• Board of Directors
  • Founder

Board of Directors

Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre

Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre is a Haitian-American artist and educator who is best known for his introspective murals. He is a U.S. State Department Art in Embassies Artist. His work is in the private collection of the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, Benin West Africa.  Jean-Pierre has created public art in Chicago, DC, New York, Istanbul, Panama, Port-au-Prince, London and Paris. He began experimenting with art at an early age by creating visual narratives based on classical paintings from his homeland. His work speaks to the nexus of political, social, gender and economic structures. Jean-Pierre holds a Masters of Arts from Howard University.


Hannah Pool

Hannah Pool is a journalist, author and commentator based in London, England. She has written features, interviews and comment for the Guardian for over a decade. Former Associate Editor of ARISE magazine, her work also appears in The Times, The Independent, Grazia and others. Hannah is curator of talks and debates at Africa Utopia and Women of the World (WOW) festivals at the Southbank centre and curated the Southbank’s Nelson Mandela tribute.

Hannah’s book, My Fathers’ Daughter: A story of family and belonging is a memoir of her journey back to Eritrea to find her birth family. My Fathers’ Daughter was published in the UK (Penguin), the US (Free Press), France, and Holland to critical acclaim, and described by the Washington Post as “a significant and moving book.” Hannah appears on BBC Radio (including Women’s Hour, The Jeremy Vine Show, The World Service), has spoken at TEDxEuston, Africa Writes and Africa Gathering, and was the subject of CNN’s African Voices. Hannah also presented ARISE TV’s arts and culture show.


Jasminee Persaud

Jasminee is an independent consultant who has worked across a range of industries including international development, banking, insurance, and housing. She has over a decade of experience in monitoring and evaluation, project management, data collection and analytics, evidence based research, compliance and policy analysis.  Her work in international development includes The Peace Corps, The Hunger Project and Oxfam America and the United Nations. Prior to consulting, she has held positions at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, The Conference Board, and the Government Accountability Office. Jasminee received a Bachelors in Economics from Barnard College and a Masters in Economics & Political Development from Columbia University.


Jennifer Teske

Dr. Jennifer Teske is a Korean-American adoptee who spent her formative years in suburban Minnesota. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota at Morris (USA), Master’s of Arts degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (USA), and a Doctorate in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul (USA). Jennifer serves as a member of Zonta International in Tucson, Arizona and Board member for the Nile Institute for Peace and Development. She is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, a Research Scientist at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her research focuses on the neural integration of sleep and metabolism as they relate to pathology due to sleep deprivation, over consumption and low energy expenditure. As an extramurally-funded researcher; she has published 23 peer-reviewed papers, servers on grant review panels, and reviews manuscripts for 15 journals. She enjoys mentoring students (high school to doctoral-level) and teaching both traditional and online Nutrition courses.


Jonta Williams

Marie “Jonta” Williams currently serves the administration of President Barack Obama as an Advisor in the Africa Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), focusing on Ebola recovery efforts, communications and diaspora engagement. She previously served as the White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where she managed the recruitment, selection, and placement of Presidential Appointees and oversaw the federal advisory committee appointment process.  Prior to joining USDA, Jonta served in the White House as the Director for the Boards & Commissions team with the Office of Presidential Personnel. She also worked on the Obama-Biden transition team and was a field organizer in New York and Philadelphia during the Obama for America 2008 presidential campaign. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Jonta served for 10 years as an information technology specialist and programming team lead with IBM Corp., and as an Adjunct instructor for an on-line university.  She received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Master's degree in Industrial Engineering/Operations Research from Columbia University.  Jonta is a first generation American whose parents emigrated from Sierra Leone in West Africa where she has traveled frequently.


Kamissa Camara

Kamissa Camara is the Senior Program Officer for West & Central Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) where she oversees a multi-million grant portfolio to civil society organizations in the West and Central Africa sub-regions, designs country strategies and identifies policy gaps in transitional justice, human rights, peacebuilding, democracy promotion, corruption and civil-military relations that can potentially be addressed by local partners through NED funding. Ms. Camara is the founder and co-chair of the Sahel Strategy Forum, an integrated policy forum which provides a platform to donors, program implementers, academics, civil society, and the private sector to promote democratic values, stronger accountability mechanisms, peace, security and development throughout the Sahel.

Prior to her employment with NED, Kamissa worked for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) where she managed electoral assistance programs in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. She has trained over 300 electoral management officials in Senegal, Niger, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burundi, Nigeria, Gabon, France and Uganda on electoral operations and electoral management.  She holds an M.A. in International Economics and Development from Université Pierre Mendès France (Grenoble, France) and a B.A. in International Relations from Université Denis Diderot (Paris, France). Kamissa has published in Aljazeera America, The Broker, Good Governance Africa, World Politics Review, African Arguments, Think Africa Press, the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs and UN Vision and is regularly quoted in IRIN News. She was a guest on Monocle Radio, on France24 French and English TV programs, on The Global African, RFI, VOA and ORTM. Kamissa is a native French speaker and is fluent in English and German.

