Board of Directors

Annette Tryde Akman

Board Member

Annette Tryde Akman is a photographer and filmmaker focusing on communications and marketing for non-profits, most notably the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali, Rwanda. Annette has worked with the Akilah Institute since it's inception in 2005, creating two coffee-table books that feature interviews and photographs of the Akilah students. In early 2016, Annette hosted a photography exhibition and book launch of her book  “Educate a Woman, Uplift a Nation: Stories from the Akilah Institute.” 

Carolyn Kim Allwin

Board Member

Carolyn is a Managing Director of Essex Management, a private investment firm focused on early stage industrial technology companies. In her spare time, Carolyn is a social impact investor and advisor to early stage companies. Carolyn also has extensive experience on implementing efficient cross-border planning strategies and navigating regulatory changes from her experiences at GoldenTree Asset Management, a multibillion dollar distressed debt hedge fund, and Ernst & Young, a multinational professional services firm. Carolyn received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and MBA from the Wharton School of Business. Carolyn also has a Masters in European Studies, a J.D. and an L.L.M in Tax. She is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and New York. She currently serves on the Hedge Funds Care Grants Review and Young Professional Committees and the Choate Rosemary Hall Alumni Executive and Akilah Institute for Women Boards.  

Anne DiGiovanni

Board Member

Anne DiGiovanni is an educator and writer. After fifteen years lecturing at the university level, she developed a mindfulness curriculum, which she teaches in seminars, wellness programs, and as part of private leadership development. She began her career working in job development for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the United Way. Anne is a recipient of the Catholic Journalism Award, and has written in every genre, specializing in creative non-fiction. She holds degrees in British Literature, Irish Literature and Creative Writing.

Anne resides outside Boston with her husband and three children.

Theresa Havell

Board Member

Theresa Havell is the President of Havell Capital Management, LLC, an SEC registered Investment Advisory firm founded in 1996 that specializes in fixed income management for individual and institutional investors. Prior to founding Havell Capital, Ms. Havell founded the Fixed Income department at NeubergerBerman in 1984 and prior to that was a vice president and founder of the Liquid Assets Management Group at Lehman Management Company. Ms. Havell began her career at Citibank, where she held the position of VP and Regional Treasurer for the Andean and Caribbean branches of Citibank, headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela.

Ms. Havell is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a Trustee, Executive Committee Member, and the Investment Committee Head of Horace Mann School. She also serves as a Trustee and as Treasurer of the Sanctuary for Families and as a Director and member of the Audit Committee of Volt Information Sciences, a NYSE-listed company.

Ms. Havell is a frequent public speaker, has been profiled three times in Barron’s, appeared on Wall Street Week, and is quoted frequently on fixed income markets. She received a BA degree from Manhattanville College and an MA degree from New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, from The Slavic Languages and Literature Department.

In addition to English, Ms. Havell is fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. She is the mother of six children and resides with her husband in New York City and North Salem, NY.

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes

Board Member

Elizabeth is the CEO & co-founder of the Akilah Institute for Women, a college with campuses in Rwanda and Burundi. Elizabeth moved to Rwanda a few days after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2006. After volunteering with grassroots projects, she co-founded the nonprofit Amani Africa to provide scholarships to street children, support an orphanage in Kigali, and organize reconciliation and conflict resolution conferences for genocide survivors.

In 2008, Elizabeth and her husband, Dave Hughes, began working with business and civil society leaders to analyze the training needs of the Rwandan private sector. They founded Akilah to provide market-relevant education and career development to promising young female leaders. Newsweek and The Daily Beast recognized Elizabeth as one of the 125 Women of Impact. She was recognized as one of the World’s Most Influential Female Social Entrepreneurs by Forbes Magazine. Acumen founder Jacqueline Novogratz named Elizabeth one of The 5 Most Powerful Women Changing The World With Social Entrepreneurship. Elizabeth received the Woman of Peace award from the Women’s Peace Power Foundation in October 2009. Akilah has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, GOOD Magazine, ABC News, the Council on Foreign Relations, HuffPost Women, Hope Magazine, the Tampa Bay Times, and more.

