Our collective of strategists, operators, and consultants are bringing Nuru’s vision to life by daring to believe that we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime.

Nuru Kenya  Nuru Ethiopia  Nuru International

Nuru Kenya

Bennadette Mugita

Impact Programs Manager

Bennadette holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health –Epidemiology and population Health statistics from Maseno University Kenya, Bachelor’s Degree in Community and Health Psychology from the University of South Africa and is certified as a Kenya Registered Community Health Nurse. Prior to joining Nuru in January, 2014, she worked as an Art/Safe Motherhood Program/Nurse Manager- with Catholic Medical Mission Board in South Sudan. She has also worked as an Emergency Medical nurse and Study Coordinator in Kenya and Eastern Congo with (Medicins-Sans-frontieres), and as a nurse nutritionist with UNICEF in Dadaab refugee camp north eastern Kenya.

Mwita Babere

Human Resources Manager

Mwita Babere has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Makerere University and is in his final year of study pursuing an MBA in Strategic Management. Prior to joining Nuru, Mwita worked as a Marketing Officer with Click Media Company in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His first role with Nuru Kenya was as an M&E Field Manager in charge of Agriculture Program. He was later promoted to the position of M&E Data Advising/Reporting Manager, then M&E Research Manager.

Pauline Wambeti

Country Director

Pauline Wambeti has a diverse and extensive background in international development. Before joining Nuru in September 2013, Pauline worked for the United Nations Environment Programme at the African regional office in Nairobi. Pauline was also a Programme Officer for the National Organization for Peer Educators; a Business Development Officer for K-Rep Bank Ltd; and a Program Facilitator for Doctors of the World. Pauline has a BA in Community Development and is currently pursuing an MBA at African Nazarene University.

Rogonga Augustine

Monitoring & Evaluation Program Manager

Rogonga Augustine left his IT studies at KCA University (Nairobi) to join Nuru Kenya in February 2011. Previously, Rogonga taught computer classes at Nyabikaye Secondary School between January and June of 2010 and worked for the Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya as a Deputy Voter Registration Officer between June and December 2010. Rogonga served as a M&E Field Manager for Nuru Kenya until he was promoted to Program Lead in November 2011. In December 2012, Rogonga was promoted to District Manager and continues to serve in that position today. Rogonga is currently pursuing his BS in Education at Kenyatta University.

Victor Charo Simon

Healthcare Assistant Program Manager

Victor has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science from Makerere University, Uganda, and certificates in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Washington/University of Nairobi, and in Project Planning and Management, Dynamic Leadership, Financial intelligence from World Vision. Prior to joining Nuru, he served as a Public Health officer with the Ministry of Health, where he led the Community health workers and natural leaders in implementing community health strategy. He has wide experience in water sanitation and Hygiene activities, home based care and support for people living with HIV in the community and maternal and child health.

Nuru Ethiopia

Alemseged Lukas

Agricultural Extension and Rural Livelihoods Program Manager

Alemseged is a graduate of Gondar University and completed a double major in Applied Geography and Environmental Science. Prior to joining Nuru Ethiopia, he worked for the Boreda Woreda agriculture office as an expert and head of office leading a crop production project, managing a watershed project, and advised farmers on animal husbandry. Alemseged decided to join Nuru because he has witnessed the impacts of hunger and extreme poverty and realizes the farmers have the capacity to address their food security problems.


Amy Sherwood

Team Leader, Ethiopia

Originally from Nebraska, Amy has spent much of the last decade working in sub-Saharan Africa. After studying biology at Doane College, Amy pursued an MA in International Studies and Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Wyoming. Prior to joining Nuru, she worked for the Jane Goodall Institute in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Currently, Amy is the Team Leader for Nuru Ethiopia and has worked for Nuru since 2012, when she was the Agriculture Program Specialist for Nuru Kenya. She enjoys getting outside in her free time and her years living rural areas have made her into a very resourceful and pretty decent cook.


