February 5, 2018
With great sadness, the staff and board of AJS mourn the loss of Pete Harkema, our board President, our capital campaign director, and our dear friend.
Pete joined the AJS-US board in 2009 and was elected board president in 2011. He served faithfully until his death on February 3rd at age 70.
Pete’s visionary outlook and strategic mind was an influence to many different organizations during his life. Throughout his decades of experience, Pete nurtured a desire to pursue justice, advance the Kingdom of God, and redeem Creation from brokenness. He first learned about AJS when his son, Peter, spent a year working with AJS in Honduras. But Pete soon came to love Honduras in his own right.
“He was a dear friend, tireless, and loving,” said Carlos Hernández, co-founder and director of AJS-Honduras, “He truly loved this country and the work we are doing here.”
Pete brought wisdom and a keen mind to the board, and thoughtful leadership during a time where it was much needed.
“Pete was board president during a time of great growth and change on the board,” remembered Rick Bandstra, Volunteer Executive Director of AJS, “He always handled the process remarkably well, letting every voice be heard, and finding ways to build consensus and move forward.”
This leadership was particularly felt during AJS’s process of planning and fundraising for a new office in Honduras. Pete volunteered as the Director of the Capital Campaign, dedicating hours to strategy meetings and planning.
“It was a double effort, both as President of the Board and Chair of the Capital Campaign, but he wanted to do it, and he did it so well,” said Rick. “Without his good work, we never would have been able to raise the money we needed.”
Pete’s dream was to see the AJS staff in a secure, safe, accommodating building, and while he was not able to see the building completed, he was able to speak at a dedication ceremony for the land where the office will be built.
“This building will be more than an office space for AJS,” Pete told the audience at the ceremony, “It will be a symbol of our hope that through our prayers, our dreams, and our work, we can bring about a more just society here in Honduras,”
We will miss Pete’s vision, humor, warmth, and wisdom on the board. But in our building, our programs, and our work, the legacy of his leadership will not soon be forgotten.