Kerrie Strathy
Fiji 1996-96; former board; former staff

I was surprised to find myself in the Alumni Flashback photo in the latest issue of Catalyst. This photo was taken at the Cuso International inter-regional meeting (IRM) held at the Canadian Disaster Preparedness Training Centre in Arnprior the week of Dec. 8, 1980. This residential facility was a former air force base located on the Trans-Canada Highway just north of Ottawa, which also housed a Boeing factory. We stayed in the barracks – one for women and one for men as we were informed when we checked in at the guard house located at the entrance to the training centre.

This meeting brought together all the regional directors from across Canada and around the world, and several staff from the Cuso International Secretariat in Ottawa, for the biannual planning meeting. At the time I was the Cuso International Waterloo Coordinator and was at this meeting because I volunteered to take minutes for the week. At the time I knew the names of all meeting participants, but some were staff I had never met previously, and have not seen since.

Those I remember include (from left):

Front row: unsure; Sharon Capeling-Alakija (Director of Finance?); Ian Smillie (Executive Director); Alicia Mondesire (Ontario Regional Director), Betty Plewes.

Middle: David Beer; Boyd McBride; John Saxby (?); Steve Seaborn; Lily Mah-Sen (Alberta Regional Coordinator); Barbara Brown; Marlene Greene; unsure.

Back: unsure; unsure; Chris Bryant, Wes Multstead (sp?); Gonzalo Martin (Director of Human Resources?); unsure; Ken Shipley; Gary Hopson (SK Regional Director); and me – Kerrie Strathy.

The date was easy to verify because it was the week John Lennon was killed. Alicia and I learned this when we drove into town to pick up some things at the pharmacy during our lunch break.

I have many fond memories of my week there and at many other Cuso International meetings in Canada and the Pacific.


David Beer
CVCS Jamaica 1963-64; Zambia 1964 -67; FSO/RFO Zambia 1969 -74; Dev. Edtn Coordinator 1974-77; Zambia/RFO 1979-84; ECSA Desk Coordinator 1984-86; Dep. Mgr. Canadian Ops. 1986-88; Manager Canops 1988-89; ECSA Regional Field Officer South Africa 1994-2000

Dear Editor, I have just recently seen the online version of Catalyst April 2018. In the Alumni section you have the photo of an inter-regional meeting circa 1975ish. Ian Smillie (sitting in the middle of the front row) was then the Executive Director. I can identify quite a few colleagues. Here is my tally (from left):

Front row: unsure; Sharon Capeling (Public Affairs?); Colin Freebury (Director Overseas Ops.); Ian Smillie (Executive Director); unsure (Caribbean RFO?); Betty Plewes (Dep. Ovops).

Middle: David Beer (DevED); unsure; unsure; Steve Seabourne (Ontario); Lily Mah Sen (Alberta); Barbara Brown (Recruitment?); Marlene Greene (ECSA RFO); unsure.

Back: unsure (RFO Asia); Chris Brown (Pacific); Wes Maulstead (BC); unsure (Latin America RFO); unsure; unsure; Ken Shipley; unsure; unsure.

You may already have the names of members of staff, but that’s my take. I have cc’d a couple of staff who are in the picture, who might add to the above list.


Ken Shipley
Former staff

David, thanks for doing this. Couple of points: [1] Steve Seaborn (spelling). [2] I think the Caribbean RFO at the time was Selena Tapper.


Wayne Bennett
Uganda 1970-72; Toronto 1973-74

After reviewing the photo in your Spring 2018 edition I have the following names to add (from left):

Front: unsure; Sharon Capeling; Colin Freebury; Ian Smillie; unsure.

Middle: Dave Beer; unsure of rest.

Back: unsure; unsure; Chris Brinkman; unsure of rest.

I suspect Dave Beer or Ian Smillie will know many more of those in the photo. Good Luck with the rest.


Carl and Sally Braun
St Lucia 1982-84; Papua New Guinea 1986-88

Front: starting third from left is John Farvolden, Ian Smillie, Dionne Brand. Middle: second from right is Marlene Green.


Kaye Thomson (nee Morrison)
Former staff

I am a former Cuso International staff member back in the 1970s and ’80s when I was Director of Program Funding, previously having worked for Cuso International in both Tonga (field officer 1970) and Bangladesh (Proshika project).

Starting at the bottom row of the photo, on the left, is a woman I don't recognize but next to her is the late Sharon Capeling, then Colin Freebury, Ian Smillie, someone I cannot identify, and Betty Plewes.

