Our Board Members

US Board Members

Lauren Boswell Blair

Lauren Boswell Blair

Chair

Lauren has experience writing policy for various government agencies and authored the novel about Kupenda, “An Unlikely Gift.”

    Chair

    Lauren is an experienced writer who earned with an honors degree in English and has gone on to write policy for various government agencies and contracting companies. She also wrote An Unlikely Gift, a book about Kupenda’s founding and growth. Lauren has always had a heart for children with physical struggles because she underwent numerous surgeries as a child. Her compassion for people who struggle energizes her to get involved with Kupenda. In addition to working with Kupenda in Kenya on multiple occasions, Lauren has hosted a variety of awareness and fundraising events. Without her fundraising efforts in the early stages, Kupenda would not be where it is today. Her love of the children she met in Kenya is evident in her devoted leadership of Kupenda’s board of directors!

    As Kupenda’s Board Chair, Lauren attends all of Kupenda’s board meetings and carries out special assignments, as requested by the board chair. Lauren also understands the responsibilities of the board chair and is able to perform these duties in the chair’s absence. Lauren’s affiliation with Adventures for the Cure has resulted in over $175,000 contributed since Kupenda began in 2003.

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    Jeff Gentry

    Jeff Gentry

    Vice Chair

    Jeff holds a Master of Divinity degree and currently serves as the Director of Operations for the Disability Policy Consortium.

      Vice Chair

      Jeff holds a Master of Divinity degree and currently serves as the Disability Services Director at JVS Boston. Jeff has committed his career to increasing workforce engagement and community access for people with disabilities. Over the past decade Jeff and his teams have equipped over 1,000 transition age youth and adults with disabilities to secure employment in the community. In recent years, Jeff has led a number of workforce development initiatives that have connected people in Greater Boston to the industry recognized credentials (i.e., ServSafe Food Handler and Certified Nursing Assistant certifications) that they need to participate in growth industries like hospitality and allied health.

      In past years, Jeff has participated in innovative initiatives like IMPACT:Ability, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported initiative that empowered organizations and individuals with disabilities to prevent abuse, and Empowering People for Inclusive Communities, an organization that empowers transition age youth with disabilities to develop their leadership skills through community service.

      As Kupenda’s Vice Board Chair, Jeff is responsible for overseeing Kupenda’s board and executive committee meetings. He works in partnership with the executive director to ensure Board resolutions are carried out and calls special meetings preparing board meetings agendas, organizing board evaluations of staff, and recruiting new board members.

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      Patricia Prasada-Rao

      Patricia Prasada-Rao

      Treasurer

      Patty holds degrees in Psychology/Pre-Med and Public Health and has worked with several non-profits.

        Treasurer

        Patty holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Pre-Med and a Master’s degree in Public Health. She has worked with several non-profits over the past 20 years, both in the U.S. and abroad, in multiple roles. In addition to her public health and research background, Patty has worked in corporate marketing, psychiatric program management, and as an area director for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. She has served on 11 different boards and actively volunteers within her community and abroad. Near and dear to her heart is her family’s work with the Chadalawada School (Pure Religion in Action [PRIA] Ministries) in India. Her experience in community and international development, as well as faith-based leadership, is a valuable resource for Kupenda.

        As Kupenda’s Board Treasurer, Patricia manages the review of and action related to the board’s financial responsibilities. She also works with the executive director to ensure that appropriate financial reports are made available to the board on a timely basis.

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        Keita Rone Wilson

        Keita Rone Wilson

        Secretary

        Keita Rone Wilson is a native of Detroit, Michigan and has worked in the field of special education over 20 years as a speech pathologist, special education teacher, educational consultant.

          Secretary

          Keita Rone Wilson is a native of Detroit, Michigan and has worked in the field of special education over 20 years as a speech pathologist, special education teacher, educational consultant. Keita has both a MS and PhD in special education and is currently an Assistant Professor of Special Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She has taught courses that address inclusion and diversity. In addition to her work in teacher preparation programs, Keita is passionate about her research interest which includes studying how other cultures perceived and experienced disabilities. Keita is excited about working towards improving the lives of children with disabilities and their families through the mission and vision of Kupenda for the Children. In her role as Board Secretary, Keita records meetings minutes and ensures their accuracy, safety and availability.

