The Friends of IMCK is an association whose members include anyone with a heart for the people of DR Congo and the work being done by the Christian Medical Institute of Kasai. We are churches, organizations, missionaries, children or grandchildren of missionaries, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, individuals who have visited IMCK, and anyone who supports the work being done in the challenging environment of the Kasai region of this country.
The specific mission of the Friends of IMCK is to raise awareness of the Institute, establish and grow a permanent endowment fund, and promote fundraising for current needs at IMCK. We welcome all who are interested and encourage you to join our mailing list for our newsletter and other updates.
Friends of IMCK Board of Directors
Dr. Merle Miller is a daughter of Dr. John K. and Aurie Miller, co-founders of IMCK, and lived in Congo/Zaire through high school. She graduated from Tufts University with a degree in International Relations, worked at IMCK for a year, then returned to Boston for premedical coursework. Merle received her MD from UNC-Chapel Hill and while there did a research project at IMCK with Dr. Anthony Fauci. She trained in Emergency Medicine in Denver where she met her husband, Dr. Alex Maslanka. She practiced Emergency Medicine in Colorado for 22 years, was board certified in Palliative Care and practiced in Colorado and Northern California for 8 years. She and Alex, now retired, live in Boulder County, Colorado, and enjoy gardening, hiking, reading and travel.
Dr. William Pender has served as a Presbyterian minister for over 40 years—in North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee. His Ph.D. is from Duke University (with an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and M.Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary). In retirement, he and wife Sheri enjoy living in Montreat, NC. His connection to IMCK goes back to childhood, as his home congregation in Marietta, GA, regularly talked about the “mission work at Good Shepherd Hospital.” In his last pastorate at the First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, TN, he reconnected with the Rule family (Bill and Effie Rule, founding members of IMCK, had deep roots there—Bill grew up in Knoxville and the two of them lived in retirement there, with Effie serving as the first woman elder in the congregation).
Dr. Henry Sperry Nelson is the son of Henry and Katie Nelson, long time mission workers in China and Congo. They were instrumental in the founding and growth of the IMCK. Sperry grew up at Luebo and attended Central School at Lubondai until 1960. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and received his M.D. from the University of Tennessee. He is a Professor of Surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville where he is involved in education of residents and medical students. His area of special interest is endocrine and minimally invasive surgery.
Janet Irish (Treasurer) worked as a substitute teacher and community volunteer while raising her children. She and husband Bob served one term as mission co-workers in Zaire and Ethiopia. She received a Masters of Public Administration from Portland State University with an emphasis in Nonprofits . She spent the last 15 years of her career of as director of a volunteer program helping older adults, and served many years on the board of National Volunteer Caregivers Network. In retirement, Jan enjoys traveling and visiting their three children and three grandchildren in many parts of the world. Jan is an active member of First Presbyterian Church in McMinnville, Oregon and continues her involvement with nonprofits, particularly those involving immigration justice.
Dr. Sue Makin (Secretary), born and raised in Florida, graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville and had training in obstetrics and gynecology at Louisiana State University. She worked as a mission co-worker with the PCUSA at IMCK from 1989-1998. Enjoying the work and Africa, she moved south to work at Mulanje Mission Hospital in Mulanje, Malawi for 11 years. Then an opportunity to teach in the Nursing Department of Hannam University, Daejeon, South Korea appeared. She had a fascinating four-year experience at Hannam, but still had a desire to return to delivering babies and helping women in Africa. She is completing eight years as a volunteer Ob-Gyn at Daeyang Luke Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Robert Irish (Vice President) served as a Presbyterian mission co-worker at IMCK from 1989-93. With an engineering background, Bob worked with the maintenance and hydro teams in Tshikaji to ensure that the hospital ran smoothly and electricity and water was available. He received a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, and worked in the electronics and aerospace industries in engineering and program management. Bob has been active as an elder at First Presbyterian Church in McMinnville, Oregon and serves on the Mission Committee there.
Holly Miller was raised in the Congo as a daughter of Presbyterian medical missionaries, John and Aurie Miller. As a young person, she spent many hours helping out in her mother’s lab, sorting donated drugs in the pharmacy and later assisting her father with baby clinics and nutrition programs. She attended Central School, Emory University and did graduate work at the University of Georgia. After graduate school, she worked for Jimmy Carter as Governor and President. She spent most of her career working in the Pacific Northwest for both King County, Washington and the City of Seattle. She is married to John Gayman and has two children, Sam and Anne and two grandchildren, William Knox and Lila Anne.
Kent Galloway worked in finance for 40 years, the last 27 as the CFO of The ICEE Company. He earned a BS in Accounting, a CPA certificate, and an MBA in Finance. Kent has participated in mission trips to Uganda and Zimbabwe. He resides in Alta Loma, California, with his wife, and they have one daughter and two granddaughters. Kent recently published “Courage in the Congo: A Doctor’s Fight to Save the Pygmies,” based on 27 years of letters written by his second cousin. He enjoys beekeeping, and all honey sales support boy’s soccer and girl’s netball in Uganda. Kent is a member of New Song in San Dimas and he enjoys their Garden Ministry.
Elizabeth “Bizza” Britton is the daughter of Henry and Katie Nelson, long time mission workers in China and Congo. After graduating from Rhodes University in 1976, she joined the Peace Corps and served in Benin, followed by 2 years at the IMCK doing Public Health projects with Dr. John Miller. She returned to the US to pursue a Masters in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 1983, and spent the next 40 years in Baton Rouge as a Nurse Practitioner. The last 23 years, Bizza worked in the Louisiana prison system as a Hepatology (liver) specialist, working on the development and implementation of the first statewide Hepatitis C Elimination program that is now a model for the national effort spearheaded by Dr. Francis Collins. Retiring in Aug 2023, she and husband, Ed are looking forward to traveling to see friends, their two grown children and three grandkids, and hiking the rest of the Appalachian Trail, like her Mom!
Maureen Sarewitz has spent her career in global health and technology. She owns a consulting business that supports startups, social enterprises, and non-profits on digital strategy, marketing, and operations, and is the founder of Trove, an organization that brings visibility to diverse and talented professionals. She is a part-time faculty member at the University of Washington where she teaches Project Management to MPH students and serves as a mentor to entrepreneurship students. Previously, Maureen spent four years living and working in sub-Saharan Africa, including with a local NGO in Tanzania and for the International Training and Education Center on Health in Tanzania and Namibia. Maureen lives in Seattle with her husband, Jeff, and enjoys her dogs, hiking and cheering on Seattle sports teams.