Board of Directors

Pal Craftaid Board 2012

Board Members

Carol Hylkema, President; Dearborn, MI.Carol Hylkema
Carol Hylkema is a church volunteer for a lifetime. She has sold Pal Craftaid inventory off and on since 2000 and joined Pal Craftaid in 2007. She has been to Palestine 5 times since 1986. Each time the facts on the ground are far more desperate and humiliating for Palestinians. Working with Pal Craftaid is a positive way to not only help skilled artisans find a market for their work but to help Palestinians through programs and agencies on the ground. Each time she is in Palestine, Carol is amazed by the resiliency of the Palestinians and the hope and commitment that they exude despite the occupation which surrounds their lives.
Mary Witherspoon, Vice President; Huntsville, AL.Mary Witherspoon
Mary Witherspoon is a retired college English instructor. She joined Pal Craftaid in 2008 because of her deep concern for the Palestinian people. She and her husband, Newell, went to Palestine for the first time in 2011 and were most impressed with the hospitality of the people and amazed at their resiliency in the face of the occupation.
Virginia Priest, Treasurer; Tacoma, WA.Virginia Priest
Virginia Priest is a retired accountant. She worked as an auditor in banking, and then spent 15 years as the financial director of Associated Ministries, a nonprofit ecumenical organization in Tacoma WA before retiring. Virginia has been associated with Pal Craftaid since 1999, keeping the organization’s accounting records long before it became an independent nonprofit organization. She visited Palestine for the first time in 2011 when she traveled there with other members of the board. She states that “the trip opened my eyes and heart in a very personal way to the inhumane conditions of the occupation that Palestinians must deal with everyday.  But despite those conditions, I found them to be loving, warm, hospitable and hopeful people.” Virginia loves being able to contribute her accounting background to the work of Pal Craftaid.
Rev. Jean Henderson, Secretary; Pittsburgh, PA.Jean Henderson
Jean Henderson has served as a PCUSA active and retired pastor for over forty years in Western Pennsylvania. She joined Pal Craftaid in 2008 at the request of founder Liz Knott whose dedication to the peace effort in Palestine convinced Jean to take more action. Having been an admirer and purchaser of Pal Craftaid olivewood and handcrafted items, Jean enjoys serving on the Board and selling items, believing that our efforts can be one firm avenue toward justice and peace.
Ervin Bullock; St. Augustine, FL.Ervin Bullock
Ervin Bullock is retired from twenty years on staff with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. While there she helped lead a group of 100 Presbyterians to Israel Palestine where they sought to better understand the conflict and ways to work for justice and peace there. On her trips to this area she has met many peacemakers, Jewish, Muslim and Christian, Palestinian and Israeli working together for justice and peace. Their courage, commitment and hope give her hope and encourage her. Ervin believes that justice and peace in Israel Palestine is critical in our pursuit of peace in other areas of the world as well as in our “war on terror”.
Sara HumphreySarah Humphrey; Atlanta, GA.
Sarah Humphrey works for peace and justice at The Open Door Community in Atlanta, GA. She joined Pal Craftaid in 2007. As the past Director of Presbyterian Answer to Hunger (Presbytery of Greater Atlanta), she has led 11 trips to Israel/Palestine to educate Presbyterians about the region and to deepen their understanding of the Israeli Occupation. She finds hope in the growing efforts of the Israeli and Palestinian peace communities who are working towards a just resolution to the conflict.
Jenny Y. Kim; Oakland, CA.
Jenny Y. Kim is an attorney and mediator in Oakland, California.  She practices in the area of federal Indian and tribal law, and also mediates regularly in several court-approved programs in the Alameda County Superior Courts.  For the past four years, Ms. Kim has served on the Partnership Working Group of the San Francisco Presbytery, working to help churches partner in carrying out their mission work and providing small grants to local congregations’ peacemaking and hunger projects.  Ms. Kim is also a member of Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Oakland.  Ms. Kim graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and while at Rhodes, lived in Jerusalem for a semester abroad in 1992 to study the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  After graduating from law school in 1997 and before moving into private practice, Ms. Kim worked in public interest law for a California nonprofit serving California Indians and tribes.  Ms. Kim has served as a delegate to the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism in South Africa for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.  In 2004, Ms. Kim received recognition by the Coalition of Minority Bar Associations in the San Francisco Bay Area for outstanding service to the legal community.
Rev. Alexa Smith; Louisville, KY.Alexa Smith
Alexa Smith joined the Pal Craftaid Board in 2010. She won numerous press awards while working as a journalist covering the experience of the Christian community under occupation and the impact of the continuing conflict on ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. Alexa works for the Presbyterian Church (USA) Hunger Program and is a Presbyterian minister in the Ohio Valley Presbytery in southern Indiana.
Corita Swanson; Maryville, TN.Corita Swanson
Corita Swanson is a retired public service social worker who is still volunteering in her Maryville community using her skills. She is a lifelong Presbyterian and has been active in the church at different levels and with Presbyterian Women. Elizabeth Knott was a classmate at Maryville College and Corita has followed her work with the Palestinians for several years. She was impressed with the hope of the people despite the oppression that they live with and is committed to helping families with the goal of justice in the future. She is developing sales in the Tennessee and surrounding area.
Rev. Madison VanVeelen; Indianapolis, IN.
Rev. Madison VanVeelen serves a church in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she lives with her husband, Eric, and their dog, Kiba. Madison grew up in Ocala, Florida, obtained her undergraduate degree at The Florida State University, and completed her theological studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Many of the most formative experiences in Madison’s life involve traveling or service, or some combination of the two. From studying abroad in Panama and China during college, to serving as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer in Kerala, India, to participating in the fall 2012 olive harvest in Palestine, Madison has a deep, enduring interest in the beauty, brokenness, and diversity of God’s world. Witnessing the injustice and cruelty of the occupation of Palestine has led Madison to believe that Pal Craftaid’s work is vitally important as it contributes to the livelihood of Palestinian artisans and their families and supports the good work of schools and organizations caring for and equipping some of the most vulnerable in Palestinian society.

Emeriti Members

Rev. Elizabeth Knott; Indianola, IA.Liz Knott
“Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down,” according to Kobi Yamada. This is exactly what I did in borrowing $16,000 from a businessman in  order to purchase inventory of Palestinian crafts for the Women’s Gathering in 1993. This has been an exciting and rewarding God-venture!
Connie DePond; Indianola, IA.Connie DePond
Connie DePond was a gerontological nurse clinician. Has been with Pal Craftaid from the beginning, assisting the founder, Rev. Elizabeth Knott. Have visited Palestine/Israel 16 times since 1994. Each time I am amazed at the resilience of the Palestinian people in the face of all the closures, checkpoints and restrictions their lives experience.

Distribution Coordinator

Kirsten Johnston, South Lyon, MI.Kirsten Johnston