Joan Gass: Executive Director
Joan has managed social sector programs in Uganda, both directly and remotely, for the past five years. During her time living in Kampala she worked with Educate! supporting the design of their scaling strategy to expand operations from 50 to 250 schools. She subsequently helped UNFPA Uganda develop a private sector partnership strategy and worked as a consultant with Wellspring Advisors. Currently Joan works at Bain & Company supporting the launch of the Nigeria office. Joan has a BA from Yale University in International Studies, with a focus on economic development.
Kristine has lived in Uganda since 2013 as the Co-Founder and Director of a education based organization in Gulu District. A teacher by profession, she first came to Uganda in 2012 on her summer vacation to partner with three Ugandan secondary school teachers in an effort to bring about student-centered learning at a government school. Having taught in inner city schools for five years, she is passionate about bringing positive educational opportunities to the marginalized of society. She brings a variety of experience in program leadership and a wealth of knowledge about the educational sector within Uganda. Kristine holds a MA in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University and a BA in history from College of the Holy Cross. She is currently completing her MA in Global Development and Social Justice through St. John’s University with a focus on educational opportunities for girls in Uganda.
African Hope Network is currently works with seven AHN fellows. Each fellow receives training and personally tailored mentorship to help them develop leadership skills. The majority of our fellows are serving as facilitators to run the scorecard program in local primary schools. Read more about our 2015 Fellows below.
Charles: Charles is the Executive Director of the Cosma Foundation who feels “great satisfaction knowing that my work is changing the lives of children, allowing them to lead happier lives.” Charles quit a promising bank career to focus on his grassroots organization sponsoring children to attend school and supporting vulnerable families with agriculture training in Western Uganda. He is serious about his commitment to his home village, and feels like a father to many of the children that Cosma Foundation supports.
George: George enjoys bringing his experience in NGO management and finance to strengthen the organizational side of Cosma Foundation. He enjoys “seeing the children go from one stage in their education to the next and developing through life educationally, physically, and psychologically.” George is thoughtful but quick to laugh, and loves taking on new challenges.
Joan: Joan is a Child Counselor with the Cosma Foundation. She works at Cosma because she “wants to help kids. I want to believe in them because others had believed in me.” Joan has been working on her counseling skills so she’s better able to support at-risk children who face challenges many of us can only imagine. She does a great job of earning trust of the children by respecting and listening to them.
Together, these three fellows are instrumental to helping run Cosma Foundation and change lives for the children and families that they serve. This year, we’re focusing on helping them strengthen their financial management systems The training we provide on budgeting, project management, reporting, and communicating with external partners to Charles, Joan, and George will help them continue to impact their community. In addition, the Cosma Foundation team is running the scorecard program in five local primary schools – schools their students attend and where they have deep connections.
Esther: African Hope Network supports Esther, a community facilitator at Spark Microgrants. Spark Microgrants works with rural communities to help them identify and develop their own sustainable health, agriculture, education, and infrastructure projects to address the specific challenges they face in their village. Esther is an engaging, bright leader who draws out the strengths of the people in the communities where she works.
This year, she will receive extensive training on community mobilization, project management, and communications. These skills will help her to work with multiple villages to address the specific challenges they face in their communities. Her villages are creating projects like building health centers, starting cooperative businesses to raise dairy cows, and more. In addition, Esther is running the scorecard program in two communities where she has deep connections.
Geof: Geof started a community-based organization called Care for African Initiatives. He’s worked in various fields — including for Spark Microgrants — but his real passion is building up his own community and helping children have their best chance at success. He’s quick to smile, friendly, and kind to everyone.
Thanks to AHN support, Care for African Initiatives has been able to send 32 children to school. The organization also checks in on each child during home visits and leads trainings for the community on gender-based violence and human rights. In addition, Geof is running the scorecard program in three local schools.
Augustine: Augustine is dedicated to transforming Ugandan youth by teaching them how to successfully start and run their own businesses. His dream is to receive his degree in teaching so he can expand is platform for youth empowerment. He’s an enthusiastic young man who’s excitement for helping young people succeed is infectious!
AHN’s support for Augustine pays his university fees to bring him one step closer to being a teacher, as well as giving him funds to run small entrepreneurship projects, such as goat raising and soap making, with three youth groups. Augustine is running the scorecard program in two local primary schools.
Esther: Esther is changing the face of civic engagement in Uganda. She started her organization, 40 Days Over 40 Smiles, after taking on a cause in the community instead of giving up something for Lent. Esther is an impressive young woman who has presented at TEDx in Kampala and is great at engaging young people to make a difference.
40 Days Over 40 Smiles is fundraising for several nonprofits, including a home for kids with cancer and an orphanage. Our work with Esther has supported her leadership development so she can effectively build partnerships, increase attendance at fundraising events, and improve programs and operations.