Co-Founder and President
Dr. Richard P. (Ranger) Nielsen
Dr. Nielsen obtained his BS degree in pre-physical therapy from Brigham Young University in 1973 and his BS degree in physical therapy from the University of Utah in 1975. He entered the United States Navy serving in various clinical positions as a physical therapist over 20 years. During Dr. Nielsen’s last tour of duty, he served as Chief Physical Therapist for the United States Navy and as Physical Therapy Consultant to the Surgeon General, The United States Supreme Court, the United States Senate and Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House. Following retirement from the US Navy Medical Service Corps, Dr. Nielsen co-founded and served as President of the Institute of Clinical Electrophysiology in Provo, Utah where he served until becoming co-founder and President of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 1998.
Dr. Nielsen graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a MS degree in Neuro-kinesiology (neurophysiology) and from the University of St. Augustine in Florida with a Doctorate in Health Sciences (DHSc) degree with emphasis in Clinical Electrophysiology/ Neurophysiology. He is Board Certified (re-certified three times) as an Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialist and continues to see patients in Utah County on a regular (but limited) basis. He also serves on the faculty in the Clinical Electrophysiology Doctor of Science (DSc) degree program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah. He has authored chapters in textbooks and published in peer-reviewed journals in the specialty area of Clinical Electrophysiology.
Dr. Nielsen has been involved in international humanitarian service work over the past 30 years. He and his wife, Jodi, co-founded a humanitarian foundation known as World of Difference and have built more than 20 primary and secondary schools for the under-privileged children in different African countries. Over the past five years, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and most recently Physician Assistant (PA) students from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and Nursing faculty and Administration and Staff members from Ameritech College of Healthcare have joined the World of Difference teams where they engage not only in school building projects but also clinical rotations in third-world clinics and hospitals. Dr. Nielsen and Jodi were honored in 2013 as the American Red Cross International Hero Award winners.
Dr. Nielsen and his wife Jodi reside in Salem, Utah and are the parents of five children and have six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Co-Founder and Board Member
Jodi K. Nielsen graduated with a BA in French from Brigham Young University, and a Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) from Pepperdine University, and holds several professional coaching certifications. For nearly 20 years, she worked in several high-tech and Fortune 100 companies in roles such as Human Resource Management, Training and Development, and as an internal Organizational Development Consultant supporting leaders and global teams in becoming more effective and in accomplishing their goals. For the last 5 years, she has been the president of a youth organization, overseeing 400+ girls ages 12-18 years and their 100 adult leaders in planning and organizing meaningful opportunities for service locally and globally, and for social, spiritual and personal leadership development.
Jodi Nielsen and her husband, Dr. Rick (Ranger) Nielsen, have served a combined total of over four decades in Africa building schools, and providing educational resources in under-resourced communities. They and their oldest daughter, Kindee, have started two non-profit charitable foundations for their work in Africa – Reach the Children (1998-2006) and most currently, World of Difference (2006 – present). The Nielsens have led hundreds of volunteers on service expeditions to build schools, enhance educational opportunities for thousands of children, install clean water wells, and teach principles of sustainability in communities in both Kenya and Malawi. Their current foundation, World of Difference (WoD), partners with Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions to provide graduate healthcare students opportunities to engage in primary and secondary school construction in these communities and to participate and gain clinical experience in African hospitals and clinics. The Nielsens received the American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year award in 2013 for their work in Africa.
The Nielsens are parents of five children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild and live in Salem, Utah. Jodi is a lover of golden retrievers and horses, is a perpetual student, and in her free time finds joy in new adventures, piano, photography and spending time with cherished family and friends.
Thomas Reams is a finance and accounting professional who works with owners, C-suite and other finance and accounting professionals to improve the performance of their organizations in order meet their long-term goals.
Thomas believes in creating a fundamental foundation with well-defined roles, responsibilities and goals can help any organization to be successful. Be it a non-profit or for-profit company, the understanding of who you are and where you want to go is essential to being successful.
