BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Heidi Rickels, President
Heidi Rickels is a passionate and creative marketing director with more than 20 years professional marketing and communications experience. Rickels received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Kansas as well as a M.A. in Global Studies from the Josef Korbel Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Along with Amy Hart, Rickels Co-Founded Freshwater Project International as a way to further support the work of Freshwater Malawi and her friend, Charles Banda. Formerly, Rickels served as Director of Communications for Project C.U.R.E., an international humanitarian relief organization, and has held several positions in corporate and non-profit marketing throughout her career. Rickels has travelled extensively doing international humanitarian and missions work in Ukraine, India, Guatemala, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Belize. Much of her time is focused on international and community service, including serving on the Vestry and Outreach Committee at her church as well as communications consulting for several non-profits and community causes. She lives in the foothills of Denver, Colorado, with her family.
AMY HART, VICE PRESIDENT
Amy Hart is a writer, director and producer dedicated to producing work that inspires positive change. She has produced and directed over 100 broadcast hours and numerous short videos and PSAs on public health issues. The film, WATER FIRST: Reaching the Millennium Development Goals, which she made in Malawi, was her first independent feature documentary. Along with Heidi Rickels, Hart Co-Founded Freshwater Project International as a way to further support the work of Freshwater Malawi and Charles Banda, the central character in her documentary. She’s currently working on a feature film about the benefits of removing GMOs from your diet: Secret Ingredients: Are GMOs and Pesticides Affecting Your Health? Previously, Hart was the founding director of Public Health Productions at the New York Academy of Medicine. Prior to launching PHP she was the director of a series of broadcast programs including Public Health Live! at SUNY Albany School of Public Health. She was also an associate professor at NYU where she taught Public Health Through Film and Fiction. Hart has a wonderful son named Jay and daughter-in-law, Rebecca, who are a tremendous source of joy and inspiration every day. She also has two beautiful God-children in Malawi, Sarah Miriam and Prince Kamanga. She currently lives and works in Berkley, California.
John A. Hein (Johnny) is a retired railroad executive with 33 years experience in Sales/Marketing with the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, and seven years as the Senior Transportation Manager of Distribution, Western U.S. Division for the Georgia Pacific Corporation (now Koch Industries). He holds a B.S. Degree in Business Management/Marketing from Metropolitan State College of Denver. He serves as a Board Member of the Timber Heritage Foundation, a non-profit forest product educational organization, focusing on deaf & blind individuals and schools around the world. He is also a Board Member of the Transload Distribution Association, a professional association of representatives from railroads, trucks, air and ocean carriers focusing on multi-modal transportation of products shipped via the domestic supply chain. Hein has devoted much of his retirement to volunteer service and outreach activities both locally and internationally. He has been married for over 40 years to Ricki Hein. Together they raised two children (one now deceased) and have two grandchildren.
Aimee Wise’s love of Malawi and its people has been rekindled since she published her memoir, Of Human Clay, which describes her time there as a medical missionary in the 1970s. It was “the best of times, worst of times" for her. Experiences in the country, which at that time was the second poorest in the world, has focused her compassion on supporting Freshwater Project International in its essential work of bringing clean water and sanitation to this deserving country. Aimee received her BSN in Nursing from Catholic University in Washington D.C., her Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore and a CN in Nutrition. Her education prepared her for the wide-ranging practitioner and consultant positions she held in the field of public health, nursing and nutrition over the years. Aimee has been fortunate to engage with other cultures and world views through her extensive international travel, which broadened her practice as a certified mediator in Washington DC and Atlanta, Georgia. She has used her skills, interests and assets in the service of many community, church, and non-profits for all of her adult life. Aimee was widowed at a young age and lives in gratitude for the three adult children and five grands scattered around the east coast who enrich her life. She presently lives in the charming city of Decatur, Georgia, on the border of downtown Atlanta.
Laura Felix is the mother of two children, Paul and Meredith. Along with Jason, her husband, the family attends church at Peace with Christ Lutheran in Aurora, CO. At their church, Laura and Jason lead Working With Hands, a program to put the faith of children into action locally, nationally and internationally. Committed to educating her kids about the world around them, Laura has always taught the children about other cultures with special emphasis placed on praying for them. Inspired by the tugging on her then- 8-year old son’s heart, Laura asked Paul one seemingly simple question, “Can kids change the world?” This question led to the inception of Paul’s water project which raised $6,000 to build a well in South Sudan, a well dedicated to his water hero, Charles Banda. Laura is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in early intervention and working with native, Spanish-speaking families. In her free time, Laura enjoys astronomy, playing violin and participating in various physical fitness pursuits. She is active at her kids’ school and in scouting. She feels that churches, scout groups and schools all have the capacity to make a significant impact on the world around them.