Elizabeth and Dave live in Kigali with their daughters, Lorraine and Tamsyn.

Dave Hughes

Board Member

A Hong Kong native, Dave moved to Rwanda in 2008 and volunteered with a grassroots organization that operates sports teams for street children. Dave runs the Jade Water Group, a property company and investment fund, with offices in Hong Kong and Kigali. Dave is a professional member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and is a graduate of Reading University, Berkshire UK.

Dave lives with his wife and Akilah co-founder, Elizabeth Dearborn-Hughes, and their two daughters, Lorraine and Tamsyn.


Board Member

Lisa first joined Akilah in January 2011 as the first Kigali intern, and soon after became the organization’s first Executive Director. Through 2012, Lisa built the Kigali team, ran the campus and related programs, and brought Akilah into the local mainstream, securing official accreditation from the Ministry of Education. In late 2012, she assumed a new portfolio working globally to fortify Akilah’s sustainability strategy and partners, and development team. Originally from New York, Lisa spent ten years (2001-2010) in Washington D.C. serving the U.S. government as the executive assistant to U.S. Trade Representative and then Deputy Secretary of State, and later managing international economic policy portfolios with Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce. She ended her time in DC working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security helping build the capacity of emergency response departments across the nation. She served as Akilah's Regional Director in Africa overseeing the Rwanda and Burundi campuses until transitioning to the Board of Directors at the end of 2016.

Full bio here.

Jean Mulroy

Board Chair

Jean Mulroy is an independent research and evaluation consultant to nonprofit organizations. Previously she served as a project manager and researcher in Education Development Center’s Global Learning Group. She has participated in capacity-building programs, assessments, and evaluations for a variety of NGOs, as well as the Inter-American Foundation, USAID and World Bank.

Ms. Mulroy holds a B.A. in anthropology from Yale University and an M.A. in international public administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She is the co-author of Togetherness: How Governments, Corporations and NGOs Partner to Support Sustainable Development in Latin America.

Ms. Mulroy resides in Belmont, MA with her husband and two children. She enjoys volunteer work with local educational and ESL organizations.

Carmen Nibigira

Board Member

A Burundian native, Carmen has spent much of her adult life in the UK engaged in academic studies and gained 10 years of work experience in the hotel and tourism industry. She is one of the leading personalities in the development and re-launch of the tourism industry in post-conflict Burundi. She has played an active role in marketing Burundi as a tourism destination at international travel and tourism fairs in London and Berlin. She has published widely on the development of the tourism sector in Burundi, and has run tour operations in Burundi, Rwanda, and Kenya.

Carmen holds a BA in Travel Management from the University of Brighton and an MA in Tourism Destination Management from the University College of Birmingham, both in the United Kingdom. She is pursuing a PhD in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University in the United States with a long term vision of reinforcing human resource development in Burundian tourism. She is currently the Regional Coordinator for East Africa Tourism Platform.


Board Member

Hank Pariseau is a financial advisor in Bernstein Private Wealth Management’s Tampa office. He advises families and nonprofit organizations on investment management, portfolio allocation strategies, and long-term financial planning. He works with nonprofit boards and trustees to help them to identify their sustainable spending rates and fund-raising needs, given their return goals, risk tolerance, and fiduciary responsibilities. He also works with donors to help them understand their capacity to give and select tax-efficient giving strategies.

Prior to joining Bernstein’s Washington, DC, office in 2011, Hank worked for IXI Corporation where he provided a suite of consumer financial insight services to marketers of finance and insurance companies. Prior to that, he worked in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as an analyst in the Natural Resources division of Accenture.

Hank earned a BA with a double major in economics and Spanish from Wake Forest University.

Dr. Mary Kay Vona

Board Member

Dr. Mary Kay Vona is a Principal in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. Mary Kay is a leader in EY’s People and Organization Change Practice. Previously, she served as Executive Vice President for Aon Consulting’s Southeast Region practice. Mary Kay joined Aon Consulting from IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWCC). At IBM she was Partner in the Human Capital Management (HCM) Practice in the company’s communication sector. She was also the Global Learning Partner and Executive.

