Board Update and Recruitment

Board Update and Recruitment

On December 5, 20202, we held our annual board meeting and elected the new officers. We excited to announce our new board chair Adam Pederson and new secretary Rita Apaloo. Also, Diane Anastos will continue her role as treasurer for the fifth year and Beyan Gonowolo will remain the fundraising team chair. Please click on their names to read their bios.

2021 Uniting Distant Stars Leadership Team

Additionally, we want to give a special Thank You to Philip Kaleewoun who served as Board Chair for three consecutive years. He guided Uniting Distant Stars in developing their first strategic plan in 2018. And helped ensure we executed some of its goals such as installing solar panels. He will remain on the board as a member.


Furthermore, we want to extend our heartfelt Thanks to Yakasah Wehyee who resigned from the board. He will focus on completing his doctorate program. He served for about a year and a half and greatly helped with writing project concepts. So, we wish him all the best as he peruses his Ph.D.

Recruiting Two Board Members

As we move into 2021, we are seeking two new board members. If you or someone you know is interested in helping us reach more of our goals, please review or share our posting (click here).

Meet Yakasah Wehyee, New Board Member

Meet Yakasah Wehyee, New Board Member

Yakasah Wehyee

Please join us in congratulating Yakasah Wehyee as our newest board member! He brings a wealth of knowledge and non-profit experience, having worked with organizations like YMCA and Project for Pride in Living. He hopes to advance our mission and vision with his program management and community building skills. We are excited to have him on board.

Learn more about Yakasah by reading his bio: Yakasah grew up in Minnesota where he attended primary and secondary school in the Minneapolis school district and graduated from St. Francis High School. Yakasah’s commitment to community service developed in these formative years where he served as student council president, organized national night-outs and other community events. Yakasah has continued to advocate and serve the need of underserved populations such as being Community Organizer for All Parks Alliance for Change, Senior Fellow for the McVay Youth Partnership Program, and Senior Coordinator and Program Manager for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. Yakasah earned his BA in political science and history from Hamline University and his MA at the University of Minnesota. He is a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota where he studies comparative politics and international relations. Yakasah’s research centers on understanding why dominant party dictatorships rise and fall, with an emphasis on Liberia’s dominant party regime from 1878-1980. Yakasah joined the UDS board in 2019. As a Liberian refugee, he is grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of young Liberians on the African continent through Uniting Distant Stars.

Meet Our New Board Member: Beyan Gonowolo

Meet Our New Board Member: Beyan Gonowolo

Please join us in congratulating Beyan Gonowolo, as he is our new board member. Beyan has been one of our raving fans since 2014. We first met at the Minnesota State University, Mankato Liberian Students Association fundraiser for Uniting Distant Stars in May 2014. He shared how he read our entire website. We reconnected at the “Take Back Africa Summit” at the University of Minnesota on June 17, 2018, and he started helping as a volunteer.  We are excited to have him join our team! Please read Beyan’s bio to learn more about him:



Beyan Gonowolo

Beyan Gonowolo is a co-founder of the Liberian Student Association at Minnesota State University, Mankato and a longtime member and co-founder of the African Student Organization for Development and Progress at Minnesota State, Mankato. Beyan was born in Liberia but migrated to Minnesota to join his family and to obtain a quality education.


Growing up in Liberia during much of the country’s civil war exposed Beyan to the harsh reality facing war-torn countries. Beyan draws strength from his experience by partnering and working with solution-based organizations that are making a positive impact in Liberia and around the world.

Beyan has been inspired by the work that “Uniting Distant Stars” is doing in Liberia and is exceptionally honored to join the team to help develop and increase the organization’s capacity. His goal is to ensure UDS can grow financially to provide more opportunities for young people in Liberia.

Beyan currently works for a civil engineering company in Minnesota and has experience in design engineering, surveying, and construction inspection.

Press Release: Announcing 2 New Board Members

Press Release: Announcing 2 New Board Members

Minnesota, November 23, 2015: Uniting Distant Stars is happy to announce our new board members Philip Kaleewoun II and Florkime Paye, who were officially installed on October 25. Philip is new to UDS while Florkime has served as our volunteer project coordinator since 2014. Philip is a very active youth leader in Minnesota with organizations like Volunteers in Partnership, Rotaract, and Athletics Committed to Educating Students (ACES). Florkime is an international development professional, volunteering with Minnesota International NGO Network, interned in Liberia with Women’s Movement for Sustainable Development, and taught English in South Korea. Both Philip and Florkime bring a wealth of experience to UDS and we are fortunate to have them on board. Please read more about our new board members on our About UDS and Team.

Congratulations Philip and Florkime!!!

Uniting Distant Stars™, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax deductible organization registered non-profit corporation in Minnesota, and accredited and registered no-government organization (NGO) in Liberia, West Africa. Its programs serve youth in Liberia. We provide educational support with scholarships and school supply drives. We also offer innovative programming such as our Backpacks for Peace to cultivate future leaders. For more information, please contact us at [email protected].