Beth Rowles Scott Ed.D., M.Ed., B.A., B.Ed. – ACCES Founder, Society and Foundation Director
Co-Founder ACCES Society & ACCES Foundation
President of ACCES 1993- 2017
Director of ACCES Foundation 1994 to present
“Until one is committed there is hesitancy…… Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Something to Do
In 1993, Beth and George Scott founded ACCES. Both retired they searched for “something to do” which would have meaning and purpose. Beth recalls that the genesis of ACCES was inspired by reading the book “Save Three Lives “by Robert Rodale. Rodale spoke about poverty and long-term development–giving people the means to provide for themselves. In their search, Beth and George discovered the Canadian Harambee Education Society (CHES), which sponsors Kenyan youth through their secondary school years. But when these bright and very poor students graduated from secondary school they could not obtain employment without further training. They had nowhere to go except back to their shamba (small land holding). Here was a project ready for the making: to provide scholarships for post-secondary students to obtain further education and training to help them become employable. ACCES was created.
Someone to Love
Beth’s memoir “Pinch Me” chronicles her story, her accomplishments and achievements into three major parts: living and leaving her Prairie roots; teaching and leading a long and illustrious career in education spanning from first grade to school district leadership; and then finally, falling in love with George Scott, her olwanda (rock) and journaling what they did to create their life’s work together—the ACCES love story intertwined with Beth’s recipe for happiness.
Something to Look Forward To
In 1999 Beth received the Lewis Perinbam Award for International Development which is given “in recognition of excellence and imaginative leadership in the field of international development. “Her name is listed among the giants in International Development.
Under Beth’s capable and steady leadership ACCES, both the Society and the Foundation, have grown into vital international development organizations that have remained true to core ideals “to help young Africans obtain the skills and education needed to benefit themselves and their society”. Some recipients of ACCES scholarships have become top professionals in their respective fields, which include the fields of law, medicine, commerce and engineering. Supporters of ACCES look forward as these scholars help shape the future of Kenya. Today the Kenyans refer to Beth as Nuru–their light.
“George and I have often been praised for our work as the founders of ACCES. We always reply that we are the ones who have received the greatest rewards. That is not modesty: it is the truth. ACCES has given us “Something to Do” that has purpose and that purpose brings us joy” – Beth Rowles Scott, Pinch Me. page 206.
Kevin Fadum, M.A., B.A., CPHR
ACCES Executive Director since 2021
Kevin is driven to constantly learn new things and experience as much in life as possible. He spent over twenty years in the education sector without staying in the same position for more than four years. He enjoyed his time as a teacher, principal, District Principal of Human Resources and Director of Member Support with a provincial association before establishing a consulting business (Formative Solutions Inc) that provides Human Resources support to clients.
Kevin became consumed with stories and events of post colonial Africa in university where he focussed on African History. Those that know him personally have heard about his dream to one day make a difference in the lives of people in sub saharan Africa. With this in mind he is very excited to support the ACCES mission in Kenya by working with staff and stakeholders to continue the legacy that Beth and George Scott started. Kevin feels honoured and privileged to contribute and appreciates every opportunity to hear directly from current and former scholarship recipients, donors and interested community members.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” – Socrates
Mo MacKendrick, M.Ed., B.P.E.
ACCES Foundation Board Member since 1993, (President until 2014)
Mo began her teaching career in Australia and after extensive travels through Asia and Europe, returned to Canada. She believes in the empowerment of children and youth through education.
During her 33 year career as a teacher, consultant and school administrator she was provided numerous opportunities to contribute to the education community in Canada and internationally. Beth Scott became her mentor and coach instilling the confidence in her leadership skills and encouraging her to seek broader opportunities. She has served as President of the Canadian Association of Health, Physical Education and Dance.
Soon after ACCES was co-founded by Beth and George Scott, the Foundation was established. It began in 1993 with the purpose of providing long term funding for the Society. It has always been a small group who share core values and a passion for alleviating poverty through education that continue to enhance the work of ACCES.
“A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labour exploitation and disease, and give them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.” – Audrey Hepburn
Donna VanSant Ed.D., M.Sc., B.P.E.
President ACCES Foundation 2016 – Present
President ACCES Society 2012 – 2015
“Leadership for me is actively and consciously influencing others to act and focus on our shared purpose with a bias toward the long view. It is the opportunity to be myself and to be in relationship with others in service for a higher purpose.” -Donna VanSant
Donna is a distinguished educator, facilitator, coach, teacher and writer. She is well known for her penchant for innovation and “start ups.” From the position of teacher and leader in the Surrey School District, she has nurtured the onset of Dance in High School, the District Research and Evaluation Department, Vision 36/20, Making Tomorrow Work, and The Surrey Wellness Committee. After and early retirement, Donna operated her own Company, Healthy Ventures, focusing on positive youth development and organizational health issues in the work place. Currently she is an Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University and President of the African Canadian Continuing Education Foundation (ACCES.) Donna believes the most important gift she can give is education. She has served ACCES operations since it’s inception and for her, ACCES is family.
Donna is particularly proud that ACCES Scholars Education Foundation (ASEF) are now aware of the need to help others as they wereonce helped. Instead of asking, “what do I do?” they now collectively query, “what is life asking of us?” This new way of seeing the world will have profound impact as they support the ACCES vision of alleviating poverty through education.
