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About Co-Serve International

Learn about our history, mission, vision, and values; our staff; and our Board of Directors.

A Bit of History

Our history traces back to the creation of the Kazakh-American Free University (KAFU) in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan in 1994.  This university offered a unique, international education in post-Soviet Kazakhstan that utilized American partnerships.  In 1997, Dr. Marshall Christensen visited KAFU with three business representatives from Oregon.  As a result of their visit, in August, 1997, they created the Marshall Christensen Foundation for International Higher Education (the MCF) to support the development of international higher education.  The initial work of the MCF was focused on supporting programs at KAFU with the goal to develop leaders for Kazakhstan's newly emerging democracy and free-market system.

In 2004, Marshall Christensen created a leadership course at KAFU for students who demonstrated strong leadership potential.  This course came out of Marshall’s observation that, although the university had the goal of developing leaders, there was not a specific course at the university on the topic of leadership.  This new course presented the ideas of servant leadership - where leadership is about serving and empowering others to help them reach their potential.  The course further engaged students in open interaction and dialogue.  The impact and results of this course were dramatic.  Students were eager to talk about the leadership problems that they saw in the world and to consider a better approach that embraced different values.  Students were also searching for a place where they could know acceptance, mutual respect and community and this course provided such a place for them.

As a result of this course, the MCF understood the need to work with places of learning to help students and teachers consider leadership principles and paradigms based on the universal values of people and relationships - values that seem to have been abandoned.  A formal program was developed, called the "International Servant Leadership Program" or "ISLP."  The MCF began developing a vision for expanding this program beyond KAFU to places of learning around the world.  In 2006, Daniel Ballast, who had been working at KAFU through the American organization InterVarsity, began working directly with the MCF to assist in this effort.  Over the next five years, the MCF launched servant leadership programs at places of learning in Ukraine, Afghanistan, the Philippines, India and Brazil.

To operate these programs, the MCF relied on a growing base of public donor support.  As a result, in 2008, the MCF received formal authorization to operate as a public charity in the United States.  In 2009 the Board of Directors approved the DBA name for the organization, "Co-Serve International," a name which better reflects the on-going work of the organization.  Part of the meaning behind this name is an emphasis on building community (hence, the "Co").

Co-Serve believes that servant leadership is all about building accepting, empowering, and interdependent communities.  Today, Co-Serve works to support such "servant leadership communities" around the world that are intentionally developing themselves as servant leaders as they engage in an experiential learning process of action and reflection.

Our Mission, Vision and Core Values

Our mission is to share love and truth by modeling and cultivating servant leadership communities around the world.

Our vision is that emerging leaders around the world will be transformed in learning environments and will live as servants in community.

Our core values are:

  • Communities of Learning.  Valuing relationships with students, teachers and staff.
  • International Understanding.  Bringing cultures together in dialogue, friendship and partnership.
  • Volunteerism. Involving individuals who are willing to volunteer their time.
  •  Stewardship.  Efficiently delivering programs that provide maximum impact.
  • Servant Leadership.  Drawing out the principles of servant leadership through all of our programs.
  • Community.  Modeling and building communities of servant leadership.
Our Staff

Co-Serve desires to support and empower individuals who are called to live out Co-Serve's mission in their own unique contexts and ministries.  Co-Serve has many friends and partners around the world, however, in certain cases, Co-Serve is able to empower individuals further by involving them directly as part of Co-Serve's staff team.  In general, Co-Serve does not hire staff for pre-defined positions, but, instead, seeks to be an instrument to empower staff to carry out their particular calling.  Almost all of Co-Serve's staff serve as volunteers and/or raise their own funding for their involvement.  Co-Serve is incredibly fortunate to work with and learn from the following individuals as part of its staff team:

