Board of Directors 2020 — 2021
I have been fortunate to have traveled to many parts of the world in my career as a children’s book author and a speaker at overseas schools. And that good fortune has been even richer because I have often been able to extend my speaking tours, visiting Servas hosts from Australia to Uzbekistan. Thanks to Servas, I feel like a citizen of the world, connected with humanity as a whole, and better informed about many of the issues critical to our planet and its population. I believe that intolerance and hatred come from a lack of familiarity, and if everyone learned firsthand about the world’s peoples and cultures, as Servas promotes, world peace would be within reach. Other than travel, I my interests include folk dancing, nature study and outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling and kayaking. Whenever possible, my wife, Andrea Veltman, and my dog, Galileo, are my companions. As chair of the US Servas Board of Directors in 2020-21, I hope to help get us through these extraordinary times of little travel and even less hosting by focusing on our core values of peace and justice, and encouraging events that allow Servas members to connect with each other and strengthen the organization for the time when we all can travel again.
For the last 25 years, Servas has enriched my family’s life. The four of us stayed with Servas hosts in Europe, Japan and Australia, and now we all continue our cross-culture travel and hosting with Servas. I am an interviewer, welcoming others to experience Servas: peace- one conversation at a time. My career managing National Wildlife Refuges gave me the experience to build partnerships and reach out for support. As a Servas Board Member, I am currently committed to strengthening our organization, contributing my experience with building small “Friends” non-profit organizations. It takes many committed volunteers to sustain a vibrant organization, and I hope each of YOU who cares about Servas finds a way to help us continue to flourish.
I was born and raised in the Nebraska Sandhills on a ranch that has been in family operation since 1909. I was lucky enough to get to escape at the age of 20 to live in London for 9 months and hitchhike from Switzerland to Morocco and places in between for six weeks at the age of 21. I loved learning about my unique place in the world through a degree in Great Plains Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While putting myself through college I was lucky enough to work at Polley Music Library and the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Lincoln City Libraries, and in the photo archives and library at the Nebraska State Historical Society where I became even more fascinated by this place we call Nebraska. I received my MLS from Emporia State (KS) University and worked for 24 years 11 months and 4 days (but who is counting) at Omaha Public Library in a variety of dream jobs Fortunately, after a 30 year international traveling hiatus, one of my colleagues mentioned that she was turning 65 and she was supposed to have done all this traveling but hadn’t — which spurred me into making a point of sauntering around the world during the last 12 years, most recently, closer to home with distanced friends in Fontenelle Forest. You are all invited to stay with me and my husband Rick post pandemic so we can show you around.
I live in Raleigh, North Carolina area, originally from India and immigrated to US in late 1970s. As a family we have lived in 15 states and have travelled extensively within US and to far corners of the world. Although I am new to Servas but have embodied Servas mission long before joining it. I love hiking, gardening, cooking and most of all, I am a fearless traveler, love connecting with people and experience different cultures. I have travelled to almost 40 countries in last 10 years, many on my own, just solo. The best part of my travel is meeting, chatting and sharing our worlds with those I come across, locals, fellow travelers and just about anyone. I want us to leave that conversation or encounter with a warm feeling in our heart and mind, feel positive about the world we live in and feel togetherness, peace and erase those boundaries between us. I travel a lot for my work as a Consultant in Oncology Clinical research and crisscross the country routinely. Right after becoming a Servas member, I happen to chat with a fellow business traveler at Phoenix airport, he had spent two years in Peru as a Peace Corps volunteer but did not know about Servas. He was happily surprised and noted it down to be a Servas member so his young family can experience hosting. That experience brings me to my goal of expanding and strengthening Servas membership to take it further for the future generations.
Paige LaCombe lives in the Los Angeles area. She has traveled widely, lived in France as a student, and now hosts Servas members and interviews prospective members. As a teacher for over 22 years, she has dedicated herself to promoting social progress and providing quality public education for minority students in South Central Los Angeles. She helps lead the Communication Committee to strengthen membership by creating more effective means of communications. She serves as the Servas International Peace Secretary.
