AFARI Supports ARI

American Friends of Asian Rural Institute ( AFARI ) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization registered in Connecticut. We welcome your donations in support of the Asian Rural Institute’s efforts to nurture and train rural leaders at the grassroots of Asia, Africa and the Pacific.


J.B. Hoover
Executive Director.

J.B. was born in Kentucky, the land where many people use initials to identify themselves. He left the Bluegrass state, via the Hoosier state (Earlham College in Richmond, IN) to accept a fellowship at KEEP in the middle of rural Japan.  He spent six months struggling with Japanese, followed by six months in Tokyo studying it, which is probably not the preferred order. Far east winds blew him back and forth from Japan to the Philippines, where he eventually settled for four years working with Indochinese refugees from the Vietnam War.

After four years of graduate school back in the U.S., he had enough eclectic experiences to qualify to be an ARI staff member. For eleven years, J.B. and his family thrived at ARI. Moving back to the U.S. coincided with AFARI looking for a part-time staff member. J.B. said he would help out for a couple of years, which was in 2006. Although AFARI may feel stuck with him, J.B. wouldn’t have it any other way as he “feels honored and humbled to work with such an amazing group of people as ARI supporters.”

Dave Coatsworth
Administrative Associate


ARI members – Ex-officio

Tomoko Arakawa,
ARI Director, Nasushiobara, Japan.

Kathy Froede,
ARI Ecumenical Relations, Nasushiobara, Japan

AFARI Directors


Bev Abma,
Secretary, Byron Center, MI

Bev Abma is a long-term overseas development worker. With a B.Sc. in Nursing, she participated in pediatric nursing in Canada; overseas development and domestic disaster response with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now World Renew); founding Foods Resource Bank

(FRB, now known as Growing Hope Globally) and leading its overseas food security programming; and completed graduate impact study for the Asian Rural Institute (ARI). She now serves on the boards of FRB (emerita) and American Friends of ARI (AFARI) in addition to consulting and leading vision groups to various countries.

 Paul Hastings,
Vice President, Tokyo, Japan

Paul Hastings is the Executive Director and CEO of the Japan ICU Foundation. He joined the JICUF staff in 2006, and served in numerous positions before assuming the Executive Director role in September 2015.

Paul is a graduate of Bowdoin College and received his MA in International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He is the recipient of the Aspen Institute’s Nakasone Scholarship. Paul spent 11 formative years in Japan, living in Kanazawa, Kobe and Tokyo between the ages of 4 and 18. He lives with his wife and two sons in Maplewood, NJ.

Margret Hofmeister,
Board President, Branford, CT.

Rev. Margret Hofmeister is a Connecticut native, born and raised in Branford, where she was a member of the First Congregational Church. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary, she is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ 

and currently serves as Sr. Minister of the First Church of Christ, Congregational in New Britain, CT. Margret joined the AFARI Board in 2007, and has held the position of Board President since 2014. A highlight of her tenure was traveling to ARI in 2013 to participate in the 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Ellen Palmer Marsey
Sarasota, FL.

The Rev. Ellen Palmer Marsey had a career in office management and accounting prior to entering the ministry in 1997. For ten years she served churches as an associate pastor, senior pastor and as an Interim/Transitional Ministry Specialist. Rev. Marsey has served on committees and boards within the United Church of Christ

as well as non-profit boards including North Ridgeville Community Care and Deaconess Community Foundation. She joined the AFARI Board of Directors in 2011 and has held the positions of Secretary and Vice President.

Elizabeth Mooy
Freemont, MI.

Beth is a retired educator living in Fremont, Michigan. Her career spanned more than 35 years in three countries. Most of her experience was as an elementary teacher in Fremont, Michigan, but she also taught in Tokyo, Japan, and at the end of her career worked as a librarian and dorm parent at a boarding school near London, England. Living with and teaching children from different cultural backgrounds has enriched her life and encouraged her to continue to appreciate and explore diversity in our world.

During Beth’s visits to other countries, she discovered that the goals and aspirations that we share as human beings are far more significant than our differences. Beth has served as a board director for both Growing Hope Globally (formerly Foods Resource Bank) and the Fremont Area District Library in addition to volunteering locally.

Robert Ray
Dunbarton, NH

Bob is an Electrical engineer with extensive project management and system design experience in software systems. He began his career at AT&T Bell Labs, moving on to Northern Telecom, Sanders Associates(BAE systems), Digital, Sybase, Lucent Technologies and IBM. Now retired, he is currently doing web design work, maintaining and updating 10 websites.

He is a founding member & webmaster of Community Dunbarton, Transition Dunbarton, and a member of the Dunbarton NH Energy Committee, actively working to promote energy efficiency and solar projects, and helping to foster NH energy hubs. He is active in the First Congregational Church (UCC) of Dunbarton and the NH conference UCC. Bob has been a member of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of Asian Rural Institute (ARI ) and webmaster since 2014 and has volunteered at ARI three times.

Craig Rice
Treasurer, Northfield, MN

Craig is Director of Enterprise Infrastructure, in the Information Technology department at St. Olaf College

Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak
Northfield, MN.

Kathy teaches in the Asian Studies and Political Science departments at St. Olaf College. Don Tarr, college roommate of Takami Sensei who taught at St. Olaf for 31 years, first introduced her to the Asian Rural Institute, when she moved to Northfield in 2003.

His enthusiastic endorsements, alongside those of other Northfield friends and colleagues, inspired Kathy to build on the St. Olaf/ARI connection by setting up summer student internships and an interim course that spends three weeks on the ARI campus during January. Kathy joined the AFARI board in 2017.

Eugene Witt
Bay City, MI

Prior to retirement, Gene taught math and was the Director of Technology at the American School in Japan, Tokyo, Japan from 1977-2016.

He graduated from Concordia College, Seward, Nebraska and started his teaching career at Minneapolis Lutheran High School. Gene coordinated several hardware donations between ARI and ASIJ and has made numerous ARI trips. He also served in many capacities at Tokyo’s St. Paul Lutheran and West Tokyo Union Church.