Michele van Eyken

Secretary, Portugal

I began my overseas career as an exchange student in Nürnberg, Germany, continued as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon (West Central Africa) where I met my husband, Roberto (Bob).  My 33-year career in public health began at a health clinic for migrant farmworkers, mostly from Mexico and Central America, in the Coachella Valley of California.  I retired from the State of California Department of Public Health, serving and advocating on behalf of pregnant and nursing women, in 2015, and then focused my activities on choral singing and political engagement.   We came to Porto in June of 2023, choosing Portugal because of Bob’s Brazilian and Azorean heritage and Porto for the climate and the city’s amazing charm—and the food! Our daughter, 39, lives in West Sacramento: she is a state worker and operates a small theater company in her off hours. Our son, Josh, 35, lives in San Francisco and is currently in a career transition from theater to computer coding.

Growing up, I watched my dad as he wrote a two-sentence postcard to his elected representatives every week; my mom received hate mail as President of the Texas League of Women Voters by advocating for the right of women to serve on juries.  This will be the sixth organization for which I serve as Secretary—I am primed genetically and by experience to do this valuable work.

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