Feven Yimer

Education Program Manager

Feven has a MA in Sociology from Indra Gandhi National Open University and a Bachelors of Education in Biology from Debube University, Dilla College of Teacher Education and Health Sciences. Prior to joining Nuru Ethiopia, Feven worked as a subject teacher at multiple schools for six years in Addis Ababa. Similarly, she has worked as an English Language instructor for Turkish nationals since 2008. Her most recent experience before joining Nuru Ethiopia is working as a business partner at Emas Advert.


Rebecca Farmer

Monitoring & Evaluation and Agribusiness Specialist, Ethiopia

Becca joins Nuru after receiving her MA in Development Practice at UC Berkeley. While there she focused her studies on social and environmental justice, particularly in regards to rural communities. During the program she also taught impact evaluation and worked with a non-profit in Colombia to build a monitoring and evaluation framework for their youth empowerment programs. Before Berkeley, she worked in finance in New York City. She earned her BA in Business Administration at Boston University. In her spare time you can find her planning her next outdoor activity – hiking, camping, biking, farming, picnicking, etc.

Zerihun Woldesenbet

Zerihun Woldesenbet

Livestock Expert

Zerihun graduated with a Master’s degree in Tropical Animal Health, specializing in Epidemiological Data Collection and Processing, from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Belgium. He also holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Addis Ababa University. Before coming to Nuru he worked as a Field Team Leader, Monitoring & Evaluation Team Leader, and head of the GIS & Data Management Department at the Southern Tsetse Eradication Project in Ethiopia. He developed experiences in agricultural project management during his long journey from district level expert to federal level senior expert. Zerihun joined Nuru Ethiopia in May 2017 as a Livestock Expert for the Livelihood Diversification pilot project.

Tekalign Teferi

Tekalign Teferi

Agricultural Extension and Rural Livelihoods Field Manager

Tekalign earned his BSc. in Rural Development and Agricultural Extension from Arba Minch University. He is currently finalizing his thesis, titled ‘The role of grain marketing cooperatives to sustain rural community development interventions’, to earn his MSc. in Rural Development and Planning (RDP) from Wolaita Sodo University. Tekalign worked as an Agricultural Production and Sales Team Leader and the University Enterprise Manager at Arba Minch University for over 2 years. He joined Nuru Ethiopia in 2013 as a Leadership Training Officer, where he led the program planning process for the financial inclusion, healthcare, and education programs. He became Agricultural Extension and Rural Livelihoods (AERL) Field Manager in March 2017.

Biruk Abayneh

Biruk Abayneh

Cooperative Development Program Manager

Biruk has extensive experience in organizing agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives, managing and coordinating the cooperative development process, and managing financial and non-financial resources to accomplish the establishment process of primary and secondary level cooperatives. He worked for ten years as an expert in government cooperative promotion office and Coordinator for Zonal cooperative development work process. Biruk received an MA in Public Management from Ethiopian Civil Service University and studied BA in Cooperative Business Management at Hawassa University. In addition, he earned a Diploma in Cooperative Marketing Management from Ardayta Cooperative College.

David Resetar

Leadership and Sustainability Specialist, Ethiopia

Originally from a family of Louisiana strawberry farmers, David has experience in rural Thailand collaborating with small businesses and local governments. He also worked on a team to design and test e-commerce solutions and a business incubator for the island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. In the United States, he supported programs for an urban refugee resettlement agency. David earned his Master’s in International Development with a concentration in Humanitarian Assistance from the University of Denver. He holds a Bachelor’s in Business Entrepreneurship from the University of North Texas and served as a community development volunteer in Peace Corps Thailand from 2008-2010, and in Peace Corps Response Eastern Caribbean in 2010-2011.


Tatek Amataw

Monitoring & Evaluation Program Manager

Born and raised in the heart of Sheger, Tatek has 15 years of professional experience in program management and monitoring and evaluation. He has worked for humanitarian and development organizations such as ICRC, IFRC, British Red Cross, GOAL Ethiopia, Comic Relief and Cordaid. While in the Red Cross, Tatek had the fortune of travelling extensively throughout Ethiopia and working with the most vulnerable communities across the country. He also worked with Somali, Eritrean and South Sudanese refugees during which he witnessed the traumatic effects of armed conflicts on non-combatants. Tatek, who earned his BSc from Addis Ababa University in Applied Mathematics, enjoys watching and playing soccer and also reading about the intriguing mysteries of the universe of which we are a part.


