Our Board of Directors and staff who make everything possible.

Board of Directors

Bob Aylward Chairman »

Bob Aylward

Robert Aylward is the CEO of Jones & Carter, a full service engineering consulting firm headquartered in Houston, TX. He primarily grew up living in Illinois, and has been in Maryland since 1984. Bob studied economics at Illinois State University and received his MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

Through child sponsorship, Bob first came to know about AOET~USA and joined the Board in 2014 for multiple reasons. He desired to help develop sustainable models that address the root of poverty; to put his Christian faith to work; and to utilize the business leadership skills he’s gained in his care in a nonprofit context.

Bob’s outside interests include golf, family activities and community service. He and his wife, Kelly, who also serves on the Board, have five children and one grandchild.

Becky Ramsing Vice Chair »

Becky is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters of Public Health.  She currently spends her  work hours divided between her nutrition consulting/education business and a Women in Agriculture and Food Security project with University of Maryland, where she travels to Afghanistan and Ethiopia teaching nutrition and overseeing the projects.

Becky and her husband Nick were a part of the team at their home church that began  a partnership with AOET-Uganda in 2007.  They lived in Jinja, Uganda in 2008/09 with their family and worked with AOET ‘s leadership team.  They have continued to work with their church’s East Africa focus group since their return, including several trips back to Uganda between them.   Supporting a local organization that helps vulnerable children and families access education and resources to live to their full potential is a privilege for them.

Originally from California, Becky and Nick have lived in Boston, Tanzania, and now Maryland. They have 3 children – 2 in university and one in high school.  Becky  enjoys running, growing vegetables and volunteering as a board member for Girls on the Run!

Jim Barfoot Secretary »

Jim Barfoot

James Barfoot recently retired from Troutlodge, Inc., after 18 years, and is exploring other business opportunities. As a military dependent, he grew up all over the country and now resides in Lake Tapps. WA. Jim received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Richmond.

The Barfoot family first became acquainted with AOET~USA when The Chosen, a singing/dancing group of AOET children, stayed at their home. Jim and his wife, Leah, have been supporting AOET~USA since 2006 and joined the Board in 2011 to take their involvement to the next level.

When not working, Jim enjoys traveling and boating. He and Leah also have six children.

Linda Stewart »

Linda Stewart

Linda Stewart worked for 20 years combined in law enforcement/investigations and was one of the first female FBI agents, serving with the Bureau for five years. She retired in 2005, after working 15 years with the Missouri Department of Mental Health as an investigator of allegations of abuse and neglect. She also served for nine years on her local school board. Linda grew up in Webb City, MO and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Family friends with AOET~USA’s first Executive Director, Ginger Damron, Linda was asked to join the Board after writing about her trip in 2008 to Tanzania, Africa with her husband, Dan. On that trip, she was touched by the children she saw walking long distances everyday to go to school. On another day, Linda observed adults and children, all dressed up, walking in the hot sun to the next town. It was then that she realized that it was Sunday and they were walking miles to church. The experience was a defining moment for Linda and compelled her to honor the Tanzanian’s commitment with her own service to help Africans.

Prior to joining the Board, Linda and Dan lived in Belgrade, Serbia, between 2006 and 2008, where he was assigned to the US Embassy and worked with officials in Serbia in helping them learn to be more effective in prosecuting public corruption cases. Currently, Linda and her husband serve those locally in their community by facilitating a weekly Bible study at a program for recovering addicts. They travel often and spend a lot of time with their son, daughter-in-law, their two children; and their daughter, son-in-law and their two children.

Kelly Aylward »

Kelly Aylward

Kelly Aylward’s favorite job has been raising her children with husband and fellow Board member, Bob Aylward. They have five children and one grandchild. She grew up in Richmond, VA and graduated from the University of Richmond with an Economics Degree.

The Aylwards were first introduced to AOET~USA through their church’s partnership with the organization. Kelly joined the Board in 2014 because she shares the passion for the mission to restore hope and dignity to the most vulnerable and orphaned. She also desires to strengthen AOET’s church partnerships and to be part of the work that breaks the cycle of poverty in the area where AOET~Uganda serves.

Kelly enjoys spending time with family, sharing in community with women in her church, participating in community outreach, and trying new recipes.

Staff

Laurie Gift Harris Executive Director »

Laurie joined AOET~USA in 2015 and serves as the organization’s Executive Director.  With over 25 years experience in nonprofit fundraising and friend-raising, she is delighted to be part of such an incredible organization, serving God’s children in Uganda.

A resident of the Portland metropolitan area for over 30 years, Laurie has a passion for all things children!  In addition to her work with AOET, she also serves on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Urban Core Champions Board.

Married to Chad, they have a blended family consisting of five children and two four-legged children. Laurie loves her family, friends, music, food, microbrews and staying active (so that she can enjoy those things previously mentioned!).

Three things you should know about Laurie are that she loves good dark chocolate, adores her German shepherd and values relationships above all else.

Laurie@aoetusa.com

Kelly Wesley Child Sponsorship Director »

After teaching high school math for six years, Kelly made the decision to follow her heart toward helping Ugandans to a better life. By the time she began working for AOET~USA in 2011, she had already been to Uganda five times. Now she is serving as AOET~USA’s Child Sponsorship Director.  Kelly spends her time working as a bridge of communication between each child and their sponsor.

Kelly comes to us as a graduate of George Fox University with a B.S. in History and Math and a M.A.T. in Secondary Education.  She delights in working with our sponsorship advocates across the United States to serve as a voice for orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda.  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking, coffee dates with good friends, the Oregon coast, visiting her family, serving Jesus and playing music.

Three things you need know about Kelly are that she loves Skittles, Starbucks Caramel Macchiatos and most of all her husband Travis and daughter Katelyn.

Kelly@aoetusa.com

Andy Hein Director of Strategic Partnerships »

Andy joined AOET~USA in 2017 with 35 years combined experience as an ordained pastor, church mobilization and development director, mechanical engineer, entrepreneur, and perhaps most important, self-proclaimed foodie.

Calling God’s people to care for the lost, vulnerable, orphans and widows, and the oppressed—those who Scripture declares are most on the heart of God—has been a life-long passion. Andy has worked for and learned from leaders such as Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Gary Haugen (International Justice Mission), and Greg Surratt (Seacoast Church).

Andy and Kellie were married on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean 25 years ago, and together are raising two teenagers in Charleston, South Carolina. Andy confesses that most days, however, “who is raising who” is debatable.

Four things Andy’s closest friends all know: he has a tendency to laugh at strange moments, he loves a bold Cab with a dry-aged steak, will stop everything to watch a Monarch butterfly, and needs at least 325 days of sunshine a year to function.

Andy@aoetusa.com