Mary Kay has held numerous volunteer roles in the community, including Kids Charity of Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay Technology Forum . She is involved with The George Washington Alumni Association, Luther Rice Society, Mercyhurst College (Erie, PA) Walker School of Business Advisory Board, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. Mary Kay has a Doctorate of Education and Executive Leadership from The George Washington University.

Samantha Zinober

Board Member

Samantha Dwyer Zinober worked in East Africa as Assistant Director of Global Alliance for Africa from 2003 to 2009. Headquartered in Chicago, Global Alliance is a not-for-profit that works with community and faith-based organizations to develop and fund innovative economic strengthening programs for households and communities that care for children orphaned or impacted by HIV/AIDS. Samantha managed the organization and spearheaded the launch of The Tumaini Center, a vocational training college in Arusha, Tanzania. In 2005, she founded a for-profit import/export bicycle business in Arusha that provided 90% of the revenue needed to support programs and salaries at the college.

Samantha earned an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2010, where she won a Social Enterprise Program fellowship, and a BS in Environmental Science from Loyola University Chicago in 2003.

Since 2010, Samantha has done pro bono consulting for several international and national for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. She lives in New York, NY with her husband and three small children.

Global Advisory Council

An international group of individuals around the world provides strategic guidance and resources to the Akilah team.

Amy Sullivan Berkeley

GAC Member

Amy Sullivan Berkeley has over 20 years of development and management experience in the educational and non-profit sectors, holding several senior management positions at universities and board positions at not-for-profits. She has designed and managed ambitious capital and endowment campaigns while steadily increasing annual fund revenues.

As the Director of Emerson's Parent Fund, Amy increased parent giving by 150 percent, leading to a promotion to Director of Major Gifts. Focusing on principle gifts, Amy helped the college increase its endowment from $8 million to over $80 million, secure funding for state-of-the-art educational spaces, endowments for academic programming, and scholarship. At Emerson, Amy continued to take on increasing responsibility, serving as the chief fundraising officer and Board strategist during a turnover in Vice Presidents.

Working closely with Emerson's President, Amy strengthened the Board’s governance structure, managing the Board of Overseers (a secondary board to the Board of Trustees) to create a rich feeding ground for the Board of Trustees. Through her tenure at the school, Amy recruited more than 13 new Overseers and 7 new Trustees, 3 of whom were CEOs of Fortune 100 companies.

In the fall of 2005, Amy accepted the position of Executive Director of Advancement at Brookwood School. Amy devised and led the school’s $12 million “The Time is Now” capital campaign and 4 years later coordinated a strategic planning process that became the basis for another capital campaign to expand the campus through a new Lower School, Dining Hall, and establishing a Curricular Endowment.

While Amy has a depth of experience in leadership giving, governance and strategic planning, she pays equal attention to the shared values, history and experiences that define community. Using these unifying influencers, she designs engagement programs that motivate individuals to work together to achieve common goals.

Taryn Bird

GAC Member

Taryn Bird is the manager of Kate Spade & Co.’s on purpose initiative. In this role, Taryn is responsible for on purpose product development, capacity development in the corporate value chain, factory empowerment programming and supporting the overall on purpose social enterprise business modeling.

Prior to joining Kate Spade & Co. in 2013, Taryn headed the women’s economic empowerment and global corporate citizenship programs at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. During her tenure at the chamber, Taryn launched the international business corps in 2011, a skills based volunteer partnership program for corporate members operating in Brazil. She also studied and visited corporate engagement programs in Haiti, Brazil, Kenya and South Africa.  

In 2012, she was selected as a supply chain fellow for the social enterprise Indego Africa in Kigali Rwanda, where she managed the local supply chain for brand partners such as Anthropologie, Dannijo and JCrew.

Taryn has contributed to various private sector publications on development and business including, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Business Fights Poverty, The Huffington Post Impact Blog, and the US Chamber of Commerce Annual corporate citizenship reports.

