Meet Kurt Thurmaier

My favorite part of traveling to Tanzania is seeing what the local community has done to continue developing the assets we have helped build. I love seeing girls living in the dormitory, girls and boys reading in the library, and teachers accessing class materials from the Internet in the teacher resource room.

Co-founded TDS in 2008

Trips taken to Tanzania with TDS: 8

Career: Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Administration in the School of Public and Global Affairs at Northern Illinois University

My wife, Jeanine, and I co-founded Tanzania Development Support in October 2008 as a result of our first visit to Tanzania on our 25th wedding anniversary. We needed to respond to the abject poverty and poor educational opportunities for girls and boys in Nyegina and the Mara Region. I continue to work to achieve the TDS mission – to improve the quality of life of youth, especially girls in the Mara Region through education and other community-identified priorities – because we have been driven by the goals of our Tanzanian partners at UMABU, a community-based NGO. We are helping their communities in ways that matter most to them. I’m very proud of the new girls’ dormitory and the new library and community resource center. Now we need to help them operationalize these educational assets and focus on strategies and tools to improve student learning outcomes.

I am a professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration in the School of Public and Global Affairs at Northern Illinois University. As a Presidential Engagement Professor at NIU, I continue to lead study abroad programs to Tanzania so students can learn from local NGOs and engage in service learning projects that benefit the Tanzanian girls and boys as well as my NIU students.

Our new partnerships with high schools to improve teaching and learning in Tanzania also improve teaching and learning for DeKalb and other high school students, too.

I have so many blessings in life, and I want to share what I have been given with those who can use them to escape poverty and provide betters lives for their children and grandchildren. I look forward to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for my third and final time in February 2018 to raise $75,000 so we can buy about 15,000 books!