OUR WINNING TEAM IS LEAD BY:
INDIA HOWELL - FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
India Howell has lived and worked in Tanzania since 1998. She has devoted her life to improving the lives of orphaned and marginalized children. She founded the Rift Valley Children’s Village in 2004 by opening her own home to 17 children in need. Little did she know that one day over 90 children would be living with her at RVCV. Today India is the legal guardian of all 97 children and she is known throughout northern Tanzania as ‘Mama India,’ a woman who has provided not only a home to unwanted children but hope and employment to villagers who have never had a job, and scholarships to high achieving students in the local community. India is the first to say that she has not done this work alone. Hardworking and selfless, practical and compassionate, she inspires tremendous loyalty from friends and colleagues. India has found her work, her passion, and her home in Tanzania.
PETER LEON MMASSY - TANZANIA MANAGING DIRECTOR
To say this man is irreplaceable is an understatement. Peter joined the Rift Valley Children’s Village in 2004 as its Assistant Director when it was just a rented home on a hill and has been working with India ever since. Whether it’s managing the ever-growing Tanzanian staff, overseeing construction, or fundraising in the US and Tanzania, you name it, Peter does it, and then some! Peter has a degree from the Community Development Training Institute and his skills and insights have been instrumental in the development and success of RVCV’s various community outreach programs. To top it all off, Peter is an incredibly personable, caring, funny and intelligent individual. He lives and works at RVCV full time along with his wife, Grace Mmassy, and their three beautiful daughters.
SALEH CLEMONS - TEEN COUNSELOR
Saleh joined the RVCV family in January 2017 accompanied by his wife and 2 children. He was raised in the surrounding Philadelphia neighborhoods in the United States and obtained his bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 2012. Saleh has worked with children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders in various counseling contexts, and brings his experience in Trauma-Informed settings to work with our adolescents to enhance and improve their sense of well-being. When Saleh is not busy managing crises, running groups, or meeting individually with the kids, he is spending his time as a proud father to raise his children in Karatu, Tanzania.
SELESTIAN DAMAS – HUMAN RESOURCES AND PURCHASING OFFICER
Selestian joined the TCF team in 2007 as a student teacher. He then moved on to work in the Accounting Department, and now works in Human Resources and as our Purchasing Officer. Selestian graduated from the University of Arusha in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Accounting with Education. He is thrilled to work at Rift Valley Children’s Village because he knows the life of living without parents and he is so proud to serve the community and the children.
GRETCHEN KEHDE - RURAL COMMUNITY CLINIC NURSE
Gretchen Kehde, RN, BSN, hails from New York City where she has practiced nursing for over 24 years. Gretchen studied nursing at St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing, and recently earned a specialized diploma in nursing from Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine. Gretchen always wanted to work in international health, specifically health promotion and treating chronic diseases and acute issues. Her warmth is felt by every patient she sees, and she has already started mentoring the future want-to-be nurses and doctors at RVCV.
TIMOTHY KERR - EDUCATION DIRECTOR
Timothy joined TCF as Education Director in December 2015. He has experience in the field of international development and has spent the past seven years teaching across a variety of levels and contexts, ranging from university students in Rwanda to 9 and 10 year-olds in a small coastal town in New Zealand. He studied education at the University of Auckland and has a master’s degree in applied anthropology and participatory development from the Australian National University. He is passionate about the power of education to change lives, to create change agents, to transform communities, and to offer certainty in often uncertain environments.
AGAEL LESIKAR - SOCIAL WORKER
Agael is from Arusha, Tanzania and, like Jonathan, has been a social worker at RVCV since 2005. Agael graduated from the Community Development and Training Institute in 2004 and received his degree from Moshi University College of Cooperative and Business Studies in 2010. One of Agael’s many roles at the village is House Father in Eagle’s Nest, home for 20 of our young men. When Agael is not busy serving as the protector of order and peace among our children, he is with his wife and three daughters in Arusha.
GRACE MMASSY - MICROFINANCE DIRECTOR
Grace is from Moshi, Tanzania and joined the team in 2007. She received her college degree from Community Development Training Institute in Tengeru, Tanzania and an MBA from Eastern and Southern African Management Institute in Arusha. Grace used her business background in various capacities at TCF before becoming Director of our rapidly expanding Microfinance Program in 2013. Grace is married to our Managing Director, Peter Mmassy, and lives at the Village full time with their three beautiful daughters: Joann, Judith, and Jacqueline.