Thomas has worked as an auditor, Chief Financial Officer, and eventually as the Chief Investing Officer of a billion-dollar organization. Thomas is an industry expert in several fields including non-profits, governments, education, radio, bio-medical, construction, multi-family housing and fabrication.
Thomas’ true passion is that of helping others to help themselves. His belief in the human spirit’s ability to overcome has lead him to volunteer his time in several different non-profits ranging from anti-child abuse, cultural dance groups, refugee assistance, food banks, and ultimately his most passionate is helping the people of Malawi.
Thomas is a graduate of the #1 nationally ranked accounting program at Brigham Young University, a trained auditor, and founder of several successful non-profit organizations.
Social Media Manager
Andrea currently works in IT recruiting for the federal government of Canada but has a passion for helping others. Former careers include working as a medical assistant in a very busy family medical/urgent care clinic as well as a clinical research coordinator where she was last assigned to a cancer study due to her compassion for others. Andrea had the chance to go to Malawi in 2018 with World of Difference and immediately fell in love with Africa, the people, the children! Focuses now are on educating people on the values of World of Difference and the difference we truly can make in the world. Outside of work, Andrea loves to spend time with her two teenage daughters, her dog and likely a good book!
Director of Clinical Education
Tyler Sommer is a healthcare provider and professor who works with graduate-level healthcare students to help them learn the art and science of taking care of people in need. He believes in holistic, whole-person healthcare.
Tyler is a nationally certified Physician Assistant who works full-time in PA education and part-time in clinical practice. He is currently the Academic Director and Assistant Program Director of a graduate PA program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Additionally, he sees patients one to two days per week at a federally qualified Community Health Center, treating patients without health insurance or the means of paying full cost for their healthcare needs.
Since 2016, Tyler has worked hard to establish strong clinical relationships between World of Difference and both healthcare and educational institutions in Africa. These relationships help facilitate successful interprofessional collaborative experiences between American and Malawian students and healthcare providers, both in the clinical setting and the classroom.
Tyler holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Brigham Young University, a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies from AT Still University of Health Sciences, and will soon finish his Doctorate degree in Health Promotion and Wellness from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
Eston Mgala is a Malawian who is passionate about environment and natural resource management and sustainable community development. Eston is inspired by the permaculture approach and care for the environment, care for people and fair or surplus share. Eston has a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development from Pentecostal Life University and he was trained by Kristof Nordin of NeverEnding and Rosemary Morrow of the Blue Mountain Permaculture Institute of Australia.
Eston has been practicing permaculture for more than 10 years and is familiar with agro ecology, sustainable conservation, climate smart design, regenerative structures, resilient agriculture, ecosystem-based approaches to project design and implementation, agroforestry, afforestation, community resource mapping and other resilient livelihood programs. Eston shares his many years of knowledge with international partners, local villages, community-based organization, schools, prisons, and small farmer cooperatives. He has trained thousands of people in permaculture through training and technical advisings.
Eston believes that caring for the environment, for people and sharing resources is the foundation of real development. Taking communities from the limits of what they currently know to the possibility of the unknown is key to community development.
Eston currently serves as Country Director for World of Difference in Malawi. He directs and implements organizational goals and projects.
During his 20-year career in Human Resources Mickael has worked with a variety of companies that include several Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit, startup, institutions of higher learning, and a professional sports team. He is currently the Vice President of Human Resources for Biomerics, a leading provider of innovative solutions for medical devices.
Mike has a track record of creating innovate ways to engage employees and establish the culture, systems, and training that will develop leaders and empower employees to solve problems. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Utah.
Mike brings the experiences of both working for a nonprofit and volunteering with nonprofits. He currently serves as a board member for Centro de la Familia de Utah, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy and engaged communities by advocating for children’s educational success. Mike has volunteered with World of Difference since joining the WOD 2017 expedition along with his wife Allison.
In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, backpacking as well as designing and playing board games.