Today’s Champion Changemaker: Mary Ryba Knepper

In a crowded room, she handed a business card to me and said, “Call me if I can help with anything.” Lots of people do that. Many of them are well-meaning and fully intend to follow through on such an offer. I have even been one of those well-intentioned people and have sometimes fallen short of the goal. But today’s Africa ELI “Champion Changemaker” has followed through time and time and time again!

Dr. Mary Ryba Knepper from East Tennessee is a modern day wonder-woman. She teaches, consults, and rallies a host of other individuals to support Africa ELI students in Southern Sudan. She has worn her fingers to the bone drafting grant proposals, editing reports, and has enlisted her husband, Jay, to create good-looking charts filled with Africa ELI numbers and statistics. She’s the type of volunteer all organizations dream about finding.

Writing grants and proposals can often cause grimacing and night sweats. (Or maybe that’s just what happens to me.) However Mary masterfully and seemingly effortlessly whips words into shape and organizes them in such a way that makes Africa ELI’s work crystal clear to the reader. Her words definitely contribute to the health of our organization.

Dr. Mary, today we salute you. You are an extraordinary volunteer and a Champion Changemaker!


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