BETTY MWAIKUKA - COUNSELOR
Betty is from Arusha, Tanzania and joined RVCV as a Counselor in 2014. She studied at Daystar University in Nairobi where she received her degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation. After university, Betty studied in Vienna where she received her Masters in Peace Studies at Innsbruck University. With over 90 kids on the premises, conflict resolution is a constant challenge at RVCV. Betty is a great listener and her door is always open to our children. Many fellow staff members seek her counsel as well.
JENNA THOMPSEN – ESOL TEACHER
Jenna is from Massachusetts and joined the TCF team in September 2016. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and African Studies from McGill University in Montreal. Her international teaching experience includes tutoring 7th grade girls in the Kayamandi Township of South Africa, as well as teaching toddlers and kindergarteners in Beijing, China. Before arriving at RVCV, she spent 5 years in Boston teaching ESL, Computer, Citizenship, and Workplace Readiness classes to adult immigrants and refugees from around the world to guide them in navigating educational and career advancement opportunities. She enjoys the challenge of developing engaging curriculums and building self-confidence in her students. Her enthusiasm for teaching is contagious and she is thrilled to help cultivate captivating and supportive learning environments here!
ROSE TOBIASSEN – VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR
Rose is from Northern Virginia and joined the TCF team in January 2017. She has an MSc in Sustainability, Culture, and Development Anthropology from Durham University in the UK, and a BA in Anthropology from Wagner College in New York City. Her Master’s dissertation involved fieldwork in Kenya, where she looked at the impact of mobile phone use on women living in low-income communities. Before coming to RVCV, Rose worked for the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) managing program logistics for all CGI conferences and acting as the Executive Assistant to the CEO. In addition to her professional and academic pursuits, Rose is a classically trained percussionist and pianist, and taught private music lessons for ten years.
JONATHAN URIO - SOCIAL WORKER
Jonathan joined the Rift Valley Children’s Village as a social worker in 2005, and has been a gentle and positive influence on our kids ever since. He watched virtually all our kids grow up and is dedicated to helping them fulfill their hopes and dreams. He currently serves as the House Father in Lion’s Den, one of TCF’s two homes for young men. In 2010, Jonathan received his post-graduate degree from Moshi University College of Cooperative and Business Studies. When not at the village, Jonathan is spending time with his wife and daughter in Arusha.
SEANA WILKERSON - SPONSORSHIP & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
As Sponsorship and Communications Coordinator, Seana grows relationships with our generous sponsors and tells the many stories of TCF and the surrounding community. A passion of Seana’s is the development of communication content that breaks down stereotypes and empowers the audience and subject. Her professional highlights include Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner, Manager of an indoor campground party venue, a mentor to Congolese refugees resettled in the U.S., and a Communications Volunteer for the German Marshall Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute Belgium. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Oklahoma State University and completed her M.A. in International Development from the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies.
AMBER OBERC - US MANAGING DIRECTOR
Amber joined the TCF team in 2013 after having spent the past 15 years working in the nonprofit sector for international NGOs such as Partners In Health, Management Sciences for Health, and Project Muso. However, none of these other organizations tugged her heartstrings the way TCF does. While the majority of Amber’s time is spent in the Boston office, one of her favorite parts of the job is traveling to Tanzania once a year to see how all of the kids have grown, how many buildings have gone up, and witness how much progress India and her team have made.
NATALIE PRUELL - OPERATIONS MANAGER
Natalie first fell in love with Tanzania while working as a Communications Assistant for IEFT in Monduli. After returning to the US she was looking for a way to stay involved with mission-driven organizations in Tanzania and started volunteering in TCF’s Boston office. Two short months later, in December of 2013, Natalie became an official part of our team. Natalie graduated from Boston College in 2012 with a BA in Political Science.
ALI CAREY - DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Ali is from Maryland and joined the TCF team in March 2016. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics from Bucknell University. Prior to her arrival at RVCV, Ali worked in crisis communications and public relations in Washington, DC, where she assisted clients with brand development, traditional and digital media outreach and reputation management. Ali was volunteer at RVCV and lived in Manyara house for 3 months and then was our Sponsorship and Communications Coordinator in Tanzania for a year before joining us in our US office in April 2017. She is excited to be able to continue working with the kids that stole her heart!
BECKY ALDRICH - DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR
Becky joined TCF in late 2015. Her love of Tanzania began while volunteering with Boabab Home in Bagamoyo in 2008. Once back in the US, Becky spent six years in various roles at WorldTeach, supporting volunteer teachers in developing countries throughout the world. Becky has a degree in Economics from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from George Washington University. After one year of early retirement in sunny Florida, she is excited to be back in Cambridge splitting her time between TCF and chasing after her two sons.