Don A. Wilks
Founder, Chairman of the Board, and President
Don Wilks decided that the working world was incompatible with his passion for travel, and in January 2000 he achieved his goal of early retirement, or as he prefers to call it: voluntary unemployment. He left a thirteen-year career at Deloitte & Touche, where he was a partner in the Consulting Division and the firm’s National Director of Business Insurance Consulting.
“Voluntary unemployment” allows Don to pursue his passion of travel, and he has a long list of multi-month trips to every continent, all over the USA, and even a voyage to Antarctica. It was his 2000 trip to Nepal that sparked Don’s passion for education and was the genesis of GCE in 2005. In 2009, Don formalized the worldwide grass-roots support that built our first two schools with the founding of The Global Community for Education. In addition to his passions of The Global Community for Education and traveling, Don will someday get back to the task of finding a publisher for his book: Twenty Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Twenty where Don shares the principles he used to retire at such an early age –principles that can be applied to any endeavor. Instead of a day job, Don pays the bills with his activities in the equity markets. His formal education includes an MBA from Southern Methodist University and a BBA in finance from Texas A&M University—Commerce, but believes there is something to be learned every day. He thanks his parents, his mentors, and his college fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, for all the education and lessons they have provided, and is grateful for the opportunity to provide education to such bright young minds that previously had no opportunity to receive schooling.
Tanka Prasad Kapri
Country Director – Nepal, The Real Hero
Tanka Kapri was a university student who was working as porter in 2000 and assigned to Don and Teri Wilks to haul their bags to Everest Base Camp in September 2000. It was Tanka’s vision and determination to improve his community that was the genesis for GCE in 2005. GCE’s US based operations provide funding and administrative oversight, but it is Tanka that does the heavy lifting of construction management. He sits on the School Committees for each of our schools and has frontline responsibility for all of our projects in Nepal.
Tanka’s talents are recognized widely outside of his work with GCE. He is the Founder and President of Alliance Society Nepal, an organization whose mission is to better Nepal through education of both children and adults. In 2010, he was named President of Education Committee for Dhading District Khari Ward #3 and Treasurer for all operations of Khari Ward #3.
Tanka graduated Tribhuvan University of Kathmandu in 2004 with a degree in Education.
Kenneth W. Pearson
Ken Pearson shares GCE’s enthusiasm for helping others learn and supporting education in rural Nepal. He has been a part of GCE since the beginning in roles ranging from providing valuable advice to his participation in various fundraising efforts for each of the schools in Khari. In fact, Ken’s children have even been part of GCE’s efforts to support the goal of spreading education throughout the world and continue to support GCE. Ken is presently a Managing Director with CBRE. He is a licensed attorney who attended law school at Texas Tech School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University – Commerce where he and Don met in 1982. Ken lives in Keller, Texas.
I support GCE because it is an opportunity to support the education of youth in a part of the world that benefits greatly from our efforts. GCE’s goal is to be small and effective rather than large and ineffective. Over 20 years we have built and supported 4 schools in the Dhading District of rural Nepal and over 8,000 boys and girls have attended these schools. We didn’t just build buildings and walk away.
During this time we have supported the schools by providing computer labs, libraries, academic support like English teachers, and even rebuilding one of the schools after the devastating 2016 earthquake which struck just 50 miles away. And, perhaps equally important, we have supported over 50 boy and girls with scholarships so that the best and brightest from our schools can continue their primary education through college and university. In short, we are deeply committed to this community and it is immensely rewarding to see the positive impact our work has had (and continues to have) on generations of youth – we now even have kids from our schools that are grown and have children of their own attending GCE schools.
Jean M. DeSimone
Secretary of the Board
The idea of supporting and serving youth is one that Jean is passionate about. Her 19 years of experience as a classroom teacher has given her the opportunity to put this idea into practice on a daily basis. Jean has taught in urban and inner city schools in New Jersey, both in the private and public sectors, allowing her to work with diverse populations that truly represent cultures from around the globe. Now living in Florida, Jean works for the non-profit organization, Girls Inc., mentoring girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.
