Director of Model Schools
Lilian Emanuel Charles
Edgar John Mwansasu
Teacher Training Coordinator
Teacher Training Assistant
Board of Directors (USA)
Laura Wangsness Willemsen
Board of Directors (Tanzania)
Program Volunteers & Consultants
Dr. Nelson Nkoma
Board Emeritus (USA)
Katie Graham Shannon
Dr. Matthew Thomas
Dr. Fran Vavrus
Staff - USA
Brian Singer: Brian’s commitment to Tanzania started when he spent two years in Tanzania as a math teacher with the Peace Corps. Since that time, he has been a frequent visitor to Tanzania while guiding charitable groups, as an owner of Access 2 Tanzania and Treks 2 Rwanda, and starting Project Zawadi. He has a graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University in Social Change and Development and has spent more than 20 years assisting low-income entrepreneurs in New York City and the Twin Cities.
Vicki Dilley: Vicki learned about Access 2 Tanzania and Project Zawadi through the Minnesota Returned Peace Corps Volunteer newsletter. Vicki, and her husband Lee, were Peace Corps Volunteers in the country of Tuvalu and learned about rural community development through Peace Corps and Save the Children. Vicki holds a degree in Child Psychology from the University of Montana. Working mostly as a ‘professional volunteer’ and as a marketing executive for a health and wellness company, Vicki brings a broad range of experiences and life lessons to her job. 18 years of dedication to Rotary Youth Exchange has fed her ever burning desire to support the youth toward ‘world peace and understanding’. Vicki lives a life full of rich and meaningful opportunities…one of those being Project Zawadi.
Shannon Skally: Shannon became connected to Tanzania through a college wildlife biology and conservation semester abroad. She holds her BS in Environmental Biology and Journalism from the University of Massachusetts and served as an environmental education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Morocco. She holds a MS degree in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota. Working in a variety of positions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, Shannon has developed a broad range of skills in project and organizational management and communications. She began working with Project Zawadi in 2009.
Staff - Tanzania
Judith Merinyo: Judith has many years of rich experiences and training in the NGO, evaluation, education, research and health care worlds. Judith is a graduate of Moshi University College with a degree in Cooperative and Business Studies and from Sokoine University of Agriculture with an advanced degree in Community Development. Based in Arusha, Judith brings her expertise in coordinating educational, logistical, financial, vocational and social-emotional support to Project Zawadi sponsored students.
Adrian Maganga: Adrian works toward a BA in Education from Ruaha University College and has several years of teaching experience, most recently serving as headmaster (principal) at Nyamung’uta Secondary School in the Nyamuswa area. Adrian specializes in teacher professional development and is leading efforts both locally and nationally to expand opportunities for teachers and more fully incorporate a student-centered approach to teaching and learning.
Ombeni Mgwilanga: Ombeni holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Ruaha University College. He has several years of teaching and administrative experience most recently as Headmaster and before that as Academic Master at secondary schools in Iringa. Ombeni is skilled in bringing community and school leaders together and has broad experience in planning and facilitating trainings .
Maneno Wright: Maneno is a graduate of Kisumu Boys High School. After graduation he pursued studied carpentry and worked as a vocational carpentry instructor in Nyamuswa. His boundless energy and enthusiasm are attributes as he heads up special projects of all kinds from construction to assisting the Counselors.
Lilian Emanuel Charles: Lilian holds a BS in Psychology and Counseling from Jordan University College in Morogoro and a Certificate in Rural Development and Planning from the Institute of Rural Development and Planning in Dodoma. She has experience in individual and group counseling and providing mentoring and lifeskills training in a variety of settings.
Marymaria Urio: Marymaria is a former Project Zawadi sponsored student. She holds a BA in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iringa and a diploma in Community Development from Tumaini University in Iringa. She is excited to bring her skills, experience, and unique perspective to the Sponsorship Program.