Katelyn Brewer

Katelyn N. Brewer is the CEO of Darkness2Light, a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse. Ms. Brewer is also the Co-Founder of the start-up Urban Tillage, a company focused on the augmentation of access to organic, vertically grown produce to the Johannesburg urban dweller. Frustrated with chain grocery stores promoting incorrectly labelled “organic” produce and pricing out the working class from obtaining quality produce, Ms. Brewer and her co-founder seek to work at the grassroots level to educate the South African consumer on what they are eating and facilitate urban beautification through affordably growing edible gardens at home. Ms. Brewer holds a B.A. in International Relations and French from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is originally from Maine, USA.


Lena Zamchiya

Lena M. Zamchiya is Vice President for Enactus’ International Affiliate Division (IAD) and has over 10 years experience working in the youth development arena in Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and throughout West Africa, East Africa, North Africa, where her experience has spanned to tackling problems within the education sector with particular focus on youth – university and high school students. In partnership with the academic and private sectors, Lena has developed initiatives and programs that focused on transforming the problem of youth unemployment and underemployment into an opportunity for wealth creation and social improvement by helping promising youth in Africa start viable social businesses backed by manageable loans. In partnership with Syngenta International and Enactus Kenya, Lena helped to implemented a pilot Youth Agribusiness initiative (2014) called Agribiz4Africa focusing on encouraging youth to participate in the value chain of Agribusiness. Lena is also responsible for providing oversight to Enactus Country operations based in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Canada, Senegal, Puerto Rico and Guatemala where she provides supports in areas related to governance, strategy, programs and fundraising.

Prior to this position, Lena worked as Regional Vice President for the Enactus Africa division, responsible for 10 countries. In this capacity Lena worked with Country operations in translating missions and goals into operating plans with clear benchmarks and annual objectives for their National operations. In this position, Lena facilitated an increase in networks and funding for the African region, Lena attended and participated in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference held in Lusaka, Zambia in June 2011 and facilitated a session on “The Next Generation” under the Civil Society Forum. Lena previously served as Country Director for Enactus Zimbabwe, a position she held for five years. In this role she was responsible for the implementation of Enactus programs at Universities around Zimbabwe; marketing the Enactus program and ensuring the financial stability of the program; and providing leadership to Enactus teams so that they were able to successfully implement their educational outreach programs.

Lena is the co-founding member of The BOOST Fellowship in Harare, Zimbabwe. BOOST (Building Opportunities On Student Talent) is a non-profit organization that empowers students in Universities with professional, mentoring and entrepreneurial skills for their life after school. The program targets youth in tertiary institutions and High Schools. In her capacity as C.E.O., Lena was instrumental in raising a total of about US$990,000 from several development agencies and was successful in receiving endorsement of The BOOST Fellowship program from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education in Zimbabwe. She has worked on projects with ICRISAT, Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) to provide consultancy work to monitor and evaluate projects aimed at reducing household vulnerability to Food Insecurity and HIV Infection in selected Districts in Zimbabwe as well as initiated the process of extending the BOOST program to Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.

Melanee Farrah

Melanee Farrah is an strategic advisor and education professional who provides timely analysis, insight and guidance for education and social service organizations. She has ten years of experience working in federal government, sustaining intergovernmental partnerships impacting New York City, managing grants and monitoring early childhood education programs. As a consultant, she founded and runs BluePrint Strategy, a boutique firm that provide small business, and public sector clients with results‐oriented strategies. Prior to her career in New York, Ms. Farrah served as Chief of Staff and Policy Advisor with the Atlanta City Council.

Melanee is also a moderator and television host, who has appeared as on‐air host for Brooklyn Independent Television’s Neighborhood Beat and BK Live! She has also been featured in the Atlanta Tribune and O Magazine. Melanee is a recent appointee to her East Harlem community board. She earned her MPP from George Washington University, is a Coro Leadership New York alumna, and a Revive the Dream Education Fellow. Her mission is to explore how partnerships amplify and strengthen New York’s diverse communities in consideration of power and privilege. She is based in New York City and on Twitter at @SayWordMel.



Semhar Araia

Semhar Araia is the founder of DAWN and a recognized practitioner, organizer and thought leader on diaspora engagement, African affairs, women's leadership and international development.  Her mission-driven lens and approach has amplified diaspora contributions and helped elevate national and global discourse on identity, next generation leadership and diasporas in development.

Her experience includes working for a variety of public and private institutions, including the United States Congress, Oxfam International, Nelson Mandela’s organization, The Elders, and as an attorney for the implementation of the 2000 Eritrea-Ethiopia peace agreement.  She has worked with diaspora organizations, communities and individuals from over 75 countries and has traveled around the world, advising grassroots organizers, organizations and governments on best practices for diaspora engagement. 

    Semhar is a White House Champion of Change and an African Union Diaspora Awardee of the Year recognized for her diaspora organizing and community work and featured in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, as one of the profiles in the Next-Generation Voices exhibit.

    She is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of USAID's Advisory Committee on Foreign Voluntary Aid (ACFVA). She is an avid Twitter user (@Semhar) and recognized as one of Foreign Policy magazine's Top 100 Foreign Policy Women on Twitter. Semhar has been featured in the Financial Times, BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Ventures Africa and other media outlets.

    Semhar is received her law degree from Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and her bachelor's degree from the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  She was born in New York City to Eritrean immigrant parents and resides in New York City.