Our Team

“I want to give back because much has been given to me.”

ERIC RAJAH

Executive Director and Co-founder

Eric Rajah co-founded A Better World in 1990 with his friend Brian Leavitt. Since then, he has held the role of Executive Director. Eric is passionate about helping and inspiring people both around the world and at home. He’s traveled with over 2,800 volunteers to project sites in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Bolivia, and Afghanistan. Eric loves enabling and encouraging young people to follow their dreams of helping others as well.

“I want to give back because much has been given to me.”

“A dream was developed 30 years ago to do something to make the world a better place. ABW has been the fulfillment of that dream.”

BRIAN LEAVITT

Project Director and Co-founder

In 1990, Brian Leavitt started A Better World with his friend Eric. Since then, he has traveled many times to East Africa to assess projects and project sites. Meeting with community leaders, teachers, and medical professionals, Brian ensures that each community we serve is working toward their development priorities. Brian is currently retired and working as a volunteer with ABW; he lives in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.

“A dream was developed 30 years ago to do something to make the world a better place. ABW has been the fulfillment of that dream.”

Board Members

RON SYDENHAM

Chair, Board of Directors

Ron is a retired head pastor of College Heights Church in Lacombe, AB. He has volunteered for ABW since 1998, first as the head of the
Steering Committee, now as the Board Chair. He has traveled with ABW several times to East Africa and Belize, as well as to Haiti and Louisiana for relief efforts.

“I volunteer for the privilege of learning from other people and cultures, and to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

STU MACPHAIL

Treasurer, Board of Directors
Water Program Manager

Stu has volunteered with A Better World since 2004 where he has focused on our water program and project monitoring and evaluation. He has been on many trips to various project locations and is currently the ABW Water Program Manager. Stu retired after 35 years in the Oil & Gas Industry, where he was most recently Executive VP of Corporate Development for the Parkland Fuel Corporation.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with A Better World. Seeing lives changed and saved through the water program has inspired me to give back.”

JULIE LAPOINTE

Secretary, Board of Directors

Julie (right) first began raising money for A Better World when she was in high school, collecting the necessary funds to build new classrooms and toilets at the Kiprengwe Primary School in Kericho, Kenya. She traveled to the site herself for the first time in 2006 and since then, she has been actively involved in engaging with students to raise money for communities in need. Julie is now a teacher at the Ponoka Secondary Campus where she continues to undertake projects with A Better World while inspiring the next generation of humanitarians in her own classroom to make the world a better place.

GORD BONTJE

Member, Board of Directors

Gord is a Founding Partner of Laebon Homes, based in Red Deer, AB, and has been a supporter of A Better World since 1999. In 2006, Gord began volunteering his own time and energy to travel to project sites throughout Eastern Africa, overseeing the impact which his support has fostered. Gord is passionate about development and he has frequently demonstrated his dedication to seeing impoverished communities improve their standard of living. He has sponsored an immense number of A Better World projects and his generosity has and continues to shape the lives of thousands of people around the world. A Better World is grateful to Gord and his wife Kate for the support they have shown for more than twenty years.

AZALEA LEHNDORFF

Member, Board of Directors

Afghanistan Project Manager

Azalea Lehndorff has been an advocate for education for all since she was a young girl. Graduating from the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine in 2018, she strives to impact lives through both
education and healthcare. Starting the 100 Classrooms Project in 2009, Azalea raised over $1 million to build a total of 101 classrooms for
students in Afghanistan—the project was completed in 2018 and the Ground Up Campaign has followed.

“I am passionate about bringing opportunity to girls in Afghanistan. A Better World made it possible for that dream to be realized.”

RAY LOXDALE

Member, Board of Directors

Ray and his wife Kelly live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They have two grown children, Julia and Zachary. Ray’s international travels while volunteering have taken him to humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, India, Kenya, Peru, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Thailand. Ray says his most rewarding experiences while working with humanitarian groups is seeing the change in ordinary Canadians as they begin to understand people of other cultures. By educating Canadians on how they can make a beneficial difference in the world and then engaging them in community-based partnerships, the world will become a better place. When Ray isn’t traveling, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends and participating in many outdoor activities, especially fly fishing and boating.

Our Staff

JULIE STEGMAIER

JULIE STEGMAIER

Director of Operations and Donor Relations Coordinator

info@abwcanada.ca

If you’ve ever called the ABW office, you’ve probably talked to Julie. She holds down the fort in Lacombe, AB, managing project finances, humanitarian trips, and more. Starting in 2010, she first volunteered with ABW before becoming a full-time employee. Julie has traveled many times with ABW to Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda to visit project sites and work with the communities that we serve.

JACQUI MCCARTY

Executive Assistant

Jacqui graduated from Burman University in 2016 with a Bachelors in English. After interning for 3 years and then working full-time as the Communications Specialist at ABW, she took a 2-year hiatus as an elementary school teacher in Palau, Micronesia. Prior to that, she traveled to Kenya 5 times and lived near Nairobi for 10 months as a high school teacher. She returned to ABW in 2020 as the Executive Assistant, continuing to pursue her passion of making the world a better place.

LARRY GASCOYNE

Volunteer, Finances

Larry was the Treasurer for ABW for 12 years. He was also a member of the Board of Directors. Larry is retired and volunteers for ABW in the financial areas. He lives in Lacombe, AB