Taryn has her Masters in Social Enterprise from the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC and her Bachelor of Sciences in Economic and Spanish from Pennsylvania State University. She is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  

Elizabeth Cabot

GAC Member


Elizabeth Cabot recently participated in a Fellowship Program with B Lab in New York City, in which she introduced small-to-medium sized businesses in Manhattan and Brooklyn to social and environmental performance measurement and improvement. Prior to her Fellowship, Elizabeth earned her M.B.A from the Yale School of Management in 2015. While at Yale SOM, Elizabeth worked in sustainability and corporate strategy for Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company, and for Etsy's Values & Impact Team in Brooklyn, New York. Elizabeth also holds a Juris Doctor and Certificate in Environmental Law from Boston College Law School. After receiving her J.D. in 2011, Elizabeth served as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Gilbert S. Merritt, Senior Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In that capacity, Elizabeth wrote and edited judicial bench memoranda and opinions addressing complex constitutional, statutory, and common law legal questions. Elizabeth also served as the Middle East Program Coordinator for the Quebec-Labrador Foundation, traveling extensively in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank to run an environmental and conflict fellowship and workshop program. Elizabeth received her B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 2006, where she and Akilah founder Elizabeth Davis were classmates and worked together as part of the leadership team of the Vanderbilt Chapter of Students Taking Action Now Darfur (S.T.A.N.D.).

Joan Calambokidis

GAC Member

Joan serves as CEO and President of the International Masonry Institute (IMI) and the International Masonry Training and Education Foundation (IMTEF). She is also active in the broader construction industry serving on the national boards of the National Building Museum, the American Architectural Foundation as well as the ACE mentoring organization. Prior to joining IMI, she served as Assistant to the President for Political Affairs for President Bill Clinton. She also serves on the board of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the Global Advisory Council for the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali, Rwanda.

Gary Dodds

GAC Member

Gary has lived and worked primarily as a VP Human Resource in most regions globally this last 35-years, from Europe to the Middle East Africa, from the USA to Asia Pacific - with Luxury (Ritz-Carlton Hotels & The Peninsula Group), Full and Limited Service Hotel & Resort brands (Marriott, IHG, Sheraton ITT) and been General Manager of a hotel too. His contacts and reach globally are extensive in the USA, South America, The West Indies as well as Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific; as has been in outreach to community work and charities from the Hong Kong Sea School for Boys to Vietnamese Terminally ill children, to Senses for disabled children in Dubai, to the Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda for whom he is today a Global Advisory Council member .

Gary brings first hand knowledge of doing business in most countries in the region, is fully aware of FLS safety and security issues and needs, and worked closely with his companies heads of security and safety over these many years – and represents Safe Hotels in The Americas & West Indies, the global standard of best practice for hotel guest Security and safety. 

Until year-end 2014 he spent the past 12 years working for The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels’ Company, as VP Human Resources, MEA leading HR for 160 hotels and resorts, handling openings and major acquisitions, and for the first 7 years, looked after the UK and Ireland and 86 hotels. He’s overseen over 50 openings in the UK, Ireland and the Middle East, the acquisition of 100 hotels in Africa, and 60 in the UK. He’s sat on major international hotel industry boards such as the Global International Reward Group, was Founder and Chair, the MEA HR Council, sat on The British Hospitality Association HR Committee, Chair of the UK Hotel Employers Group, and sits today on the International Labor Relations Group (BEERG Committee), has led University relationships and Youth & Women’s initiatives in the Middle East & Africa. This follows 14 years in VP HR positions in Asia Pacific for The Peninsula Group and it’s owning company, The Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels Limited, and also grew IHG hotels Asia Pacific from 14 to 45 hotels in 4 years.

He is a Globally Accredited and certified assessor of psychometric assessment using the renowned Selby Mills program, which looks at a candidates leadership competencies, behavior in the work place and personality and character. He can usually turn around a report for a client within 24 business hours from completion by a candidate of on-line tests – and will give an accurate take on a candidate. He is experienced at doing so at GM level and above, and Excom level. He has also run his own boutique luxury country house hotel as Owner/GM.