It is easy to trace where I got my love of traveling—growing up in a military family and living in numerous states and foreign countries as a child and teenager. Pinning down my passion for building peace is a harder to determine. Be that as it may, I find great reward in greeting guests at our door, as well as, staying other people’s homes, sharing meals, activities, and thoughtful conversation. I learned about US Servas from friends with whom I played cards. When we invited me to a local US Servas gathering, I was surprised to find that I already knew and called about a third of the people there my friends. It was a clear indicator that this was an organization I needed to know more about. That was about 15 years ago. Since then, my husband, Charles, and I have hosted dozens of Americans and people from various parts of the world—Taiwan, France, England, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Netherlands and more. I have also had the privilege of staying with families across the U. S. and several European countries. While in Italy, I received advice from several hosts on how best to approach my research on family ancestry. What I find the most amazing about Servas is the depth of conversation that it fosters. Letters of introduction provide a background upon which meaningful conversation and exchanges launch. I am glad to support the organization by serving on the US Servas Board of Directors. My background is in nonprofit management, a field in which I currently do consulting. US Servas is a mature, complex organization. There’s a place for everyone—whether you are a traveler, host and/or volunteer!
Radha Radhakrishna resides in Darien, CT and has been a member of Servas since 1989. He is currently a Professor at Columbia University. Previously he worked in the financial services industry. He is the current Treasurer of Servas International, and a member of the Servas International Executive Committee (EXCO). Additionally, he represents Servas International at the United Nations in New York City.
I discovered and joined Servas in 1979 prior to a period of extensive travels. That desire to truly meet folks in other countries, learn about their cultures, their families, careers and lives, and exchange friendship drove so many of us to join Servas. In my 40+ years, I have been able to visit with dozens of hosts, some becoming life-long friends. My wife and I have hosted a few hundred travelers, from those not quite out of public school, to those enjoying their well-earned years. It is always a pleasure to learn about a country, or city, from folks that aren’t just catering to the tourist trade. I have learned so much about societies, cultures, and countries that just wasn’t in the guide books from my hosts. AND as a Host, I learn so much about my local area from our guests. It constantly amazes me that a traveler coming from a far off place may know a small bit information about my area that I’ve overlooked. Servas is about learning, exploration, sharing, and exchange. All of that enforces the underlying values of a community desiring peace and social justice.
I am a life-time Servas member. I am also a CS host. My parents were victims of Joseph McCarthy. I studied Engineering and International Relations. In the 80s I volunteered with various initiatives in Central America. In the 90s I worked in the UN Development Program. I’ve also been a building contractor and inspector. In addition to volunteering with Servas, I am Treasurer of The Friendship Association and coordinate a local foreign policy discussion group. I believe Peace will be unachievable until people have civil liberties and civic rights. That local civic rights need to be associated with universal human rights, that Human Rights cannot be achieved without global environmental and economic regulations.
Chris-Ann has been a member of Servas since 2009. Initially she joined as a traveler and host and subsequently became an interviewer, co-chair of the Communications Committee, and most recently Board Chair. Her interest in international travel began in high school when her family hosted a foreign exchange student from Bogota, Colombia. To her parent’s dismay, her international travels started on her 18th birthday when she boarded a plane to Germany. As a mother of adult twin boys, when they simultaneously left for college, she abruptly became an empty nester. An empathizing colleague suggested she join Servas. Within a month, Chris-Ann was a member and attending her first national conference. Chris-Ann finds immense value in the annual conferences and so far has been to seven. She attended UW-Madison and Marquette University; and received her master’s degree in nursing from Marquette. As a nurse practitioner in St. Paul, MN, she is an advocate for quality healthcare for all. She served on medical mission trips to Haiti and helped establish the first free medical clinic in her community. In the fall of 2010, she had the opportunity to serve as a delegate to the UN DPI/NGO Global Health Conference in Melbourne, Australia. In her free time she enjoys hiking, biking, paddle boarding, and making organic kombucha.
Steve has served as Treasurer of US Servas since 2013. He has past board experience as the treasurer of a community mediation organization. He believes in the overall goal of Servas: Peace, one conversation at a time. Steve says, If I can contribute toward that goal, all the better! (and he’s pretty good with numbers too)