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          Cynthia Bauer

          Cynthia Bauer

          Board Member

          As Kupenda’s executive director and founder, Cynthia provides the board with updates on both the U.S. and Kenyan operations in addition to financial reports.

            Board Member

            As the executive director and founder of the organization, Cynthia continues to hold a position on the board. She provides the board with updates on both the U.S. and Kenyan operations in addition to financial reports. Cynthia facilitates the board’s strategic planning, decision making, evaluation and fundraising efforts. Read Cynthia’s full biography here.

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            Julia Spruance

            Julia Spruance

            Board Member

            Julia has worked for Boston-based non-profit, Waypoint Adventure since 2013, designing and facilitating customized adventure-education programs for youth and adults with disabilities. Also Julia has helped illustrate our first sign language handbook and co-led Kupendas disability advocacy hike up in 2016.

              Board Member

              Julia received her Bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Sport & Wellness and Studio Art from Gordon College. She has worked for the Boston-based non-profit, Waypoint Adventure since 2013, designing and facilitating customized adventure-education programs like rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking for youth and adults with disabilities. Previously she worked as a Recreational Therapist at a skilled nursing facility in Cambridge, MA and a senior day center in Lynn, MA. Julia has been a Kupenda volunteer since 2007, and in 2011, she illustrated our first sign-language handbook which has enabled hundreds of Kenyan parents to be able to communicate with their children. In 2016, she co-led Kupenda’s disability advocacy hike up Mount Kilimanjaro alongside Kenyan children with disabilities. Her 2018 TEDx talk entitled, “High Expectations – 3 Teens with Disabilities Take on Kilimanjaro” is about how having high expectations for one another can create communities where people feel valued.

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              Caroline Kamau

              Caroline Kamau

              Board Member

              Caroline Kamau is a mother and domestic violence advocate from the Great Rift Valley, Kenya.

                Board Member

                Caroline Kamau is a mother and domestic violence advocate from the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. She joined Miss Kenya USA in 2015 and continues working as an ambassador for Miss Kenya through her domestic violence platform. In 2017 she became the pageant president. Her background in volunteering and helping others has inspired many young people to volunteer and bring change to their communities. Caroline has also represented Kenya at the Annual International Human Rights Summit, organized a college preparation workshop for high school students in her community, and launched an ambassador program to help young women give back to their communities.

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                Daniel Huss

                Daniel Huss

                Board Member

                Daniel Huss has a B.A. in history from Gordon College in Massachusetts. He volunteered for a year in Khartoum, Sudan, working with a team doing relief work in North Darfur.

                  Board Member

                  Daniel Huss has a B.A. in history from Gordon College in Massachusetts. He volunteered for a year in Khartoum, Sudan, working with a team doing relief work in North Darfur. He has worked for Bridgewell, a non-profit in the Boston area that works with adults who have intellectual disabilities. He is currently a carpenter in the Boston area.

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                  Leah Battillo

                  Leah Battillo

                  Board Member

                  Leah Battillo is a special education teacher, a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and a board-certified behavior analyst supervisor. She studied Elementary Education and Linguistics and concentrated in Special Education and English as a Second Language at Gordon College.

                    Board Member

                    Leah Battillo is a special education teacher, a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and a board-certified behavior analyst supervisor. She studied Elementary Education and Linguistics and concentrated in Special Education and English as a Second Language at Gordon College. She was given the Presidential Award, awarded to one student annually who has made significant contributions to the college and the community. She was the founder and director of Gordon College’s Beyond Disabilities Week, a 7-day event focusing on the topic of disabilities, which included 23 speakers, 19 events, three-panel discussions, two movies, a technology and art forum. She hired Temple Grandin as the event’s keynote speaker.

                    Leah was also the project coordinator and is a current team member on the internationally-recognized Accessible Icon Project. Currently, over 40 states and 25 countries use the Accessible Icon symbol.

