photo_staff_doriDori ShimodaFounder

Dori Shimoda has passions and aspirations of giving back to provide choices to those having little choice and hope to those who think hope is elusive. Dori’s aspirations to give back stemmed from a death-threatening kidnapping during a business trip in 1982. When he escaped, he declared that he would dedicate his life to giving back when his children were grown. Dori is credited with pioneering preschool education in rural Lao villages (facing formidable challenges early on). Success was based on a best practices model in preschool construction and development.

Dori is a passionate advocate for UXO victims: testifying in US Congress about how 70-80 million live UXO in Laos today are affecting villagers over 40 years after the American War in Laos and for millennia to come. Dori, Barbara and Thongchanh work tirelessly to transform languishing UXO victims into UXO survivors with self-sustaining independence.

Retired from a business career at Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and NYCE Payments Network. Dori was on the boards of the University of San Francisco, Center for the Pacific Rim and the Electronic Financial Services Council, as well as banking representative on President Clinton’s Presidential Commission on Critical Infrastructure Policy (PCCIP).

You can reach Dori by email at


photo_staff_barbaraBarbara Lee Shimoda, Country Director – Laos, Healthcare Projects Director

Barbara is a registered nurse and owns the only laser aesthetics clinic in Laos. She applies her medical skills and artistry to improve clients’ appearance and self-esteem. Barbara’s other life long passion is helping children. Working with her husband Dori at Give Children A Choice has given Barbara the opportunity to combine her love for children and her nursing skills to improve the children’s lives.

Under her leadership, Barbara spearheaded over 20 medical missions with US doctors partnering with Lao doctors to provide free medical checkups to 1,000s of poor villagers, free medical care, and her health, nutrition, hygiene and immunization programs. Her emphasis on children’s health initiated a program to distribute daily multiple vitamins to over 34,000 preschool children and 2,000 neonatal/lactating mothers. This is critical in Laos, where 40% of children in Laos suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Barbara’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to start a natural soap social venture. She manufactures in Luang Praabang and sells premium natural soap to help fund the distribution of free natural soap to remote poor village and orphanage children as part of her handwashing program.

Barbara also started a Global HeartFelt Hatters program, where women from around the world have knit and crochet 1,000s of hats and scarves annually. Barbara hand delivers them to children in the northern Lao provinces, where temperatures approach freezing during the winter months.

You can reach Barbara by email at


62465_10202647447167797_2130042474_nDebbie Davis, Executive Director

Debbie is dedicated to a broad range of volunteer and fund raising programs in her community and beyond, many of which focus on children. She has extended those desires to help children in need with Give Children A Choice.

Debbie has a strong business background which has focused on administration and accounting and she oversees the day-to-day business operations of Give Children A Choice.

Debbie has been with Give Children A Choice since the beginning and was instrumental in the initial organization of Give Children A Choice as a 501c3 organization in 2002.  

You can reach Debbie by email at


LA11-Dayka-6639Thongchanh VilayvongPreschool Construction Coordinator

Dori met Thongchanh by chance at a Luang Prabang restaurant on Dori’s first backpacking trip to Laos in 2000. They’ve been close friends and colleagues since then. Through the years, Thongchanh has become invaluable Give Children A Choice. He is Give Children A Choice’s operational point person with the Lao ministries and provincial government staff, the villager leadership.

Thongchanh grew up poor in Xayabouri Province with the highest concentration of elephants in Laos. Thongchanh himself had a elephant, who was his best friend until it passed mysteriously. He came to Luang Prabang to be a novice at a local temple, then monk to get an education. While asked to commit himself to monkhood, he chose otherwise.

Thongchanh is a registered tour guide, which has been wonderful for Give Children A Choice’s Voluntour program, where students from around the world come to Laos to refurbish schools, tour the countryside and enjoy village homestays.

His aspirations are to one day see his country improve its educational opportunities for all children.

You can reach Thongchanh by email at