Board of Directors

Seeds of South Sudan operates with an all-volunteer board. The president, Arok Garang, receives a modest stipend to cover his expenses and time.

Sue Counterman

Board Secretary and College Scholarship Program Director

Sue has been teaching science in the Denver area for the past 27 years. Through her work in the middle school social justice program, she came to know Arok Garang, the founder of Seeds of South Sudan. Sue is privileged to know Arok, and through him to gain a deep understanding of his trials as one of the original Lost Boys. Sue stated, “not only is Arok a remarkable, resilient individual, he is a leader in supporting orphans from South Sudan, as recognized by the Dinka leaders of the Kakuma Refugee Camp. For me, it is a privilege to contribute in a small way to helping these most marginalized children in the world.” Sue has been a board member since 2012, supporting SOSS as board secretary, and has developed the College Scholarship Program. Sue traveled with Arok and another supporter to visit the SoSS program and the Kakuma Refugee Camp in the summer of 2017 where she saw firsthand the positive impact of the Seeds of South Sudan program. SoSS is changing lives for children that otherwise would have no hope for an education or healthy meals to sustain their bodies. The support of the caring SoSS community is providing all the necessities for a productive life and giving students the opportunity to develop their capabilities.

Rev. Gilbert McKenzie

Seeds of South Sudan Board Member

For over forty years, I have had the honor of serving the Presbyterian Church in three regions of the world: the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United States of America. This gave me the opportunity to embrace peoples of diverse cultures, ethnicities and socio/ economic classes.

My volunteer work with Seeds of South Sudan has further expanded my vision to take the good news further, release captives and liberate the oppressed. Seeds of South Sudan handles donations with great integrity and gives a faithful and meticulous accounting of everything it receives. It is for me an indescribable joy to see the joy in the faces of the students whom we are able to take from the refugee camp in Kakuma and place in the boarding schools in Kenya. They study assiduously, make excellent grades and deeply appreciate the love and support we offer them.

My ministry to God continues globally. I return to Kenya in Spring 2018. The gospel is not about having the “correct theology”, but in practicing love compassionately.

John Gonder

Board Member, Special Projects

In his advice to his children, Professor Stephen Hawking said, “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet; and that work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.” My own father gave me the same advice. Although I am now retired, I still look at the stars and find meaning and purpose in volunteer activities that help others reach for the stars in their life.

My work life has included many fulfilling adventures: high school math teacher, US Air Force weather officer, city planner in Denver, commercial real estate sales and research, and economic development manager for counties and cities. My personal life includes a loving wife, son and daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.

My volunteer activities now include Montview Presbyterian Church, Seeds of South Sudan, Model A Club of Colorado, Habitat for Humanity, many family and grandchildren activities, as well as camping and travel to distant places.

I got to know Arok Garang when I sought a speaker for a church forum on “The Lost Boys of Sudan”. Arok had a compelling story to tell, and I soon joined him in seeking to fulfill the hopes and dreams that he has for the Seeds of South Sudan nonprofit organization. The refugee orphans that he rescues from the Kakuma Refugee Camp are given the opportunity, through education, to reach for their stars, and become future enlightened leaders in their home country of South Sudan.

Kent Nelson

Seeds of South Sudan Board Treasurer

When he was Financial Administrator at Arvada Covenant Church, Kent Nelson met Arok Garang, who was working with another church member to obtain the federal tax exempt designation, 501 (c) 3, for Seeds of South Sudan.

After Kent retired, Arok recruited him to serve a three-year term on the board as treasurer, which he began in the Spring of 2014. Kent is now serving a second three-year term on the board. As treasurer, he prepares monthly statements for the board, as well as paying invoices and sending wire transfers to Roots Academy to pay for student tuition, uniforms, food, supplies, shopping and staff support.

Since SoSS began paying college tuition for six students, Kent now executes wire transfers to Kenya so the college students can cover their tuition and expenses. He also pays the rent at Home Base in Nakuru, the large family home where all the SoSS students live when school is not in session.

To explain why he is willing to spend many volunteer hours on SoSS, Kent comments, “I believe in the power of education. I want to see the new country of South Sudan settled with our students taking leadership roles there.”

At a board meeting, Kent saw a photo of five new students who left the Kakuma Refugee Camp and were wearing their Roots Academy uniforms. “One of the students had such a smile on his face – expressing such thankfulness at getting out of the refugee camp and having an opportunity for an education at Roots Academy. Seeing his joy makes all the work and effort of serving on the board worthwhile.”

Seeds of South Sudan