Our Circle

Our Colleagues in Tanzania:

Joyce Liundi lives in Masasi, Tanzania, and works with the Anglican diocese. She is the lead worker of an organization that works to improve the lives of women, “Mother’s Union.” In this role, she works closely with women throughout the southern region and is well connected to many small women’s groups. Ms. Liundi leads the solar project for Solar Circle. She oversees distribution of solar lights and directs an educational program that is essential to the solar project’s success.

Nora Kimu lives in Masasi and carries out the education program for Solar Circle. She travels by motorcycle to remote villages around Masasi, teaching the basics of solar lighting and organizing community service projects through which people can “earn” a light.

Our Board Members:

Nancy Conrad Evans lives in Florida and Michigan. She has taught fourth and fifth grade, served as an elementary school assistant principal, and worked as a principal in the East Lansing public schools. After her long career in education, she successfully owned and managed several retail stores in west Michigan. While working for charitable causes, she has dedicated much of her time to Solar Circle. In Florida, where the sun is wealth—“Jua mali”—she promotes Solar Circle by making presentations to service groups, churches, and private gatherings.

David Finnegan is a professor of law, teaching property and international law at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  He holds degrees from University of Michigan Law School and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He also studied at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. David’s research focuses on law and policy reform in Africa and other developing regions.  Prior to joining academia, he practiced law in Washington, D.C.  David lives in southeast Michigan.

Joan Hunault, a legislative analyst working at the Michigan House of Representatives Fiscal Agency, has a research interest in policy-oriented learning in legislative contexts that she pursues with the University of Michigan Discourse Group. She has taught, worked with a community group to create a health center, designed curricular and professional development materials for teachers at Michigan State University, and was elected to the East Lansing City Council where she served as the community’s mayor. Joan worked with a physics instructor at Lansing Community College to prepare a solar cooking curricular unit and a portable laboratory for use by teachers in Masasi, Tanzania.

Judy Martin is a former teacher and retired attorney living in Okemos, Michigan. She has served in the Michigan House of Representatives, practiced law representing low-income people on utility matters, worked with a program to assist Michigan universities in recruiting, enrolling and retaining minority students, and she has worked for a statewide network of health clinics in urban and rural areas serving low-income people. During the 1960s, Judy taught in Tanzania. She later returned to Tanzania in 2001 with friends, and with them partnered with local people to start solar cooking in the Masasi District, southern Tanzania.

Christine Root has been part of the U.S. African solidarity movement since the 1970s, when she worked at the church- and union-sponsored Washington Office on Africa. She is now a grant writer and manager of several projects about Africa at MATRIX, the digital humanities center at Michigan State University. Chris lived with her family in Durban, South Africa in 1994-95,where she focused on local community campaigns on environmental justice; she has returned to South Africa twice since then. She also created a curriculum on U.S. health care policy in the early 1990s that was used by 50 congregations.

Gina Torielli is an associate professor of law and the director of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School Graduate Tax Program. Prior to that, she was president of a major Michigan law firm, and her legal practice involved many charitable, nonprofit and governmental clients. She has served as an officer or a board member for numerous charitable and civic organizations, with a special focus on those involved in assisting women and children at risk. She lives in southeast Michigan.

Vic Weipert is a social worker and attorney living in Bath, Michigan. Vic practiced social work in Ohio and Michigan, was a fiscal analyst for the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee for 15 years, and was an administrator for the Michigan Department of Social Services in many capacities, including directing a large institution for delinquent youth. He also directed Citizens for Better Care, a non-profit advocating for residents of nursing homes. He taught social work courses at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and undergraduate human resource management at Spring Arbor College. Tennis, bridge, bookkeeping for Solar Circle and gardening are major activities in his current retirement.

Our Co-Founders:

Carlotta Johnson retired from secondary school teaching and psychotherapy practice. She worked in the inner city of Newcastle as a social worker and psychotherapist. Carlotta and her husband Frank (gynecologist/obstetrician) lived and worked in Tanzania for nine years. They lived in Masasi where Carlotta taught at the secondary school and Frank ran the district hospital with a team of British doctors. Carlotta died in 2013.

Judy Martin, see bio above.

Adele K. Miller is a nurse and teacher and has had extensive experience in both fields. She has worked on a farm, done occupational health nursing, volunteered as an emergency medical technician for a busy rescue service, and taught at Masasi Girls Secondary School, in southern Tanzania. Adele continues to work with behavior and developmentally challenged people and to perform private duty nursing. Adele returned to Tanzania a few years ago to visit, and there partnered with her sister, Carlotta Miller, and friend, Judy Martin, to begin a solar cooking project.