Northwest NEWS

September 20, 1999


Making a difference

by Deborah Stone, features writer

   Many selfless Americans have given their time and their hearts to Kosovo's refugees over the past year, helping administer first aid, arranging for food, supplies, and shelter, and reporting on the humanitarian situation.

   Kim Maynard, raised on the Eastside by her parents Priscilla, an artist, and Bob Maynard, an eye surgeon with a practice in Woodinville, has always strived to make a difference in the world. She has spent the past twenty-two years working in disaster relief in such places as Tajikistan, Somalia, and Rwanda, and now heads the U.S. government's Disaster Assistance Response Team for Kosovar refugees in Macedonia.

   The team's mission has been to advise the U.S. ambassador on humanitarian issues, assess and report on the humanitarian situation and response, support the efforts of other organizations working in the region, and consult with NATO.

   Maynard was interviewed last spring on ABC World News and on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, commenting on the plight of the Kosovar refugees. She was also featured in the May 24 issue of People magazine as one of several Americans assisting in this endeavor. In the People article, she stated, "My philosophy is that you become a better person from experience."

   Maynard has definitely been leading a life full of eye-opening experiences ever since she was a young girl.

   "When she was twelve or fourteen years old," says her mother, Priscilla, "Kim made a list of things she wanted to accomplish in her life. She wanted to climb mountains, jump out of an airplane, ride a train like a hobo and run a marathon. She then set about achieving each one and checked them all off."

   Maynard attended Evergreen College initially, but then finished her undergraduate education at the School for International Training in Vermont. In 1982, she became Montana's first woman smokejumper (firefighters who parachute into timbered areas). Eight years later, she became the first woman smokejumper, jumpmaster, and supervisor in the U.S. Forest Service.

   According to her mother, Kim is a very determined woman with a big heart.

   "She has always welcomed a challenge," comments Priscilla. "My husband and I have let our children make their own choices in life and have encouraged them to go after their dreams and aspirations. It doesn't really surprise me that Kim is doing this type of work. She has always cared about people and has tried to help them.

   "There was a time when she spent several months living on the streets on the West Coast to better understand the plight of the homeless. This is just Kim's way of doing things, and she thrives on being where she can be of the most help to others."

   Maynard took another big leap last year during her wedding in Issaquah, when she and groom Al Charters, a diplomat also stationed in the Balkans, parachuted into the ceremony together while guests watched from the ground. The couple make their home in Arlington, Virginia when they are back in the U.S., but this is not often, as their international careers take them abroad for lengthy periods of time.

   Several years ago, Kim was able to complete her Ph.D., while working abroad, through the Union Institute of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her dissertation, "Healing Communities in Conflict: International Assistance in Complex Emergencies," earned a Circle of Scholars award from the Institute in 1997 and was recently published by Columbia University Press. Maynard will be in Kosovo until next spring as the situation necessitates that her team remains there to continue to assess conditions.

   She says, "I see potential problems over the winter that will require humanitarian vigilance, particularly in terms of ensuring that all Kosovars have shelter and heat throughout the cold months."

   In commenting about the refugee situation, she adds, "This has been one of the fastest refugee returns in history. The international community has done well in bringing military and humanitarian assistance to bear on the situation very quickly."