Chris Coats’ resume is quite ‘colorful’. Before working as an community development volunteer in numerous countries around the world, her employment included serving as Administrative Assistant to a Superintendent of Schools, Deputy Clerk of a District Court, Hunting Guide, Orthodontic Assistant, and Office Manager for a Private Investigator.
Chris started her community service related work during high school, volunteering on a reconstruction project in Appalachia, and mission work in Mexico. For a number of years, she served as a youth group leader, Sunday school teacher, and summer camp counselor. During most of the 1980's, Chris was a foster parent for twenty children.
In 2001, Chris started volunteering on a variety of international projects, in Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Kosovo, Estonia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Through her experiences, she learned that a grassroots approach empowered the people she was helping, and a hands-on participatory practice was the most effective way to ensure success and sustainability of any project. These experiences led to Chris co-founding Trailblazer Foundation in 2004.
Jamie is a Bostonian who, after college, realized there was much to explore outside of Route 128. In 2001, Jamie got his first exposure to the rest of the world, during six months of travel that took him to Spain, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
Upon returning to the United States, Jamie settled in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming. There, he gained his appreciation for the local natural and human communities. Jamie spent his time hiking, backpacking, biking, and snowboarding, as well as developing his love for the stage (where he was very active in the local theatre, and helped create an improv comedy troupe - "Out of Thin Air").
Later, Jamie traveled to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, including visiting Trailblazer's program in Cambodia. He has since returned to the Jackson Hole area, has worked with several international development organizations, and served on an advisory board for Coaches Across Continents. Jamie joined Trailblazer's Board in May 2016.
Board of Advisors
Sam was born and grew up in Cambodia. He has a degree in Business Management Administrative (2003) from The Business Institute of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh. While still in Cambodia, Sam worked in marketing research, and owned and operated a private school.
During his latter years in Cambodia, Sam was an active volunteer in his home country with United Methodist Mission. It was during one of these missions that he met his wife, a native of Fort Collins, Colorado. Sam moved to the United States in 2010 to join her there. They have one son.
Passionate about wanting to continue helping his people, every year Sam goes on a “Medical Mission Trip” to Cambodia with his local Christ United Methodist Church.
Being a native Cambodian, Sam understands the importance of clean water for the villagers of his home country, and is happy to be part of Trailblazer Foundation's efforts. Sam joined the Board in Fall, 2014.
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Mary Jo is a Wisconsin native with a lifelong interest in, and passion for, social and environmental issues. Currently residing in Denver, she manages Western Union’s Global Environmental, Health & Safety program.
Throughout her career, Mary Jo has worked in a variety of roles addressing environmental quality and sustainability at the corporate and community level. This included serving as director of Environmental, Health & Safety at Metech Recycling, sustainability manager at Corporate Express, director of Environmental Regulatory Software Design at Windsor Technologies, and owner and lead sustainability consultant at The Sustainability Group.
Mary Jo holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. She is an avid traveler, and when at home enjoys gardening, hiking, and horseback riding in the Rocky Mountains.
Mary Jo initially served on Trailblazer Foundation's Advisory Board, before going the Board of Directors in 2012.
Members of our Board of Directors hail from the United States, Cambodia (although now living in the states), and Canada. They bring experience in non-profit management, health, education and job skills training, sustainable development, and the ways of Cambodia and its culture. Meeting once a month by teleconference, and once a year in person, the Board plays a key role in establishing and monitoring Trailblazer's strategic direction, programmatic focus, and budgets.
Trailblazer Foundation also has a Board of Advisors, who, when called upon, provide the staff with expertise and insights related to their skills sets.
- Lee Burbank - Barbara Herz - Doug Schultz
- Pat Butts - Olivia Meigs - Sara VanGenderen
- Jim Darwiche - Bill Pettus - David Wendt
- Christine Denton - Nancy Pettus - Erin Youngberg
- Warren Garber - Karin Ralph
Don brings more than thirty years of experience in non-profit operations across the U.S. and Canada, and regularly consults with several 501(c)(3) organizations. Don's professional background is in the arts, with extensive experience in theatre, music, dance, television, and arts production management. He and his wife, Lizzie, currently live in Canada, where Don works in British Columbia's thriving film Industry.
Don's travels have taken him off the beaten path world-wide, where he finds the best of humanity living far from the politics and pavement of larger cities. One such place is Cambodia, whose people have found a warm place in Don's heart. Thus, he is quite excited to contribute in any way he can to their survival and well being.
Don was honored to join Trailblazer's Board in 2011, after years of cheerleading from the sidelines. More than anything else, Don was inspired to accept a Board position because of the integrity of the co-founders (Chris and Scott Coats), and the important work Trailblazer Foundation does.
Vandy was born and grew up in Cambodia. After finishing Bible College in Cambodia, she met her husband while he was traveling through Cambodia in 2003. After marrying, they lived in Washington State for four years, before moving to Colorado in 2008. They have a son.
Vandy currently works as a cook for an Assisted Living facility in Fort Collins. She enjoys camping, and loves to cook.
Vandy first heard about Trailblazer Foundation when she met co-founder Chris Coats at church. Vandy joined Trailblazer's Board of Directors in 2014, and pleased to be part of developing Cambodia in ways that improve her peoples' lives.