Our Director

Director – Shelby Tarutis

Shelby C. Tarutis was born in Seattle, Washington, USA and attended Evergreen State College earning a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. She later obtained a Masters of Public Health from the University of Washington specializing in health services.

Shelby Tarutis has worked in the health care field both with non-profit corporations and large research organizations including the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In 1998, she organized Gambia Health Education Liaison Project (GambiaHELP) and is currently serving as its Executive Director. Gambia HELP is an outgrowth of her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia and her later academic and research experience.

As Executive Director, Ms. Tarutis has been responsible for distributing over 200,000 books and helping to establish or augment 55 school libraries in The Gambia. Under her leadership, GambiaHELP has provided HIV\AIDS education services, computer development with internet access, and specialized rural projects specifically designed to assist women and young girls.

In addition to her work with GambiaHELP, Ms. Tarutis has been an active member of American Association of University Women (AAUW) focusing on legal advocacy and girl enrichment projects. She has also worked with Planned Parenthood, and the League of Women Voters. She serves as mentors to students in the Nonprofit Leadership Certificate Program at Seattle University and the University of Washington.

Ms. Tarutis is a frequent speaker on health problems in West Africa and has appeared on both radio and television programs in The Gambia and the United States.