I’ve known Don for about 30 years, when we were both part of the corporate world. When he started GCE and asked me to lend my support and join the Board, it was an immediate “yes!” I’ve always been interested in education. I sincerely believe that education is the key to solving so many of the world’s problems, and prioritizing typically underserved girls will help solve those problems even faster.
Member of the Board of Directors
Eric Schwarz is a Partner at Ernst & Young where he is an internationally recognized thought leader and testifying expert in the fields of electronic discovery and computer forensics.
Eric has travelled widely for both business and pleasure and these travels have included several trips across India and the Asia/Pacific region. Eric has known Don both personally and professionally since they began working together at Deloitte over two decades ago. Eric and his wife Gill have been involved with GCE since the first school. Eric has provided his advice and expertise on GCE operations, and he and Gill have been instrumental in fundraising efforts.
Eric and Gill believe that education is essential to the growth of the human spirit. Education allowed Gill and Eric to grow beyond the dreams of their parents or themselves. For both Gill and Eric, books were the key to unlocking it all. Books can take you anywhere and teach you anything; if you are willing… and if you have access to the books and the guidance needed to learn to use them.
Both Eric and Gill have experienced the magic of education in their seven year-old son Aiden. Aiden is blessed to be able to attend a school that exposes him to the world – math, science, geography, art, and music. They want to help other children have access to the same and they deeply believe that their investments have the maximum impact under Don’s careful guidance.
Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from Boston University.
Member of the Board of Directors
April Culver is one of GCE’s original donors. She had the opportunity to visit the school and communities in Nepal in 2010 and feel in love with the culture, the families and especially the children. April has been involved in fundraising for over 35 years and hopes continue to use her expertise in continuing to raise funds for GCE. April has served many non-profits in her professional and currently serves as CEO/Executive Director at Challenge Air for Kids & Friends, a Dallas based non-profit that promotes confidence and self-esteem in kids with special needs through the gift of flight. She hopes to get back to Nepal again soon.
My initial reason for getting involved with GCE was because of Don. We were high school friends and he asked and I said yes. After visiting the schools in 2010, I was hooked! I was amazed by the enthusiasm and eagerness the kids from the villages exhibited towards learning. They were the happiest kids I had ever been around regarding education. They had so very little in the way of resources; i.e., uniforms, books, computers etc. Growing up in the United States offers us privileges these kids might never know. I knew I wanted to help in whatever capacity I could from that trip forward.
Elizabeth is a high school math teacher and had the opportunity to first visit Nepal through GCE in 2017. She immediately fell in love with the culture, the families, and the mission. Elizabeth now serves as one of GCE Co-Vice Presidents. Her passion for education and empowering teens is what drives her in her work for GCE.
I first got involved with GCE in quite a strange way. I was studying education at the time and Emily actually invited me to go on a trip with her to teach with GCE in Nepal. I agreed to go before I really even knew much about Nepal. That trip changed me. It deepen my passion for education and creating ever lasting change around the world. One thing I love about GCE is their desire to not create dependency through charity. GCE is changing lives of students every day and it is an honor to be apart of something real and life changing.
Emily is currently a Master’s Student studying International Disaster Psychology – Trauma and Global Mental Health at the University of Denver. Emily’s first memory of the Global Community for Education was at a young age deciding to have a lemonade stand to benefit a nonprofit her dad’s friend started. Fast forward a few years and she has been on two incredible one-month journeys to the country, serves as Vice President alongside her good friend Elizabeth, and has fallen in love with the mission, vision, and values of GCE.
Emily’s passion for community-driven and thoughtful mechanisms for aid as well as drive to pursue equity in education and opportunity is what compels her to donate her time to GCE.
Director of Digital Media
Roth Johnson is a Vice President with Western Alliance Bank in New York, New York. As part of a GCE donor family, he has followed the organization’s work since its inception. His interest in technology led him to create his own web development and technology firm, and he jumped at the chance to assist GCE in its social media outreach. Like Don, he has a passion for travel and his interest in the wider world has taken him all over the U.S. and to five additional continents. He’s traveled to both Australia and South Africa as a Student Ambassador with People to People International and is a member of the University of Delaware class of 2018.
Business & Foundation Support.
The Global Community for Education receives much needed support from some fine organizations that allow us to send every dollar we receive.