Leadership

Rafael Duerksen
Director, Canada

Rafael joined Generation Rising in 2021 after having served as the Lead Pastor at Springfield Heights Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. His focus is on connecting compassionate churches and donors in Canada with local schools and churches in Latin America. Rafael previously served as Pastor of Youth and Young Adults at the Wainfleet Brethren In Christ Church in Ontario, and was a leader in Canadian Mennonite University’s Outtatown discipleship program in South Africa and Guatemala. He holds a Masters in Theological Studies Degree from Tyndale Seminary.

Rachel Buhler
Manager of Supporter Experiences, Canada

Rachel joined the Generation Rising team at the end of 2020 as the Interim Office Manager. She previously served for 5 years in a pastoral role in a church working with elementary school aged kids. Rachel is passionate about the work Generation Rising is doing in Latin America by providing kids with an education that gives them the opportunity to learn about God’s love. Rachel and her husband, Justin reside in Winnipeg and love getting out of the city to enjoy God’s creation. She has a B.Ed. from the University of Winnipeg and is working on a diploma in Business Administration at Herzing College.

Viola Ayala
Scholarship Coordinator, Canada

Viola Harder Ayala is the scholarship Coordinator for Generation Rising.  She started working for Generation Rising in August 2018.  Viola, her husband and 4 daughters moved from Paraguay to Canada 3 years ago.  Before working with Generation Rising, she was a stay-at-home mom and did work with Missions at her home church in Paraguay.  Working with the scholarship program is a special joy for her because she can learn about the children and the schools through the reports and stories that she gets to send out from those precious children that are in our program. Viola has a degree in Theology from the Evangelical University in Paraguay.    

Tom Friesen
Director, USA

Tom Friesen retired from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development where he served as Director of the Montana State Office.  His prior work experiences include college teaching, working with faith-based nonprofit corporations in Denver and South America, and in management of public housing. Since retirement he has consulted for nonprofit corporations in Denver and Guatemala and also spent a year with AmeriCorp (domestic Peace Corp).  Volunteer activities include mentoring persons seeking U.S. citizenship and working at a nonprofit bike shop.  He has degrees in Sociology and Religion with some study in business management.

Dr. Gerson Cabral
Director, Paraguay

Serving as the founding principal of the PROED School in Asuncion, Paraguay, Dr. Gerson Cabral helps with curricula development and leadership training at Generation Rising’s partner schools in Paraguay. A veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience and a doctorate in education, Gerson trains principals and teachers in how to implement Christian values into a comprehensive education. He advises principals and teachers in how to encourage participation of parents and students in the organization and development of the school. As well, Gerson acts as the liaison between Generation Rising’s partnering schools and the Government Department of Education in Paraguay. As of 2020 he is also the dean of the Faculty of Technological Sciences at the Evangelical University of Paraguay.

 

Fiona Neufeld
Sponsorship Coordinator, Paraguay

With a Master of Arts in Counseling from Providence College, Fiona works closely with our partner schools, the parents and the sponsor children supported by Generation Rising in Paraguay. She has a special burden for single moms who work hard to provide a better future for their children.

Board of Directors

Rudolf Duerksen
President

Rudolf Duerksen is a founding member of Generation Rising. He has worked in Latin America for over 22 years, being involved in development work with indigenous people. He served as Executive Director of SERVOME, a church-related social services agency in Paraguay, dedicated to working with marginalized people and street children. Rudolf led the founding team of MEDA Paraguay and CODIPSA — a commercial enterprise helping small landholders process manioc into starch and take it to the export market. Rudolf has studied animal science, agriculture, development and missiology.

Tomas Martens
Treasurer

Tomas Martens is a founding member of Generation Rising. Tomas resides with his wife and two sons in East St. Paul, Manitoba. He currently works for Transport Canada as a Civil Aviation Safety Inspector. Tomas was born and raised in Paraguay. He completed a diploma in Aviation at Providence College, MB and worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot for 6 years before joining Transport Canada. At Providence College, Tomas took an active part in missions as a representative for South America. He has taken students to Aviation Mission headquarters and introduced them to mission aviation.

Ann Ediger
Secretary

Ann Ediger is a founding member of GenerationRising and resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Prior to retirement, Ann worked as a nurse in various hospital and community programs. It was her work in health care and development in Paraguay that convinced her of the importance that education holds as a means to reduce poverty. She continues to be active as a committed volunteer in her community and local church.

Chuck Penner
Vice-President

Chuck Penner became a member of Generation Rising in 2015 and joined the board in 2016. He has been involved in missions and economic development projects in Cuba and Mexico. Chuck has spent over 25 years in the Canadian grain business and has owned and operated LeftField Commodity Research since 2010. He grew up in Manitoba’s Red River Valley and has a Diploma in Biblical Studies from Winkler Bible Institute. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Ag Economics and an Agribusiness Diploma from the University of Manitoba. Chuck and his wife Marlene live in Winnipeg and have three grown daughters.

Sally Kauenhowen
Board Member

Sally and her husband Carl are founding members of Generation Rising. They have 3 sons and 1 daughter and reside in Narol, Manitoba. Sally was raised in Paraguay. She has always been involved with mission projects through church since she joined at age 15. Sally has seen firsthand what a difference it makes for children to have a  quality education in Paraguay. After the family moved to Canada, Carl and Sally were very exited to join with other founding members of Generation Rising and help enable children to a better future.

Ingrid Koss
Board Member

Ingrid became a member of Generation Rising and joined the board in 2017. She has traveled to Central America several times in recent years and is moved by the courage and the resilience of the people. Ingrid believes that education for children means hope for the whole family. Ingrid has a work history in administration, quality assurance, and freelance writing. She currently works at Square One World Media as the Communications Writer, and lives in Winnipeg with her husband and family.

Helmut Sawatzky
Board Member

Helmut joined the board of Generation Rising in 2018 after taking part in a service trip to Nicaragua with his church. Helmut was born in Paraguay and continues to foster a good relationship with family and friends there through regular visits. He recently stepped back from the workforce after having served more than 30 some as warehousing and distribution manager. He is a member of a local church where he has served in various capacities including chairman of the board. Helmut resides with his wife Wilma in Springfield, Manitoba. They have two children who are both grown.