                    In 2017, Leah received a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis in Autism from Ball State University and received her BCBA license. Since then, she has been providing in-home supervision and training for parents and behavior technicians.

                    Leah is now a special needs consultant in her community and church, as well as an Outreach Coordinator. She provides professional development for teachers, parents, and volunteers. She is a Funds for Teacher Fellow. In addition, she manages a website and an Instagram page (@ParentTools) that supports parents who have children with behavioral needs.

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                    Christine Allen

                    Christine Allen

                    Board Member

                    Christine Allen has an MBA from MIT Sloan and is passionate about helping vulnerable children experience the fullest life possible.

                      Board Member

                      Christine Allen has an MBA from MIT Sloan and is passionate about helping vulnerable children experience the fullest life possible. She is currently a Senior Program Manager in the Digital Transformation Office at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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                      Kenya Board Members

                      Kupenda’s name in Kenya is “Kuhenza for the Children’s Foundation.” Kuhenza has a Kenyan board of directors that oversees and supports the organization’s staff and operations.

                      Reverend Robert Mangi

                      Reverend Robert Mangi

                      Chair

                      Reverend Robert Mangi has been a pastor for over 30 years leading congregations at eight different Anglican churches.

                        Chair

                        Reverend Robert Mangi has been a pastor for over 30 years leading congregations at eight different Anglican churches in Kilifi County. He currently serves as the Archdeacon for the Anglican Church of Kenya in the Malindi Diocese. His church was the first one Kupenda worked with to include children with disabilities early in the organization’s development. The programs at this church serve as a model to other churches seeking to be more inclusive. Reverend Mangi’s work and experience helps Kupenda connect to other pastors in Kilfi County.

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                        Gabriel Mwanengo

                        Gabriel Mwanengo

                        Treasurer

                        For 20 years, Gabriel has been a teacher for children who are deaf. He was also the head of a special unit at the Gede Special School for children who are deaf.

                          Treasurer

                          Gabriel has over 20 years of experience working as a teacher for children who are deaf. He was also the head of a special unit at the Gede Special School for children who are deaf or have physical disabilities. His extensive experience and attention to detail make him a strong Board Treasurer and great asset to the Kuhenza team.

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                          Leonard Mbonani

                          Leonard Mbonani

                          Secretary

                          In his role as board secretary, Leonard is responsible for ensuring that accurate and sufficient documentation exists to meet the Board’s legal requirements.

                            Secretary

                            In Kenyan nonprofit organizations, the executive director typically holds the role of secretary. In his role as board secretary, Leonard is responsible for ensuring that accurate and sufficient documentation exists to meet the Board’s legal requirements. In order to fulfill these responsibilities, Leonard records minutes of meetings, ensures their accuracy and availability, proposes policies and practices, submits various reports to the board, and maintains membership records.  Read Leonard’s full biography here.

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                            Linnet Mkutano

                            Linnet Mkutano

                            Board Member

                            Linnet developed epilepsy at the age of 26 and by 27 was unable to walk to talk due to the paralysis caused by her seizures.

                              Board Member

                              Linnet developed epilepsy at the age of 26 and by 27 was unable to walk to talk due to the paralysis caused by her seizures. She was bedridden until the age of 35, when she finally received medicine to manage her seizures and began working with a physical therapist to improve her mobility. After ten years of medication and PT, Linnet finally began to walk again and now is able to walk independently using a cane. Her journey through disability inspired her to join the Kuhenza Board and found the Matunda Disabled Women’s Group, which has 15 members who have been meeting together for 10 years. She also acts as a role model and counselor for people with disabilities and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities through speeches at rallies, ceremonies and chief meetings throughout her county. Linnet has a certificates in Rights of the Girl Child and Counseling for Stroke Victims. She also has a Certificate in Early Childhood Education from the Kilifi District Education Center

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                              Cynthia Bauer

                              Cynthia Bauer

                              Board Member

                              Cynthia, Kupenda’s founder and Executive Director, also serves on Kuhenza’s Board. She provides updates on Kupenda’s U.S. operations and supports strategic planning.

