Bonnie Lee, President and Co-Founder
Bonnie's relationship with the people of Kenya began in 2011, when she participated in a massive shoe collection project with the organization Think Kindness. She and her oldest child, Alex, traveled to central Kenya to put some of those shoes on the feet of destitute children living in two orphanages. Moved by the children’s hopeful, persevering spirits, she determined to get more involved in Kenya. Returning home, Bonnie felt challenged to find ways to make a significant impact on the young people she met, ones who, one day soon, would need to provide for themselves.
In 2012, Bonnie joined the Think Kindness Board of Directors with the focus of expanding the organization’s educational initiatives in Kenya. In this capacity, Bonnie implemented a scholarship fund, making a Kenyan college education a reality for orphaned or abandoned youth. Bonnie brings to Learn For Life Kenya more than 20-years of leadership experience in adult education ministries and community initiatives, focusing on creating and equipping teams for service. Some of her most cherished roles within her congregation have been serving as grant project director, church-wide campaign director, and head of the in-house curriculum publication body. Within her community, Bonnie has been recognized for community service organizational development.
Bonnie completed her B.A. in Religion and English at Baylor University in 1992. Bonnie, her husband, Matt, and their children, Alex and James, are committed, as a family, to using their God-given resources to support the efforts of people in Kenya who share a vision for a more stable, hope-filled future through self-sustaining employment. She also feels enormously blessed to have met Anne, now a dear friend and the co-founder of Learn For Life Kenya, in 2013. Together, they recognized a calling to assist Kenyan organizations striving to provide vocational training programs.
Anne Muindi-Shemenski, Vice-President & Co-Founder
Anne is a Kenyan-born management consultant who is passionate about helping marginalized children and youth live a hope-filled life that enables them to reach their full potential. Anne has been deeply involved with the Tumaini Children’s Home founded by her father in July 1997 and is excited about carrying on his legacy by assisting in the development of a vocational training center to alleviate youth unemployment and address poverty issues in Nyeri, Kenya.
Anne brings to Learn for Life Kenya key strategy, analytics, and operations management skills acquired through an extensive management consulting career with Booz Allen Hamilton and various independent consulting engagements in the US and South Africa.
While living in South Africa, Anne engaged in pro bono work with Berakah Educational Foundation developing a business strategy and implementing social entrepreneurship initiatives in a disadvantaged community to enable self-sustainment.
Anne was also an Integral member of the University of Cape Town Graduate Business School Inclusive Health Innovation Team that established the first health innovation hub in a public hospital in Africa at the world-renowned Groote Schuur Hospital. Anne also served as a Board Member at the American International School in Johannesburg.
Anne completed her ‘A’ levels at Limuru Girls’ High School in Kenya before moving to the US in 1985. She earned her B.A. with a double major in International Relations and Economics & Management from Beloit College, her M.A. in International Relations with a focus on International Development Economics from Yale University, and her M.S. in Information and Telecommunications Systems from Johns Hopkins University. Anne is a recipient of Booz Allen Hamilton’s prestigious Values in Practice Award and also the U.S. National Women of Color in Technology Award for Managerial Leadership.
Sandy Nies, Treasurer
Sandy became connected to Learn for Life Kenya through her friendship with co-founder Bonnie Lee. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Illinois State University. She has 20 years of experience in the accounting assistant field and is currently working towards an associate’s degree in Accounting.
Sandy and her husband Matt have lived in Wisconsin for 25 years, serving on worship teams at Northwest Baptist Church and Crossroads Church of Pewaukee, and are the proud parents of two college-age daughters.
Sandy looks forward to supporting the efforts of Learn for Life Kenya in her capacity as treasurer, learning and growing alongside its passionate leaders.
Emmett Wood, Secretary
Emmett began his work with Learn For Life Kenya in August 2017, after being introduced to the group through Treasurer Sandy Nies. As the newest member of the Board, he has previously assisted the team as Social Media Advisor; in this role, Emmett introduced analytics and other digital marketing metrics to advise the Board on outreach and awareness. Now in his first Board position, Emmett is excited to serve the group as Secretary of the Board.
