Ahmed “Kura” Omar, co-founder and Kenya program director: Kura has earned a diploma in community development from Premese Africa Development Institute and a certificate in information technology from Kenya School of Professional Studies. He also has three years of training with Village Enterprise (a Kenyan grants-based organization). Kura spends half of his time in Laisamis District and half of his time in Nanyuki, home to BOMA’s headquarters in Kenya. Kura is well known in Laisamis District, having attended school in a number of villages there. He also served as a representative of Honorable Joseph Lekuton, the local Member of Parliament. Responsibilities: Developing and implementing all elements of the project, managing the project on the ground, selecting and monitoring BOMA village mentors.
Meshack Omarre, field officer: Meshack will be the primary employee working from the new BOMA office in Laisamis. He is originally from Ngurunit, and aside from his time spent at university, he has lived throughout Northern Kenya. Meshack has a certificate in Public Relations and a diploma in Human Resources, both from the University of Nairobi. He is currently pursuing his degree in Business Administration from Kenya Methodist University. “BOMA does a good job of helping people and I love working with people, particularly when I can help to transform their lives – this helps the entire community.”
Daphin Bundi, office administrator: Daphin has studied computer skills and also earned a diploma in community development at Jomo Kenyatta University. She interned with Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the community development department, did volunteer work with the Muchui Women’s Group horticulture project of Farmers Helping Farmers, and most recently was a field officer with the Desert Oasis Residents Empowerment Programme (DOREP). She provides administrative support to BOMA operations in Kenya.
Bernadette Njoroge, 2012-2013 BOMA fellow: Bernadette graduated from the University of Nairobi in 2011 with honors and a double major in Swahili and Geography and Environmental Studies. Before joining the BOMA staff, she was a volunteer adult literacy instructor at the Fountain of Joy Foundation, where she worked with women living with HIV/AIDS, counseled adults on the importance of basic education, and organized tree-planting projects and environmental clean-ups.
Alex Villec, 2013-2014 BOMA fellow: Alex Villec holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Government from Georgetown University. Prior to graduating in 2013, he worked with a peer-to-peer microfinance platform in Senegal. Alex has also conducted research in Kenya, assisting in the implementation of randomized control trials in financial education and maternal health savings. At home in Arizona, he spent his summers in the solar energy sector as a field installer and project associate to develop third-party financial models for non-profit organizations. He is currently involved in the monitoring and evaluation dimension of BOMA programs as well as the development of business diversification and data collection strategies.
17 village mentors: Village mentors are the foundation of BOMA’s economic-empowerment program, the Rural Entrepreneur Access Project. They are active residents of their communities with professional experience; as full-time BOMA employees, they are carefully selected, trained and supported by the BOMA staff in Kenya.
Omar Sekotei Naida and Semeji Lekuton are BOMA’s part-time staff in Laisamis District, providing field support and securities for all of our training programs and grant disbursements. Omar is a man of few words, but he anticipates every need, changes a mean tire and has a flair for cooking. Semeji is referred to as the “entertainment mentor” for his gift of making everyone laugh and for his soulful warrior songs.
United States Staff
Kathleen Colson, Co-Founder and CEO: Kathleen has more than 20 years in nonprofit fundraising for African causes. She has been in the safari business in Africa for 25-plus years and worked with refugee groups in London for four. Kathleen oversees fundraising and donor cultivation for BOMA, as well as program development. She undertakes several extended trips to Kenya each year to meet with staff and evaluate programs. Kathleen graduated from St. Lawrence University with a B.A. in government; as a SLU student, she participated in the Kenya Semester program.
Margaret (Meg) Harris, Executive Director: Meg has 20 years of experience in project management, fundraising and evaluation for international organizations. She previously served as director of philanthropic partnerships at the Salzburg Global Seminar, where she was responsible for donor cultivation, researching new revenue streams, and developing proposals and reports for foundation, government and corporate support. Before joining the Seminar in 1999, Meg worked with Associates in Rural Development (ARD), Partners for International Education and Training (PIET), and the Overseas Development Network. She spent her formative years in Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya and earned a B.A. from Carleton University and a M.A. in Adult Education from the University of Toronto, Canada. Meg is responsible for BOMA’s day-to-day operations.
Kathleen James, Director of Communications and Foundations: Kathleen has worked as an editor and writer for various newspapers, magazines and nonprofits since graduating from Northwestern University with a master’s degree in journalism in 1989.
Ansally Kuria, Analytical and Operations Assistant: graduated from Middlebury College in May 2012 with a double major in Neuroscience and Women and Gender Studies. During her undergraduate career at Middlebury, she completed a fellowship at the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program (March 2012) and attended the Development Project Management Institute at Middlebury’s Monterey Institute of International Studies (May and June 2012). She also co-chaired the Senior Class Gift Committee. Ansally is from Kenya and graduated with an IB high-school diploma from the United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy.
Stephanie Sheldon-Watrous, Financial Manager: Stephanie has more than 15 years of accounting experience, mainly with nonprofits. She previously served as U.S. Finance Director & Associate CFO at the Salzburg Global Seminar; where she was responsible for all aspects of the finance department, including cash management, grant tracking, budgeting, reporting and the coordination of the annual audit and tax returns. Stephanie graduated from the College of St. Joseph with a B.S. in Accounting & Business Management.
Biniyam Estifanos, Intern: Biniyam is a rising senior at Middlebury College with a Political Science major and a Portuguese minor. A native of Ethiopia, Biniyam currently resides in New York and spent a summer working in Moshi, Tanzania helping build a maternity ward that serves a community of about 15,000 residents. He also spent his fall semester in Florianópolis, Brazil studying Economics and International Development.
Sean Kelly, Intern: Sean is a rising junior at St. Lawrence University with intentions to major in Economics and double minor in African Studies and Global Studies. He studied in Kenya for six weeks during the summer of 2012 on the St. Lawrence Summer Abroad Program. Sean learned about the wide range of healthcare that is provided throughout the country, as well as the ongoing issues between pastoral nomads and wildlife conservation.
Carly VanTassel, Intern: Carly is a rising senior at St. Lawrence University with a combined Environmental Studies and Government major and African Studies minor. Carly spent the fall semester of her junior year studying abroad in Kenya, where she interned for the Mpala Research Centre, focusing on the endangered Grevy’s Zebra population.