Who We Are

Mike Byrd was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for more than thirty years, and winner of the University Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. He has taught mathematics and adult education at the Working Boys’ Center since his retirement in 2004. Mike lives in Quito three months a year to serve as advisor to our students. Mike is David’s father.

Maggie Felker is a nurse with a Masters degree in Nursing and a Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. She worked as coordinator of health education at the Working Boys’ Center for several years. She is currently a school nurse in Madison and serves as a phone counsellor for our students. She spends part of her summer vacation in Quito. Maggie is David’s mother.

Rachel Byrd-Felker teaches fourth grade in McFarland, WI. She is married and is the mother of a three-year-old son, Julian David. She worked as a volunteer for World Teach in the Marshall Islands and for the Dream Project in the Dominican Republic. Rachel is David’s sister.

Other members of the Board of Directors:

Mary Joy O’Meara is a tax lawyer for Northwest Mutual Life Insurance. She was a logic student of Mike’s at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970’s and has been a friend of the Byrd-Felkers for 40 years.

Lee A. Wiensch is the Executive Director of the Milwaukee-based AAAAI Foundation, which raises and grants money for research in allergy, asthma and immunologic disease. She became involved with DEOF after meeting Mike and Maggie on a family visit to Quito and the Working Boys Center in 2009. She is an active community volunteer and fundraiser with a degree in American Government from Georgetown University.

Marc Vallone, from Collingwood NJ, is currently the Associate Director of International Admissions at Drexel University. Previously, he taught at the Federal University of Grade do Norte and researched nonprofits that work with at-risk youth. He graduated with a BS in Marketing from the University of Scranton in 2010 and completed his MBA at LaSalle University in 2014. He met Mike and Maggie when he was working as a volunteer at the Working Boys Center in 2010-11.

Elizabeth Gaus was born in Ecuador and graduated from the Working Boys Center. After her marriage to David Gaus, she came to the US and graduated from Alverno College with a degree in Bilingual Education. Dr. Gaus is founder and director of Andean Health, a NGO that builds and develops sustainable teaching hospitals in Ecuador. Mike and Maggie met David and Elizabeth during their volunteer years in Quito.

Gabriela Lima is from Quito, Ecuador, and was the first student served by David’s Fund. She graduated from the Working Boys’ Center in 2005 and from Colegio Gran Bretania, first in her class in Mathematics and Physics. Gabriela studied Environmental Engineering at the Universidad PolitĂ©cnica Salesiana and graduated in 2014. She is currently employed at the Laboratorio Lambda, specialists in Sound and Vibration Engineering. She acts an agent of the Fund in Quito, assisting students of the Fund in various ways.