Maria Figueroa Kupcu

GAC Member

Maria Figueroa Kupcu is a Partner and Head of the New York office of Brunswick Group, an advisory firm specializing in critical issues and corporate relations. She has anchored Brunswick’s Business and Society offer in the U.S. since 2007 and is a senior advisor to Global 500 corporations, foundations and family offices. Her focus is social purpose campaigning, issues management and stakeholder engagement. Previously, Maria was a Director at the strategy and polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. A seasoned opinion researcher, she has advised a variety of political contests including presidential campaigns in five countries including: Ukraine, Zimbabwe and  South Korea. Maria began her career with the United Nations, working to reconcile government, business and NGO positions on environmental and social issues such as water risk, youth and labor rights. She is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and Tufts University, where she is a board member of the Institute for Global Leadership.

Susan Freeman

GAC Member

Susan Freeman is an executive coach who utilizes a unique approach to leadership transformation--combining Western strategic discipline with Eastern integrative wisdom techniques. Her clients value her skill in helping them unlock leadership effectiveness, connect strategy to execution, and increase trust and collaboration.  Personal benefits include improved relationships, better health and overall life as well as work satisfaction. She combines a thorough and practical approach to strategic change and personal growth, both for individuals and teams. Susan brings to her coaching more than 25 years of corporate, entrepreneurial and non-profit business management and leadership experience.   

Susan is sought after by investor-owned companies to help them reach the next level of growth and profitability. Areas of specialty interest include strengths and challenges of entrepreneurship in both small and large organizations, cultivation of executive presence, career resilience, effective communication, and accountability.  Her facilitation specialties include Strategic Cornerstones: Mission, Vision, Values, Goals and Commitments; Creating an Empowering Culture; among others.

Susan received her M.B.A. in Marketing from Columbia University and her B.A. in Psychology from Wellesley College. She is the author of “Step Up Now: 21 Powerful Principles for People Who Influence Others.”  She is an accredited coach with the International Coach Federation as well as with Newfield Network, where she received her coaching training. She is also a certified business facilitator with the MSP Institute. Susan is a member of the International Coach Federation and a Professional Certified Coach.  Her message has been communicated in many venues as a corporate keynote, event speaker, on television and radio, and as leadership columnist.

She volunteers to mentor young women leaders locally and globally. In Africa, she works closely with The Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda to help empower young women with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become leaders. Her book connects her to the school, where it is used in the curriculum and where she donates all profits from its sales. She visited Rwanda as a Leadership Guest Lecturer in July, 2014. In Tampa, she has mentored young women through the Emerge Tampa program of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Frameworks Tampa Bay. Passionate about education, she has founded or served on several educational boards at the secondary and university levels.  

Lauren Lovelace

GAC Member

Lauren Lovelace has nearly 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, serving foreign financial services companies with US operations, as well as domestic entities with offshore operations. She has extensive experience with inbound and outbound international banking tax issues, including cross-border planning to maximize income tax efficiency (e.g., in response to regulatory changes), financial product income sourcing and taxation, withholding tax and treaty matters related to permanent establishment matters and Article 7 profit attribution, interest deductibility analyses, FIRPTA considerations and reporting, and transfer pricing. She also assists clients with meeting their quarterly and annual US tax compliance obligations.

Lauren frequently instructs at internal and external training sessions covering topics in banking and capital markets and inbound/outbound international tax. She coauthored an article in 2006 concerning the implications of factoring transactions to US controlled foreign corporation look-through treatment.

She holds a Masters of Accounting degree from Kenan-Flagler Business School, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and French from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is an Enrolled Agent with the Internal Revenue Service.

Jolly Rwanyonga Mazimhaka

GAC Member

Jolly Rwanyonga Mazimhaka (BA Hons, PGDEd., MA, PhD) is an Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Rwanda. My research interests revolve around education and gender issues.

Jolly Mazimhaka has held many roles as an educator. She taught at Secondary School (Advanced level) in Uganda and Kenya and was a university lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and at the former Kigali Institute of Science & Technology (current College of Science & Technology) in Kigali.  Throughout her career, she headed Departments, was Dean of the School of Language Studies (SOLAS) at KIST, and Director of Academic Quality Assurance.  Mazimhaka participated in several extra-curricular engagements with students as the Gender Focal Point at KIST (an outcome of a  collaboration between the then Ministry of Gender and Women in Development), a Patron of the KIST-KHI Female Students Association, Patron of the KIST Students Rotaract Club, Patron of the Students Reading Club, and Founder of the KIST Gender Desk through which several gender-related issues were addressed, including the memorable “Hundred-Man March” protesting against violence meted on women. Currently, she is one of the senior staff at the University of Rwanda, working as the University Director for the Centre of Teaching & Learning Enhancement. She is also a member of the University Teaching and Learning Enhancement Committee, which is a sub-committee of Senate, member of the joint committee made up of representatives from the Research, Innovation, and Postgraduate Studies and the Teaching & Learning Enhancement units, and member of the university Senate.

