Our People

Budd MacKenzie


After graduating from Amherst College in 1967, Budd moved westward to Boalt Law School and Haas Business School, UC Berkeley, where he graduated with a joint JD/MBA degree.

Following a one-year transition period selling cheese and wine at “Curds and Whey,” (a retail store started with a friend while in law school), Budd opened a private law practice in 1971. He has provided legal and business counsel to entrepreneurs ever since.

Budd has also been committed to community service for many years. He served as a coach and manager of baseball, basketball, soccer, roller blade hockey, and tennis teams for seven years (until his son could take no more!)

He was the president of Lafayette Little League for three years and Mock Trial advisor for three years at Acalanes High School. His Lafayette Chamber of Commerce service includes six years as a member of the Board of Directors and president in 2006.

Budd founded Trust in Education after reading Charlie Wilson’s War, becoming informed about US involvement in Afghanistan, and visiting Afghanistan.TIE is comprised of an ever increasing number of people who, like Budd, have chosen to make time to help Afghans rebuild their lives and country.

He is just one among many who keep the train running. Truth be told, he looks forward to the day he can be in the caboose.


  • Citizen of the Year, City of Lafayette, CA 2003-2004
  • Su Stauffer Friends of Education Award, Acalanes High School 2004
  • Peace and Justice Award, Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center 2010
  • Paul Harris Fellow, Lafayette Rotary Club 2010
  • Happenings Local’s Choice Humanitarian Award for Contra Costa County 2012
  • Awarded the ‘Unsung Heroes of Compassion’ honor in February, 2014 along with 50 other men and women from around the globe, and recognized personally by HH the Dalai Lama at a banquet in San Francisco.
  • Chosen as an honorary member of Lafayette Rotary Club (2015)

Nabi Tawakali

Vice President

As Vice-President of Trust in Education, Nabi helps develop policy and programs. He also accompanies Budd on semi-annual to Afghanistan.

Born in Kabul in 1949, Nabi attended Kabul University. He worked as Director of Foreign Relations for the Agricultural Development Bank of Afghanistan. Shortly after the Russians invaded in 1979, he immigrated to the United States.

After arriving in the U.S., Nabi worked as an international banker for more than 10 years, first for the European American Bank in New York and then for Security Pacific Bank in Los Angeles, California.

He then served as Vice President of Pacific Shores Corporation, an agricultural company, in Walnut Creek, California. In 1991 he founded Pacific International Seed Corporation, which produces and exports top quality American seeds around the world.

In 2006 Nabi started his volunteer work with Trust In Education. He is committed to educating the children of Afghanistan because he strongly believes that education is the best way to help the children and people of Afghanistan overcome poverty and their fears.



Suzanne Rogge

Education Sponsorship Program Manager


Suzanne is a native Californian who loves the natural beauty and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area where she resides.

Her lifelong keen interest and investment in cultures and events beyond U.S. borders likely resulted from having a German-born father strongly tied to the local German community, a Polish-born grandmother passionate about travel, and a mother who lived for a time in Mexico.

Since her 20s Suzanne has felt compelled to “give back” along with pursuing a career in corporate retail with such companies as Levi Strauss, Gap, and Cost Plus. She has volunteered for many organizations over the years, but one area that has continually resonated with Suzanne is assisting women and children who live in challenging circumstances.

Fast forward 20 years to the present, and Suzanne is onto the next phase of her life.  Her focus these days includes her family, designing artisan jewelry (a lifelong passion) which she sells on Etsy.com under Suzanne Rogge Designs, and volunteering for Trust in Education.

Suzanne has assisted TIE since the beginning of 2012 when she first learned of Budd’s work and vision for Afghanistan.  She directs our purchase of jewelry and handbags from Afghanistan to help raise funds for the organization.  In late 2013 Suzanne also took on managing the Education Sponsorship Program.

“Budd and TIE’s employees, donors and volunteers are extraordinary in their commitment to get impoverished kids into school; assist internally displaced refugees with food, safer cooking methods, and warmth for brutal winters; and bring awareness to the utter lack of basic human rights for women in Afghanistan.  How very gratifying it is to be involved with TIE.”

Jack Howell    

Solar Oven Project Director

After high school, Jack was drafted in the army and served two years in Germany. He went to the University of San Francisco on a basketball scholarship after a USF alum saw him play in Germany.  He played one year at USF and then settled down to study philosophy.

Jack spent two decades publishing books in Massachusetts, particularly books on solar, wind, photovoltaic, and organic gardening. The Solar Home Book, a New York Times bestseller,  became a classic in the field and was translated into seven languages.

In 1986 he founded Morning Sun Press in Lafayette, California where he continues to concentrate on renewable energy and the environment. In 1990 he published Cooking with the Sun: How to Build & Use Solar Cookers. He was hooked on solar cooking and has been designing and helping people around the world build and use solar cookers ever since. In 2011, he managed the construction of TIE’s  “Hundred Solar Ovens for Afghanistan” project.

