Our Staff Members

US Staff Members

Kupenda’s U.S. team of experienced professionals works closely with their colleagues in Kenya to oversee the organization’s strategic planning, operations, and program implementation and evaluation.

Cynthia Bauer, MS

Cynthia Bauer, MS

US Executive Director and Co-Founder

Cynthia’s work as a wildlife biologist brought her to Kenya, where she was inspired to start Kupenda.

    US Executive Director and Co-Founder

    Cynthia’s work as a wildlife biologist brought her to Kenya, where she was inspired to start Kupenda. She was particularly motivated to do something to help children with disabilities after discovering that she might have been killed if she had been born in Kenya because she was born without her left hand. Cynthia has over 10 years of experience as a wildlife biologist with multiple nonprofit and government agencies, which provides her with an understanding of the biology related to many disabilities and the skills to manage this growing organization. She has also taught biology classes for over a decade, which gives her insight into education systems similar to those in which Kupenda works and helps her present difficult concepts to groups we work with in Kenya and the U.S. Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Biology and Ecology and a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation.

    Cynthia is responsible for overseeing Kupenda’s administration, programs and strategic planning. Her other key duties include fundraising, marketing, and community outreach. She reports directly to the Board of Directors. Through her speeches, writing, and networking, Cynthia advocates for children with disabilities in Kenya, Tanzania, and the

    U.S. Cynthia also encourages others with disabilities to meet their God-given potential by sharing the message of God’s inclusive love and by playing her guitar to demonstrate what is possible when opportunities are available to everyone.

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    Jessica Charles, MPH

    Jessica Charles, MPH

    Director of Development

    Jessica Charles is as a global health professional with 15+ years of experience as a project manager, educator, grant writer, communications specialist and fundraiser.

      Director of Development

      Jessica Charles is as a global health professional with over 15 years of experience as a project manager, teacher trainer, and communications specialist. She lived in China and Botswana for three years managing health and education projects and has supported field teams in more than 20 developing nations implementing USAID, CDC, PEPFAR and privately-funded projects. Jessica holds a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Writing.

      As Kupenda’s Development Director, Jessica is responsible for increasing operational efficiency, program monitoring, and evaluation, engaging new donors, developing and implementing strategic fundraising plans, and expanding the organization’s capacity.

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      Sandra Bauer, MA

      Sandra Bauer, MA

      Child Sponsorship Coordinator

      Sandra has three decades of teaching experience, 20 years of which she spent working with gifted children in need of specialized education.

        Child Sponsorship Coordinator

        Sandra has three decades of teaching experience, 20 years of which she spent working with gifted children in need of specialized education. She also has two years of experience working for a tax preparation company and is the mother of Cynthia, Kupenda’s founder, which helps her relate to the parents of children with disabilities with whom we work. Sandra manages Kupenda’s child sponsorship program and is responsible for the organization’s financial recording and reporting. She holds a Master’s degree in Gifted Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Primary School Education.

        Sandra’s understanding of education, child development, financing, and bookkeeping making her uniquely qualified for Kupenda’s bookkeeper and child sponsorship coordinator positions. Her success in these roles is also driven her deep compassion for children in need of specialized assistance.

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        Kenya Staff 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. Kupenda and Kuhenza work side-by-side in all strategic planning and program implementation tasks, including the hire and training of the following qualified professionals who lead the organization’s field work.

        Leonard Mbonani

        Leonard Mbonani

        Kenya Executive Director and Co-Founder

        Leonard has over 40 years of experience working in disability programs as a special needs assessment officer.