Zelalem Abera

Healthcare Program Manager

Zelalem earned his M.S. in Applied Human Nutrition and a B.S. in Public Health with distinction from Hawassa University. He also holds a Diploma in Nursing from Gonder University. He has worked in the health field at a clinical level at different government public health centers and with community health working at the Primary Health Care Unit (PHCU). Zelalem has extensive experience in disease prevention and knowledge of the government health system through his work at the community, district and zonal levels. Zelalem joined Nuru Ethiopia in January 2015 and became the Healthcare Program Manager in July 2015.

Sisay Olijera

Sisay Olijera

Finance and Administration Director

Sisay received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Hawassa University and is in the final stages of completing his MBA at the same University. He began his career in the government Bureau of Finance and Economic Development (BoFED) and after holding several administrative and finance focused positions, Sisay made a transition to the NGO sector. In 2007, Sisay joined CARE Ethiopia, where he worked for 9 years in a variety of roles. He was most recently working as Finance and Administration Head of CARE’s SNNPR regional office. Sisay joined Nuru Ethiopia in late 2016 as the Finance and Administration Director. He brings a wealth of knowledge regarding the administration and financial regulation of NGOs in Ethiopia to the Nuru Ethiopia team. He is married with three young daughters.

Anne photo_website

Anne Guillen

Impact Programs Specialist, Ethiopia

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Anne has lived on both coasts and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. While earning her BA in Biology from the University of San Diego, Anne studied conservation and public health abroad in Kenya, afterwards she pursed her MPH in Global Health from The George Washington University. She participated in the Master’s International program with Peace Corps Zambia, where she focused on Maternal and Child Health and Peer Education. Most recently, Anne managed the U.S. Forest Service’s Ethiopia Disaster Management Program and became addicted to Ethiopian coffee. Anne is very excited to join Nuru and looks forward to spending time outdoors, learning Amharic, and trying new foods.

Strategic Leadership

Aerie Changala

Chief Program Officer

Having spent the majority of his adult life living throughout Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, Aerie has traveled extensively, speaks seven languages, and brings a global perspective to his work at Nuru. He earned his BA in International Affairs from John Cabot University (Rome, Italy) and his MA in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK). He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso and specialized in microfinance. Aerie joined Nuru in 2008 as Team Leader and CED Program Manager for Foundation Team Two. He then served as the Director of International Operations and now leads the operations team as Chief Program Officer.


Elizabeth Atherton

Chief Financial Officer

Elizabeth is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Certified Global Management Accountant who earned her BS in Business Administration and her Masters of Accountancy with honors from The University of Montana. Prior to Nuru, she provided audit and advisory services to public companies, nonprofits, and governmental organizations at KPMG. In addition, she taught Auditing and pursued doctoral studies with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility reporting at The University of Arkansas before deciding to follow her true passion: ending extreme poverty. At Nuru, she leads the Finance Department, serves as a mentor and trainer for her finance counterparts in Kenya and Ethiopia, and in 2016 she received the InsideNGO Excellence in Finance Award. Beyond Nuru, she has served since 2013 as a Congressional District Leader for the ONE Campaign.


Jake Harriman

Founder & CEO

Jake graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and served seven and a half years as an Infantry and Special Operations Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps. He led four operational deployments and was awarded the Bronze Star for actions in combat. Jake’s experiences convinced him that the “War on Terror” can’t be won on the battlefield alone; the contributing causes of terrorism–specifically extreme poverty–must also be eradicated. Jake left the military and enrolled at Stanford Graduate School of Business to found Nuru International. Upon graduation, Jake led a team to launch Nuru’s first project in Kenya.

