Board Members and Long Term Volunteers
Sunyata Angelina Burrell Choyce – Founding Director
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sunyata. in 2010 obtained her YALE University post grade in Advanced Health Care Management, cum laude, in Cape Town, South Africa. She attended Glasgow University in Scotland, the University of Cork in Ireland and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, receiving a degree in International Development Studies. She is also trained in International Wildlife Rehabilitation and Teaching English as a Second language.
Sunyata is the founding director of COLORS International (Children’s Overseas Learning Opportunities & Resources), a non-profit organization that coordinates international children’s aid projects. COLORS mandate is to prove direct & practical assistance to children in need, with the hope of inspiring youth & children to strive to make positive changes in the world.
South Africa is where COLORS started in 2004, as Sunyata witnessed the needs of the 55 AIDS orphans she worked with daily in a South African Township. From then on COLORS began coordinating down-to-earth projects in the developing world. The projects are focused on education, dental care, basic health care, clothing, building pre-schools, mentoring youth and other emergency needs. Between developing project plans and tackling important issues, Sunyata takes pride in living with and getting to know the people COLORS assists. In the past she has worked for the United Nations in Dominican Republic, Various Canadian government placements and has received awards from CHDHS in Human Rights and Relations, the Red Cross 1st Youth Humanitarian Award, Nova Scotia’s Herold top 20 in their 20s making a difference, chosen as a ‘Global Heroes’ for Heroes and Life boats Canada, and Global & Mail transformational Canadians.
Alison Pluim Maerz (Seaforth, Nova Scotia/UK)- Board Member & volunteer PR Officer
Despite being an existential migrant, Alison claims home as Seaforth, Nova Scotia where she and her totally hawt! and spirited husband Leland live on the idyllic coastline of Atlantic Canada in a post-and-beam wood house (including a lilac bush, laundry line, old barn, and wood stove). They are currently considering adopting some sheep to graze in the field.
Alison’s education includes a B.Sc. Psychology, B.Ed. Elementary Education, and M.Ed. Counselling. She has focused further training in resilience and trauma growth. In 2006 she attended Narrative Therapy training at Dulwich Center, Australia for practitioners working with traumatized persons, and looks forward to more education from the Isreali Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma in Jerusalem this summer.
In Canada and the United States Alison has worked in residential communities with at-risk youth; taught life skills to unemployed persons; and has served as support counsellor to marginalized, homeless women. Internationally she has participated in various teaching and counselling roles including work with displaced children in Uganda, Africa; post-tsunami persons in Banda Aceh, Indonesia; and co-facilitated a story-telling workshop with rescued, sex-trade workers in Kolkata, India’s red-light district areas. In December 2008 Alison connected with Project COLOURS and brought Pink Panties (a cinematherapy/ art workshop program she’d like to further develop) to George, South Africa.
Alison is stoked to be a board member for COLOURS and is amazed at its continued evolution as a creative, practical, and dedicated NGO.
Rebecca Jeppesen, M.Sc. – Board Member
Rebecca Jeppesen is a Wildlife Management Biologist currently living on Baffin Island in Canada’s Arctic with her partner, Scott, and their rescued Mexican street dog, Guera. She spent time travelling and working in developing countries in Central America and the Caribbean before completing her Master of Science in ecology and conservation biology.
“I’ve known Sunyata (Project COLORS founder and director) all my life, and she’s always had a drive to make things right: saving wildlife, befriending those who needed it the most, and protesting activities that could harm the environment. All of these activities she’s approached in her own way, based on her unique perspective of how the world should operate: wildlife was often saved by yelling at hunters, the most recently arrived foreign students were brought to live in her home, environmental protests often took the form of driving past the clear cutting operation or corner-cutting factories repeatedly, horn blaring, until the horn itself bit the dust – at which point she would simply switch vehicles. She’s also always had a knack for making a little go a long way.
COLORS has provided Sunyata with a self-made opportunity to let these qualities expand, through sheer will and determination, into an organization that is dedicated to making things right – one small corner of the world at a time. Knowing Sunyata as well as I do, I’m confident that resources and donations to Project COLORS go further than they could with any other charitable organization, that obstacles are viewed as challenges, and that COLORS makes a difference in someone’s life everyday, which is why I’m a whole-hearted supporter of the organization.”
Rebecca Jeppesen, M.Sc.
Lukas Swan, PhD – Board Member
Dr. Lukas Swan is an engineer involved with both R&D and commercial aspects of a broad array of renewable and alternative energy technologies. His passion is sustainable and efficient energy generation, storage, and conversion mechanisms, with the intent of displacing conventional fossil fuel use. This aligns well with Project Colors as the organization seeks to improve the quality of life of those in third-world countries. Two of Lukas’ applicable interest areas are solar powered water pumping and battery powered LED lighting. Lukas is presently an Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Canada) where he lectures and conducts research.
