Andy Lenec is the son of Ukrainian refugees who met in a Displaced Persons Camp and settled in the United States after WW II. He shares this unique background with none other than RI General Secretary John Hewko, whose own parents settled in Detroit while Andy’s went to NY. Small world that it is, John actually knew some of Andy’s mother’s relatives when he was growing up, and the two have had a few interesting conversations about these commonalities.
Andy joined the Peace Corps in March 2017 after a successful career in the United States, first as an executive in the fields of Economic Development and Electric & Gas Utilities, then as an executive and consultant for non-profit organizations, most recently as the first Executive Director of Clean Energy Action in Boulder, CO. Among Andy’s most memorable gigs, he worked for Pete Seeger for a time, raising money to help Pete’s non-profit called Clearwater, which also ran educational sails on the Hudson River in a replica 18th century sloop by the same name.
Andy was inspired to apply to the Peace Corps by two events. The first was an interview on NPR with Alice Carter, at the time the oldest active Peace Corps Volunteer, then completing her service in Morocco at the age of 87. After consulting with his son (‘Go for it, Dad…), and learning of the second pivotal event, namely the change in the Peace Corps policies that allowed applicants to request their country of service, Andy took the plunge and applied to serve in Ukraine. It was a life changing decision that has influenced him in more ways than he can describe, and that to this day keeps him occupied with projects in the country of his ancestors. Andy is also happy to still keep in touch with Alice, who will always be a source of inspiration for him.
Andy’s service in Ukraine was unique and providential in several ways. First, having the language when he came to the country, Andy was able to be assigned to a group of agencies in which there were no English speaking counterparts. Second, it was a bit of an experiment that allowed several applicant agencies to put together a joint request for a volunteer. The providential aspect was that one of the applicant agencies was the Rotary Club of Truskavets, where the idea for RYLA Ukraine was ultimately birthed. The other agencies were a public library and the city government of Truskavets, both of which were very supportive and helpful with developing Andy’s main project in Ukraine
Andy has been a Rotarian for over 30 years. While in New York he was a member of two clubs in District 7210, and was president of both clubs twice. He was also the Team Leader of a Group Study Exchange mission to India in 2008. Upon moving to Boulder in 2009 to take the reins of Clean Energy Action, Andy briefly became a member of the Rotary Club of Boulder, and while in Ukraine he was a member of the Rotary Club of Lviv International. He is now happily ensconced as a member of the satellite group of the Denver Lodo Club, made up of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Throughout his time as a Rotarian, Andy has been deeply involved with youth development, primarily with RYLA and student exchange programs, but he also helped to launch an Interact Club in his local High School in Highland, NY.
Andy has extensive experience in management, strategic planning, board of director training and development, fund raising and event planning, all of which came in handy as he was developing the idea of an International Youth Conference while in the Peace Corps, the project that ultimately brought RYLA to Ukraine.
Originally from Poughkeepsie, NY, Andy has two grown children, Alana (34) who lives in New York State, and Andrew (29), who lives with him in Broomfield as he completes his Masters studies in Early Family Development. Prior to coming back to the USA just before the global pandemic began, son Andrew taught kindergarten in China at a school co-founded by a Rotarian in Denver, another unique connection with RI. Andy just celebrated his second wedding anniversary to Joan Goering Lenec, whom he met six months before deploying to Ukraine to begin his Peace Corps service.
Always a dreamer, thinker and planner, Andy brought the idea of Rotary – Peace Corps Week to the Board of Directors of Partnering for Peace before he officially became a member, and it has occupied most of his time with our organization. He’s excited about the potential of this project, and extremely grateful for the support and participation of the Board and membership of Partnering for Peace.