Joanita Senoga, President
Joanita graduated from Uganda’s Kibuli Teacher Training College in 1991 and began teaching in a public school in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. As a teacher, she became more aware of the unfairness of mandatory school fees, and agonized over her students leaving school in tears because their parents could not pay the fees.
In 1994, she founded the Circle of Peace School to offer education to students regardless of their ability to pay. She taught at the school until 1996, when she was forced to flee her native land. She found herself in Richmond, Virginia where she built a new life for herself and her two daughters, earning a bachelor of arts degree in 2006 from the University of Richmond and becoming a U.S. citizen in 2010.
In the U.S., Joanita’s passion for expanding educational opportunities led her to found Circle of Peace International (COPI). Joanita’s deepest purpose is working with Americans and Ugandans to expand educational opportunities and build cultural awareness and understanding between the two nations. She regularly speaks to community groups about Circle of Peace.
Betty M. Allen, Board Chair
Betty worked for AH Robins/Wyeth Company for 36 years and uses her organizational and people skills to lead and coordinate many of COPI's public events, including the Safari Train Banquet annual dinner.
Betty became involved with COPI because of her friendship and admiration for Joanita, and because she was inspired by Joanita’s work on behalf of educational opportunities for children.
Iria Jones, Treasurer
Iria’s professional background is in operations and business management. She contributes effective communication, planning, organizational, human relations, financial and budget management skills to the COPI Board.
Iria feels a deep commitment to expanding educational opportunities and cultural understanding.
For Iria, education is important because of the education deprivation that she witnessed on a trip to Uganda. After being deeply involved with the Circle of Peace School, Iria appreciates the opportunities available in the U.S. and works to expand them for Americans and Ugandans.
Sharon Weiner, Grant Writer
Sharon is Professor of Library Science Emerita and W. Wayne Booker Chair Emerita in Information Literacy at Purdue University. She has a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University and extensive experience in academic library administration.
Sharon became involved with COPI because of a strong commitment to education and social justice.
Tessa Packer, Pen Pal and Social Media Director
Tessa Packer was inspired by Joanita Senoga’s mission after teaching in Thailand for over three years. She saw firsthand how difficult it is for some children to attain an education and wanted to help those who struggled to afford schooling around the world.
Tessa’s background is in Social Psychology, and her passion for expanding cultural understanding led her to COPI, where she manages the Pen Pal Program and Social Media.