Starting from the left in the second front row is David Beer, then three men and a woman whose names I cannot remember, then Barbara Brown, Grenada field director Ms. Marlene Green and me.

Last row there are two men too faint to recognize on the left, then Chris Bryant (wearing glasses) and I do not recognize any of the others in the back row.

Hope this helps. Keep up the good work!


Paul Wilson
Sierra Leone 1971-74

I wanted to respond to two items in the recent Spring 2018 edition of Catalyst.

First, the larger picture in the Alumni Flashback section. I see some fairly obvious people in this picture including Dave Beer, Chris Bryant, Ian Smillie and I believe Steve Seabourn (middle row center, head turned to his left?).

However, just in case you don't have her name, the woman in the second row, second from the right, wearing glasses and head turned to her right is Marlene Green who was, I believe, an FSO in Grenada. Marlene was a friend and a colleague. She was an officer in the School Community Relations Department in the former City of Toronto Board of Education (before amalgamation). She was with Cuso International in Grenada during the American invasion and coincidently was there during that event with Barb Thomas (former Cuso International, Barbados?) and Dionne Brand, poet and author, also a colleague at the Toronto Board. Ian Smillie or Dave Beer would probably be the best to identify more people in the photo.

Second, and this is very sad, from our memorial page I noticed Sydney Woollcombe, but I may have been the one to send you that notice. The one that shocked me was Galen Kennel. Galen and his partner Rebecca were with my ex-wife and I during training in Ottawa in January 1988 as we were headed to West Africa. Years late we visited them in their remote cabin in northern Saskatchewan. I have a picture somewhere of Karen, Rebecca and Galen sitting on their porch. If you have a contact for Rebecca I would love to send her my condolences and possibly even a copy of that picture.


Paul Skahan

In the center of the first row in the glasses and dark jacket is Ian Smillie. At the left hand of the second row is Dave Beer. The third person from the left end is Paul Zysman.


Chris Bryant
Grenada 1965-67; former staff

The photo was taken at an inter-regional meeting of senior overseas and Canadian staff.

Front row, from left: unsure (Montreal office?), Sharon Capeling (Orientation), Colin Freebury (Overseas Operations), Ian Smillie (Executive Director), Alicia Mondesire (Toronto Office), Betty Plewes.

Middle row: David Beer, Boyd McBride (ED’s Office), Gary Holm (West Africa), Steve Seaborn, Lily Mah-Sen (Alberta), Barbara Brown, Marlene Green (Caribbean), unsure.

Back row: Raymond Cournoyer (Asia), David Hamilton (Finance), Chris Bryant (Pacific), unsure, Gonzalo Martin (Latin America), unsure (HR), unsure, Ken Shipley, unsure, unsure.


Ian Smillie
Sierra Leone 1967-71; former staff

Re. Alumnae Flashback, Catalyst, Spring 2018: “Do you recognize anyone from this photo?” Yes, I recognize all but one. The photo was taken in the autumn of 1980 at the Cuso International inter-regional meeting. IRMs brought together the organization’s senior Canadian and field staff and were held each year to formulate plans and budgets for the year ahead.

Left to right, standing: Dave Beer (East & Central Africa Coordinator), Boyd McBride (assistant to the Executive Director; later Executive Director of SOS Children’s Villages), Raymond Cournoyer (Asia Regional Coordinator), David Hamilton (Finance Director), Gary Holme (West Africa Regional Coordinator), Chris Bryant (Regional Coordinator, Pacific; later ED of Cuso International), Wes Maultsaid (Vancouver office), Gonzalo Martin (Latin America Regional Coordinator), Steve Seaborn (Development Education), Maurice Breton (Personnel Manager), Lily Mah Sen (Edmonton Office), Paul Graham (Winnipeg Office), Barbara Brown (Asia Desk), Ken Shipley (Manager of Canadian Operations), Marlene Green (Caribbean Coordinator), unsure, Kerry Strathy (Ontario recruiter), Kaye Thompson (Fundraiser).

Left to right, seated: Vivian Zakon (Montreal Office), Sharon Capeling (Public Affairs; later head of UNIFEM and then UNV), Colin Freebury (Manger of Overseas Operations), Ian Smillie (Executive Director), Alicia Mondesire (Jamaica), Betty Plewes (Assistant Manager, Overseas Operations, later ED CCIC).

At least 11 of the 24 were Cuso International volunteers before they joined the staff. Five are no longer with us, but I can count another five or six who live within 20 blocks of the Cuso International office today.