Chairperson – Dr. Chris Opio
Dr. Opio, a Canadian citizen, is a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. He was born and raised in Kamdini Parish, Oyam District, Northern Uganda (a war-torn, poverty-stricken region). Dr. Opio’s parents were peasant farmers and very poor. His mother never went to school (she could not read and write); and his father stopped in Grade 4. Dr. Opio and his nine siblings grew up in abject poverty. Like all other children in his village, Dr. Opio and his family had nothing by the Ugandan standards: they walked bare foot, had to drink dirty water full of parasites, and suffered from bilharzia and many other water borne-diseases. Dr. Opio, together with his siblings and mother, spent considerable amount of time traveling long distances to collect dirty water for drinking. However, Dr. Opio’s parents were dedicated Christians and knew the value of education. They sacrificed all they had to send their children to school. Dr. Opio did his early education in Uganda and worked briefly there before immigrating to Canada in 1982. In Canada, he attended and graduated from the Universities of New Brunswick, Fredericton; Calgary, and Alberta.
Manager, Uganda – Geoffrey Odongo
Geoffrey Odongo who is an Alumni of University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) was born and raised in Kamdini, a village in rural northern Uganda. Before joining the graduate school at UNBC, in the College and Science and Management Program in 2001, he held a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Management from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. While at UNBC, he remained a permanent advocate for the plight of people in northern Uganda following a devastating civil conflict which lasted well over two decades. His views and passion for the people facing untold suffering in his native northern Uganda greatly contributed to the founding of Northern Uganda Development Foundation (NUDF).
NUDF Treasurer – Dave Nielsen
Dave is a partner with Schmitz, Anderson, and Nielsen Certified General Accounts. He joined the practice in 1996 and has been working in public practice for over 30 years after receiving his CGA designation in 1987.
Dave is a long time resident of Prince George, British Columbia. He leads a busy family life and is a committed biking and swimming enthusiast. Dave has been involved in a number of volunteer positions including Prince George Youth Soccer and other sports organizations, as well as business committees including Prince George Estate Planning committee and the Prince George Cariboo CGA. In addition to his work with the Northern Uganda Development Fund, Dave is currently active in the local CGA chapter as an education chair.
Dave has been moved by the stories Chris and others share. He believes in the importance of clean drinking water for everyone and is looking forward to traveling to Uganda this summer (2014) to see NUDF’s work in action.
NUDF Vice Chairperson – Ted Renquist
Ted likes to say he was raised in beautiful downtown Burnaby. He came to Prince George in 1974 for a teaching position and adventure for just a couple of years; he retired from the school district in 2007 as a school administrator. Ted has never lost his interest in history. While studying at Simon Fraser University he became interested in African history. In later years he continued his passion for history and was presented the Jeanne Clarke Memorial Award for his research into the history of local education in Prince George. His interest in Africa, especially Uganda has also developed because his wife Janet is from northern Uganda. Ted continues to serve his community in retirement. Besides being a director for NUDF he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Caribou Action Training Society, and an active member of the African Heritage Society and the College of New Caledonia Black History Committee. As Director at large he takes on projects that need considerable time which other directors who work full time cannot fulfill.
NUDF Director at Large – Beth Quesnel
As a Manitoba farm girl Beth learned the importance of water and growing food. Community development was part of her Masters in Social Work at Dalhousie University. Beth moved to Prince George in 1979 and worked in a variety of social work settings. Much of her work was for non-profit organizations with Boards. She was an active community volunteer throughout her career, while also raising a family. Through her church Beth met other strong supporters of NUDF and chose to direct some of her retirement time and energy here. The goals, focusing on water and food, through sustainable projects using community development models attracted her; as well as the passion of by Chris Opio and others involved. Also, Beth has a foster daughter in Uganda (through Music for Life) whom she hopes to visit some year.