Board of Directors

Chairperson

Val Churma

Chairperson

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Val has been a SWF Board Member since 2001. She has traveled to both Takeo and Chyhyryn as a chaperone for student groups and also with adult delegations. Her son, Morgan and daughter, Brenna both participated in the middle school exchange with Yamauchi (now Takeo). She witnessed how this life changing experience helped to shape their lives, and has worked to keep this valuable opportunity available for future Sebastopol students.

Val was attracted to SWF because it helped to alleviate a feeling of helplessness in promoting world peace. She believes wholeheartedly in the mission of SWF, that by fostering understanding and friendships between people of different cultures is the first step in securing World Peace.

Val works as an RN with St. Joseph Memorial Hospice. She enjoys hiking, gardening, theatre, and travel. Val has lived in Sebastopol since 1987, where she and her husband, Jeff have been fortunate to raise their four children.

Abigail Evans

1st Vice Chairperson

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Abigail Evans moved to Sonoma County in 2002 and realized at once that she had come home.  She has been enthusiastic about foreign languages, international travel and friendship-building since her first trip abroad to France at 15.  She holds a double Bachelor’s Degree in History and Russian from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s Degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures from U.C. Berkeley.   She has been involved with Sebastopol World Friends since her eldest child took part in the exchange program with Takeo, Japan and she and her family learned first-hand of the wonderful opportunities for international friendship and community building that sister city relationships make possible; she became Chair of Sebastopol World Friends in January of 2015.  She teaches at the REACH School and takes a wide interest and part in many local organizations and events.  She has three children, assorted pets, a garden, and is an avid reader, thinker, maker, and walker.

Olga Komar

2nd Vice Chairperson

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Olga is an Ukrainian native who relocated to Sonoma County in 2009. After she met a couple of Chyhyryn delegations while visiting Sebastopol, she joined the SWF Board of Directors in 2018. Currently, she is the 2nd Vice Chair, the Head of the Finance Committee as well as a member of the Chyhyryn Committee. Olga enjoys welcoming Ukrainian delegations and helping SWF to strengthen its relationship with Friends of Chyhyryn. She also likes Japanese culture and is always excited to meet delegates from Takeo and Kagoshima.

Outside of SWF, Olga is an attorney practicing law throughout Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family and kids, exercise and travel.

Patty Levenberg

Treasurer

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Patty Levenberg’s love of cultural exchanges began in high school when she was an exchange student to Thailand for a year. When her own daughters were in middle school they were student ambassadors to our Sister City, Yamauchi, Japan. Over the years her family has hosted numerous students and adults from both of our Sister Cities. A retired Physical Therapist, Patty enjoys volunteering at Luther Burbank’s Experiment Farm in Sebastopol, bicycling with her husband, and playing with her grandchildren.

Beth Lamb

Recording Secretary

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Beth Lamb is a 14 year Sebastopol Resident.  She became involved with Sebastopol World Friends when her daughter Hana was chosen to be a student ambassador to Yamauchi Japan (now our Takeo Program) in 2006-2007.  Beth has a deep connection to Japan since she lived in Japan and taught English in Ibaraki prefecture from 1989 to 1991. In addition Beth has an interest in the Ukrainian culture because she traveled to the Ukraine in 1971 as a high school student.  Beth understands the value of cultural and educational exchange programs because she was a college exchange student studying Geology in Bergen Norway. As a professional Geologist Beth has also traveled to many distant places, including the North Slope of Alaska, Scotland, and Norway.  She has friends around the world.  Beth currently works as an Engineering Geologist managing contaminated groundwater cleanup sites in Northern California for the State of California.  Her Daughter is now away in college so she has more free time to enjoy her other hobbies including gardening, hiking and entertaining friends.

Patricia Deignan

Corresponding Secretary

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Patricia Deignan has been a part-time resident of Sebastopol since 2006, moving here full time in 2016 after working 28 years as an attorney for the City of San Jose. Upon retirement, she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Western Ukraine from 2017-2019, where she fell in love with the country, the culture, and especially, the Ukrainian people. Upon her return home, she sought out Sebastopol World Friends as a means to continuing her connection with Ukraine, as well as to learn about Japanese culture and to share the joy of world exploration with the Sebastopol community.

Patricia has also served as a host mom for a Ukrainian foreign exchange student and volunteers for various local organizations.

Leaf Roberts

Chyhyryn Chair

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Leaf Roberts married Will Roberts and moved to Sebastopol in 1965. She has four children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. She completed her Bachelor and Masters Degree in Nursing at University of California San Francisco and her Master of Divinity Degree at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She worked for 43 years in nursing for the State of California at San Quentin and Sonoma Developmental Center, retiring in 2003 as a Unit Supervisor (responsible for 24 hour supervision of the clients and staff for a specified building at the center.) Rev. Roberts continues as the Associate Minister of the Good Samaritan Community Church of Sebastopol.

Leaf and Will Roberts were among the first group recruited for the City Commission which became Sebastopol World Friends (SWF). Leaf has held many offices in the organization including Chairperson and has been successful in obtaining several grants for SWF. She has been Chair of the Chyhyryn Committee since its beginning in 1993. She is always willing to share her experiences on three adult delegations to Yamauchi/Takeo, Japan, and ten trips to Chyhyryn, Ukraine.

Meg Mizutani

Takeo Chair

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Meg Mizutani is a native of Japan and has lived in the U.S. since 1989.  She is a translator (English-Japanese) and a Japanese language tutor.  She also teaches Japanese culture and Taiko drumming in Sonoma County.  She has been actively involved with Sebastopol World Friends since 2006 and working closely with its Japanese sister city, Takeo Japan.  Her life goal is to promote global peace through grass-root diplomacy.

Stefania Cappi

Communications and Technology Officer

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Stefania is a native of Northern Italy. She is an IT specialist for a local study abroad company and is passionate about Japanese culture. Her love of Japan led her to join SWF and after hosting a Japanese exchange student, she ultimately became a board member. As the Communications and Technology Officer, Stefania manages SWF’s website, social media, and marketing materials. In her free time, you can find her playing video games, board games, or with her two cats, Oliver and Morgana.

Ruthie Dunlap

Member at Large

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Ruthie, raised in Germany, moved to Sonoma County in 1997. She has also lived in Spain, The Netherlands, and Israel.
She has 2 daughters who were raised traveling around the world from early on.
She herself has traveled since a young child, enjoys it to this very day, and is fascinated by different languages and cultures. Her love of traveling and hosting adults and students from various countries inspired her to become involved with Sebastopol World Friends as she believes strongly in the mission:” World Peace one Friend at a time.”
She is a retired Physical Therapist and spends her time gardening, cooking, reading, and just enjoying life. She also keeps busy with her many grand and great grandchildren.
She is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Sebastopol and enjoys hosting foreign Rotarians as it opens her world view on an ongoing basis.

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