Marc Rahlves

Chief Operating Officer

Marc is the Chief Operating Officer of Nuru International. He has over 15 years of experience in strategy consulting and general management. He worked nine years with Bain & Company, managing strategy development, operational improvements, private equity, and implementation projects in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Marc then served as the Chief Financial Officer of the global education nonprofit Escuela Nueva in Colombia, South America, before joining the Bridgespan Group in New York. Marc earned his MBA with emphasis on Entrepreneurship from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and has a B.S. in Business Administration (finance and information systems) from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

International Operations


Athena Childs Fleisher

Healthcare Program Strategic Advisor

Athena comes to Nuru after more than a decade in the fields of international public health, disaster risk reduction, microfinance, and social business creation. During graduate school, she earned both an MBA and MPH from the University of Arizona. She previously worked as a disaster preparedness field coordinator for the Dominican Red Cross, facilitated the creation of an all-terrain wheelchair social business in Mexico, led strategic planning exercises for the US/Mexico Healthy Border 2020 initiative, and developed food security/nutrition plans for an orphan and vulnerable children organization in Kenya. Athena served as a public health volunteer with the Peace Corps in Guinea.

Brian Viani

Leadership Program Strategic Advisor

Born and raised in New York City, Brian has extensive teaching, research, and curriculum development experience in Taiwan, Thailand, and Kenya. During his time in Thailand, Brian researched Burmese refugees’ access to basic health and education facilities and helped design a curriculum for a new school focused on refugee education. In 2012, he founded a nonprofit organization that provides daily lunches to primary school students in Kenya. He has a BA in Political Science and English Literature from the State University of New York at Binghamton and an MA in International Relations from New York University, where he received the 2011 Lauren Moilien Johnson Human Rights Award.


Brian von Kraus

Security Director

Brian graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and served in the Marine Corps for the past 15 years as an infantry officer. He had the opportunity to work for a variety of infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations units during multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the Marine Corps, Brian enrolled in UCLA’s Executive MBA program to be completed while working at Nuru. He is excited at the upcoming challenge of working for Nuru and helping achieve the team’s goal of ending extreme poverty in the next generation. Brian is an avid traveler and loves spending his free time outdoors.

Thomas Hong

Leadership Program Director

Thomas grew up in New York after moving from South Korea to the United States at a young age. He attended the University of Virginia graduating with a BA in Economics and a Master’s in Teaching. He then taught history in a middle school in Maryland for six years. Thomas has experience in the education sector in several developing countries such as Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan and desires to use his talents in the international development sector. He recently received his MBA in International Organizations from the University of Geneva and completed a three-month internship at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Matt Lineal

Impact & Analytics Director

Matt is dedicated to working with smallholder agriculturalists and rural communities as they interface with their natural and socioeconomic environment. Before joining Nuru International in August 2011, Matt worked with The Nature Conservancy and Peace Corps in Honduras and throughout the US Interior West with the USDA Forest Service. He earned his BA in Government and Spanish from Lawrence University and his MS in Forest Sciences from Colorado State University. Matt has experience in small plot sustainable agriculture, agricultural extension, and project development. Having first joined Nuru as an Agriculture Fellow for Foundation Team 7 and then as the Agriculture Program Strategic Advisor, he is now thrilled to currently work as the Impact Programs Director.


Frank Kitonga

Social Enterprises President

Prior to Nuru, Frank Kitonga built the BoP Innovation Center in the East African Region within the inclusive business industry. He successfully developed a high value portfolio with projects including NETFUND Award program, 2SCALE (Agribusiness Incubator), GAIN Market Place program, Unilever / DFID TRANSFORM project and the KMAP project with Farm Africa. During his 15 year tenure in the corporate world, Frank was involved in many projects in the disciplines of supply chain, finance, procurement and information and communications technology. At Nestle, Frank was part of the International Nestle Group Audit team, implemented the SAP & TPM programs in 10 countries in Equatorial Africa and pioneered the Africa Sourcing Project. At Unilever, he implemented the Sankofa project which linked all Sub-Saharan countries into a single ERP system and also transformed the OMO brand from losing to growing market share as management accountant. Frank is passionate about inclusive business. He is based in Kenya from where he works to transform lives through a pragmatic, boots-on-the-ground approach.


