Founder and President, Alicia Jean Demetropolis
In 2017, Alicia Jean Demetropolis spent three months traveling in the Kathmandu area, assisting a local NGO with assessing elder care facilities and rewriting their volunteer program. She took food and water to the homeless seniors and youths living in the streets, and also trained local medical professionals and EMTs in the use of gait belts. Her book, Drowning in Now: A Search for God and Humanity at the Top of the World (published under the name Lia Jean Dennis), is an account of her spiritual journey and the story of how The Global Humanity Initiative was started. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the sale of Drowning in Now go to The Global Humanity Initiative, benefitting impoverished children and elders around the world.
Alicia’s photographs, articles and short fiction have appeared in various publications through the years, including Tidepools and Pulse. She serves as a main writer and co-editor of Pet Tidings, the newsletter for Safe Haven, a fully donor-supported, cageless, no-kill animal shelter on the Olympic Peninsula, run by Peninsula Friends of Animals. Alicia additionally runs a monthly grief support group for animal companion owners at their primary shelter. She is completing a book, Dear Rosie & Tony: Advice for Felines, based on her feline advice column in the newsletter, the proceeds of which will go to support PFOA. Alicia also once penned a quarterly newsletter, Death Over Coffee, designed to promote a healthy and fearless discussion on death and dying on the Olympic Peninsula. Her book, Cannabis Island, Part 1: An Outsider’s Look Inside Cannabis Therapeutics was published on Kindle and the Kindle app.
Along with being a CNA/Med Tech at a local assisted living facility, Alicia is certified in spiritual care for end of life patients. Her daily focus is on providing physical and spiritual care to people so they can transition from this world with peace, grace and dignity.
Prior to this work, Alicia spent 30 years in the global corporate world. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature, and an MS in International Business and Finance.
Alicia lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband, Doc, and their rescued Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix, Daisy, who keeps them both on the move whenever they would rather be taking a break.
Co-Founder and Secretary & Treasurer,
Catherine Demes Maydew
She has served large for-profit companies as well as both large and small non-profit and governmental organizations. At KPMG LLP, she was an Assurance Specialist with a focus in government and non-profit entities, including large non-profit hospitals and foundations, as well as the light manufacturing and investment/banking industries.
Catherine has been an adjunct accounting professor at Creighton University. Her clients have included Scott Residential Management LLC and the Omaha Community Playhouse. She also received the 2010 Chapter Service Award from the Association of Government Accountants at their July 2010 meeting in Orlando.
Catherine is a business partner for the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands. She serves on the following boards:
- Omaha Academy of Ballet
- Joslyn Castle
- St. John Greek Orthodox Church Audit Board
- Nebraska Society of CPAs
- Association of Government Accountants
Catherine is also Past Chair of the Nebraska Elementary & Secondary Finance Authority and Past Chair of the NSCPA Non-profit Committee. She lives in Omaha with her husband, a diagnostic radiologist, and their teenage son.
Vice President, Lana Byal
Lana has over 20 years’ experience in international travel, having both studied and worked abroad throughout her career. She holds a Masters of Science from the University of Oxford where she focused on biodiversity conservation, climate change, and international development.
Currently, she is the Director of Meaningful Travel, Sales and Product Development with Elevate Destinations, a premier, international philanthropic travel company based in the United States. In her work, she liaises with many non-profit organizations, many of which, focus on the education of women and children and environmental conservation in the Global South. Prior to Elevate Destinations, she was an independent safari consultant working on unique and specialized trips to East Africa. Her overall background includes years of academic research, volunteering, and working in natural-resource related jobs. Some of her international experiences include in India, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica and Africa.
Additionally, Lana spent many years working in organic agriculture and managing farms in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, as well as managing a seasonal, on-site office for a boutique salmon operation in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Lana is passionate about wildlife and habitat conservation and the education and empowerment of many of the world’s most vulnerable stakeholders, such as women and children. She enjoys life on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband and their two ranch dogs.
Board of Directors
Maia deeply believes that everyone deserves to know that someone is in their corner, cheering them on.
She was born in Athens, Greece, to world traveling hippies who taught her to value education and appreciate the world. During her middle school years, her father took a Fulbright exchange in Cyprus for a year, and this gave the family the opportunity to travel to Turkey, Egypt, and back to Greece. She attended Cal State Monterey Bay with a focus on Social Anthropology. During her college years, Maia volunteered every week at the local soup kitchen, and spent one summer studying at The Center for Cross Cultural Studies in Seville, Spain. After college, she spent ten months in Ecuador working for a non-profit, and has also traveled in Peru.
She was blessed to have an amazing grandfather who was active with his church and in his community. She watched as he took food to local shut-ins, week after week. He taught her about the simplicity of compassion, and how to understand people just by being kind. Maia has carried this philosophy with her throughout her adult life, and lives it daily in her job as a Chemotherapy Technician at the local Cancer Center. Her passion is in being there for her patients during their worst times, in creating a micro-community for them, and in being their support when they feel they can’t go on.
Maia lives on the Olympic Peninsula, with her husband and their four children, one of whom has been diagnosed with autism. She proudly tells people that having a child who is on the spectrum has made the window of her life bigger and brighter. Along with hosting exchange students every year, their home is filled with four cats and two dogs, including a Chihuahua named Doug.
Suzie Schneider’s DNA is programmed for both volunteerism and world travel. As a child, she became active with the Girl Scouts, and returned to these roots as a Troop Leader after college. She also sat on both local and council scouting committees for the organization.
After she obtained her degree in Business Administration and began working full time, Suzie was able to indulge the travel bug which she had inherited from her grandmother. Her vacations were spent exploring the Caribbean Islands, Kenya, the Galapagos Islands, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, England, and several European countries. These travels then led to a desire to live in a country rather than simply pass through.
Suzie eventually joined the Peace Corps and served in Nepal for three years, working for the Agricultural Development Bank. This bank, in conjunction with some assistance from US AID, began promoting private enterprise. During her time in Nepal, Suzie worked with groups of women, as well as some men, to identify skills they may have which could be turned into a business/money making endeavor.
Her volunteerism continued after she returned to the daily work world here in the States, where she helped with an adult literacy program while living in Colorado.
Retiring with her husband to the Olympic Peninsula nearly ten years ago meant more free time to donate to worthy causes. Every year, she helps out at the local Tour de Lavender bike ride, which supports the Peninsula Trails Coalition, and the Lavender Festival. In addition to this, she has helped at the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.
She hasn’t left her connection to Nepal behind, though: Suzie has been a member of the volunteer organization, Friends of Nepal, for nearly 20 years. Dedicated to continuing to improve the lives of those whom they left behind, this group is comprised of all former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Nepal.