Kathryn Tobias is a founding member of the Bokamoso Youth Foundation and has been involved in many aspects of the Foundation’s development, as well as being an interested worker and cheerleader for the Centre since its inception. Kathryn believes the meaning of the name “Bokamoso” (Future in the Tswana language), is an important focus for activities, both for the youth and the Centre itself. She is particularly interested in and committed to working with the Foundation, and the Centre staff in building sustainability in the lives of individuals, the Centre’s program, and the community of Winterveldt.
In visits to Winterveldt and during visits of the youth to the United States, she has volunteered in a variety of ways, as a developer of business training for the youth, as a career mentor, Dream Breakfast table host, and InterPlay (creative movement) leader and supporter.
Kathryn visited the Bokamoso Centre in Winterveldt during its earliest days. Her first trip was with Roy Barber’s group from St. Andrew’s school on a visit in 1999. Upon arriving in Winterveldt, she was invited by Bokamoso Youth Centre co-founder, Mary-Ann Carpenter, to stay for a few days and assist with income-generating projects under Bokamoso’s former umbrella organization, Tumelong. At the end of the visit, Mary-Ann invited Kathryn to assist in the income-generating projects the following summer.
Kathryn spent two months in 2000 working closely with Grace Sicwebo to develop and support various small business projects, from embroidery crafts for sale in the United States to local manufacture of candles, bricks, bread, fencing, and furniture.
Before her retirement, Kathryn had many years of experience working with small business and economic development. For more than 30 years, she was an advocate for and writer about small business research for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. Prior to this work, she was on the staff of the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission, an economic development commission for economically depressed areas of northern Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Previously, she worked in Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Department of Local Affairs and Development.
Beyond her paid experience, Kathryn has a passion for Southern Africa and its development. In addition to her involvement with Bokamoso since 1999, Kathryn has for the past decade been involved in companion relationships and consultations between Lutherans in the United States and Namibia, on Africa’s southwestern coast. She is also a certified leader of InterPlay, which has been used with the Bokamoso youth as a tool for accessing the wisdom of the body through movement, storytelling, and vocalization.