Brian FikkertDr. Brian Fikkert is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College, where he also serves as a Professor of Economics and Community Development. Brian received a Ph.D. in Economics with highest honors from Yale University and a B.A. in Mathematics from Dordt College. Specializing in Economic Development and International Economics, Brian has numerous academic and popular publications and is a co-author of the book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself. Prior to coming to Covenant College, he was a professor at the University of Maryland and a research fellow at the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector.
Helping Without Hurting in Short Term Missions, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, Moody Press, October 2013
Rob and Tara CahillRob and Tara Cahill, directors of Community Cloud Forest Conservation, work together with Q'eqchi' Maya families of the mountains of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala to conserve and restore natural forests and to improve the ecological health of the human environment in villages bordering forests. They teach conservation, reforestation, environmental education, agro-ecology, and sustainable living practices through an integrated set of programs. Local people learn to confront the serious problems that keep them from enjoying the fullness of life such as chronic malnutrition, illiteracy, poverty, exploding population, degraded disappearing forests, and drying springs, while ameliorating the global environmental crises of habitat and biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and changes to climate and water cycles. They curb human encroachment on the forests by planting forest gardens, which integrate native trees and fruit trees with basic grains and traditional vegetable crops to provide food security, good nutrition, and healthy habitat. Rob and Tara work to inspire and empower the most marginalized people: rural, indigenous young women and children. Their Conservation, Agroecology and Sustainable Living Leadership Training Program (CALT) provides access to education and vocation for young Q'eqchi' women from remote mountain villages, preparing them as community leaders to teach conservation, agroecology and sustainable living practices in their home communities. Their environmental education programs in village schools Connecting Kids through Birds (in cooperation with Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Neotropical Migratory Bird Act) and Artful Eyes of Appreciation on the Earth inspire village children to explore, appreciate, understand and care for nature.
Rob and Tara appreciate the collective experience of working ecumenically with Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, Mennonite Central Committee, Heifer International of Guatemala, Proeval Raxmu, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, US Fish and Wildlife Service Neotropical Migratory Bird Act, and Centro Dominico Ak Kutan. Connecting global community, they host international environmental education, in research, natural history and sustainable development for high school, college and university students from across the US and Canada.
Rob studied at Westmont College, Calvin College, and Au Sable Institute, earning his BA in History from University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. Tara earned her BA in Biology and Secondary Education from Calvin College, her Naturalist Certification from Au Sable Institute, and MS in Land Resources from University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.