Partnership for the Education of Children in Afghanistan

Building Peace, One School at a Time
Dr. Ghafar Lakanwal is a native of Afghanistan, a Muslim and an American citizen. He was born and raised in Afghanistan and served as the Minister of Agriculture and as a Deputy Foreign Minister. He is the founder of P.E.C.A. Dr. Lakanwal has served as a Board Member of the Council of Asian-Pacific Minnesotans. In 1997, Dr. Lakanwal was presented with the Exemplary Practices Award from the American Society for Public Administration. In 2001, he was the recipient of the Omar Bonderud Award given by the Human Rights Commission of the City of Bloomington. In 2005, Lakanwal was presented with the International Leadership Institute's Immigrant Achievement Award. In 2009, Lakanwal received the Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity's Winds of Change Award as well as the St. Paul Foundation's Facing Race Ambassador Award for leadership in creating an anti-racist community. He is the founder of PECA and the current treasurer.
Jane Willard served in the Peace Corps in Helmand Province Afghanistan from 1972 to 1974.  She taught Engineering English to Afghan engineers, construction managers, accountants and warehouse personel at the Helmand Arghandab Construction Unit.  She worked in Esfahan Iran from 1976 to 1978 instructing Iranian military helicopter pilots and mechanics in aviation. She switched careers in 1980 when she became a consulting geologist in the Twin Cities. She is now retired. She has been President of the PECA board since 2013.

Mary Jo Shepherd is a retired professor at Columbia University. She has recently worked in Afghanistan developing curricula. She has been a member of the board since 2013


Leila Poulada was a diplomat in Afghanistan in the 1960s.  She now resides in St Paul, but she continues to travel to Asia.  She has been a board member since 2013.