OUR Side by Side TEAM
Wendell and Kelly Verduin- President, and Treasurer of Side by Side
Alys Orsborn - Side by Side Board member
Alys was born in Vancouver, Canada, becoming a US citizen in 1984. As a single parent raising three children, she understands how difficult it can be to hold a family together during challenging times.
Alys working career spanned 50 years in the telecommunication field, supporting voice, video, and data networks. 11 of those years were spent working in Barrow, Alaska where she saw firsthand how poverty can tear communities apart. Her home became the “safe house” for many school children whose parents were struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. She has dedicated herself to helping others, especially children, ever since.
While in Barrow Alys served as a board member of a public radio station, holding the positions of Vice President and Secretary. She also was a board member and secretary of Barrow High School Student Activities.
She was a member of Rotary International in Barrow and after having retired and settling in Poulsbo, Washington, now serves as a member of the Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club.
Alys sees serving on the Board of Side by Side as an opportunity to continue helping and supporting children.
Brenda Wall - Side by Side Board member
She is the mother of 3 grown children of whom she is extremely proud. They inspire her to continue to work hard and help heal this incredible world. Brenda is a Rotarian with Poulsbo Rotary Club and served as president from 2010 to 2011; she presently serves on the International Services Committee. It was through this incredible organization that she was given the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and Uganda in the fall of 2011. That’s where she found her purpose for the second part of her life, starting her non-profit, Wall of Hope, which serves in Gandar, Ethiopia.
Brenda joined the Board of Side by Side in January, 2017.
Craig Torstenbo- Side by Side Board member
Jason and Melani Wilson - South Africa Country Co-Directors
Jason Wilson’s fifteen years of leadership with international non-profits that have focused on OVC, HIV/AIDS prevention, education and youth development, is a testimony both to his passion and commitment to see communities uplifted in order for those most vulnerable to be given hope. The majority of his professional career has been in South Africa, where he has invested much of his life working with NGO’s, religious organizations, and in academic circles.
Jason’s experience and personal style of listening carefully to and respecting all invested stakeholders has proven to be a winning formula in cross-cultural contexts, even in places where people don’t speak each other’s language.
Jason has a Masters in Theology and Development, with a focus on faith and development, from a non-profit perspective.
Experience in numerous different communities, from different cultures and language groups, and in different nations, has given Jason the insight to realize that, although many of the factors are different and need to be treated with individual care, at the bottom of it all, wherever one goes, people have the same basic hopes and fears, dreams and needs.
Jason, along with his wife of eighteen years, Melani, and their ten-year-old daughter Anna, enjoys exploring the great outdoors, finding an old bookstore to hunt for ‘treasures’ and savoring a good cup of coffee.
Born and raised on one of the many forefronts of the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, Melani grew up with a strong personal conviction about social justice, dignity and the right to personal development for all.
From an early age she volunteered with reconciliation organizations and during a gap year after school she worked at a number of schools for disadvantaged and orphaned children. It was while taking a teacher training course that she met Jay.
They both ended up going in community development in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, where they married in 1998.
During that time she achieved a bachelor in Government, Business and Ethics but it is her own personal conviction and her working partnership with Jay that has given her the most rewarding opportunities in hands-on grassroots community development.
Jay and Melani’s 10 year old daughter, Anna, is now an active part of their team and their hearts’ desire is to be the difference they want to see in the South Africa.
Richard (Rick) Darrow - Side by Side Board member
Richard Darrow (Rick) is President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Bay Bank in Poulsbo, Washington. He has over 32 years of senior management experience in Banking. Rick was raised in Edmonds, Washington, graduating from the University of Washington in 1981 with a degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation, he earned his CPA certification while employed with an international accounting firm.
Rick is a member of the Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary, through which he has been involved with many service projects. He is an arts and culture enthusiast, and has served on the board of the local Jewel Box Theatre. He currently serves on the Kitsap Community Foundation board. In his leadership position at Liberty Bay Bank, he encourages his team to actively engage in community service.
Rick lives in Poulsbo, Washington with his wife of 38 years, Janna. They have three grown children and five grandchildren.
Sandra Phillips - Side by Side Board member
For the past 10 years, Sandra has been an Independent Associate with LegalShield, a company that believes that by educating, protecting, and serving their members, they can improve their lives dramatically.
Her passion for serving and caring for others is what attracted Sandra to Side by Side, whose primary focus is giving vulnerable children and young women from South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities a chance to experience genuine transformation. Sandra is excited to be serving on the Board of Directors.