Justin Taverna, President
Justin is the co-founder of First Light Technologies Ltd., a Victoria based company that designs and manufacturers solar and LED lighting products. With over 15 years’ experience designing off grid solar electric systems, he has previously been involved in PODA as their photovoltaic expert. Other volunteer projects include providing solar electric design and technical support for Partners in Health in Haiti, and for multiple schools within BC.
Justin earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Montana State University and a B.S. in Physics from Wheeling Jesuit University. When not on the phone spreading the good word of solar lighting, he enjoys spending time surfing in the brisk waters of the Pacific Northwest, and hiking with his family, friends, two dogs and sometimes cat.
Natalie Hunt, Vice President
Natalie first traveled to Uganda in 2005/06, where a few great things happened: she met her husband, Peter, and first began working with community members in Bwera. She returned to Uganda in 2007, and in 2010/11, to continue to work with Bwera community members on joint projects, to build the school, and to further develop PODA’s relationship with the community.
Natalie now works as a Justice Interviewer with the Ministry of Attorney General, in the BC Government. She holds a Undergraduate Degree in Geography from the University of Victoria, and a Masters Degree in International Development from Simon Fraser University. Natalie’s graduate work was focused on topics of human rights and development. Natalie is also on the Board of Friends of Mengo Hospital (Canada). She finds great joy in the role of being mother to two fine little people, Sonnen and Remy, and is passionate about growing food, the outdoors, politics, and in exploring literature.
Kathy Buettner, Secretary
Kathy is a Policy Analyst for the Ministry of Advanced Education within the Government of BC. She has been a keen supporter and volunteer of PODA before becoming a Board Member. She is also a sighted guide for blind/visually impaired members of her dragon boat team, Outta Sight, sponsored by the BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association.
Kathy had the opportunity to visit Uganda along with other PODA supporters in August 2017 and loved the opportunity that she had to work with the students and teachers at the school. Kathy holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Sociology and Education from the University of Victoria, and she is certified to teach ESL.
Barb Gordon, Treasurer
Barb is a small business owner in Victoria, BC. She specializes in providing accounting, work flow assessments and efficiency reviews to small for-profit and non-profit businesses. She has been on the Board of PODA since 2009 and has made several trips to Uganda. While in Uganda Barb spends time reviewing existing initiatives and laying the groundwork for future projects.
Barb has a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management from Royal Roads University. She enjoys hiking, a good book and great food. Barb can frequently be found on Galiano Island where her daughter and grand-daughter live.
Jane Morrison, Director at Large
Jane has a BA in Economics from Queen’s University and until recently worked for the Municipal Finance Authority of BC. Now retired she has turned her attention to volunteering and is happy to become a new member of the PODA board.
Jane visited Uganda in August 2017 which expanded her interest in the work of PODA and she hopes to contribute to the amazing work that they do by spending time doing research for projects. Jane enjoys travelling first and foremost, but also loves camping, hiking, cooking and spending time out with her dogs.
Peter Hunt, Director at Large
Peter Hunt is the President and Master Distiller at Victoria Distillers. Prior to that he completed an MSc in molecular biology at UVic and worked for the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre.
Peter first went to Uganda in 2005 with Friends of Mengo Hospital Canada to monitor an HIV treatment project. It was during this trip that he fell in love with Africa and his wife Natalie. Also during this trip, he connected with Buletwomu Nelson and the Cobra organization in Bwera. PODA was founded in 2007 before the next trip that focused on buying dairy goats and beehives. In 2010/11 Peter worked with a team from Victoria and Uganda to build the secondary school.
Peter also sits on the board of Friends of the Nemaiah Valley and can often be seen toting a camera, chasing his kids or a beautiful landscape.