Advisory Council

Carolyn Heasly

Carolyn Heasly visited the village of El Jacinto in the Ngäbe-Buglé region of Panama in 2003. The remoteness, the heat and dust, the delightful children, the wandering pigs, the welcoming smiles, the mountain views, all left an indelible impression which inspires her involvement with the Basilio Perez Scholarship Fund. Carolyn teaches and creates art and is employed by the Art Gallery at the University of New England. She and her husband Joe live in Portland, Maine and have four children.

Ellie Mercer

In 1990, Ellie Mercer was ordained as a United Church of Christ minister and served as an associate in several churches until 2002. She then moved from parish ministry to a position as a hospice chaplain. Ellie’s passion for this work is reflected in these words:

“I am always on a rather intense spiritual journey where authenticity is at the center. The work I do with dying people and their families allows me to be in their lives at a time when the masks are dropped, when the games that consume us during our lives no longer matter. What matters is comfort, support, compassion, truth-telling. What matters to me is being able to sustain a presence in the midst of death and to be able to assist people in breaking the barriers which lead us into a denial of death.”

The Basilio Perez Scholarship Program attracted Ellie from the very beginning because of her friendship with its leader, Sara Archbald, “one of the most authentic people I know. I was flattered to be asked to be on her Board of Advisors.” Ellie has put her great fiddling skills and connections to great use while helping to raise scholarship funds.

Ellie and her husband have two sons who live and work in NYC, and they have one grand dog.

Bill Gregory

Bill is a retired UCC minister who has been actively involved in social justice issues from the time he marched for civil rights in the south in the 1960s. Retirement has given him the opportunity to continue his work and play in the many areas of life that bring him great joy: teaching and writing about the role of the Spirit in the lives of those around him, serving community and church groups with goals of peace and justice and love in the world, and most importantly, spending as much time as he can with his wonderful wife, children, and grandchildren.

Bill visited his former parishioner, Sara Archbald, in El Jacinto, Panama in 2001, with his friend Allan Lovell. He was struck by the isolation, the beauty, the poverty of the area and since then has been committed to helping in any way he can to support the Basilio Perez Scholarship Fund.

Nancy Ansheles

Nancy Ansheles has been a great friend of scholarship program director, Sara Archbald, for more than ten years. They first met working for the non-profit, The Roundtable Center, where they championed the inclusive and collaborative community dialogue process of study circles. Focused on the value of communication and education, Nancy enthusiastically supports Sara in her efforts to fund and administer the scholarship program.

Nancy has an undergraduate degree in Communication from James Madison University in Virginia, and a Masters in Corporate Education from Boston University. Her business, Catalyst & Co., facilitates results through creative learning programs for businesses and nonprofits. She has worked with many international communities in developing workplace skills, and volunteers her time in an ESL classroom, and with the Cancer Community Center. She lives in Portland, Maine.

Diane Wilbur

Diane grew up in Massachusetts and attended Colby College in Maine. She spent several years in many other parts of the country before settling back in New England where she was involved in many volunteer organizations with an emphasis on helping children. Diane returned to graduate school when her son started college and received an MBA from the University of New Haven.

Diane moved to Maine in 1998 and worked for the local NBC TV station until her retirement in 2007. Bringing her accounting and organizational skills, Diane has been involved with the Native Future’s scholarship fund since its inception. Diane comes from a family with many teachers, and her parents were strong supporters of education and the opportunities it brings. She looks forward to bringing that passion to expanding the education program so more children can be served.

Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. After graduating from the University of Richmond in 1990, he worked in 19 states for Kraft Foods over nine years. Then he came to his senses and settled in Maine and is currently a sales manager for Hallmark Cards in Maine, NH and VT.

Scott has a keen interest in Latin American history, culture, and literature (and food!). He has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and has enjoyed a few samplings of Central America in recent years.

Zachary McNish

Zachary McNish is one of the original founders of Native Future. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama from 1999-2002 and spent one of those years living and working in the Wounaan community of Rio Hondo. He served in various positions on Native Future’s board of directors from 2003-2010. Zachary now lives in Hawaii, where he serves as in-house attorney to several photovoltaic solar companies. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of SafeConnect Solar, an early-stage technology company that is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Clive Kincaid

Clive Kincaid was born and raised in Santa Monica, California and has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UCLA. He was the founder and first Executive Director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), a non-profit environmental organization that currently has over 20,000 members and a two million dollar annual budget. He has worked closely with the Wounaan for over eight years, buying and selling Wounaan baskets. He has strong relationships with many Wounaan leaders, and an intimate understanding of Wounaan culture.

Martin Heger

Martin Philipp Heger is an independent researcher working on development economics, natural resource management and international agriculture issues. In the past, he has worked as a consultant for the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University, as an intern for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

He is a published author who holds a Master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Hawaii where he has been a Fulbright Scholar and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Vienna as well as undergraduate degrees in Economics and Psychology from the University of Vienna. He has studied and worked as a research assistant at New York University and studied at the Universidad de Alicante, Spain.

Martin speaks German, English, Spanish and French and grew up surrounded by the Austrian Alps in Langenwang.

Allen Turner

For more than 30 years, Allen has helped forest communities explore new relationships with the wider world.  He helps local folk speak out more strongly in public decisions and deal more effectively in the marketplace.  On his two most recent long-term projects, in Nigeria and Liberia, Allen has worked with indigenous communities, local NGOs, traders, and government agencies to conserve the remnants of a tropical rain forest that once spread across all of West Africa.  Earlier, he helped develop co-management of protected areas in Nicaragua, Peru, and Sri Lanka.  In the 1990s, Allen directed a project for The Nature Conservancy that strengthened community-based natural resource management by indigenous communities from Panama to Belize.  From 1988 to 1995, he pioneered community forestry in Nepal.  Allen holds degrees in Anthropology from Yale University and International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University.

Born in Vermont and raised in California, Allen’s early experience includes commercial beekeeping, ethnobotanical research among Mayan groups in Chiapas, Mexico, and four years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand and the Dominican Republic—where he met Minga, his wife of 35 years.