Print Version
The Schimel Lode: Encouraging Innovation and Collaboration for the Public Good

Who We Are

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.

– Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore

Board of Directors

Marie-Ange Binagwaho was raised in Burundi and Kenya and has roots in Rwanda; she has had the privilege of working and traveling in over 20 countries in the last 19 years working in international development. Marie-Ange’s work with development communities of practice and her focus on supporting sustainable and locally appropriate programs has given her the opportunity to work overseas with community based, non-profit and international organizations. In the US her work has focused on migrant and refugee communities. Marie-Ange is currently a Senior Manager at the International Resources Group (IRG), an international services firm.

Marie-Ange received a B.S. in Physics from Duquesne University and a Masters in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Nancy Rawles has wide and deep experience in the management of people and organizational development. After thirty years, she remains committed and creative about solving problems, developing opportunities, and transcending gaps between individual needs and organizational goals. Nancy uses collaborative processes to do this, along with building and leading teams with diverse approaches to work. During her career, Nancy has headed human resource functions in financial institutions, software development, and not-for-profits, and worked as an external consultant. As an association executive, she has played a key role with both members and staff in areas such as strategic planning, board effectiveness, leadership development, and change management. Nancy received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Ohio Wesleyan University and her graduate degree in Higher Education from George Washington University. She is a member of the American Society for Association Executives, the Society for Human Resources Management, and the International Association of Facilitators.

M. Jean Russell, Ph.D., began the artistic part of her career studying under Simon Baruch, a protégé of Pablo Picasso, and collaborating with acclaimed filmmakers John Huston, Frank Capra and Wilson Dalzell on feature films and commercial television productions.

Jean is the former Vice President for Wings of Hope. She has traveled extensively in South America and Africa, living and working among indigenous tribes to understand improve the struggles of the human condition at the village level. Because of her pioneering work the organization received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2012.

Dr. Russell is a former Assistant Dean at Saint Louis University, and has nearly twenty years of instructional success. She has returned full-time to academia and serves as the Regional Academic Director for Webster University in Washington, DC. Her work continues to focus on all aspects of global education.

Ruth M. Schimel, Ph.D.., helps individuals, groups, and organizations express their strengths through consulting services, speaking, and writing. In much of her previous work as a diplomat, professor, and management consultant, she focused on human resources. This experience and her interests in the arts, social and natural sciences, and cultures enrich her efforts to encourage human progress.

In 1983, Ruth launched her career and life management consulting practice. She continues to develop original processes and materials to integrate and honor the richness of clients of all ages and backgrounds. Dissertation research on how people become courageous provides a basis for her work and a series of books she is writing. First to be published in Fall, 2013 is Choose Courage: Step Into the Life You Want.

Ruth has two long-term goals:

Ruth has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and M. A. and Ph.D. from George Washington University, focusing on Public Management, Personnel and Workforce Development, Gerontology and Behavioral Science. She speaks Spanish.

Jeanne Svikhart is our resident cultural anthropologist who has a knack for figuring out an organization's cultural identity. She enjoys being a catalyst to help people and organizations develop, grow, solve problems, and find their creativity. She has a broad background of more than 35 years in addressing recruitment, professional development, retention, and evaluation issues in both the public and private sectors. She is an experienced interviewer (more than 2000 interviews), manager, facilitator, public speaker, trainer, and consultant. Jeanne received her B.A. in English from George Washington University, was the first Director of Law Placement at GWU, first Director of Recruitment and Professional Development for a large law firm in Washington, D.C., and a principal in a management consulting firm for 15 years. She now enjoys contributing and applying her skills in the public sector.

JW Wohlever’s passion is to positively influence both individuals and organizations through his experience and leadership. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and veteran, JW served as an officer in the US Army until 1988. After military service, his career has focused on consulting with large and small business organizations, providing expertise in executive management, sales and marketing. JW’s background includes industrial and retail sales in Fortune 500’s, profit and loss responsibilities in residential home construction and banking, as well as primary operational duties with small service sector firms. His current company provides affordable housing and has a goal to create home ownership opportunities for all.

Away from work JW Wohlever has a strong faith and love of nature. He has sought venues to serve the community through Rotary and by establishing a local chapter of SCORE through the Small Business Administration. JW is an adjunct professor at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College. He supports the local Humane Society and has rescued many animals.

Advisory Board Members

Kathy DeBoe is a native Washingtonian. Retired from a career of thirty-three years at the International Monetary Fund, Kathy’s last position was Director of Civic and Community Relations. In that capacity, she managed grants to non-profits both locally and in developing countries. She also was team captain for volunteers at Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April, Miriam’s Kitchen and the Capital Area Food Bank. In addition, Kathy has been a civic grants reviewer for several foundations and District of Columbia government agencies and continues to review grants for the International Monetary Fund and the Catalogue for Philanthropy. She sustains her 30-year advocacy for a mentally challenged District resident.