Benard Maziba: Benard is a former Project Zawadi sponsored student and graduate of Mwanza Vocational Training Centre's carpentry program. His unique perspective and knowledge of the Nyamuswa area are invaluable as the special projects assistant.
Chukista Malima: Chukista is a former Project Zawadi sponsored student and graduate of St. Anthony Vocational Training Centre. This unique perspective is invaluable in her work as a Counselor as she provides daily support, guidance, and encouragement to the next generations of sponsored students and acts as the primary liaison with teachers and families.
Edgar John Mwansasu: Edgar holds a BA in Counseling Psychology from Teofilo Kisanji University. He has several years of teaching experience most recently as an English teacher and Academic Master at Esperanto Secondary School. Edgar has been a teacher for Project Zawadi's English Bridge program and also worked as a monitoring and evaluation consultant in the healthcare field.
Gingiri Mwesa: Gingiri is a former Project Zawadi Merit student and a 2018 graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam with a Bachelor of Education. He brings his knowledge, skills, and energy to the Tenda Teachers program.
Peter Mallya: Peter holds a BA in Accounting and Finance from Moshi University College of Cooperatives and Business Studies. Formerly a program manager for USADF and accountant for a youth training center, Peter brings his skills in finance and passion to make a difference to his work with PZ.
Neria Atieno: Neria has served on the front lines of Project Zawadi’s sponsored student program as a Counselor for more than five years. She provides daily support, guidance, and encouragement to sponsored students and acts as the primary liaison with teachers and families as they advance through their educations.
Board of Directors - USA
Sara Skinner: Sara Skinner has a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Social Sciences from Stanford University and a Masters in Public Health (Health Behavior and Health Education) from the University of Michigan. Sara has worked with farmworkers, refugees, and other immigrants in a variety of non-profit organizations. She taught English in Spain and collaborated on an HIV prevention research project in Brazil. Her skills include non-profit management, program planning, and popular education, facilitation and training. She has volunteered extensively at her children’s schools, including serving on the PTA Board of Directors for several years and working to improve services for low-income students.
Ian Keith: Ian is an elementary school teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools and a former President of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. He achieved National Board Certification in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts in 2012. As the co-director of the Tenda Teachers Program at Project Zawadi, he has spent 3 years collaborating with Tanzanian educators and others to train teachers in best instructional practices and to create English language classes for students entering secondary school. He helped organize an alliance of teacher training organizations and NGOs in Tanzania to promote teacher professional development in the country. He holds a B.A. in Politics from Princeton University, a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Antioch University in Philadelphia and is a graduate of the Policy Fellows Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Geoff Freeman: Geoff is an educator in St Paul, MN. In 2015, Geoff was invited by Project Zawadi to work on the Tenda Teachers program, connecting classrooms in the Mara Region of Tanzania to schools in St Paul, MN. In 2016 he traveled in Tanzania with Ian Keith and Adrian Mananga to help the program grow. Geoff has since joined the board of Project Zawadi. Geoff has taught at JJ Hill Montessori for five years in St Paul, MN. His particular skills include Montessori education, inquiry and project based learning and implementing technology in education. Geoff has worked with the Minnesota History Center, Saint Paul Public Schools and Hamline University developing curriculum and leading hands-on, student centered lessons and projects. He holds a B.S. in Social Studies Education from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) and a M.Ed., in Montessori Education from the University of Wisconsin (River Falls, WI).
Ronald Aminzade: Ron is a retired emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. He has been doing research in Tanzania since 1995 and has published a book and several articles on the impact of neo-liberal economics and democratic political reforms on citizenship, race relations, and nationalism in Tanzania. He has recently been doing research on Tanzanian agricultural policy debates. During his thirty-six years at the University of Minnesota, he trained many African Ph.D. students who are now professors in Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa. Here are two old photos. The older one with the mustache looks better.
