Advisory Board

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Nicolas Meringolo, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, One Pencil Per Child

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Nicolas with PFA Global Ambassador Jackson Kaguri

Nicolas is the former Editor-in-Chief of the Pencils for Africa editorial team.

He is currently the CEO and the Editor-in-Chief of the One Pencil Per Child program.

To watch Nicolas’ presentation to the Board of Directors, kindly click here.

To learn more about the One Pencil Per Child program, kindly click here.

Shannon Sutherland, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Girl Smart Africa

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Shannon with Akili Dada Executive Director Purity Kagwiria

Shannon is CEO of Girl Smart Africa (click here for the website).

She is also the Editor-in-Chief of African Kitchen Table.

To learn more about African Kitchen Table kindly click here.

Colin Yoon, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Unscramble for Africa

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Colin is the former Deputy Editor of the Pencils for Africa editorial team.

He is currently the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Unscramble for Africa program.

Kyle Sutherland, Community Liaison, Pencils for Africa

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Kyle is the community liaison for Pencils for Africa.

Chyah Weitzman, Mentor and Teacher, Pencils for Africa

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Chyah was educated at Harvard College and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree through Harvard’s international study program in Japan. She learned to master the history, culture and technique of traditional Japanese paper making through the National Treasures of Japan.

She completed her masters thesis at the University of Copenhagen, teaching Japanese textiles to graduate students. Chyah was in Samburu, Kenya during November of 2013, meeting with fellow Pencils for Africa board member James Lekadaa (see below) as well as elders of Nangida Village in Samburu. Chyah is working to build an alliance between the local Nangida Village school and Saint Hilary Middle School in Tiburon, California, where she has been teaching for the past seventeen years and is the Director of the Arts Program.

Chyah directs and mentors the Pencils for Africa program.

James Lekadaa

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James is a member of the Samburu tribe in Kenya.

He is a wildlife conservationist, ecologist and environmentalist.

The Pencils for Africa Team is learning about the village in Samburu that James lives in, called Nangida Village. This includes learning about the Samburu Elders and how they cultivate the Ubuntu methodology of maintaining peace and community within Nangida Village. To visit the Nangida Village project website the Pencils for Africa Team works with, kindly click here.

To read the Pencils for Africa Team’s reflections on Skyping with James, kindly click here.

Veronica Thamaini

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Veronica is the Director of the Young Changemakers program at Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator based in Nairobi, Kenya, investing in high achieving young women from under-resourced families who are passionate about driving change in their communities.

Veronica earned a degree in Management Science at Strathmore University. Through her studies and work in the community outreach program, she has gained considerable experience working on projects aimed at creating social change. As Director of the Young Changemakers Program, that works with adolescent girls of ages between 13 – 19 years, she provides invaluable leadership development opportunities through the implementation of programmatic activities.

Professor Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is a Kenyan and is Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). AWARD is a career-development program that equips top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills.

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Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg is also Founder and past Executive Director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator investing in high achieving young women from under-resourced families who are passionate about driving change in their communities.

She has also served as an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and a lecturer in International Relations at Hekima College, a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Her academic interests center on the politics of philanthropy, gender, Africa, international relations, ethnicity, and democratization, and on the role of technology in social activism. Born in Kenya, she holds a Ph.D. and Masters degrees in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and a BA degree in Politics from Whitman College.

Wanjiru has been honored as a 2012 White House ‘Champion of Change’, named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine, 2012 Ford Foundation Champions of Democracy, and is a winner of the 2010 United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award.

Professor Libby Hoffman

Libby Hoffman is the founder and President of Catalyst for Peace, a Portland, Maine-based private foundation that mobilizes locally-owned and led peacebuilding and reconciliation in conflict and post-conflict settings, and pioneers in storytelling to share the lessons of this work.

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She co-founded Fambul Tok (Family Talk), which brings victims and perpetrators from the civil war in Sierra Leone together for the first time in village-level, tradition-based ceremonies of truth-telling and forgiveness, reknitting the torn fabric of the community in the process. She produced the award-winning documentary about this work, Fambul Tok, and is lead author of the book of the same name, published by Umbrage, 2011. Libby has been active in peacebuilding for 25 years in a variety of capacities – professor, trainer, facilitator, program director, consultant, and funder.

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A former Political Science professor at Principia College, she left academia to focus on the practice of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. She has developed and led conflict resolution training programs in corporate, congregational, educational and community settings. Libby holds an M.A.L.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a BA in Political Science from Williams College.

Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson

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Sarah Dryden-Peterson is Assistant Professor of Education at Harvard University.

Sarah leads a research program that focuses on the connections between education and community development, specifically the role that education plays in building peaceful and participatory societies. Her work is situated in conflict and post-conflict settings in sub-Saharan Africa and with African Diaspora communities in the United States and Canada.

