Jess has been involved with VLM since 2006, first as a missionary, then as a site coordinator, and now as the lay Director of the program. She has served in Bahir Dar, and also visited the VLM sites in Jimma and Kenya. Jess is a former elementary school teacher and a graduate of Notre Dame and the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. She has taught in several states and countries, and holds a Ph.D. in International Education Policy from the University of Minnesota. Jess is grateful to her friend and mentor, Sister Mary Beth, for taking her to Bahir Dar and introducing her to the Vincentians in 2006- because life hasn’t been the same since! Jess is married to Mike, who also served in Ethiopia with VLM. They are the proud parents of Lucy.
Sister Mary Beth, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul, has helped the VLM grow its present status. With a vision of a truly lay Catholic missionary organization, she worked tirelessly as an organizer and leader of the VLM in its founding years. She continues her association, providing spiritual guidance to the missionaries, and maintaining her own missionary spirit. She lives in St. Louis, where she is on the Council for the Province of St. Louise.