Meet the Akilah Executive Team

By Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes
CEO & Co-Founder

The best advice I’ve received from a mentor was: always hire people who are smarter than you. I’m lucky to work with a group of very wise leaders who are deeply passionate about revolutionizing women’s education in Africa.

As we approach our 5th anniversary at Akilah, I’m grateful to the team who has made this vision a reality. These women and men pour their hearts and countless hours into running our campuses in Rwanda and Burundi.

I want to introduce you to four of them.

retreat+85-3403784360-ONitzan Pelman, President
Nitzan joined the Akilah team in 2014 to oversee the operations on our campuses and help drive our strategy for expansion and growth. As the founding Executive Director of Citizen Schools in New York, Nitzan has a wealth of experience in education management. Nitzan has been spending most of her time working closely with our Country Directors Aline and Carrie to introduce new processes and efficiency on both campuses and build out the capacity of our brilliant faculty and staff. Nitzan’s most recent Akilah challenge was planning the annual team retreat in Bujumbura, Burundi!

See photos from our staff retreat on Facebook

Aline Kabanda, Rwanda Country Directorretreat+105-3403802060-O
Aline has led the Rwanda campus for the past two years, where she says she is lucky to have played a key role in creating a nurturing environment for women to grow, develop, and aspire to be their best selves. Aline graduated with a Masters in Business Administration with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Development from Oklahoma Christian University. Under Aline’s leadership, the Rwanda campus has graduated two classes of Akilah alumnae with an average 95% job placement rate. She’s now preparing to double our student numbers next fall with a major recruitment push to build new departments around HR, finance, academics, and career placement.

retreat+110-3403805510-OCarrie Ellett, Burundi Country Director
Carrie was introduced to Akilah in 2010 through her work with Girls For A Change (GFC), where she served as the National Program Director for seven years, overseeing strategy, program implementation, and international expansion. Carrie originally joined Akilah as Academic Director and led the curriculum development process, writing many of the courses herself. Her experience in site expansion came in handy when assumed responsibility for opening our Burundi campus last year. While still overseeing Akilah’s academic curriculum, Carrie managed to recruit Burundi’s first class of 75 students, form key local partnerships, and register Akilah as an international NGO in Burundi.

Lisa Lamprecht, Executive Director10290734876_caf00ff496_k-001
Lisa joined Akilah in January 2011 as our first intern in Kigali and assumed her current role as Akilah’s first Executive Director after setting up Akilah’s, team, operations, and programming on the ground in Rwanda. Originally from New York, Lisa spent ten years in Washington D.C. working for the U.S. government as the executive assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative and Deputy Secretary of State, managing economic policy and analysis for U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, and establishing governance, technology frameworks, and coalitions at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As Executive Director, Lisa has focused on developing Akilah’s¬†strategy,¬†sustainability, and development team, and has grown Akilah’s global network of supporters.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Akilah’s Executive Team, staff, and faculty, Akilah students are breaking through the cultural, social, and economic barriers that hold so many women back. They are permanently disrupting the cycle of poverty and creating better, healthier, and more prosperous lives for their families and children. By 2015, the Akilah student body will grow to 425 students across two campuses, with more than 50 professional and passionate faculty and staff dedicated to revolutionizing higher education and career opportunities for women in Africa.

Meet the rest of the Akilah Team.

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