Board Members

Dinah Bear, Chair

Dinah Bear, ChairDinah Bear began involvement in causes involving migrants, when, growing up in southern California, she began volunteering as a high school student to support the Delano grape strike and boycott and learned about the plight of migrants generally. She began volunteering for Humane Borders in 2003.

Professionally, Dinah works in the field of environmental law and policy. She served for many years as General Counsel for both Democratic and Republican administrations at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, the environmental agency in the Executive Office of the President. Ms. Bear has chaired the Standing Committee on Environmental Law of the American Bar Association and the Environment Section of the District of Columbia Bar Association. She received the Chairman’s Award from the Natural Resources Council of America, the Distinguished Service Award from the Sierra Club, and the Distinguished Achievement Award in Environmental Law and Policy from the American Bar Association.

Ms. Bear now lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she remains professionally active in environmental law and policy with a special focus on the borderlands. She received a Bachelors of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1974, and graduated from McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, California, in 1977.

Bob Feinman, Vice Chair

Bob Feinman, Vice ChairBorn and raised in the New York City area I was never far away from the Spanish language (remember West Side Story?). I arrived in Tucson in 1967, by then having become fluent in Spanish, to attend the University of Arizona. Quite by accident, I ended up in the radio business. First in the English language, and then in the Spanish language. My radio career lasted 40 years and took me to Phoenix for a while, and then back to Tucson where I live today.

I am the grandchild of Jewish immigrants. Each year we’d celebrate the Passover Seder at their homes. The story of the Exodus, of our being lost in the desert, and my grandparents flight from Europe had a profound effect on me. A few years ago, I read about a group called Humane Borders. Their mission is to prevent people lost in our deserts from suffering, as we did in the Sinai.

I am a Spanish speaking Jew that the Hispanic community of Arizona accepted with open arms. How could I not want to be a part of Humane Borders? Its mission is part of my heritage.

Ildefonso "Poncho" Chavez, Treasurer

Ildefonso Poncho Chavez currently serves as the Managing Director of the Eller Economic Development Program at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. He grew up in Coahuila, Mexico, moved to Monterrey where he graduated from the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon with a degree in finance, accounting and auditing.

Poncho is especially noted for his service to Central American families seeking refuge in the United States.

He moved to the United States in 1990, first living in Minnesota, where he obtained degrees in both accounting and English. After moving to Tucson, he became involved with Humane Borders in 2006 and joined the Board in 2010, becoming Treasurer in 2016. Poncho is well known to many border groups in southern Arizona and is especially noted for his service to Central American families seeking refuge in the United States.

Dan Abbott, Phoenix Representative

Dan Abbott, Phoenix Representative Dan grew up as a “missionary kid” in India, where his parents taught at a Bible College. He became psychiatric social worker who was employed in public schools as a consultant and advisor to emotionally handicapped children.

Together with Catherine May, his wife, who is a historian at the Salt River Project, he has five children and ten grandchildren. He is a member of and Deacon at the University Presbyterian Church in Tempe where has also taught adult education and is on the board of Presbyterian Border Region Outreach.

"We ... walk together on a journey of peace to remember people, friends and family who have died." - Migrant Walk

He is on the organizing committee of the Migrant Trail Walk, a 75 mile walk from Sasabe to Tucson that occurs each year. Dan became involved with Humane Borders since 2004 and has driven dozens of water runs from Phoenix to areas of the west desert in southern Arizona. He also enjoys walking and has walked the Camino de Santiago.

Norm Baker, Phoenix Representative

Norm Baker, Phoenix RepresentativeNorm Baker has been a volunteer for Humane Borders since 2002. “I believe very strongly in this lifesaving work and hope for a day when good people in search of a better life can cross the border legally and safely,” he says.

“I ... hope for a day when good people in search of a better life can cross the border legally and safely.”

