Reverend M. Francis Mercer, BA, M.Div., STM, is the mother of six and grandmother of eleven children. She is personally and politically committed to the nurture of family and the necessary education of growing children, particularly adolescent girls enrolled in the Educating Every Child Program of eastern Ghana.
Rev. Mercer earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology at Columbia University and subsequent graduate degrees at Union Theological Seminary, NYC. Rev. Mercer served as Chaplain at Riker’s Island Detention Center in New York. She was Executive Producer of Something Within Me, a documentary film about urban school education in the South Bronx that won three awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Rev. Mercer served as the Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) for six years. During her tenure, she brought together experts in the field of African development and UU-UNO board members to develop a UN Millennium Development Goal project, which focused on primary school education. This collaborative effort resulted in the establishment of the Every Child is Our Child Partnership. This partnership has successfully helped several hundred children complete their primary school education.
As a result of her work with the UU-UNO, she became aware of the acute need to support adolescent girls through high school, especially in areas where high schools charge tuition and there is no free alternative. This awareness grew into the founding of the Educating Every Child Program.
Genia Peterson is very committed to Educating Every Child and its ability to be a beneficial change agent in the lives of young women. Her own personal history is a testament to the power of non-profit groups to change lives. Genia was born in a Displaced Person Camp in Germany. She spent the first five years of her life living in four different camps. It was due to the efforts of the non-profit community, working in cooperation with the United Nations, that she and her mother were able to immigrate to the U.S.
Genia has served on the board of several non-profit organizations, where she played an active role in policy formulation, program development and fundraising. She played a key role in developing the Every Child is Our Child program, which focuses on education at the primary school level. This program is a partnership between the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office and the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association. Through her work on this project, she saw firsthand the impact of being denied a high school education due to lack of money.
Genia received a BA from Temple University and MA from New York University. She also has a Professional Certification in International Employment Benefits from the Wharton School of Business. Professionally, she has worked as a risk underwriter evaluating corporate benefits for two major insurance companies and managed the Corporate Benefit Planning Department for an actuarial consulting firm. Currently, she is the business manager of a mental health center.
Paul K. Sutherland, JD, MPA is currently the Director of Planned Giving at The Westover School, an independent school for girls in Middlebury, CT. Paul is a lawyer with extensive experience in education, having practiced law from 1974 to 1999, with a primary client base of schools at the university, secondary and primary levels.
Paul has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations, including Westover School; The Child Care Resources Center, Cambridge, MA; and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Burlington, VT. He researched and co-wrote a book on public education reform produced by The Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy in 2005. He has worked as a consultant to the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, a major foundation focused on youth development in New York City, and to The Harvard Labor and Worklife Program in Cambridge, MA.
Paul attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT (BA 1968); The Catholic University School of Law in Washington, DC (JD 1973); and The Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, MA (MPA 2001).
The common thread in Paul’s professional and volunteer life has been education and youth. He is delighted to have the opportunity to expand his activities beyond the US, and particularly to be working in support of girls’ education, which he considers to be one of the most critical issues of our time.
Suzanne Dyer Wise grew up in a family that valued community service and education. She benefited from a quality education at various educational institutions. After a divorce at age 23, she learned how critical a good education was to enabling her to be independent and self-reliant.
Now retired, Suzanne supported herself by working her entire adult life. She has extensive experience in administration, finance and operations, including working as AVP-Payroll Manager for Paine Webber, VP-Finance for Merrill Lynch, and Head of International Implementations for a firm providing online stock market trading capabilities to foreign banks.
Involvement in the National Federation of Business and Professional Women and Zonta International for over thirty-five years led to personal growth as well as to broad advocacy for women’s and girls’ rights nationally and internationally.
Suzanne was lucky enough to spend a year studying abroad and has travelled extensively for business and pleasure. Through her exposure to different cultures, she learned how limited the opportunity for education is in other parts of the world and why the Educating Every Child program is so important.