Board of Directors

Catherine Gelband, President

Catherine’s interest in education and empowering girls has defined her career and volunteer involvement. She serves as Board President of Girl Scouts of Western Washington and recently retired from over 25 years of service to Pacific Crest School, a Seattle Montessori School, including serving as Board chair and Admissions Director. She began her legal career as a corporate lawyer at a large Seattle law firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions. After the arrival of her two children, she began a private practice. Catherine attended Yale College and Northwestern University School of Law. She retired from the practice of law in 2006.

Kristie Kucur, Vice President

As an adolescent exchange student, Kristie learned the positive impact of education on girls and communities. In her early career, she worked for the Institute of International Education in Washington, DC supporting the U.S. Information Agency’s professional exchange program.  Kristie has worked for 18 years in construction and retail development for national retailers. She operates her own company, Plum Project Services. Kristie holds a Master’s of Business Administration from Seattle University and a B.A. in Political Science from Boston College. Kristie loves traveling with her husband and two young daughters.

Dave Stapleton, Treasurer

Dave and his wife Joyce Manchester support education in Afghanistan, especially for women, as a way to honor their good friends who were on the plane that struck the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Together, they founded Our Voices Together and the Safer World Fund at Global Giving Foundation and have made large grants to educational projects in Afghanistan. Dave’s career has focused on the health and employment of people with disabilities. He currently directs a center at Mathematica Policy Research. Dave has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Dartmouth College.

Eliza Hurlbut, Secretary

Eliza has always had a passion for education. She has dedicated much of her time to the Pacific Crest School. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the school and has been instrumental in transforming its fundraising structure. As a board member she has been involved with strategic planning, fundraising, and reviewing the finances of the school. Eliza has a degree in Art from the University of Vermont and has worked in many different mediums including fabric, metal and glass. She is a parent of two children in Seattle.

Walt Adam

Walt has spent his career working in the behavioral health field in both the non-profit and government sectors, developing and administering evidence based psychiatric rehabilitation, vocational and housing programs for persons with serious mental illness, drug/alcohol addictions and developmental disabilities. Walt is active on the board of Pangea Giving, a donor circle in Seattle making international grants. He has also served on the board of the Sand Point Housing Association. He earned his B.A. degree in History and Economics from Stony Brook University on Long Island and his M.A. in Sociology from Hunter College.

Dr. Suzanne Griffin

Dr. Suzanne Griffin, author of the 2014 memoir Lessons of Love in Afghanistan, has 11 years of experience developing, managing and leading training, education and medical programs in Afghanistan. Suzanne’s long history with Afghanistan began with a post-college Peace Corps assignment. She speaks Dari and Farsi. Dr. Griffin’s professional experience includes 40 years of education leadership with expertise in strategic planning, program development and management, training, building partnerships and serving culturally diverse populations. She has also authored textbooks. Dr. Griffin has worked on several projects to improve programs for education and health in Afghanistan.

Dr. Shinkai Hakimi

A native of Afghanistan, Dr. Hakimi fled her homeland with her family in the early 1980’s and they eventually immigrated to the United States. She  went on to complete her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and medical school at the University of Iowa. During her medical training, Dr. Hakimi received a Global Health grant to create a health education program for migrant workers in rural Iowa. She also spent time in rural hospitals in South America and the Sea Islands. Dr. Hakimi is enthusiastic to create programs to better the lives of young women in Afghanistan. She believes that every child should have the same extensive educational opportunities she received, regardless of gender.

Margaret McPhee

Margaret was raised in Seattle, graduated from the University of Washington, and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost all of her life. Margaret worked as the Development Director at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma and served on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Tacoma and Pierce County. She served on the Olympia City Council for seven years and continues to serve as Chair of the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council. She is also a former member of the South Puget Sound Community College Board of Directors.

David Miller

David is a nationally-recognized architect known for pursuing innovative sustainable and high performance design strategies while responding to each site’s unique conditions. David served in the Peace Corps after graduating from Washington State University which laid the foundation for his interest in housing design. David is a partner at Miller Hull Partnership and the Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington. He is the author of, Toward a New Regionalism, and the chair of the National AIA’s Committee on the Environment. He is the recipient of the Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award and the BetterBricks Designer Award.

Kelsey Noonan

Kelsey works for Camber Collective, a management consulting firm that helps organizations navigate complex change and achieve high performance against both financial and mission-related goals. She has worked with a client base that includes donor governments, multilateral organizations, and NGOs. Previously, Kelsey has worked in Sudan, Jordan, Syria, and Afghanistan to evaluate the impact of development projects, build coalitions around the implementation of regional strategies, and address barriers to service provision in developing country government institutions. Kelsey is an avid rock climber and alpinist. While in Afghanistan, she started an indoor girls climbing program.

Kimi Puntillo

Kimi has developed an expertise in both marketing and communications through her work as a television writer, producer and project manager and as a marketing consultant specializing in consumer brands. She has worked on network television broadcasts of the Presidential Inauguration, Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Olympic Games, NFL, NBA, and other news and sporting events. She is the author of the book, Great Races, Incredible Places, 100+ Fantastic Runs Around the World. Kimi received her M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and an M.S. from Columbia Journalism School. She is a Professor at Saint John’s University in New York City.

Ellaha Sharifi

Ellaha feels fortunate to have grown up in a family where girls’ education was encouraged. As an Afghan woman raised in Pakistan, Ellaha was able to complete middle school in an Afghan refugee school. Though it was not nearly as competitive and well-structured as the Pakistani schools around her, it was enough to make Ellaha aware of thirst for education. Ellaha graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Economics and Global Business. To be able to influence the future of Afghanistan at a young age is a dream come true for Ellaha, and she is honored to be a part of Sahar.

Anne Theisen

Through her work with Sahar, Anne seeks to build a path to greater social, political and economic influence for girls in Afghanistan. As owner of Form Marketing & Design, Anne brings a wide range of depth of marketing and organizational experience to the Sahar board. Anne’s career began with many years in product management and marketing the high tech sector in Seattle. Launching Form in 2002, Anne works with a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit clients, helping to articulate their vision and grow their brands. Anne holds a BS from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota and a MS in Market Research from the University of Washington.