I have been a contractor here in Arizona for 30 years building custom homes, and have recently retired. Originally from Nebraska, I studied at the University in Lincoln, and earned a Masters degree in microbiology. I worked a few years for a major pharmaceutical company, but realized I didn’t enjoy that somewhat confining lab work for a big corporation. I went back to hands on work building things for people and have found much more satisfaction. I still do some small remodel projects, woodworking in my shop, and volunteering for my church.

My wife Pat and I enjoy traveling to interesting new places.

Rev. John Hoelter, Director

John Hoelter, Secretary John Hoelter, and his wife Diane Hoelter, moved to Tucson in the summer of 1994, when John began employment at the Carondelet Hospice as a chaplain.

John retired in 2008, and both he and Diane started volunteering for Humane Borders. John drives for Humane Borders virtually every week and sometimes takes turns as a passenger. Diane often goes out on water runs and helps in many other ways.

"I am enriched by my association with the people at Humane Borders."

John says, “The work I do is a small part of a larger effort by good people I am pleased to know who work to keep prominent basic humanitarian concerns for those who, at great danger, cross the desert. I am enriched by my association with the people at Humane Borders.”

Mike Monroe, Board Member

Mike Monroe, Board Member I’m a father of 3 and grandfather of 12 who retired to Tucson after 36 years as a police officer in Pasco, Washington. 31 years with the City of Pasco and 5 years at the Pasco, WA airport. We came to Tucson to get away from the cold grey winters of the Pacific Northwest.
There was a time as a police officer that I would deliver water to transients passing through the Pasco railyard. The surrounding businesses didn’t want the transients around so they turned off their outside spigots hoping that denying them access to water would force them to move on.

Pasco is an agricultural community that is dependent on migrant farm labor. The Pasco community is over 50% Hispanic. It is a population that is looking for the American dream of making a better life for their children.

My mom is an immigrant. She was born in Scotland. Her great grandparents were tenant farmers and laborers in Ireland that escaped the “Great Hunger” by migrating to Scotland. Her grandparents were coalminers and steel mill laborers living in the poverty of company housing. Her parents were denied employment opportunity in Scotland because they were Irish Catholic. They immigrated to America to make a better life for their children.

I came to Tucson looking for a volunteer opportunity so I could stay productive while making a difference. When I located Humane Borders I found an organization that is truly making a difference by providing water to save the lives of people escaping poverty and persecution, migrants that want nothing more than what the rest of us want, a better life for our children.
Humane Borders has given me a chance to “pay back” some of the blessing I have received during my life. My past experience of delivering water to the railyard, working with the migrants in Pasco, and my mom’s immigrant history seems to have given me a connection with the work of Humane Borders!

Anne Lowe, Board Member

Anne Lowe, Board Member Anne Lowe has lived in Southern Arizona for fourteen years, where she moved from Wisconsin. She retired from The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona in 2015, where she worked as the Outreach Director for all of Tucson, and as the Northwest Division Director. Her main tasks were development and programming for the Jewish community.

She is currently the president of Congregation Bet Shalom, and was the immediate past chair of the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival. She is the lead contact for sponsoring a Kurdish Syrian Refugee Family for her synagogue.

Anne has been a volunteer with Humane Borders for over five years, and routinely volunteers on water runs in Southern Arizona.

In addition to these passions of Anne’s, she is also an artist, a writer, and a teacher. This past month, she published her second book,A Touch of Torah.

She is married, and has three grown children and eight grandchildren.

Staff

Joel Smith, Operations Manager

Joel Smith, Operations Manager Joel Smith was born in Tucson but as a result of his father’s Air Force career, grew up all over the United States and Europe. After a stint with the U.S. Marine Corps, Joel moved back to Tucson. He began working with Humane Borders in 2009.

A strong believer in the humanity of every person and of Humane Border’s mission.

Joel is a strong believer in the humanity of every person and of Humane Border’s mission. In July, 2016, he was the subject of the cover story in the Tucson Weekly, discussing both his personal values and Humane Border’s work. He was quoted saying, “I am an Air Force brat and a Marine Corps veteran. I love my country. If you want to call me unpatriotic, it is like barking at a tree.”

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