Jimmy Leak

Education Program Strategic Advisor

Originally from North Carolina, Jimmy has a PhD in Education Policy and Social Context from the University of California, Irvine. At UCI, Jimmy helped to create a meta-analytic database of early childhood education and family support programs. He was also named a 2011-2012 Public Impact Fellow at UCI for his work on the relationship between teacher educational background, experience, and student achievement in the early grades. Jimmy served as Education Program Manager for Nuru for two years in Kenya before handing over responsibilities to local staff. He also spent nine months in Ethiopia helping to design the Education program model. Jimmy loves to spend time with his wife, travel, and watch sports, particularly his UNC Tar Heels!

julie carandang

Julie Carandang

Monitoring & Evaluation Program Strategic Advisor

Julie comes to Nuru after working in New York City-based philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. At the Rockefeller Foundation, she supported grantees in areas of African agriculture and global eHealth. Prior, she worked on large-scale fund and awareness-raising campaigns at the Food Bank for NYC and coordinated the Nonprofit Computer Academy for at-risk youth at the Fund for the City of New York. Julie earned her MA in International Development from The New School and her BA in English Literature from Ithaca College.

Casey website

Casey Harrison

Agriculture Program Strategic Advisor

Casey was born and raised on a farm in rural Maryland, and he has spent the past ten years working at the nexus of smallholder farming in Africa and natural resource management. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Luapula Province, Zambia (2009-11), he worked as an agricultural extension agent with the Linking Income, Food, and the Environment program. After Peace Corps, Casey received a dual M.A. in Natural Resource Management and International Affairs from American University in Washington D.C and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. From 2013 to 2016, he began working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on mitigating the negative environmental and social impacts of agricultural production and value chains with a focus on East and Southern Africa. In his free time, Casey enjoys travelling, backpacking, biking, and live music of all kinds.



Alex Martin

Special Advisor to the CEO

Alex graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and went on to lead infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations units in multiple combat deployments. Upon leaving active duty, Alex started a private maritime security company that served commercial shipping interests in the Indian Ocean. In July 2013, Alex was given the opportunity to join the Nuru family and to serve as a Foundation Team Leader in Kenya. He is currently the CEO of a risk management based technology company in California. Alex holds a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy. In his free time he enjoys exploring and great stories told over good coffee.

Billy Williams

Strategic Partnerships Director

Billy has spearheaded our Grassroots Movement since Nuru’s inception and catalyzed its growth from a handful of volunteers to thousands of poverty fighters. As Nuru’s lead advocate and storyteller, Billy has been invited to share at events around the country. He is a consummate networker and has been instrumental in building relationships with movements like the ONE Campaign. Billy is as passionate about ending extreme poverty as he is about his home state of West Virginia. And if you are seated next to him on a plane, at an adjacent table at Starbucks, or trapped with him in an elevator, he’ll be sure to invite you to join our efforts, too.

Emily Dunlop

Emily Dunlop

Staff Accountant

Emily was born and raised in Northern Illinois. She attended Northern Illinois University where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Accountancy. Shortly after graduation she began her career working for a non-profit organization serving Africa. Wanting to try the for-profit sector she spent 3 years working for manufacturing companies in the food industry.  She is excited to be back in the non-profit sector and working for Nuru to help end extreme poverty. In 2014 she and her husband decided to escape the brutal Midwest winters and moved to Orange County, California. They enjoy exploring the area and taking their rescue dog to the beach.


Emily McLaughlin

HR Manager

Since 2010, Emily has held nearly every role in Nuru’s HR department. She loves how she can support Nuru’s mission by creating effective HR solutions and supporting Nuru’s talented staff. Before Nuru, Emily taught high school English in the U.S. and abroad, and also spent several years at Northwestern Mutual, managing the recruitment process and internship/ new-hire program. Emily earned her BA in English and Communications at Concordia University, Irvine. A Washington girl at heart, she loves spending time outdoors with her family and has been found to participate in the occasional triathlon despite an unwarranted fear of sharks.

Connect with Nuru

Facebook   Twitter