“As we live more deeply into selfhood that is our birthright gift, we find not only personal fulfillment. We find communion with others and ways of serving the world’s deepest needs.” – Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Sharon Cohen, Ed.D., M.A., B.Mus.
ACCES Board Member since 2016
Sharon believes that education is a golden key that opens doors that would otherwise remain closed. She has over 40 years of experience with all levels of education from kindergarten to post-secondary and has worked as a classroom teacher, principal, and district leader. Prior to her retirement in 2013, Sharon was the Deputy Superintendent of the Surrey School District. Sharon was hired to be a Surrey teacher decades ago by Beth Scott, co-founder of ACCES. Over 30 years later, Beth attended Sharon’s retirement event and because of this, Sharon considers Beth to be the ‘bookends’ of her career. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University in the M.Ed. Educational Leadership Program.
Neither of Sharon’s parents graduated secondary school. The limited opportunities that they experienced, as well as their encouragement to pursue a comprehensive education, have made all the difference in a single generation. That is the power of education.
In Canada, Sharon had the opportunity to pursue this education. In Kenya, poverty is so pervasive that very few students, regardless of ability, have the resources necessary to attend university or college. The mission of ACCES is to give a growing number of them this same opportunity.
“It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education. Those who do not believe this have small imaginations.” – Nelson Mandela
Trevor Lee, B.A., M.Sc., CFA
ACCES Board Member since 2020
Trevor was never one for the classroom. It wasn’t until very late in his undergraduate years when he realized that education was not just foundational to one’s progress and development in life, but that anyone’s own expectations can be exceeded when learning about the right thing.
There is one key lesson that helped him arrive at this insight: anyone can be successful if they have the talent, opportunities and resources. In Kenya, just one of these elements is the difference between prosperity and poverty. As a member of the Board, Trevor sees an opportunity to harness the talent in Kenya by providing resources to students to further their education.
Currently, as a Portfolio Manager at Lee, Turner & Associates, Trevor is a discretionary investment counselor serving individuals, families and institutions in Vancouver. Prior to his current role, he spent a decade in various strategy and consulting roles for some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies.
“Education is not a way to escape poverty, it is a way of fighting it.” – Julius Nyerere (Former President of Tanzania)
Gwenda Eleanor Murray B.Ed.
ACCES Board (founding member) – Secretary – from 1993 – 2010
ACCES Foundation Board member (Secretary) since 2010
South Surrey, BC
Gwen has spent 39 years as an educator in both elementary and secondary schools, including four years as a classroom teacher in New Zealand and Australia. She was the Music Helping Teacher for Surrey prior to her 1993 retirement.
For twenty years after retirement, Gwen developed and oversaw the Career Preparation/Work Experience program offered by Vancouver Opera to Grade 11-12 Arts students. Gwen is currently the Awards Chair of the Vancouver Opera Guild where she administers their Career Development Grant, a national competition offered to promising young opera singers from across Canada.
Gwen grew up in New Zealand with her family where education was considered to be of the utmost importance. Her parents often quoted the Tibetan proverb: “A child without education is like a bird without wings.” Her father, a farmer, was involved in agricultural research (livestock) while her mother was a Notary Public. All members of her family were strongly encouraged to pursue purposeful, worthwhile careers. This type of opportunity and encouragement is available to few Kenyans due to wide-spread impoverishment and lack of resources. ACCES’s mission is to make education, especially post-secondary education, available to as many students in Kenya as possible.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
John Sawatzky B.Ed.(Sec)
John graduated from John Oliver High School in Vancouver and was in the last class of Vancouver Normal School. He gradually completed the BEd(Sec) at UBC. His career was mostly in Richmond, teaching math and science.
In 1993 he and his wife went to Kenya as agents for CHES. At the same time, Beth and George Scott were also in Kenya to set up ACCES. In 1995, John and his wife returned to Kenya, this time as agents for ACCES. On returning to Canada, they joined the ACCES board and later, John graduated to the ACCES Foundation.
John appreciated the value in transferring much of the responsibility to the staff in Kenya under the supervision of the Canadian side of ACCES. He soon learned that there were many very capable people in Africa who were held back by lack of funds for education. A trip back to Kenya after about ten years saw great improvements.
The many graduates ACCES has helped through their education with scholarships are now able to assist others to also improve their living conditions.
“I was raised to understand the importance of giving back and to me an education is the way we can help people help themselves.” – John Sawatzky
Maureen MacDonald B.Ed., M.Ed.
Maureen holds a long view and a deep commitment to the Acces belief of helping others to help themselves. In the early years of ACCES, she supported Beth and George Scott’s vision with scholarship donations. In 2004 she lived on site in Kakamega for six months and served as one of the last volunteer agents before the board hired an executive director.
In 2008, with the generous support of the Canadian International Development Agency, Maureen co-authored Kenya: Our Global Friend. A curriculum used in many BC classrooms to inspire students and teachers to think and act globally. Maureen returned to Kenya in 2011 to create video stories of alumni students. At that time Moses Akali, who today is a member of the alumni executive said, “ACCES is my mother. If you’re an orphan and ACCES comes into your life, you are no longer alone.”
In addition to serving as a member of the Board of Directors since 2005, Maureen has fulfilled various executive positions at ACCES including two years as president. Her values are closely aligned with those of the society.
Her career in public schools extended from teacher to assistant superintendent and even international assignments as a teacher trainer. Maureen continues to work enthusiastically with other directors and Kenyan partners to reach the Board’s ultimate goal of Kenyanization.