          KENYA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER

          Leonard has over 40 years of experience working in disability programs as a special needs assessment officer for the government, a disability researcher for an internationally-funded nonprofit organization, and an educator at special schools and units throughout Kilifi County. His compassion for people with disabilities began within his own family, when interacting with several relatives who were deaf and unable to communicate due to lack of sign language training. The abuse he saw these family members face drove him to pursue a career in disability care and advocacy. Today, Leonard says the children he serves continue to inspire him to keep working on their behalf. As the organization’s Executive Director, Leonard is responsible for Kuhenza’s strategic planning, local fundraising, reporting, partnership collaboration, event planning, child monitoring, family counseling, and program development and implementation. Leonard holds certificates Secondary Education and Primary School Management and Diplomas in Special Education and Learning Difficulties. He has participated in disability care training programs in the U.S., Denmark and Kenya and has led workshops and participated in health conferences in Tanzania, Nigeria and various regions of Kenya.

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          Lucky Mahenzo

          Lucky Mahenzo

          Child Protection Officer

          Lucky is a Kenyan lawyer who has devoted her life to advocating for justice and quality care and inclusion for children living with disabilities.

            Profile photo of Lucky

            CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER

             

            Lucky is a Kenyan lawyer who has devoted her life to advocating for justice and quality care and inclusion for children living with disabilities. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Law from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya and then went on to complete a Masters degree in International Human Rights and International Disability Law and Policy from Syracuse University College of Law in New York. Lucky has supported Kupenda and Kuhenza in developing a Disability Law Guide and a Law Guide Summary and regularly facilitates the discussion of these laws during our Disability Advocacy Training workshops for families and community leaders in Kenya.

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            Thomas Katana

            Thomas Katana

            Project Officer

            Thomas is a Kenyan pastor, nonprofit manager and child advocate who has been a member of our team since 2014.

              Project Officer

              Thomas is a Kenyan pastor, nonprofit manager and child advocate who has been a member of our team since 2014. Initially, Thomas worked as Kuhenza’s office manager for several years, which made him sensitive to the situation of families impacted by disabilities. This inspired him to earn an Education degree with a concentration in Special Needs. After completing his studies, Thomas returned to Kuhenza and was hired as a project officer. In this role, Thomas collects information for the child sponsorship program, assesses and monitors children with disabilities, connects children with special needs schools and hospitals, writes reports, and assists the Kenya director, as needed. He recently also earned a diploma in Computer Information System from Kenya Methodist University.

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              Martha Karo

              Martha Karo

              Project Director

              Martha has 30 years of experience as a teacher for students who are deaf. Until 2017, she was also the head teacher at Gede Special School, the first school supported by Kupenda.

                Project Director

                Martha has over 30 years of experience as a teacher for students who are deaf. Until 2017, she was also the head teacher at the Gede Special School, the first special needs school supported by Kupenda. Martha’s work and experience helps Kupenda stay connected to the local education system. Her devotion to children with disabilities is demonstrated by the endless hours she works with the Kuhenza team. As Project Director, Martha co-manages the organization’s Advocacy, Education and Medical activities alongside the Executive Director. She also manages the organization’s Child Sponsorship Program.

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                James Katana

                James Katana

                Bookkeeper and Resource Center Manager

                James holds a diploma in accounting and a certificate in computer applications from Mombasa Polytechnic University.

                  Bookkeeper and Resource Center Manager

                  James holds a diploma in accounting and a certificate in computer applications from Mombasa Polytechnic University. Before joining Kuhenza, James worked for over three years as a bookkeeper for the Marafa Community Development Programme, managing records for both World Vision and the local government. As Kuhenza’s bookkeeper, James is now responsible for recording Kuhenza’s income and expenses, collecting receipts, developing financial reports and preparing for Kenyan government audits. He also oversees the purchase, cataloging and inventory of all materials in Kuhenza’s Resources Center.

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                  Joseph Karisa

                  Joseph Karisa

                  Project Officer

                  Joseph Karisa is an experienced secondary school educator and has earned diplomas in information technology and Business English.

                    Project Officer

                    Joseph Karisa is an experienced secondary school educator and has earned diplomas in information technology and business English. Since 2017, he has also been a member of the Kilifi County Microfinance Fund Board of Directors. Joseph has certificates in peer guidance and counseling and computer repair and maintenance. In his work with Kupenda he assists our Kenyan team with program implementation, reporting, family counseling and disability advocacy training. As a person living with a disability, Joseph is particularly passionate about serving persons with disabilities and enjoys the time he spends interacting with Kupenda’s child beneficiaries and their parents. Joseph recently completing a bachelor degree in business and information technology at Mount Kenya University in Malindi.

