September/October 2018 Newsletter

Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters:

Hello from Alausí! I am back in Ecuador for a few months to continue working on our mission to create economic development in Alausí! It was great to spend time with my family and friends in Michigan, but I am ready to continue working hard to achieve my dream in Ecuador.

My Time in Michigan

As noted in the last newsletter, I spent about two weeks in Michigan (my Home State) with family and friends and fundraising for the Foundation. Our Board President, Patrick, and I had a meeting at the historic Detroit Athletic Club with a potential supporter of the Foundation. The potential supporter has a lot of experience in philanthropy and nonprofit work, and I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with her. She was in Detroit as a guest of the city’s event called “Detroit Homecoming” where influential people with a connection to Detroit meet and discuss the city’s opportunities. I very much enjoyed meeting with this potential supporter and hear more about her career. It was also inspiring for me to learn from a strong and influential woman who has accomplished many things. I am hopeful that our meeting will soon lead to a partnership!  

In Michigan, I also met with Board Members in person or over the phone (which is much easier to accomplish while in the States) to discuss my progress. My meetings have confirmed that the Maria Lida Foundation has a fantastic Board of Directors who have insightful comments, feedback, and relevant experience that support our mission. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to have these individuals helping me work towards the goal of promoting economic development in Alausí!

In addition to working for the Foundation while in Michigan, I also was blessed to be able to spend quality time with my family and friends. It is always great to be home.

My Michigan visit showed me that while it is important to work as hard as you can to achieve your dream, it is also important to set aside some time every once in awhile to relax and spend time with your loved ones. I am very glad that I did that and am feeling refreshed and ready to continue making progress in Ecuador!

Back in Alausí

Over the past few weeks in Ecuador, I have been busy working on navigating legal issues and creating some type of entity here which will allow us to operate in the country legally. As I guess I should have expected, not very much can happen until we cross this important milestone. We are being advised by attorneys which fortunately for me, at least until I become fluent in Spanish, can explain complex legal things to me in English. Navigating the legal structures of two countries has been a long and interesting process for me, but we are on our way and I look forward to obtaining a legal entity in Ecuador soon. To our attorneys and Executive Committee, thank you very much for your time and assistance in this process. I am excited for the Maria Lida Foundation to achieve this milestone and appreciate your role in helping to make it happen!

My time in Alausí has also consisted of working hard to establish the plan whereby the Maria Lida Foundation will sponsor basic and intensive English courses catered to the tourism industry to adults in the community. As noted in the last newsletter, the feedback we received from many stakeholders in Alausí was that they would like to have the opportunity to learn basic English to better communicate with tourists who visit Alausí but do not speak Spanish. In addition, they believe that learning this skill will help them to either gain employment in the tourism industry and/or provide better customer service to tourists in Alausí. Thus, it is my hope that the Foundation will be able to sponsor pilot basic and intensive English courses to the community sometime within the next month or so. If the Foundation can accomplish this, it will be the first real and tangible activity of impact to help the community of Alausí. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I continue to navigate the process of starting this important initiative.

Board Member Kudos

I would like to congratulate Amy Marshall, our Board Secretary, for being named an Honoree of Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 under 40 Business Leaders” in 2018.  Amy has a tremendous background in business, board governance, and community service. 

You may access the Grand Rapids Business Journal article here (Amy is on page 32):

Congratulations, Amy! I am honored to have you as our Board Secretary and grateful for your service to the Maria Lida Foundation!

WashU Consulting Team

As reported in our last newsletter, the Foundation will partner with the Olin Business School’s Center for Experiential Learning (“CEL”) at Washington University in St. Louis (“WashU”). This partnership is very exciting for the Foundation and officially starts in a few weeks. The CEL recently announced the MBA students and faculty members who will be working on the consulting project. I was very pleased with the MBA student team as they have a wealth of knowledge and experience in business, international development, nonprofit management, social enterprises, education, consulting, and Spanish. In addition, the CEL team will be advised by fantastic Olin Business School faculty members and fellows.

To the WashU Olin Business School students and faculty members, we look forward to working with you and know that you will help propel the Maria Lida Foundation forward!

How to Support and Stay Connected

Last but certainly not least, please remember that we continue to need your financial support.  

If you are able  to make a monetary donation to the Maria Lida Foundation, please do so online at

Also, please consider following our progress online through the following platforms:



Instagram: @marialidafoundation or

Thank You

As always, thank you all very much for your interest and support of the Maria Lida Foundation!


Shannon Turner