For six years after retirement, Kathy volunteered with the Mayor’s Office of Partnerships and Grants Services, facilitating the design and delivery of a capacity building class for small, emerging, non-profit organizations and providing individual guidance to find grants, among other projects. Kathy also serves on the boards of directors of three capacity building non-profits. Currently, she consults independently with associates to assist public, private and non-profit organizations to navigate and benefit from addressing social problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, hunger, poverty and disease.

A graduate of local public schools, Kathy earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Master’s of Public Administration from American University. In October 2014 she will complete a one-year program of the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, John Hopkins University. She is also a graduate of two civic leadership programs: DC Neighborhood College and Leadership Greater Washington.

Shari Garmise, Ph.D., has over 18 years applied and academic research experience in economic development in multiple countries. Currently, she serves as Vice President for Knowledge Management and Development at the International Development Council where she manages all economic development content for the organization. Prior positions include Assistant Professor at Cleveland State University at the Levin College of Urban Affairs and Vice President for Research for the Council of Urban Economic Development as well as managing her own economic development consulting business. Her specialization is workforce development. She has completed a book on workforce development, entitled People and the Competitive Advantage of Place: Building a Workforce for the 21st Century, which was published by M.E. Sharpe Publishers, as well as numerous articles in national and international publications.

Zeke Mekonnen is originally from Ethiopia, and lived and worked in Cuba and Spain before settling in the United States more than 23 years ago. He has extensive experience in industrial and commerical mechanical plant operations, including being chief engineer for a large retail complex. Zeke is a licensed plant-operating engineer in the District of Columbia and a licensed general contractor in the state of Virginia. An independent learner, he taught himself several different computer software applications, especially in the designing and engineering fields. He has done hardware and network installations and configurations. Zeke loves to train people to develop skills such as his, and to help them in any way he can.

Kathryn Brown Ramsperger is a communication management executive who specializes in 21st century humanitarian issues. She began her career as a journalist, first with local media, then with the National Geographic Society. After earning an advanced degree in publications management from George Washington University, she worked with the Red Cross locally, nationally, and internationally.

In 2000, Kathryn formed her own company, Ramsperger Communications, which provides creative solutions to the world’s communication challenges. She specializes in global relief and development, multicultural communication, strategic vision for non-profits, and women’s and children’s issues. She has lived and worked in Europe and Africa and has a special interest in Middle Eastern issues. As a change agent, one of Kathryn’s greatest strengths lies in providing practical and intuitive assistance to people and organizations locked in Catch 22 situations. Her empathy and insight guide parties to find common ground, see another point of view, and move from the negative to the positive.

A published poet and author, Kathryn is winner of the Hollins University Fiction Prize.

To learn more about Kathryn’s life, work, and philosophy, visit her blog Ground One.

Amy Swauger became director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative, a New York City writers-in-the-school program, in 2005. She previously was executive director of the National Academy of Education, an honorary society of education researchers, and of Washington Independent Writers, a professional association of freelance writers and editors in Washington, D.C. Amy worked for many years at the American Association of University Women, where she directed the membership association and legal fund.

She began her career at the Women's Campaign Fund, where she provided fundraising and technical assistance to progressive women candidates for public office. In addition to serving as an advisor to the Schimel Lode, Amy was the public member on the international certification board for CFRE International, the credentialing agency for professional fundraisers. She was also a two-term president of the DC Rape Crisis Center. Amy has a degree in journalism and political science from American University.

M. Miriam Wardak joined Project HOPE in July of 2008 as Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer responsible for global HR and Administration. With more than 15 years of human resources related leadership experience, Ms. Wardak has demonstrated results in both small start-ups and large public companies with thousands of employees in a variety of sectors including Consulting, Government Contracting, Software, Transportation, Hospitality and Telecommunications/Semiconductor.

Prior to Project HOPE, her responsibilities included the HR leadership role at ICF International, a global professional services firm, as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. At ICF, Miriam supported the move of the organization from a privately held organization to a public company throughout the IPO phase and established the public company HR governance structure for the organization. In this capacity, she transformed the HR organization from an administrative function to a strategic partner enabling an approximately 300 percent growth over a period of two years.

Prior to ICF, Miriam served as senior vice president at i2 Technologies, a global supply chain company, where she helped facilitate the company’s transformation from a functional product-focused organization to an industry-based solutions provider. At i2, she worked hand-in-hand with the CEO and other key stakeholders and communicated plans to employees to ensure thoughtful execution of change throughout the organization, achieving financial success and resulting in profitability for the company.

Additionally, Miriam has held HR positions at Texas Instruments, TwinStar Semiconductor, and Fairmont Hotel.

Miriam holds an M.B.A. from the University of Dallas and a B.A. from George Mason University.

Miriam was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, grew up in Germany and has been living in the United States since 1990. Miriam is fluent in German and Farsi and conversational in Italian and French.