  • Dr. Marshall Christensen, Leadership Team Member.   Marshall has dedicated his career to higher education and helping students prepare for life.  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.  He worked for 15 years as the president of Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon.  He is a professor of history and the international provost for the Kazakh-American Free University in Kazakhstan.
  • Dr. Daniel Ballast, Leadership Team Member.   For twelve years, Dan helped to develop international higher education as vice-president of  the Kazakh-American Free University in Kazakhstan.  He now lives with his family in the Philippines, where he is part of the staff team at the Center for Servant Leadership Philippines.  From the Philippines, he helps to direct Co-Serve's programs around the world.
  • Gary Williams, Leadership Team Member.  Gary practiced servant leadership for many years as the COO at Western Partitions, Inc. in Portland, Oregon. He now champions and directs Co-Serve's Mentor Program and Coaching Program as well as Co-Serve's programs in Afghanistan.
  • Lu Hawley.  Lu works to build community and develop servant leaders as she teaches and mentors students in Thailand.  She works specifically with students from the Karen hill tribes in the Karen Leadership Development Program.
  • Jonathan and Janie Martin.  Jonathan and Janie work with international teams, nationals, and their agencies to help shape servant leadership communities that impact the culture they are in with these same values and practices.  They also coach church leaders to create and sustain servant-leadership communities with and amongst their staff and congregations.
  • Bob Maddox.  Bob has been doing leadership training around the world for the past 25 years.  Bob currently works with Co-Serve as a coach, consultant and leadership trainer.
  • Dr. Patrick Mitchell, EBI Champion.  Pat, a former Intel engineer, is a volunteer professor who serves at Co-Serve's partner university in Kazakhstan, the Kazakh-American Free University.  Pat directs Co-Serve's Education through Business Immersion (EBI) Program in Portland each summer.
  • Shukhrat Arifdjanov, Central Asia Area Coordinator.  Shukhrat is a volunteer instructor and helps to develop Co-Serve's work in Central Asia, Mongolia and Western China.
  • Mike Hubbard, Administrative Assistant.  Mike works part time to assist Co-Serve with a variety of administrative and accounting tasks.
Our Board of Directors

Co-Serve's Board of Directors represent servant leaders from a broad background of experience:

  • Rick Coulson, Chair.  Rick is an Intel Senior Fellow and director of the Storage Technologies Group (STG) at Intel Corporation.  He is an avid pilot (instrument-rated) and enjoys developing future business and technology leaders.
  • Carol Stiles, Vice-Chair.  Carol has served as an advocate for children in Central Oregon, where she has served on numerous boards, committees, and taskforces.  Carol was a founding member of Family Resource Center of Central Oregon, spent five years as chair of Oregon Early Childhood Initiatives, and eight years as chair and co-chair of Deschutes County Committee on Early Education and Development. Carol helped to develop the first Head Start program for Bend and Central Oregon, where she worked with fellow citizens to address parenting and family services needs in the community. For 13 years, she served as the Executive Director of The Center Foundation, which provides a host of athletic and medical services for children, connected with the orthopedic work of The Center.
  • Lawnae Hunter, Secretary.   Lawnae is the Principal Broker of Hunter Properties, LLC., in Bend, Oregon.  She has over thirty-five years experience in general real estate brokerage.  Lawnae is an active leader in her community and has worked to found a number of non-profits to promote economic and individual development.
  • Tabatha Taylor, Treasurer.   After involvement in Oregon’s political process, Tabatha has spent the last 18 years in the healthcare industry.  Tabatha currently works for Providence Health & Services in Portland, Oregon.  She has extensive experience in disaster recovery of information technology and emergency preparedness.  For HAM radio fans her call sign is KE7YIZ.
  • Anna Kabardina. Anna is a Manager in the International Department of the Kazakh-American Free University, where she partners with numerous international universities and organizations, including Co-Serve International, to provide mutually beneficial international exchange programs that develop young leaders for the country of Kazakhstan.
  • Valentina Yakuba.  Valentina is the English Philology Chairperson at Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University in Kyiv, Ukraine.  Valentina has played an instrumental role in championing the work of Co-Serve International and the development of servant leadership in Ukraine since Co-Serve's first programs in Ukraine in 2004.
  • Danette Ver Woert.  Danette is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington.  She is passionately curious about the intersections of culture and life-long learning, which has led her to investigate the perceptions of Kazakhstani nurses regarding graduate education. She is energized by opportunities to empower students, specifically young women, in leadership development and identity formation. Her nursing background includes in-patient adult oncology and out-patient Urgent Care. Her interests include international higher education, service learning, curriculum development, and online learning.
  • Keith Naber.  Keith has over 25 years of experience leading highly effective teams in high-tech and manufacturing companies.  For the past 18 years he has been with Intel Corporation in various roles including Plant Manager, Senior Operations Manager and Chief of Staff. Keith is a professional coach who is passionate about helping others clearly identify their goals and reach them. Keith brings to coaching a unique framework due to the combination of his business success and experience and his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Marshall Christensen visits KAFU with a delegation from Oregon in 1997.

Students who attended the first leadership course at KAFU in 2004.

The first servant leadership course is held in Ukraine in 2007.

With participants of the first servant leadership course in Afghanistan in 2008.