Brittany McConeghy – Volunteer & Board member
Brittany McConeghy’s professional career has granted her with extensive experience managing the development, implementation, and evaluation of therapeutic recreation programs for at-risk populations. In 2008 Britt’s passion to make a difference led her to South Africa, where she was given the valuable opportunity to work with Project COLORS International. During Britt’s stint with Project COLORS, she developed and facilitated life skills workshops and educational programs for youth and families with HIV/AIDS, Implemented a food distribution program and cared for the babies in the local AIDS hospice. “Throughout my experience with Project COLORS, I discovered that “just” change is possible and it is my purpose and passion to continue to advocate for those who do not have a voice”. Brittany was awarded a fully paid scholarship from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to serve as delegate at the 4th Annual South African HIV/AIDS Conference in Durban.
Brittany is currently working in Withdrawal Management Services as a Mental Health and Addictions worker for marginalized communities in Victoria, BC. In her free time, you can find Britt running along the ocean training for her next endurance race or hiking & climbing Vancouver Island’s west coast. Brittany is applying to a Masters of Social Work program, with aspirations to complete her practicum in South Africa with Project COLORS International.
Margarete Mahaney – Volunteer & Board member
Margarete was our dental hygienist. She worked in South Africa helping the kids with dental care and launched COLORS dental program. She is now on our board and lives in Calgary Canada. She helps fundraise from her home base and organize dental supplies for COLORS.
Ana Bustamante (Alberta, Canada) – Web master volunteer
Ana created and manages this Website.
Ana has been a dedicated volunteer, who helps COLORS with all our website needs. This is a huge support to COLORS as we do not have funds to heir admin staff for these necessary aspects of COLORS.
Andrew Choyce Burrell (Wilderness, South Africa) – Board member & Volunteer
Andrew is the volunteer accountant for COLORS. He also assists with picking up volunteers when needed, plus takes the volunteers and kids surfing /boating when he has time from his full time engineering job at Eskcom Power. Andrew is a kind and loving support to COLORS. Andrew lives with Sunyata (Director) in South Africa where COLORS is based at their home and office. Andrew also has the joy of putting up with kids randomly taking over their living room, street dogs running muck in the house, injured birds taking over his shower… amongst other “interesting” things that COLORS brings to everyone’s lives. Thanks Andrew for surviving!
Terry Choyce (Nova Scotia Canada) – Board member & Canada based volunteer
Terry has been a part of COLORS from the start taking on many key fundraising and promotions roles as she is Sunyata’s mother. Terry is continuously promoting COLORS on her radio Show CKDU Dalhousie’s “Inner Connections”, Magazine articles as she has a column in “The Source” not to mention promotion through her various church services at Bedford United, Brunswick United and the Universalist Unitarian Church where she often presides.
Terry has sponsored many of COLORS endeavours including teachers, students and organizing funding for a volunteers vehicle in the name of her late father ‘Russell Paul’. She is founder of Spiritual Seekers, East Coat coordinator for humanities team among journalist, community activist & CKDU radio host.
Lesley Choyce – Board member
Lesley Choyce has also played a large part of Project COLORS being Sunyata’s father. He generously donates yearly airmiles to keep ‘COLORS flying’ plus has sponsored the creation of Alice’s pre-school and sponsored child-Elton’s Paramedics education. Choyce has also provided assistance for vehicles and various other projects in the DR, Costa Rica and Africa throughout the years with COLORS. Lesley is a professor at Dalhousie University, owner of Potters field Press and author of over 70 books.
Amy Hunny – Board member and Canadian based volunteer
Amy Brannen hunny has been supported COLORS for years! She is our key Christmas Campaign logistical officer, creating hand made personal cards to everyone who donates to COLORS for our yearly sponsorship campaign. Amy constantly promotes COLORS not only with thought but action..as she uses her on-line and home based enterprises/shops aka..Fancy Lucky and ebay stores to collect funds for COLORS. She founded Project Thrift which circulated funds and supplies for COLOSR for years.
Charlene Marcinkoski – COLORS Dominicana- Long term Volunteer
A heart felt goodbye and a huge THANK you to Charlene as she moves back to Canada after 7 years of volunteering and living with her family in the Dominican Republic. Charlene kept COLORS going in the DR with ESL teaching, supply distribution, logistics, fundraising and correspondence . She loved the children dearly and was a dedicated aid worker during her time with us. Charlene now fundraise from her home in Alberta with her business Cudio Photography . She will always be apart of the Project COLORS family.
Project COLORS Internationalinfo@projectcolors.com
83 Leslie Rd,
Nova Scotia, B2Z 1P8