Outside of the University, Jolly maintains an membership in Unity Club of which she is a founding member, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)-Rwanda Chapter; she is an active member and past President of Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga; member of the Technical Advisory Committee at the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), Academic Quality Assurance Committee of the Inter-University Council for East Africa, and Country Representative for the East African Quality Assurance Network until the mandate ended in May 2016.

Jolly is happily married and a mother of three. She enjoys playing scrabble, reading a gripping novel, watching a nice movie, chatting with friends, discussing current global issues, and participating in Rotary community service projects.

Fran Pastore

GAC Member


A devoted catalyst for women, families and communities with an emphasis on economic self-reliance through small business training, financial education and professional development.

Specialties: Creating and promoting a vision that people invest in; Building and inspiring dynamic teams who deliver exceptional results; Identifying and overseeing new initiatives; Building a brand, creating and implementing marketing initiatives and public relations campaigns; Advocacy and lobbying.

Cynthia Phillips

GAC Member

 Cynthia A. Phillips is the Founder & CEO of The Disruptive Factory, a new consultancy and accelerator for technology and innovative start-ups, change makers, and growth stage companies. Phillips is an economist & business consultant to corporations as well as for-profit and social enterprises with over 20 years of experience in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, branding, analytics, big data, business development and global expansion. Former Director of International Marketing & Risk Management at American Express, she currently consults with technology companies such as Cisco Systems and Riverbed. Phillips holds a doctorate and degrees in agricultural economics, economics and statistics from University of Michigan and Michigan State University.  She currently serves as the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Ascalon, LLC, a disruptive consumer and commercial products company. Phillips sits on several nonprofit boards and advisory boards of start-ups including OROECO and accelerators such as Think Beyond Plastic.  As social entrepreneur, Phillips is the Founder of 90/10 Advisors, G Media Partners, and Disruptive Spirits.

References and endorsements for Phillips work can be found on Linkedin here.

Bryan Setser

GAC Member

Bryan Setser serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence at rpk GROUP. Bryan partners with the team to develop the overall firm strategy and lends his expertise to both higher education and emerging K-12 clients. Bryan’s work in higher education has included leading the higher education practice at 2Revolutions, a leading national design firm where his portfolio included the American Council on Education, EDUCAUSE, and multiple foundations, universities, HBCUs, and community colleges. In his K-12 work, Bryan has served as a Chief Quality Officer, a Chief Design Officer, and CEO of the nation’s 2nd largest virtual school. Dr. Setser is a national Baldrige examiner for the United States Department of Commerce, and his award winning career has included being selected by three different Governors for e-learning and school technology commissions. 

Vibeke Brask Thomsen

GAC Member


Vibeke Brask Thomsen is Danish-born but raised in Monaco. After graduating with a Master in Public Policy and a Master of Russian and East European Studies from the University of Michigan, she moved to Bruxelles, where she worked for think-thanks and NGOs on arms control, disarmament, security and defence, and on policies to protect women in conflict zones.

In 2011, she returned to Monaco where she founded GenderHopes. The non-profit aims to empower girls and women through education and to raise awareness about the International Day of the Girl.

GenderHopes also aims to combat gender-based violence and discrimination by raising awareness, informing policy-makers and the general public and by highlighting negative stereotypes that promote gender-based violence and discrimination.

Michaela Walsh

GAC Member

Michaela Walsh is activist, scholar, mentor, educator, and author. She was a pioneer woman manager with Merrill Lynch in Beirut, Lebanon, in the ’60s, first woman Partner of Boettcher in the ’70s, and in 1980, Founding President of Women’s World Banking.