Emmett is a college student pursuing his Marketing degree from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee and is currently employed by Briggs & Stratton Corporation as a two-year Marketing Intern. He was first introduced to volunteering and charitable giving after serving as a member of the Teen SPARC program at St. Mary's Parish in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. This group taught young adults the power of giving back through summer mission trips and local community engagement. Through SPARC, Emmett took various volunteer trips to Louisville, Kentucky; Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, in addition to volunteering in the local Milwaukee community.
At Learn For Life Kenya, Emmett looks forward to applying himself by assisting and empowering the Board, while simultaneously learning from the wisdom and perspective of the team. He hopes to be a part of continued success and prosperity for both Learn for Life Kenya and our Kenyan brothers and sisters for many years to come.
Catherine Gacheru, Director, Chairperson of the Board
Catherine is a Kenyan-born Registered Nurse, a philanthropist, trainer, and versatile leader in the field of nursing and midwifery with 20 years of extensive hands-on experience in the area of maternal and child health and clinical teaching. Catherine brings a unique mix of deep healthcare experience both nationally and internationally and proven capabilities in leading teams while implementing educational programs. She is currently a Clinical Educator/Staff Development Specialist at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia.
Catherine started her healthcare career at the Gatundu General Hospital in Kenya as a Community Health Nurse. In 1989, she emigrated to the United States and specialized as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. Her employment experiences span the St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, University of Massachusetts Memorial Hospital and the Inova Healthcare systems in Northern Virginia.
Catherine is a graduate of Medical Training Center in Machakos, Kenya and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from George Mason University. She has achieved the coveted Registered Nurse certification specialty for high risk, in-patient obstetrics. She is also certified in the proven and original protocols of treating HIV positive mothers resulting in babies born free of HIV status.
Catherine has been involved as a mentor and philanthropist with the Tumaini Children’s Home since its inception in her hometown of Nyeri. She also provides financial and non-financial support to several underprivileged children in Kenya. She is married with two children.
Matt Lee, Director, Nominating Chairman
Matt was introduced to Kenya by his family, and more specifically, to the orphaned and abandoned children under the care of Tumaini Children’s Ministry in 2013. After his wife and oldest child visited Kenya in 2011, he began assisting their efforts to impact the lives of children in need. He has been supportive of Think Kindness’ fundraising efforts and the launch of the new organization, Learn for Life Kenya.
Matt brings many years of organizational and leadership skills from his work in the local church, local professional organizations, and health care.
Matt earned his B.A. in Biology from Baylor University and M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia. He began his practice of Ob/Gyn in 1997 and is affiliated with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Matt is the Residency Director at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Other areas of community leadership include over twelve years as Worship Director at Northwest Church in Milwaukee, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for Pius XI High School.
Katie Davis, Social Media Director
Katie started volunteering with Learn for Life Kenya in March 2016 when she felt God calling her to get involved with global ministry that would expand her world view. In her quest to find volunteer opportunities, she was reconnected with Bonnie who shared the mission and vision of Learn for Life Kenya and invited Katie to join the cause. Katie was drawn to the sustainable approach to poverty alleviation and wanted to be a part of lasting change.
Katie has worked with several nonprofit organizations in her professional and personal life, including March of Dimes, Boy Scouts of America, and Playworks Wisconsin. She loves finding content for social media that keeps friends of Learn for Life Kenya updated, informed, engaged, and connected. She currently resides in the Twin Cities area with her husband and young daughter and is always looking for ways to serve others and grow in her faith.
Monica H. Ashery, African Community Liason
Monica was born in Tanzania and moved to the USA in order to further her studies in 1988. While in Tanzania, Monica worked in the comptroller’s office of the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanganyika in Dodoma, Tanzania. She was pleased to head the Accounts Department and to handle missionary affairs.
Upon moving to the United States, Monica worked as the Special Assistant to the President of Coleman & Williams, Ltd., CPAs. Her responsibilities included providing a broad range of support to the president and firm, including participating in proposal writing, business development, and managing all company revenues, among others. She played a significant role in the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. Division of Firms (NABA-DOF) by coordinating four DOF semi-annual conferences on practice management and recruiting more than 50 members at the NABA-DOF Exhibits during the National Conventions around the U.S. Monica was the lead organizer of NABA-DOF’s three visits to South Africa, which resulted in the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding between the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) of the USA and the Advancement of Black Accountants in Southern Africa (ABASA). She has coordinated six NABA-DOF’s Ralph Grant Institute conferences. Monica is a four-time award recipient for outstanding contribution, leadership, continued services and commitment, both from Coleman & Williams, Ltd. and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).
