MEET OUR DIRECTORS

ADELA GARCIA DUNCAN

President

Adela Garcia Duncan grew up in the small town of Mendota, California, west of Fresno, California. Mendota is known as the Cantaloupe Center of the World. Adela’s  father is the first generation born American from Mexican descendant and her mother is a descendant from two lineages of the Original Thirteen Families settling in 1774 in the Rio Grande Valley.   As Eva Longoria has so eloquently stated, "we did not cross the border, the border crossed over us".  Adela is the Director of Communications and Outreach at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). She and her team steadily promote and highlight the education and training provided in Human Rights, Rule of Law and Democracy by and to the United States, Central, and South American military and security forces. Adela holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) specializing in Executive Leadership and Cybersecurity from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration specializing in Technology Management from St. Leo’s University.  Adela served in the U. S. Army for seven years as a Medical Laboratory Technician and received her certification from George Washington University.  Adela holds a certificate as a Department of Defense Common Faculty Development Instructor in Spanish and English.

LAURA PINAR KESSLING

Vice President

For as long as she can remember, Laura stuck up for "underdogs" and always felt drawn to those in difficult situations. She spoke up against wrongdoings, often getting in trouble for not "minding her own business". Yet, it didn't stop her. And it STILL doesn't stop her. Born on Incirlik AFB in Adana, Turkey to a Turkish mother and a US Airman father, she spent her childhood in Turkey and moved to the US when she was 15. She is fluent in Turkish. Laura has a BS in Criminal Justice from Columbus State University. She got her real estate license in order to buy, and sell, their renovation homes since her and her husband began flipping homes in 2018 after he retired from the Army. Laura is an avid sports fan. She absolutely loves traveling and learning about other cultures. She has been married to Chad since 2002 and they have one daughter, Annika.

RITA ELLIS

Rita is an immigrant - twice over - born in Scotland, raised in Canada and now a US citizen. Perhaps that is why immigration is so important to her. Rita believes that even if she was born here she would still be vigilant about ensuring a safe, fair and reasonable immigration policy. Her work with Paz Amigos has put more than a face on the current state of immigration, it has put the inhumanity of it all into perspective for her. She believes we MUST do better as Americans. Rita says it is a privilege to be part of a non-profit that makes a tangible difference here in Columbus, GA.  Rita owns a local business, is married to a local physician, has 3 kids, 2 grandkids and 2 pups.

Founder & CFO

JUDY BARNETT

Judy became involved in Paz Amigos after becoming an activist with the Indivisible Columbus Georgia group.  She is Georgia born and raised. Judy attended nursing and anesthesia school at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, and graduated from Columbus State University.  She worked in Columbus area hospitals for 38 years as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist before retiring in 2009.  Her time now is spent teaching yoga, reading, hiking, sailing, and spending time with her friends, family, and 5 granddaughters.

Secretary

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