HT Fish: HT Fish has spent the past 25 years leading teams that build and transform large, global businesses primarily at McKinsey & Company and Cargill, Inc. HT became actively involved with Project Zawadi in 2016 and joined the Board in December of 2017; he currently serves as Chair of the Finance and Funding Committee. HT also serves on the Board of the Minnesota Children’s Museum (MCM), where he is on the Executive Committee. HT earned a BA in Chemistry from the University of Colorado, and a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Stanford University. He and his wife, Kathryn, live in St Paul, MN.
Emma Kasiga: Emma is an experienced program manager with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization - finance industry. She is skilled in analytics, banking, accounting, management, and fundraising. She is a strong education professional with a MBA focused in International Finance from University of Saint Thomas - School of Business.
Sam Mutasa: Sam is a native of Tanzania and has lived in the United States since 2009. He holds his Master’s in Science Finance from Southern New Hampshire University. Also, he is currently a Doctoral candidate in Organization Development and Change at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. Since 2011, Sam has been working in a variety of positions in the private industry. He is currently working as Project Consultant and has developed a broad range of skills such as Organizational Management, Strategic Planning, Contract Negotiation, Conflict Management, Team Building and Organization Design.
Josephat Mboyi: Born and raised in Tanzania (Nyamuswa - Bunda district). He is a pharmacist who hold a Bachelor of pharmacy(Bpharm) from the university of Dar Es Salaam. He also hold MBA from the university of Findaly in Ohio. He has worked in public and private sectors as a pharmacist both in Tanzania and here in the United States. Currently, he lives in Virginia and working for Walgreens as a Pharmacy Manager. He has served as a board member for Project Zawadi on and off since 2011. He frequently travels to Nyamuswa where he still has family.
Laura Wangsness Willemsen: With a Ph.D. Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota, Laura is currently an Assistant Professor of Education at Concordia University in St. Paul. Focusing on inequalities, equity and education, she has a special interest in gender and development. Laura has spent several years living in Tanzania, including studying at the University of Dar es Salaam, teaching secondary school in Monduli, and researching girls' education in southern Tanzania.
Board of Directors - Tanzania
William Philemon: Willy Philemon has been a safari guide since 2003 and has been with the Access 2 Tanzania team since 2010. Willy has taken on the leadership role representing the company's philanthropic mission on the board of Project Zawadi (Tanzania). Willy's vast experience, advocacy and care for the students and youth of Project Zawadi is representative of all of those on the Access 2 Tanzania team.
Sweetbert Dagobert: Registered with the National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA) as a certified public accountant in public practice. Sweetbert has been providing accounting services to Access 2 Tanzania and Project Zawadi for over a dozen years.
Stella Makundi: Stella provided guidance and support to early cohorts of Project Zawadi sponsored students based in Arusha, Tanzania. Working as the Reservations Manager for Access 2 Tanzania, Stella remains connected and committed to the Project Zawadi mission.
Adam Mataso: One of the first Project Zawadi sponsored students and our first college graduate. Adam holds a Bachelors of Arts in Public Administration from Kampala International University. Adam worked as a Counselor for Project Zawadi for a year after graduation and currently works as a program coordinator for the Rehema Project in Arusha while pursuing a masters degree.
Lucas Richard: One of the first Project Zawadi sponsored students based in Arusha. Lucas currently is an IT professional with more than 10 years of experience.
Program Volunteers & Consultants
Linda Webster: Linda is an education consultant specialising in primary education, language and literacy. She is a key contributer to the development of the Tenda Teachers Professional Development Training Program curriculum and e-modules. She has worked as a teacher and consultant for organizations of all sizes both in her home country of the United Kingdom and internationally in countries including Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Nicole Halabi: Coming Soon
Dr. Nelson Nkhoma: With a PhD. in Educational Leadership Policy and Development from the University of Minnesota, Nelson is currently working as a research fellow at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. Nelson is providing evaluation services to the Tenda Teachers Professional Development Training Program and Model Schools programs.