Our Leadership Team
Our mission is to educate teachers and establish preschools in Rwanda.
Our vision is to offer post-secondary early childhood education to Rwandan teachers who will provide young children with active, engaging learning experiences. Partner with Rwandan educators, families, and communities to nurture future Rwandan leaders. Operate as a cost-effective, efficient organization that wisely spends all donations.
Board of Directors
Janet F. Brown, M.Ed., has more than 40 years international experience as a teacher of diverse young children and teacher educator. She has served as Director of Publications for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Managing Editor for Crayola, and as Editor of Dimensions of Early Childhood published by the Southern Early Childhood Association. Jan has worked extensively as a consultant with Art As a Way of Learning®. through Northampton Community College. She is a regular volunteer at Head Start in the Lehigh Valley. She has traveled extensively and began learning about the opportunities for service in Rwanda first-hand in 2010. Jan and her husband William Whipple IV are delighted to share 5 adult children and 5 grandchildren.
Listen to a podcast interview with Jan Brown by Linda Buchner, Educate Podcast Host
Demetrius D. Carmichael, B.S., brings his business management and administration skills to TEACH Rwanda’s board. He is a Program Specialist at Wakefield Cottage in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, and joined the board in 2016. He is an avid outdoorsman who shares our passion for volunteering and helping others.
Joanne Leasure, B.A., TEACH Rwanda Treasurer, a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in Law and Society and currently working on her MBA in Finance at DeSales University, assures that TEACH Rwanda’s financial records are well managed. She brings a variety of industry experience to TEACH Rwanda, having worked in accounting for multi-site manufacturing, commercial and residential real estate, travel and healthcare organizations in both the private and public sector for more than 15 years. Joanne works fulltime as the Controller at a well-known non-profit organization in the Lehigh Valley in PA and brings a wealth of expertise to our leadership team.
Raza Visram is an invited board member and main point person for TEACH Rwanda's Africa operations. Raza is currently on sabbatical from the board for family reasons. He is a native of East Africa with connections to the land who deeply understands the ongoing intricacies, strategies, and challenges of operating any organization in Africa. He is very well traveled in Africa and brings more than 22 years of experience and expertise of working at AfricanMecca Safaris, an award-winning Africa travel and tourism organization. Raza's simple beginnings and humble family background has made him a passionate and fervent advocate for the rights of the poor and underserved, as well as giving back to Africa using his time, talent, and treasures with the sole aim of making a better tomorrow: an Africa with a self-sustaining healthy economy supported by an educated population and progressive government which is able to solvethe challenges of education, healthcare, conservation, employment, and more. His honest and open communication style has successfully led TEACH Rwanda to operate at its highest efficiency, allowing donor funds to be maximized for the benefit of TEACH Rwanda schools. His connections with the greater business trade in the United States has further allowed TEACH Rwanda to receive support for its non-profit operation. Raza is on currently on sabbatical while dealing with family health issues.
William Whipple III, TEACH Rwanda Business Representative, retired in 2014 from a 33-year career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Diabetes Educator so that he could go to Rwanda for extended lengths of time with his wife Jan and TEACH Rwanda. Dietetics has a strong diet education component and Bill has had an interest in high-quality education all his life, hearing about it at the family dinner table from his father who was a literature professor and his mother who had an advanced degree in journalism. He finds fascinating the process of implementing high-quality early childhood education (ECE) in Rwanda, where many preschoolers still sit quietly and memorize what the teacher says. He understands now that good ECE gives a strong foundation for learning throughout life and sees potential for making a strong impact on the lives of children in Rwanda. He is learning a lot from, Jan, who is the ECE expert, and contributes his own talents, including communicating in French, a passion for teaching English, mentoring, management, and business skills. He loves being able to contribute in a meaningful way, even though he is “very old” according to his Rwandan friends, (a term of respect). He misses his children, grandchildren (see Jan’s bio), and friends in the U.S. when spending extended periods of time in Rwanda.
TEACH Rwanda Rwandan Advisory Board
The TEACH Rwanda Rwandan Advisory Board offers recommendations to our in-country TEACH Rwanda leadership team as well as the TEACH Rwanda Board in the U.S. to:
· Increase opportunities for success.
· Optimize effectiveness of our vision and mission in a Rwandan context.
· Identify goals, opportunities, and strategies in Rwanda.
· Make decisions congruent with Rwandan law, culture, communication, and expectations.
· Facilitate access to important Rwandan partners, decision makers, resources, and organizations.
· Strategize the process toward the long-term evolution of TEACH Rwanda to become a Rwandan NGO.
Members of this volunteer Advisory Board, which meets quarterly, are:
Aloys HAKIZIMANA, Lawyer, Muhanga
Betty KABEERA, International Education Exchange, Human Resources Director, Kigali
Carol MBABAZI, Head of Special Education, Green Hills Academy, Kigali
Esperence MUKAGASANA, Bank of Kigali Manager, Muhanga
Eraste NGABOYAMAHINA, Curriculum Specialist, Group Scholaire St. Joseph, Kabgayi (CHECK TITLE)
Emmanuel NIYIRORA, TEACH Rwanda Finance Officer
Clement Jacques RAFIKI, Owner, Rafitechnoz, Muhanga
Francois UHAGAZE, former Vice Mayor for Finance, Muhanga District
Emmanuel USABUWERA, Accountant, Muhanga
Jeanne d’Arc UWAMWIZA, Director, Rwanda Management Institute, Muhanga
Bill Whipple, TEACH Rwanda Business Representative
TEACH Rwanda is unique among INGOs working in Rwanda. Our vision to transform children's lives through teacher education is
• ambitious (we provide in-service and pre-service professional development)
• unique (through our demonstration system of Exemplary and Project Schools)
• blends modern education strategies with Rwandan culture (teachers, children, schools, and curriculum are all Rwandan)
TEACH Rwanda’s vision can only be achieved through the combined efforts of our formal and informal partners in the United States and Rwanda. Our expanding list of partners includes:
• Gasabo District
• Gitarama Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda
• Help a Child
• Judith’s Reading Room
• Ministry of Education, Rwanda (MINEDUC)
• Muhanga District
• Ready for Reading/Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Center
• Rwanda Education Board (REB)
• Rwanda Education NGO Coordination Platform (RENCP)
• University of Rwanda College of Education