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She is concerned with the interplay between local experiences of children, families, and teachers and the development and implementation of national and international policy. Her research reflects connections between practice, policy, and scholarship and is strengthened through long-term collaborations with UN agencies, NGOs, and communities.

Back in January, 2013, Harvard Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson and Pencils for Africa’s Global Ambassador, Jackson Kaguri had a discussion on Education in sub-Saharan Africa.

To read this discussion between Sarah and Jackson, kindly click here.

Professor Noerine Kaleeba

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Dr Noerine Kaleeba is a pioneer who has made a significant difference in the lives of people with AIDS and their families not only in Uganda, but also at political and strategic levels throughout the world.  She has remarkable energy and compassion.  She has demonstrated pragmatism and vision, humility and humanity on this difficult journey.

In 1986, she started a support group which blossomed into a pioneer movement to address stigma, restore hope and dignity of people and families living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. TASO (The AIDS Support Organisation) is now a household name in Uganda. As its founder and director, Noerine developed TASO into a global model of HIV prevention, care and support.

Noerine was among the small group of people to join Dr Peter Piot in setting up the United Nations joint program on HIV/AIDS, (UNAIDS), and became one of UNAIDS first staff members in January 1996, based in Geneva. At the beginning of 2006, after 10 years of service as UNAIDS’s partnership and community mobilisation adviser she joined the ranks of retired (but not tired) international civil servants. She operates as an independent consultant based in Uganda and serves as a mentor for CDC fellowship program at the Makerere school of public health.

Noerine has been decorated with a Knighthood of the Republic of Italy in June 2009 and is a recipient of several National and international awards (Uganda, Senegal, Norway, Sweden, USA, Belgium, Scotland). She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from three distinguished universities: Doctor of Humane letters, Nkumba university in Uganda; Doctor of Laws, Dundee university, Scotland ; Doctor of International Relations, Geneva school of diplomacy and International relations, Switzerland.

She is former Chair of ActionAid International, and is currently Vice Chair of the Uganda National Health Research Organization, (UNHRO) Board; is a member of Baylor Uganda Board, and Chair of the Action Africa Help Uganda Board.

Professor Henry Petroski

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Dr. Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering at Duke University.

At Duke University, he has a secondary appointment as a professor of history.

From 2004 through 2012 he held a Presidential appointment as a member of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

Professor Petroski’s current research activity focuses on the interrelationship between success and failure in design. He also has a strong interest in the nature of invention and in the history of technology. Professor Petroski’s research has been sponsored by the Corps of Engineers, the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He has published seventeen books and hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, and trade journals.

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Besides his history of the pencil, Petroski’s books include The Evolution of Useful Things; The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors; and The Toothpick. His latest book is entitled The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure.

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Professor Petroski is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineers of Ireland, and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

His numerous honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Professor Elinor Breman

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Elinor has a D.Phil. from The School of Geography & Environment, Oxford University.

Her thesis examined the drivers of vegetation change at the present-day grassland-savanna ecotone in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. Mpumalanga province borders Swaziland as well as the Gaza Province, northeast of Mozambique and Maputo Province, east of Mozambique.

Elinor has worked in tropical rainforest ecology in Costa Rica, restoration ecology in Madagascar, and run environmental expeditions to Nicaragua.

She is a member of both the Biodiversity Institute and the Oxford Long-term Ecology Lab.

To read Co-Editor-in-Chief Lucia’s interview with Dr. Elinor Breman, kindly click here.

Molly Burke

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Molly Burke is the Co-Founder and the Executive Director of Bicycles Against Poverty.

Bicycles Against Poverty is a microfinance organization based in East Africa that empowers rural Ugandans to access critical resources using bicycles. Molly is based in Gulu, Uganda. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Sciences and in Political Science from Bucknell University.

To read the Pencils for Africa’s reflections on their visit with Molly, kindly click here.

Frances Uku

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Frances Uku has a BSc. in Electrical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley and is a recent graduate of Harvard University’s A.R.T. Institute, from which she received an MFA in Acting.

At Harvard, she studied with Jeremy Geidt, who was also Karim’s teacher at Harvard, and is featured in Teacher Thoughts. Frances studied at The Moscow Art Theatre School, Atlantic Theater School and The Second City Conservatory in Los Angeles. Directors with whom Frances has worked recently include: Ethan Hawke, Brett C. Leonard of LAByrinth Theater Company, two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, Emmy & Golden Globe winner Debbie Allen.

Frances speaks Yoruba (Niger-Congo language of Africa), Russian, French and English.

Scott Buchanan

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Scott attended the University of Colorado before pursuing his lifetime dream of becoming a marine scientist. He completed his Master of Science from Moss Landing Marine labs in California.

