A former reporter and editor, Dave Elmstrom joined the Peace Corps with his wife Mary Blake and served from 2002-2004 in Nova Zagora, Bulgaria. There, Dave served as a Community Economic Development Specialist, helping work on community development projects in the municipal government, libraries, orphanages and schools, including the town’s school for Roma kids. Dave particularly worked on projects that helped bring technology to the schools and libraries in town, and worked on several large-scale grant programs from the British Embassy and Rotary International, among others. Upon returning to the States, Dave utilized some of the experience gained in Bulgaria to transition into a fundraising position, currently serving as Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also recently completed his Master of Business Administration, and spent three years as a small business owner, successfully turning around and selling a once-struggling franchised restaurant. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Mary and two kids, and can be seen on the occasional free weekend chasing a little white ball around a golf course, or trying to run and bike like he is still in his 20s. Bulgarian wine (and even a little rakia) can nearly always be found in his wine “cellar.”
Dave indicated that the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of the Arete Youth Foundation is not just an opportunity to utilize his background in communications, fundraising and financial management to help meet the organization’s mission. It is also a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with his service in Bulgaria by working to help the country and its people develop and thrive. And Bulgaria will never be able to truly thrive unless it can work to help create opportunities for all of its citizens, including the marginalized Roma minority. I look forward to helping Arete build on the excellent Roma youth development work it has already implemented.