                                Board Member

                                As the executive director and founder of the organization, Cynthia continues to hold a position on the board. She provides the board with updates on both the U.S. and Kenyan operations in addition to financial reports. Cynthia facilitates the board’s strategic planning, decision making, evaluation and fundraising efforts. Read Cynthia’s full biography here.

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                                Julius Kalu

                                Julius Kalu

                                Board Member

                                Julius Robert Katoi Kalu has been the Bishop of Kenya’s Mombasa Diocese Anglican Church since 1994. He is also has teaching and nonprofit management experience.

                                  Board Member

                                  Julius Robert Katoi Kalu has been the Bishop of Kenya’s Mombasa Diocese Anglican Church since 1994. In addition to providing spiritual guidance and counsel to the Kupenda/Kuhenza teams, Bishop Kalu has extensive teaching and nonprofit management experience. He has served as an executive member of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, a council member of the Technical University of Mombasa, Executive Chairman of the Shanzu Teachers’ Training College, Executive Chairman of Godoma Secondary School, a council member of the Coastal Interfaith Council of Cerics, a board member of the Mama Nguni Girls High School, Executive Chairman of Kilifi County Leaders Association. He has also been in charge of relief food distribution in Ghanzi, Malindi, Taba Delta, and the Galole Constituency for more than 10 years. Bishop Kalu has earned multiple diplomas in education and theology from Kenyan training institutions and a master’s degree in theology from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has also completed vocational training programs in advanced adult education, ecumenics, and AIDS awareness in both Kenya in the United States. Bishop Kalu is fluent in Kiswahili, English, Kigiriama and Hebrew.

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                                  Jacob Mwagandi

                                  Jacob Mwagandi

                                  Board Member

                                  Jacob has been a primary school teacher for nearly 40 years and a pastor since 2012. He also served as the head teacher at Magarine Primary School since 1995.

                                    Board Member

                                    Jacob has been a primary school teacher for nearly 40 years and a pastor since 2012. He has also served as the head teacher at Magarine Primary School since 1995. Very early in his career Jacob met Kuhenza’s founder and director, Leonard Mbonani. Leonard and Jacob were teaching together and began to fundraise to pay the school fees of high-performing, impoverished children in their classes. Over the years, Jacob developed a deep passion for vulnerable children, particularly those with disabilities, and agreed to join the Kuhenza Board as an advocate for these young people. Although he will retire soon from teaching, Jacob wants to continue supporting these children through Kuhenza and a farming project he has started to provide nutritional support to special education schools and units in Kilifi. Jacob holds certificates in Primary Education and Theology, as well as a diploma in Education Management.

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                                    Susanne King

                                    Susanne King

                                    Board Member

                                    Susanne King has more than 30 years of experience working as a social pedagogue (a teacher and social worker) in Denmark, Tanzania, Zambia, and Kenya.

                                      Board Member

                                      Susanne King has more than 30 years of experience working as a social pedagogue (a teacher and social worker) in Denmark, Tanzania, Zambia, and Kenya. She served both the Danish Council and Danish Refugee Aid as a family counselor and worked as a development professional and nutrition group coordinator in Zambia. Susanne also served as headmistress at the Nordic School in Dar es Salaam and as Deputy Head of a Nature at a kindergarten in Denmark. She has experience working with teenage mothers, families with alcohol issues, and young adults with special needs and has earned diplomas in adult education and business administration.

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                                      Mohammed Mgaza

                                      Mohammed Mgaza

                                      Board Member

                                      Mohammed is a special needs teacher, head teacher at Kakuyuni Primary School’s Mental Health Unit and the Assistant Coordinator of Malindi’s Special Olympics.

                                        Board Member

                                        Mohammed has been a special needs education teacher and the head of the Kakuyuni Primary School Mental Health Unit since 2003. He also serves as the treasurer of the Special Schools Sports Association of Kenya (SSSAK) in Malindi Sub County and is the Assistant Coordinator of the Special Olympics in Malindi Sub County. Mohammed holds a certificate in primary teacher education from Kilima Mbogo Teachers Training College, a diploma in special needs education from the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) and a degree in special needs education from Kenya Methodist University (KEMU).

