John Ward, President
John has been involved in humanitarian work in Viet Nam since 1994 when he first re-visited the country as a team member with the Veterans’ Viet Nam Restoration Project (VVRP). He then served on the VVRP Board of Directors for five years and during this time led six VVRP teams back to Viet Nam for project work. From October 1999 until November 2005 he lived in Quang Tri Province while working for the EAST Meets WEST Foundation (EMW) and continued serving as the liaison for the VVRP.
John served with the 101st Airborne Division in Viet Nam from 1969 to 1970.
In March 2006 John went to work for Kids First Vietnam as Director of Kids First Village (a rehabilitation and career training center for poor and disabled youth), also located in Dong Ha, Quang Tri. During that time, he and nine other kindred spirits founded LOTUS which initially became a ‘key alliance at Kids First Village providing sewing, embroidery, and computer classes for residents of the Village. When KF Vietnam sunset their mission in 2010 LOTUS moved to their current location in Dong Ha and began focusing on their Open-Heart Program. As of 2016, LOTUS now implements their heart program in seven provinces and Da Nang City where they help fund and facilitate approximately 200 heart surgeries each year for children from poor families.
Dick Hunter, Vice President
Dick is currently serving as Chairman of the Board of Washington Wine and Beverage Company, a Washington State Winery with the major brand Silverlake. He is the past President of COB Technology, Inc. and past President and CEO of Pace Internationaland past Vice President and General Manager of the Electronic Chemicals Division of Ashland Chemical Company. He is a graduate of Ashland University with a degree in Business and a Masters Degree in Business from Ohio State University..
Dick served in Viet Nam with the United States Marine Corps during 1966 and 1967 and attained the rank of Captain. He returned to Viet Nam for the first time in 1997 for the first of 16 subsequent trips doing charity work. His wife accompanied him on most of these trips. He and his wife Saunie have been actively involved with the Bru hill tribe village of Lang Vei 3 near the Laotian border and Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province. They, along with their three children and another board member of the winery funded a safe water system for the village and on numerous occasions provided clothing to the 41 children of the 115 inhabitants of the village. They have also been actively involved with the Quang Tri School for Blind Children in Dong Ha. Dick and Saunie have been active champions and fund raisers for the LOTUS heart program.
Dick and Saunie live in Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho, spending their winters traveling..
Richard N. Gariepy, Vice President, Treasurer/Legal Counsel
Richard and his wife Kathy have lived in Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho for the past 30 years where they have raised 2 boys. He served in the Army with MACV in Viet Nam in 1970-71. Richard practices law and graduated from the University of San Diego Law School and obtained a postgraduate degree in International Law from New York University. Before moving to Idaho he practiced law in New York, California and Washington D.C.
Richard returned to Viet Nam in 2003 with co-director Mark Stewart who was then CEO of East Meets West Foundation and spent time with both Mark and John Ward in Danang and Quang Tri Province observing the positive and impressive results that both Mark and John (along with his assistant Le Trang) had obtained in helping the Vietnamese people. He believes LOTUS is truly fortunate in having Mark, John,Dick Hunter, and Le Trang play such an active role in LOTUS based on their past experience doing Humanitarian work in Viet Nam.
Mark Stewart, Vice President , Mexico Coordinator, and Fund Raising
Mark’s involvement in Viet Nam goes back to 1967-68 where he served as a Marine infantry officer with the 2nd Btln 1st Marines. He was wounded and medically retired in 1969. Through SABAH, the non-profit humanitarian organization they founded, Mark and his wife Margaret have dedicated themselves to work in Khartoum, Sudan, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Southern Mexico, and Viet Nam – primarily supporting women and children through education and health programs. From 1996 to 2003, Mark served as the Executive Director of the East Meets West Foundation – one of Viet Nam’s oldest and most successful non-profit humanitarian organizations. Mark received a Master’s in Education from USC and a postgraduate degree in School Administration from the University of Utah. Mark lives with his wife Margaret of 41 years in Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho.
Le thi Quynh Trang. Program Consultant
Trang is the only Vietnamese national on the LOTUS Board of Directors. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English from Hue University she worked for the Quang Tri Trade and Tourism Department full-time. In her spare time she translated documents for PLAN International. From the beginning of 2001 until the middle of 2004 Trang worked for the East Meets West Foundation and served as the Project Coordinator Assistant in their Quang Tri Office.
In 2004 Trang successfully competed for a Ford Foundation Scholarship to study in the United States. She earned a Master’s Degree in International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Massachusetts. Upon returning to Viet Nam she went to work for Finland’s Rural Development program in Quang Tri. After completing her contract with them she was quickly hired by Oxfam UK in Ha Noi. Currently Trang is working for USAID in Ho Chi Minh City, is married and has two young children.
Trang is providing assistance in program development and fund-raising efforts for LOTUS
Eric Rasmussen, Web Services
Eric has recently joined the Board after travelling to Viet Nam for the first time in 2006 where he assisted John Ward in support activities benefitting LOTUS . He has masters degrees in Economics and Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Arizona and an AB in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Eric has been a consultant in the real estate industry in the United States for over 30 years and is the principal of an economics consultancy named Development Economics, specializing in large-scale community planning and development projects.
Eric is also involved as a Board Director and Past-President of a New Mexico-based youth environmental education and leadership non-profit group Talking Talons Youth Leadership. He is single with two adult children and resides in Arizona and New Mexico depending upon the comparative ambient temperature between the two.