June 2018 Newsletter

Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters:

First, thank you all very much for your responses, kind words, prayers, and donations since the last newsletter. The outpouring of support and encouragement has truly meant so much to me and I cannot thank you all enough! This experience has reminded me that God has blessed me with an incredible husband, family, group of friends, and professional network!

I’m very excited to share that a lot has happened over the last month since the last newsletter was sent! By early May, I recruited an 11-person Board of Directors for the Maria Lida Foundation. Thus, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Maria Lida Foundation’s First Board of Directors which includes:

Patrick O’Neill (President)
Rosemary Meza (Vice President)
Maria Callaghan (Treasurer)
Amy Marshall (Secretary)
Ruth Fisher
Elsa Heffernan
Jose Meza
Paula Moscoso
Dr. Brian O’Neill
Charles O’Neill
James Roach

As you can see, my father, Patrick O’Neill, is the President of the Board. Dad, thank you very much for taking on this role and offering love, support, guidance, and a willingness to help me pursue my dream. I am very appreciative of the time and effort you’ve spent with me working on this, and hope that I make you proud!

The Maria Lida Foundation’s Board of Directors brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in nonprofit organizations, business, tourism, and Ecuador. I am certain that they will help propel the organization forward and be instrumental to its success! To Maria Lida Foundation’s First Board of Directors, welcome to the team and thank you for your service to the organization!

In early May, our first Board of Directors’ meeting was held as the first step to legally incorporate the organization. The meeting went very well, and the Board decided that the Foundation’s mission will revolve around promoting economic development in Alausí, Ecuador, through tourism, education, and training programs. The Board also officially designated me as the CEO of the Maria Lida Foundation -- a role that I am thrilled to take on!

On May 18, 2018, I officially graduated with my Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University in St. Louis. I was pleased to have graduated with Honors in Innovation from the Program. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my husband, James, for his love and support throughout my MBA journey and encouraging me to pursue my dream. In addition, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my parents, James’ parents, my sisters, my brother, and James’ sisters for traveling to St. Louis to celebrate this milestone with James and me. James and I love each of you dearly!

In late May, the Maria Lida Foundation was officially legally incorporated in the State of Michigan. I would like to extend thanks to the Foundation’s Board of Directors for helping me with this process.

In early June, I officially moved out of St. Louis back to Detroit, Michigan. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to my father-in-law for helping me with the move! I truly do not know how I would have moved without his help. Now that I am back in my home State, I am excited to spend time with family and friends and explore Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem over the next few weeks!

Finally, I am very excited to announce that in early July I will travel with my Dad to Ecuador to begin working on the ground. I am very excited for this experience and pray that the Maria Lida Foundation will have a meaningful impact on the community of Alausí. I also pray that the spirit of my Grandmother, Maria Lida Toledo Benalcazar de O’Neill, will be with me during my journey.

Again, many thanks to each of you for your kind words, prayers, and support during this process. You all have helped me gain the strength and courage to pursue this God-given dream. I am very grateful to have you all in my life and look forward to reporting the organization’s progress in the next newsletter. 


Shannon Turner

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