Every journey has heroes that positively influence the lives of hundreds of people.

In 2014 Amizade had the honor to present the first cohort of Hall of Fame inductees at our 20th Anniversary and Fundraiser in Pittsburgh, PA. The extraordinary people listed below helped us shape our 25-year history of global service-learning around the world, and they embody the core values of Amizade at its maximum.

Meet the first group of Hall of Famers presented by Amizade and keep an eye out for the second group to be announced at the Amizade 25th Anniversary and Fundraiser this year.

Jean Carla Costas | Amizade Bolivia, Site Director

JC joined Amizade as our site director in Bolivia in 1998, and since then she has collaborated with us by hosting groups of students and individual volunteers in her community. She has worked on community development projects ranging from direct-services with at-risk youth to overseeing construction projects in schools. She holds a degree in business from the Universidad Mayor de San Simón, has studied entrepreneurship at Boston University, and is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Marvin and Martie Wachs | Amizade Supporters

Since 2003 longtime volunteers and supporters, Marvin and Martie Wachs have been assisting our community partner the CEOLI Foundation in Bolivia, where they have volunteered for over a decade through Amizade programs. Their tireless efforts and passion for the community of Cochabamba catalyzed many social action projects, such as the building of classrooms and pools for swimming classes. Marvin and Martie are also the most generous donors in Amizade’s history, having committed over $100,000 in funding to sustain the CEOLI Cards Project for a decade.

Mr. Matthias Brown | Amizade Jamaica, Site Director

Mr. Matthias Brown has been Amizade’s Site Director in Jamaica for over a decade. But being Amizade’s chief on the ground is just one small bullet point on his lengthy resume. Mr. Brown’s contributions to his community and his country are beyond remarkable. A former sugar worker, Mr. Brown is a labor leader, a community leader, and a pioneer in international education. He is a social justice lion and the proud recipient of the Badge of Honor and the Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance, as well as many other prestigious community development recognitions.

Steven Alexander | Amizade Brazil, Former Site Director

Former Peace Corps director in Brasilia, travel advocate, and writer Steven Winn Alexander brilliantly served as our Brazil Site Director for many years while Amizade expanded to other corners of the world. Originally from Carson City, Nevada, Steven traveled the world before ending up in Santarem, more specifically in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. His passion for the community and the Brazilian culture inspired hundreds of individuals who traveled to Santarem to serve and learn with Amizade. He also followed the Buddhist saying: he planted a tree, wrote a book, and raised a child.

Dan Weiss | Amizade Founder and first Site Director

Daniel began Amizade in 1994 to provide opportunities for individuals and groups to be able to take part in educational, environmental, health, welfare, and other service projects around the world. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota. He worked full time with Amizade until 2001 when he became executive director of Amazon Africa Aid, an organization he helped co-found that was dedicated to supporting the work of the Fundação Esperança, a nonprofit health and education organization.

Weiss has taught service-learning courses in international development for Amizade, including our semester course in Brazil. Over the years, Weiss has been very active in other causes including serving as the president of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor North (MI) and helping found Abraços, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting youth at risk in Rio de Janeiro. Weiss has been honored by the US State Department, Arab Gulf Fund of the United Nations, Firestone Company, Volvo USA, the Points of Light Foundation, and Giraffe Project. He currently lives in Vila Velha, Brazil with his wife Geli, Amizade’s former Brazil Site Director.