He also supervised the manufacturing of 200 simple solar ovens that use the Mylar coffee bean bags from Peet’s Coffee as reflectors. The Afghans are learning how to attach the bags to the cookers. The cookers are all in Afghanistan.

Jack is a hands-on guy with a passion for helping people. TIE offers him the perfect fit: he can direct the construction of solar ovens that will help people live a little healthier life.

Jack loves dogs, solar picnics at wineries, (especially wineries with dogs), gardening and cooking, creating art out of junk, and of course, spending time with his family.


Victoria Wang

ESL Project Director

website1A recent transplant to the Bay Area, Victoria joined Trust in Education in April 2016 to direct our ESL project. Victoria is passionate about education, believing it to be the greatest gift that can be given. She has been teaching ESL and French for over 16 years in Asia, Europe and North America to over 70 different nationalities.  Her plethora of experience includes teaching Swiss bankers in Zürich, Chinese tai-tais in Shenzhen skyscrapers, kindergarteners in Bangkok, and undergraduates at a British university. Educated in Oxford, Paris and London, she has a MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language (distinction) from King’s College London. Being able to speak fluent French, intermediate Mandarin and conversational Thai and Spanish, Victoria is well aware of the challenges of learning a foreign language.  Victoria is also a published author and journalist, having authored several ESL books for German high school students, and writing travel articles for Global Times.  When she isn’t taking care of her rambunctious three-year-old son, she enjoys wine-tasting in Napa and hiking in the Californian countryside and coastline.

Cheryl Bowlan

Multimedia and PR


Cheryl is a writer and visual artist.  She earned her undergraduate degree in art and her graduate degree in journalism.  She has worked as a graphic designer, reporter, writer, videographer, photographer, multimedia producer and podcast producer.

Her podcast series, Sculptcast Conversations, featured interviews with a wide variety of artists and others in the sculpture field.  Bowlan served as producer, designer, web manager, sound recordist and editor, content writer, photographer and videographer.

Her short video documentary, “Beautiful Brain,” about an artist with multiple sclerosis who uses her brain scans as the basis of her work, was screened at two film festivals.  She has also shot and produced other videos for non-profits, including Dogs 4 Diabetics and the Graduate Theological Union. In addition, Bowlan has reported, produced and shot photos for a radio profile of a quadriplegic painter for KALW Public Radio as well as audio and video profiles of members of the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group and other artists.

Bowlan exhibited her fine art photography at a solo gallery show in September 2013. As a volunteer, she photographs hospice patients and their families. She has sponsored an Afghan child’s education through Trust in Education’s program for the last several years, and is currently overseeing and producing multimedia projects for us.

Bowlan’s writing has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor, Parenting Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Diablo Magazine, Dallas Life and the San Francisco Business Times.

Gerard Van SteynGerard van Steyn

Education Advocate

Gerard graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Managerial Economics and subsequently obtained an MBA from UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business.

For over 20 years Gerard has been the President of SCI Consulting Group located in Fairfield CA.  Gerard joined SCI when it was a three person firm and has managed its growth to over 50 people.  Gerard also formed and managed a successful real estate development firm from 1995 to 2005.

Gerard first became aware of Trust in Education through his father-in-law Brack Davis, who, as a doctor, volunteered time in hospitals in Afghanistan and became aware of the good work being accomplished by TIE.  Subsequently Gerard’s three children and his wife, Kathryn, all contributed time and energy to helping out Trust in Education with various projects.

Gerard began working with Trust in Education in 2014 and is focused on, and enthusiastic about, translating educational videos in math, language and other subjects, including the Khan Academy lessons and Wikipedia, into Dari (or Farsi) and structuring it for offline use in rural schools in Afghanistan.

Someday, schools in rural areas in Afghanistan will be connected to the internet.  Until that happens, TIE hopes to provide an increasing amount of educational content to students that is accessible throughout the year via offline computers and tablets.

We’re very pleased to add Gerard’s energy and vision to our TIE team!

Basir Ebrahimkhil

In Country Program Director 

Basir graduated from high school in Kabul and then studied Social Sciences at Kabul University. During the war, he lived in Pakistan for ten years as well as served six years as a member of Afghans’s Special Forces.

Before coming to Trust in Education, Basir served for eight years as an administration officer in Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health. Since 2009 he has managed our operations in Afghanistan as full time program director. He interfaces with villager leaders, shuras, and teachers, and villagers in implementing our programs. He’s also helpful in reminding us to eat.

Qudsia Ebrahimkhil

Street Student Liaison and Program Director

Qudsia studied in Kabul until the ninth grade, when the war in Afghanistan forced her family to flee to Pakistan. She finished high school there, and for five years she worked as a kindergarten teacher at Children’s House School.

When she and her family returned to Kabul, Qudsia graduated with a degree in language and literature from Kabul University. She then worked at UNICEF for one year as an administrative assistant and at the Afghanistan International Rescue Committee for one year as administration officer.

Qudsia is the program director of our sponsorship program for street children. She provides assistance to the children and their families and serves as a conduit between the children and their American sponsors.

Qudsia is married to Basir and has three young daughters.

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