For several years, Shari donated her time to develop and teach Computerized Accounting to the North Medford High School Accounting II and III students, certifying them as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Payroll clerks for entry level jobs. She is a past graduate of the Medford Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, and after several other volunteer projects and positions, she is currently the Treasurer of the William J Batzer Foundation. She enjoys spending time with her husband, family, friends and her two dogs and one cat.
Currently residing in Austin, Texas having moved from Southern California after 25 years, Brenda Morgan is still trying to adjust to wearing cowboy boots instead of flip flops! A graduate of the University of Southern California with a BS in Business Administration, she was a member of the launch team for USA TODAY. During her tenure, she was selected to develop USA Today’s Sales Plan for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. For the past 20 years Brenda worked with a national multi-media company, Target Media Partners, as VP of Operations. Now with Plant Interscapes as VP Design & Sales, she expresses her love for gardening and is a certified trainer on Living Walls and Green Roofs. Celebrating the power of nature with trees, plants and flowers is her job and joy! Active as a volunteer at Ronald McDonald Houses for their Meals of Love program in Pasadena and Los Angeles, Brenda has expressed her passion to be close to children in need. She has been involved for several years with Olive Crest as well as the regional food bank and is currently organizing a group of volunteers to touch multiple organizations in need of support.
Shortly after discharge from military service, Ed began his career with a national certified public accounting firm. He has served in various industries, including manufactured products, food distribution, high performance fabrics and aerospace, ending up his last 16 years as CEO of a US group operating companies of a Dutch corporation. He has held positions including accounting manager, controller, vice-president of finance, project director, general manager and group director before assuming his role as CEO. In addition to service with the Makena Children’s Foundation, Ed is active in his Rotary Club and is Board Chair and Watermaster of his community association. He has enjoyed international travel, especially his visits to Kenya during the times Sherri Mills created this foundation to help underprivileged children in Kenya.
Bert Brosowsky, originally from New York City, has been a Birmingham resident since 1970. For almost 25 years, Bert worked for the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, serving as its Executive Director from 1995 to 1997. From 1999 through 2005 he was the Managing Director of the Birmingham Children’s Theatre – one of the largest professional theatres for children and family audiences in the United States. From 2006 through 2007 he was the Meeting Planner/Manager for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Bert has served on the Boards of Directors of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Exchange Club of Birmingham and as a volunteer for the Children’s Miracle Network. Currently retired, he still serves on the Board of Directors of the City Equity Theatre – Birmingham’s only Actor’s Equity Theatre – and as a volunteer for Birmingham’s Hoover Senior Center.
James R. Muruthi – Director
Kenyan native James Muruthi is one of the first students whose education was supported through the Makena Children’s Foundation. After the tragic death of his parents in an automobile accident, James lived as a young homeless boy wandering through Kenyan towns. He was eventually adopted by one of MCF’s founders, Peter Muigai Muruthi and his wife Jane. After completing secondary school in Kenya, James took the initiative to immigrate to the United States where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Gerontology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He received his PhD in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Georgia and then was a Post-Doctoral Associate at the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech. Currently, James is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology and Human Services in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. James has published many academic papers focusing on his passionate interest in aging issues in minority and ethnic groups. He has received top academic awards at each of the schools he attended, repeatedly been elected to leadership posts by his fellow students and volunteered his time to refugee and gerontology organizations.
With over twenty years in the field of education, Susan Reinecke has worked in and with private and public schools, colleges and universities and non-profit organizations across the US. She has taught at both the University and Community College level and has held multiple leadership roles within the educational system. Susan earned an Educational Masters (EdM) in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. An avid lifelong learner, Susan’s background also includes a Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and a Master in Education (MEd) in Theatre Education from University of North Carolina. As a Societal Advancement faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, Susan designs and delivers leadership solutions for K-12, Higher Education, and non-profits that include both short term experiences and systemic initiatives.
A former reporter for United Press International, Tina Likos Wilson served as Public Relations director for Children’s of Alabama from 1983 until moving to the Gulf Coast in 1992. Today, she continues her 30-year+ tenure with the hospital as a full-time telecommuter for Corporate Communications and Marketing. Tina provides writing, editing and design services, but her flexible work schedule also leaves time for enjoying family, tennis and Auburn football. Tina holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Auburn University and a master’s in Business Administration.