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                                        Advisory Committee

                                        Dr. Kathryn Quissell

                                        Dr. Kathryn Quissell

                                        Committee Member

                                        Kathryn Quissell is an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, and a researcher with expertise in global health policy, advocacy, and governance.

                                          Kathryn QuissellCommittee Member

                                          Dr. Kathryn Quissell is an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, and a researcher with expertise in global health policy, advocacy, and governance. She has a PhD in Public Administration and Policy from American University, an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, and an MSc in Health Policy, Planning, and Financing from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics. In her work with Kupenda, Dr. Quissell is helping the team design and implement assessments of their advocacy work in order to better understand the root causes of disability-related stigma and discrimination, and how to mitigate these factors to improve inclusion and access to healthcare and education. As a member of the Advisory Board, she advises the organization on their monitoring and evaluation work, their data dissemination, and their internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

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                                          Dave Deuel

                                          Dave Deuel

                                          Committee Member

                                          Dave Deuel, PhD, has held various leadership roles related to disability advocacy, including as Joni and Friends regional director for San Fernando Valley, CA…

                                            Dave Deuel portraitCommittee Member

                                            Dave Deuel, PhD, has held various leadership roles related to disability advocacy, including as Joni and Friends regional director for San Fernando Valley, CA, as well as Wheels for the World international instructor. He also helped start a chapter of the National Down Syndrome Association and served with Parent to Parent services for parents of children with disabilities.

                                            Dave has also served on over 30 boards and steering committees, including the North Los Angeles Regional Center, All Children’s Hospital, Direct Link for the Disabled, a Governor’s Advisory Committee for the State Council on Disability, the Lexington Family Disability Services, and a Governor’s Disability Policy Committee.

                                            Currently Dave is senior research fellow in policy and publishing for the Christian Institute on Disability and academic dean emeritus for The Master’s Academy International. He recently co-edited and contributed to the book, Disability in Mission: The Church’s Hidden Treasure. Dave also serves as catalyst for the Lausanne Disability Concerns Network and is a member of the YLGen Mentor Community leadership team.

                                            Dave has degrees from Summit University (BA), Grace Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM), the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University (MA), and the University of Liverpool, UK (MPhil, PhD). He is married, has four adult children, and lives in New York.

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                                            Britta Magnuson

                                            Britta Magnuson

                                            Committee Member

                                            Britta Magnuson is a health care professional and researcher who has been supporting Kupenda’s work for more than 10 years.

                                              Committee Member

                                              Britta Magnuson is a health care professional and researcher who has been supporting Kupenda’s work for more than 10 years. Britta provides pro-bono writing, editing and event planning support to the organization. She also sponsors two children in Kenya.

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                                              Andrew Bauer

                                              Andrew Bauer

                                              Committee Member

                                                Suzanne Van de visser

                                                Suzanne Van de visser

                                                Committee Member

                                                  Heidi Busch

                                                  Heidi Busch

                                                  Committee Member

                                                  Heidi Busch is a health and human services professional who currently focuses on monitoring, evaluation, and data analytics. She has a background in refugee health, international development and psychology.

                                                    Committee Member

                                                    Heidi Busch is a health and human services professional who currently focuses on monitoring, evaluation, and data analytics. She has a background in refugee health, international development and psychology.

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                                                    Anna Iltis

                                                    Anna Iltis

                                                    Committee Member

                                                      Sarah Johnson

                                                      Sarah Johnson

                                                      Committee Member

                                                        Jon Busch

                                                        Jon Busch

                                                        Committee Member

                                                        Jon Busch is an advertising and marketing copywriter who has been supporting Kupenda for more than 12 years and who advises the organization on their marketing and fundraising strategies.

                                                          Committee Member

                                                          Jon Busch is an advertising and marketing copywriter who has been supporting Kupenda for more than 12 years and who advises the organization on their marketing and fundraising strategies.

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                                                          Michael Thompson

                                                          Michael Thompson

                                                          Committee Member