Joan Dixon Heckel

After leaving CIE and finishing up the contract for the Nepal Literacy Linkage Project in 1996, I moved to Indonesia where I spent the next 3½ years working as a consultant for the Directorate of Community Education (DIKMAS) developing the Adult Functional Literacy Program. This was the third World Bank funded project continuing the work CIE started in the 1970s. Many of the Indonesians I worked with knew the principles of NFE because of the foundation laid by CIE.


In 2000, I moved back home to Provo, Utah and began working as an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University and a volunteer in the local community. For the next twelve years I built networks and collaborations across a wide range of academic disciplines and community organizations. At the university, I mainly worked with the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance and the David M Kennedy Center for International Studies. These interdisciplinary centers hosted conferences and guest speakers on a range of development issues. They also served students from every major on campus and I was able to work with some amazing faculty and students from Engineering, Public Health, Law, Nursing, Economics, Sociology, Biology, Business, who were figuring out how to change the world through social entrepreneurship in their particular field. The last time I taught Introduction to International Development, I had 60 students from 30 different majors.


I also did some international work, including the development of a participatory learning and action design for a hygiene promotion project in informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa; and serving on the education committee for the Ouelessabougou-Utah Alliance in Mali (where I connected with Maria Diarra Keita and Debbie Fredo).


In my effort to make a difference in my local community, I facilitated the creation of a weekly meeting called Timpanogos Community Network where teachers, outreach workers, managers, volunteers, etc. from schools, banks, the library, city government, county health, Red Cross, United Way, school district, Workforce Services, neighborhood leaders, transportation department, churches, law students, hospital came together to figure out how to connect with the rapidly growing Hispanic population in Utah County. Through this network, we created Centro Hispano to provide education and referral services, an annual Festival Latino Americano, and a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. In addition the Hispanic participants in our network initiated important changes in the schools, Utah Valley University and other organizations that impacted lives of many immigrant families in our community.


In early 2013, I felt the need to get back into International Adult Literacy. As I stepped back to figure things out, a totally unexpected proposal came my way. I discovered that at age 59, you can still fall in love and start a new life. In 2015, my husband and I began serving a two year volunteer mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We lived in Accra, Ghana and served as Literacy Specialists for the Africa West Area, and began developing a Gospel Literacy program to build the capability of adult church members to read scriptures and church publications, teach their families and serve as leaders in their local congregations. Since returning to Utah in 2017, we have continued to work on this program. This year we are developing the Training of Trainers component so that the program can be expanded to other areas of the world.




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CIE Graduate