Our Board

Gertrude in EcuadorGertrude Noden, Founder and Executive Director

As a classroom teacher for two decades, and since 2014 working as founder and executive director of Words Into Deeds Inc, I have developed programs designed to help teachers and students incorporate principles of human rights and informed action projects into their school curricula and daily lives. Programs are tailored to identify and address both the programatic and resource needs of each organization. The goal is to help youth build critical thinking skills, learn how to form networks with peers and experts, and then design and implement outreach service projects that provide direct benefits to others and themselves.  READ MORE

Breana Kopp, Co-Chair

Breana Copp, Co-Chair

Breana holds a Master of Art Education from Nazareth College of Rochester and for close to twenty years has been an art educator at South Seneca Schools. She teamed with Gertrude in organizing the school’s Distance Learning program, and in 2011 received a New York State Senate Resolution Honor for her commitment to global education. Breana is a staunch advocate for student-led activism, cultural understanding, and incorporating arts into students’ outreach projects to help them expand their understanding of global cultures.


Ayuen Ajok

Ayuen Ajok

Ayuen was one of the estimated 20,000 young boys who fled violence that plagued southern Sudan in the 1980-90s, and was among the survivors who became known as the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” Supported by the United Nations, he was brought from a refugee camp in northern Kenya to Philadelphia. Ayuen went on to earn a BA in Business Administration from Temple University, MPA in Economic and Financial Policy from Cornell University, MA in International Peace & Conflict Resolution from Arcadia University, and Graduate Certification in Business Analytics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has held positions as Research and Economic Analyst at the World Bank, which includes developing macroeconomic indicators of productivity growth in South Sudan. Ayuen is a Co-Founder of Sawa Sawa Network, which provides broadcasts, resources and outlets for journalists, artists, and youth in South Sudan.


Denis OkemaDenis Okema

Denis Okema was born in Uganda and, at the age of 9, was abducted by terrorists and forced to work as a child soldier. He escaped and was rescued by Abitimo Odongkara, who enrolled him as one of the first students at the UNIFAT School. He subsequently finished high school and then earned a B.A from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, M.S. at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and Certification in Diversity and Inclusion at Cornell University. He has worked as program developer and educator with private and governmental agencies in Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and the D.R.C. as well as the U.S., and is a frequently invited speaker presenting topics such as the Effects of War on Children, Pathways to Peace and Reconciliation, and Bringing Inclusion to the Workplace.


Nina Redmond

Nina Redmond

Nina Redmond brings over three decades of experience as an educator at Middle-High school levels where she helped youth develop understandings about diversity, equality and inclusion through her Global and U.S. History courses and one-on-one mentoring. She also serves as a Special Education Teacher and Program Director, and is Co-President of the school’s Teachers’ Association. Nina earned a B.A. at Lesley University and an M.A. in Literacy Education at SUNY Cortland. She brings skills and passion for helping youth develop essential 21st century skills and is enthusiastic about being a part of Words Into Deeds youth empowerment projects.


Drew Noden, Secretary - Treasurer

Drew Noden, Secretary – Treasurer

Drew Noden, PhD, taught at University of Massachusetts and, for over 30 years, in the Veterinary College at Cornell University. He has authored two widely used textbooks and over 80 research papers and book chapters and is a Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists. In 2014 Drew received the Henry Gray Scientific Achievement Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the American Association of Anatomists, and in 2018 the Outstanding Educator prize from the Society for Developmental Biology. In addition to skills as a researcher, writer, teacher, and illustrator, he brings expertise in science-based aspects of the SDGs and experience incorporating these in educational programs.