Monica has a Certificate in Accountancy from St. Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT), Mwanza, Tanzania, a B.A. in Business from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a Certificate in Human Resources Management from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is currently enrolled in an enhanced program for Accounting Services Specialist through the U.S. Career Services.
Monica is the Secretary of the Milwaukee African Women Association, Inc. She enjoys serving in leadership within her congregation’s children’s ministry. Monica is the proud mother of a 23-year-old son and two adopted daughters, ages 27 and 31, who she has raised since her sister’s death in 1995. Monica is a born-again Christian, and she’s always happy to share her faith in and love for Jesus Christ with others.
Victor Mayeya Odwori
Victor Mayeya Odwori is a management professional with a conscientious and strategic knack for detail. He is motivated by over 20 years of broad experience in administration, supervision, management, production and creativity in the advertising industry. He possesses strong organizational skills and excellent interpersonal and communication skills developed through course work, assignments, presentations, sales and publicity work. His experience also includes leadership and management experience throughout East Africa and the United States with the capability to adapt to changing environments.
Mr. Odwori is a Marketing and Public Relations expert with relevant hands-on experience. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Cypace Marketing, a U.S. minority-owned consultancy firm with representation in Nairobi, Kenya. He founded Cypace in Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 and launched it in the United States in 2013 with operationalized business both in the United States and Kenya. Cypace focuses its efforts on startup and established businesses owned by Africans. It functions as a Federal contractor with, among others, the Smithsonian Institution’s African Arts Museum to deliver initiatives that generate awareness among Americans about African culture. In addition, Mr. Odwori has handled operational management roles in Kenya with Take Two Communications and Face to Face Limited. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Infinite Quest Marketing, a communication consulting firm and Kisima Music Awards, an awards ceremony recognizing the achievement of the East African Community in the entertainment field.
He has engaged with various initiatives and worked with organizations such as Kenya Connect, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to education for rural kids in Kenya with projects in Wamunyu; and Learn for Life Kenya, a U.S. nonprofit empowering youth with vocational and technical skills and currently fundraising to build a modern vocational center in Nyeri. He heads Afti-pace, a nonprofit subsidiary of Cypace Marketing LLC. Afti-pace, or African-led Technical Initiatives at our Pace, promotes international cooperation and fosters actions among Africans throughout the diaspora to guide change.
Most importantly, Mr. Odwori is a Kenyan dedicated to the advancement of Kenya through his engagement in corporate patriotism initiatives with the Kenya Embassy located in Washington, DC, through a branding and public relation advisory role supporting activities and initiatives as well as holding a seat on the Jamhuri Day (Kenya Independence Day) celebration events committee.
Mr. Odwori’s academic background includes a London Chamber of Commerce and Industry College diploma in Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Selling and Sales Management; and various certifications for Information Technology, and Import and Export Trade. He is currently pursuing an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability with the University of Cumbria (Robert Kennedy College) in Zurich, Switzerland.
Gerald Schaefer, Emeritus Director & Fundraising Chairman
Gerald (Gerry) Schaefer brings to Learn for Life Kenya a wealth of experience in the field of fundraising. Gerry's career has included work as Director of Marquette University's Annual Fund, Mount Mary College's Director of Public Relations and Development, and Director of Resource Development for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Following his retirement, Gerry co-founded McDonald Schaefer, a firm dedicated to advising nonprofits in the area of fund development. Gerry has special expertise in comprehensive development and direct mail, having raised over $100 million in the course of his career.
Gerry completed his B.A. in Philosophy at Marquette University and received his M.A. from Northwestern University. He has fifty years of experience in the field of fundraising, holding senior development positions at major institutions in Milwaukee, and over twenty years of experience as a featured speaker at national development conferences. Gerry looks forward to implementing a fundraising strategy for Learn for Life Kenya, poising this charitable organization for great success in accomplishing its mission.