Along the way he has studied fin whales in the Gulf of California, assisted in research diving in Monterey Ca. and travelled through Central America and parts of the Caribbean. He continues to be an active naturalist, birder and surfer wherever his travels take him.

Scott recently chaperoned a Global Student Embassy high school trip to Ecuador to help reforest both coastal forests and mangroves. Scott has been a science teacher for 25 years in and out of middle school, high school and a stint as an educational naturalist. He currently teaches science at Saint Hilary School with a passion to bring real world issues to his students and create an atmosphere where students have hope and generate innovative ideas and solutions.

Katy Digovich

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Katy Digovich is an entrepreneur that has spent the previous five years in Southern Africa growing and running a nonprofit that she founded one month after graduating from Princeton University, known as Positive Innovation for the Next Generation or PING.

PING worked on the ground deploying health and education technology and training local unemployed youth to support and maintain their systems. The organization used this method to launch 11 apps in Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.

PING has partnered with Hewlett Packard, Motorola, Clinton Foundation, Center for Disease Control, US-AID and multiple African telecoms.

To read the Pencils for Africa Team’s reflections on visiting with Katy, kindly click here.

Sarah Wambui Njuru

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Sarah Njuru is the Executive Director of Hilde Back Education Fund, a Kenyan charity that supports the education of bright needy children from poor communities and disadvantaged background through a ‘Sponsor a Child Program’. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Management Studies from Moi University and is working on her Masters Program in Strategic Management. She has also studied Human Resource Management and Counseling Skills.

Sarah is passionate about impacting others and has previously worked at Africa Focus with vulnerable groups in Mukuru Slums Kenya in a program aimed at reducing vulnerability and increasing self dependency which targeted Orphans and Vulnerable Children and People Living with HIV/Aids. She has also been involved in Empowering Women through Business training to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS in Kariobangi and Korogocho areas through the Harvest Women Centre. Previously she worked in the business sector in Human Resource Consultancy and also Branch and Credit Management at Supreme Furnishers.

To read African Kitchen Table Editor Shannon’s interview with Sarah, kindly click here.

Alison Nicholls

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Alison Nicholls is an artist inspired by Africa.

She lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for a number of years and returns to Africa annually to sketch, visit conservation projects, and lead sketching safaris for Africa Geographic magazine.

She is a member of Artists For Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists, the Explorers Club and the Salmagundi Club. She sketches and paints the people and wildlife of Africa in vibrant color, and often explores complex conservation issues in her work.

Alison makes a donation to African conservation from every sale of her artwork.

Her art can be viewed on her website: www.NichollsWildlifeArt.com

Christine Lunanga

Christine is the Executive Director of CAMME in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

CAMME was founded with the vision that in the midst of war and disaster, there can be hope. This hope is translated into practicality through protecting, advocating, sheltering, training and educating children, many of whom are vulnerable and some of whom are victims of armed conflict.

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Born in Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, Christine earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Development and Finance, and after interning at a local organization promoting mother and child health, she became an auditor in a local microfinance organization in Goma.

After two years, she was promoted and became the organization’s deputy director. After growing up in a relatively prosperous family, a series of conflicts and disasters gave her a sense of the reality faced by vulnerable children on a daily basis, and at the age of 22, she, Stewart Lunanga, and Pascal Bashombana were inspired to create CAMME in the Congo. “I understand what suffering means for a child because I have lived it myself,” she says. “Experiencing this made me want to fight to improve the lives of those who haven’t had the same opportunities as I have.”

Christine was selected in July 2011 to represent young Congolese women leaders through the Moremi Initiative’s MILEAD Fellows program.

Sharon Adongo

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Sharon Adongo is a social entrepreneur based in Nairobi, Kenya.

She is co-founder of Uwazi Technology Consulting, a data and technology consulting firm and the leading Salesforce Cloud Alliance Partner in East Africa. Uwazi builds systems that help nonprofits and social enterprises successfully collaborate with their constituents, scale their programs and unlock opportunities through insightful data.

Sharon is passionate about making the world a better place through the use of technology, innovation and philanthropy. She has previously worked for Samahope, developing systems to streamline organization-donor relations and Unilever East Africa Limited where she was a management trainee. She has a BA in Science, Technology & Society, with a correlate in Computer Science from Vassar College in New York. 

To read the Pencils for Africa Team’s reflections on Skyping with Sharon, kindly click here.

Karim Ajania

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Karim is the Founder of Pencils for Africa.

He is a former school principal of a Massachusetts state charter middle school. Karim was born and schooled in Kenya and holds advanced degrees from MIT and from Harvard University.

To read an interview with Karim for the African Peace Journal click here.