Throughout her career, Michaela has maintained a vibrant commitment to education and service. She was an Adjunct Professor at Manhattanville College and Director of Global Student Leadership programs there. Board appointments have included Synergos Institute, and Union Theological Seminary, with advisory roles in a wide range of governmental and social-justice organizations over the decades.She was Chairperson of the 59th United Nations DPI/NGO Conference in 2006. She received the Woman of Vision Award of the National Organization for Women, the UN Development Program’s Paul G. Hoffman Award for outstanding work in development, and in 2012 was honored by Women’s Funding Network for changing the face of philanthropy.

Wendy Wheeler

GAC Member

Wendy Wheeler is a technology executive with experience in high growth start-up and public companies. She began her career in sales with IBM, and them moved into marketing for smaller firms. She led marketing programs in small and large companies across a variety of technology sectors, including hardware, software, telecommunications and big data. Most recently she ran marketing for a data analytics firm which was acquired by IBM where she transitioned to directing marketing programs for IBM’s data analytics business. She holds a degree in modern language and literature from Trinity College in Hartford CT and has traveled extensively for business and pleasure. Volunteer activities include leadership roles as treasurer and warden for her church. She has also been a coach and mentor for organizations that sponsor women entrepreneurs and low income scholars.

Niki Zoli

GAC Member

Niki Zoli is Director, Social Responsibility & Community Engagement, at Marriott International, Inc. In this role she helps Marriott identify and address significant corporate social responsibility (CSR) risks, trends, and opportunities.  

Niki manages a portfolio of Marriott’s CSR programs – primarily in the youth employment and sustainability space – including the company’s signature Brazilian Amazon Rainforest project.  She also manages Marriott’s annual sustainability reporting and collaborates with the company’s social media and communications teams to help convey progress. Most recently, she’s focused on helping to shape the company’s next generation of sustainability goals alongside key disciplines ranging from Engineering to HR.  She’s also working with Marriott’s HR and Sales teams to develop tools and training that demonstrate how CSR can be used by associates worldwide to drive business success.

Prior to joining Marriott in 2007, Niki worked with other socially responsible companies and organizations including Whole Foods Market, Honest Tea, and the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership. She most recently spoke about corporate social responsibility at the Council on Competitiveness, and is on the Akilah Institute for Women’s (Rwanda) Advisory Board, and recently joined the Youth Career Initiative’s Strategy Working Group.

Niki received her undergraduate degree in journalism with a specialization in public relations from the University of Texas at Austin and her master’s in public communications from American University.  She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband and two young sons.

Rwanda Board of Advisors

Chantal Gatali, Business Development Director, Kopo Kopo
Charles Muia, General Manager, Kigali Serena Hotel
Edwin Sabuhoro, President, Tourism Chamber of Rwanda Private Sector Federation
Ged Caddick, Owner, Terra Incognita EcoTours
Jackie Karuletwa, KaziBora Hospitality Consulting
Jacqui Sebageni, Director & Founder, Thousand Hills Expeditions
Jean Luc Miravumba, Marketing Director, Dubai World
Dr. Jolly Mazimhaka, Director of Academic Quality Assurance, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology; President, Rotary Club of Kigali
Pastor Philbert Kalisa, Executive Director, REACH
Rosette Rugamba, former Deputy CEO of Tourism & Conversation, Rwanda Development Board
Shirley Randall, Director, Centre for Gender, Culture, and Development
Solomon Adede, Chief Operating Officer, New Century Development
Wanini Gichuki, Director, Creative Communications

Burundi Board of Advisors

Claude Nikondeha, Director, Communities of Hope / Kazoza Microfinance
Consolata Ndayishimiye, Former President, Burundi Chamber of Commerce
Inès Mutabazi, General Manager, Roca Golf Hotel
Dr. Joseph Bigirumwami, Former Professor and Deputy Director, National University
Lydia Mutekano, Owner, Geny’s Beach & Café
Samantha Shaza, Founder & Managing Director, Fer-Al
Scholastique Mpemgekeze, Deputy Representetive, FAWE and Advisor at Office of Statistics and Planification, Ministery of Education