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A Letter from Marusya

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

For nearly 30 years, I have had the distinct honor and privilege to lead AmericanFriends of Georgia in its important work. It has been a deeply fulfilling journey for me, but the time has come for me to retire as Executive Director, and continue as a board member to help guide AFG into its next phase.

In 1995 I traveled to the newly formed Republic of Georgia for a life-changing trip. I had just been hired as Executive Director of American Friends of Georgia, a new non-profit founded by Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff. Though I knew Georgia was going through a difficult post-Soviet transitional period, I didn’t expect to see so many children living and begging on the streets. I didn’t expect to see children dying in their parents’ arms from tuberculosis, a treatable disease. I also was amazed by the brave humanitarian efforts of Georgians like Abbess Mariam, whose convent in Tbilisi was taking in homeless children and elderly.

Woman (nun) with three children, all smiling
Photo from Marusya’s first trip to Georgia in 1995, of Abbess Mariam and orphaned children living at Peristsvaleba Convent

During that trip, AFG’s mission truly took shape: To listen to the needs of Georgians and work closely with partners on the ground to provide help to the neediest and most vulnerable. Almost 30 years later, with the support of generous donors like you, American Friends of Georgia has worked with more than 60 Georgian non-profit organizations on a wide range of innovative and groundbreaking programs. Together we established the first free residential community for homeless children in Georgia, the first hospice and home care program, the first parents’ house for children with leukemia, and an art rehabilitation center for war-traumatized children, among many other projects which collectively assist hundreds of Georgians each year.

Three women and four children posing in front of fenced in yard
Visiting Bediani Children’s Village in 1999. From left, back row: Abbess Mariam, volunteer teacher, Marusya and her daughter Nella; from left, front row: Elene, Tika and Ia

AFG has been my passion and life’s work, and has only deepened my love for the Georgian people—courageous and full of joy, hospitality and love despite the difficulties they endure. I am filled with gratitude and admiration for our amazing partners in Georgia—like Lena Kiladze, our Executive Director in Georgia, Abbess Mariam and many more—and our board and advisory board who work tirelessly to support AFG’s important work.

I am pleased to hand the reins of leadership over to AFG’s new Executive Director, William (Bill) Corcoran. Bill has served in the leadership of three international NGOs, most recently as CEO of Anera (American Near East Refugee Aid), overseeing a staff of 150 focused on relief and development projects in the Middle East. Prior to this, Corcoran was Vice President of Child Fund (Richmond, VA) and Regional Director of Pontifical Mission (Amman, Jordan). He is a graduate of George Washington University in Public Affairs and holds master’s degrees from Mount Saint Mary’s University (theology) and University of Ottawa (law).

Bill (left) and Marusya (right)
Bill Corcoran, AFG’s new Executive Director, pictured with Marusya at her home in Wellfleet, MA

AFG is in very capable hands. Bill understands AFG’s mission and vision, and not only has a deep appreciation for the people and culture of Georgia, but also extensive experience managing non-profit organizations with a humanitarian focus. I am confident that AFG’s work in Georgia will continue for many years and I hope that we can continue to count on your support. You can feel free to reach Bill at or 570-560-0254. And you can continue to reach me at or 508-237-3109.

I am beyond grateful to each of you for your support of me and AFG over the years. I hope to see each of you soon to thank you in person.

With deep gratitude,

Marusya Chavchavadze

Board Member & Former Executive Director

To honor Marusya’s 30 years of service, AFG's Board of Directors invites you to offer a tax-deductible gift in multiples of $30. You can donate securely online or mail a check to American Friends of Georgia at P.O. Box 1200, Truro, MA 02666. Thank you for your support!


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