Board Shake-Up at International Service Learning Organization Brings Fresh Blood and Diverse Perspectives

Joining the Board of Directors are Alma Garcia (Texas),Kyla Parker (Tennessee), Alex Van Dewark(California), Dr. Sharon Thomas-Parker (Maryland), and Kodi Henderson(Alabama).

Between the five new members to BLV’s Board of Directors, the new team has participated and/or led eight student programs, and three are career educators. It is a diverse Board with membership residing across the U.S. in Baltimore, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and California.

“All five of our newest Board members embody the spirit of community and bring significant talent, expertise and energy to ‘carry the torch’ forward as we continue to scale operations. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to make the world a brighter place, one student at a time!” Catherine Greenberg, Founder and Co-Executive Director.

Rotating off the existing Board: Margaret McMillan, C. Scott Jennings, and Professor Stacie Freeman. Key details about the newest appointees below:

Alma Garcia, one of BLV’s newest board members, is a leader who has a history of supporting initiatives that empower young girls and women. Inspired by her experience volunteering as a mentor for Big Brothers & Sisters of Central Texas, she went on to serve as the Executive Director of Dream Angels, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on empowering at-risk girls and providing the support and opportunities necessary to provide them with the best tools possible to achieve their professional and personal dreams. Alma has served, unpaid, as BLV’s Community Engagement Specialist in the past, as well as a seasoned Program Leader guiding groups in our host communities abroad.

Kyla Parker, one of BLV’s newest board members, is a veteran educator from West Tennessee. She has witnessed, first hand, the power of our leadership programs and is a proponent for equalized access to such programs as ours for Title One schools.

Alex Van Dewark, one of BLV’s newest board members, is an entrepreneur and a firefighter/paramedic based out of Chico, CA. Founder and CEO of UP, Inc. (UP: Unlocking Potential), Alex has worked hard to make the MixMat available as an easy and affordable solution to the need for concrete on our service learning programs. Having past experience working as a Business/Leadership trainer for Odyssey Teams, Inc., Alex is well positioned to help BLV expand into serving corporate sector clients to meet their need for cultural sensitivity, cross-cultural collaboration and leadership training.

Dr. Sharon Thomas-Parker, one of BLV’s newest board members, holds a Doctorate of Education focusing on Higher Education Leadership and has an illustrious and varied career as a licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She has served in a variety of cross-disciplinary roles such as Program Director for Redefining Refuge, a nonprofit dedicated to serving victims of sexual trafficking and Director of Behavioral Health at the Family Health Centers of Baltimore.

Kodi Henderson Niehaus, one of BLV’s newest board members, is the Coordinator of Education Abroad and International Exchange at the University of North Alabama (UNA). She joined the Office of International Affairs (OIA) in August 2018. Kodi has a M.A. in Postsecondary Education and Administration and a B.S. in Journalism, Mass Communications, Geosciences, and Television Production. Kodi has worked in a variety of roles in the news industry as an associate producer, reporter, videographer, photographer, and journalist. Furthermore, she has worked several offices of higher education as a graduate assistant in the Student Disability Services office at Murray State University, a graduate intern in the Office of Global Studies at Bethel University, an intern in the Study Abroad Office at the University of Evansville, and as a volunteer in the Office of Education Abroad at Murray State University. She has traveled to Austria, Belize, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, and Switzerland.


Bright Light Volunteers is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization, designed to empower program participants and community partners through education and service. Specifically, our programs adhere to global service-learning best practices, which combine community service with both experiential learning in the field and online coursework through our university partner. Our vision is to make the world a brighter place by creating a more peaceful, just, interconnected world where global challenges and opportunities are met by educated, compassionate, global citizens and leaders.

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