Gwen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin and would go on to dedicate her next 30 years to special education, first as a teaching assistant, then as a teacher in Oregon's public schools. In 1989, she joined the faculty of the University of Oregon, College of Education where she worked for 17 years in the training program for teachers whose students had developmental disabilities. Many years were focused on promoting inclusive education for the developmentally disabled.
In 2002, Gwen and her husband John traveled to Kenya with little expectation beyond enjoying the majestic countryside. They experienced that and much, much more. It was an eye-opener to the plight of families unable to afford to educate their children. The owner of a safari company invited them to sponsor a nursery school, which they gladly did. Upon returning to the U.S., they took on three more schools and founded the non-profit Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife (FKSW) to provide primary school scholarships to school-aged children. In the 16 years since FKSW's inception, the scope of the organization's work has grown to include broader educational goals and activities in the areas of income generation, food and nutrition, health and hygiene, and the environment.
Together with fellow non-profit Network for EcoFarming in Africa, FKSW supports five rural communities to achieve goals determined by community members who, themselves, contribute to and implement the activities.
When not traveling throughout Kenya, Gwen resides with her husband in Junction City, Oregon.