Caroline Kurtz – Executive Director
Caroline arrived in Maji with her parents as a first grader and counted Maji as home until late high school. In 1990 she began twelve years of international work with her husband and three children: teaching English in an Ethiopian girls’ school in the capital, Addis Ababa; teaching teachers, facilitating women’s development and assisting peace work in Kenya and South Sudan.
When the family returned to the US, they settled in Salem, Oregon and Caroline worked for twelve years helping Ethiopian church partners connect with US Presbyterian donors. Her husband died in 2013 and Caroline moved to Portland. She founded MDC in 2017 and became, as the Maji District Office’s finance director told her, the Maji ambassador to the world!
Caroline earned her BS in Psychology and Educational Change from Monmouth College, and an MA from Greenwich University in Literature and Creative Writing. Catalyst Press published her memoir, A Road Called Down on Both Sides: Growing up in Ethiopia and America, followed by Today is Tomorrow about the Kenya-South Sudan years.
Paul Clark – Secretary
In 2021, Paul completed over 40 years of international rural electrification development work with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Since 1962, NRECA has led the design and development of national electrification programs in over 50 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa, including Ethiopia.
Paul served various roles during his NRECA career, including senior international program manager. He was NRECA’s representative on the boards of the affiliated Overseas Cooperative Development Council, which in 2020 honored him with its prestigious International Cooperative Development Champion Award. He has expertise in a range of electrification organizational, technological and management systems, including solar PV systems and other renewable energy technologies.
Paul attended a US Presbyterian missionary school in Alexandria, Egypt with MDC founder Caroline Kurtz, and has served on MDC’s board since its inception. Paul was a framing carpenter as a young man, and a legislative staff member of two US Senate offices prior to joining NRECA in 1981. He graduated from the Colorado College in 1972 and earned a master’s degree in International Studies/Economic Development from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Chris Bounds – Treasurer
Serving as a senior business leader for 30+ years (at various times CFO, COO, President and/or CEO), Chris helped build two technology companies into worldwide leaders in their respective markets. He has served, and continues to serve, on boards of emerging technology companies, as well as non-profit organizations involved in health care, elder care, African development and churches.
Chris graduated from Rice University and Stanford Graduate School of Business. He and his wife Carol (who has also been active in Ethiopia) have been married for 42 years and are parents to 4 adult children (two of which have also served in Ethiopia). Chris loves the people of Ethiopia and has partnered with both U.S. and Ethiopian based development organizations for nearly 20 years to improve the lives of people in need. In doing this work, he has collaborated with Caroline Kurtz throughout this time, adding his business acumen to her unique cross-cultural heritage in order to effectively deploy resources for what we hope is the most good.
Welela HaileSelassie – Member
Welela is the Country Director of Roha, an investment firm that builds companies in Africa. She leads Roha’s office in Ethiopia and supports portfolio companies and new developments.
Previously, Welela was Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at Kana TV, one of thelargest media companies in Ethiopia, where she managed strategic initiatives and operational executions. Before that, Welela held numerous roles in strategy, management, and engineering at IBM where she also built broad experience in IBM’s technology brands.
Welela started her career as a firmware engineer on IBM’s high-end servers and gradually shifted herfocus to the business side of the organization where she defined strategies, designed and implemented multi-national programs, and managed global teams.
Welela has a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Lehigh, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington, and a MBA from Cornell University. After completing her studies, she livedand worked in multiple cities in the US before moving back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she and founder Caroline Kurtz were introduced.
Wasihun Temesgen is the installer for Maji Development Coalition. He is an electrician, and a technical school graduate. In MDC he has been introduced to the fascinating world of solar energy. After customers register and make a first payment, Wasihun sends them home carrying their equipment. Then he walks to their houses to install the solar home panel and batteries.
Markos Gebre Selassie
Ato (Mr.) Markos Gebre Selassie is the Maji Development Coalition business manager. He comes to us from many years of leadership in the community. For six years he served as Chief Administrator for the district.
Trained as an agriculturalist, Ato Markos initiated the Maji Apple Orchard Project in 2010, and moved from his political role into leadership in the Maji Bethel Presbytery of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, Mekane Yesus denomination. He has now taken a leadership role with MDC, but also continues to lead the Maji Bethel Presbytery and oversee the Maji Highland Apple Orchard staff.
Habtamu Bezazew and Kalkidan Hailemariam
Ato (Mr.) Habtamu and Wzo (Mrs.) Kalkidan are a husband and wife legal team in business together in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They advise MDC on the law of Ethiopia, they review contracts for MDC, and presently they are leading the process to register MDC as a non-governmental charitable organization in Ethiopia.
Ato (Mr.) Samson is the director of the Ethiopian branch of a German nonprofit, Solar Energy Foundation. He has been a faithful advisor and collaborator with MDC as we begin operations on the ground in Maji.
Ato (Mr.) Yonas is the director of the solar business, SunTransfer Tech. He has been in business as Ato Samson’s partner for fifteen years. He is taking a masters course in development from Regis University by correspondence.
With their many years of experience, Ato Samson and Ato Yonas are recognized as Ethiopan experts in solar applications. As such, they have been asked by the government of Ethiopia to develop a curriculum for teaching technicians in the solar photo voltaic field for the nation’s technical schools.
Caroline Kurtz with Yidenik WoldeSenbet, Maji Woreda Administrator
Caroline Kurtz meeting with woreda (district) women leaders