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                    Kalu Charo

                    Kalu Charo

                    Driver

                    Kalu is a licensed, professional driver with experience transporting staff and clients and maintaining vehicles. He has strong friendships with many of the children in our programs.

                      Driver

                      Kalu is a licensed, professional driver with experience transporting staff and clients and maintaining vehicles for numerous Kenyan nonprofits, schools, and farms. Prior to his driving career, Kalu worked as a mason contractor in the private sector. In recent years, Kalu has developed a passion for disability work; when not driving for Kuhenza, he often volunteers at the local special needs school. He enjoys helping the house parents there and spending time with the children, who are very fond of him.

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                      Mwanhawa Joto

                      Mwanhawa Joto

                      Occupational Therapist

                        Loice Maluki

                        Loice Maluki

                        Project Officer

                        Loice volunteered with Kuhenza while conducting her master’s research on disabilities and the church.

                          Project Officer

                          As a Project Officer, Loice manages the Kuhenza’s child sponsorship program, assesses and monitors children with disabilities, connects children with special needs schools and hospitals, and facilitates disability trainings for families and community leaders. Loice has always had a heart for people with disabilities and believes the church is key to improving the culture around disabilities in Kenya. Loice serves on the Board of Directors for Kakayuni Special School. She holds certificates in Primary Education, Secondary Education, Computer Maintenance, and Computer Software. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and a Master’s degree in Religious Studies. Loice is also the lead researcher and author of “Christian Response to Challenges Faced by Children with Disabilities” a journal article that was published in the Kabarak Journal of Research & Innovation in 2019.

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                          Consultants and Interns

                          Stephen Abrams

                          Stephen Abrams

                          Software Engineer and Architect Consultant

                          Stephen has more than 15 years of experience building enterprise, web, and mobile applications.

                            Software Engineer and Architect Consultant

                            Stephen has more than 15 years of experience building enterprise, web, and mobile applications. At TruMedia Networks, he co-developed the ESPN 2014 World Cup analytics platform. At Jumptap / Millennial Media, he built high-performance mobile ad platform technologies and cross-platform automation solutions. At AccelGolf, he built the Android 1.0 and Blackberry 2.0 applications. He has also volunteered his skills and led an initiative to rebuild an application portal for non-profit incubator Rootcause. Most recently, he developed a genomic medical diagnostic platform for clinical trial and therapy recommendations for cancer patients. In his spare time, Stephen is a musician and loves working with his hands. His creations include a guitar tube amplifier, a poker table, and a pottery wheel.

                            Since January of 2020 Stephen has been providing technical support to Kupenda in developing a Comm Care mobile application for child case management. You can learn more about this app project here.

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                            Caroline Flessa

                            Caroline Flessa

                            Mobile App Development Consultant

                            Caroline has extensive professional experience working with clinical healthcare data in both academic settings and private industry. In early 2020, Caroline and her graduate school colleagues from BUSPH formed a mobile application development team for Kupenda.

                              Mobile App Development Consultant

                              Caroline Flessa is a recent Master’s in Public Health graduate from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) with a degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Caroline has extensive professional experience working with clinical healthcare data in both academic settings and private industry. In early 2020, Caroline and her graduate school colleagues from BUSPH formed a mobile application development team for Kupenda. Since then, Caroline has actively participated in overseeing all phases of app development, such as conceptualizing the app, launching the app, and planning for project hand-off. Caroline has been primarily responsible for entering/editing form content in CommCare, as well as performing usability testing and troubleshooting any bugs or problems when they come up. In addition, she has been very involved in the creation of promotional media, training videos, and conference slides. Furthermore, she has been in charge of facilitating team meetings and has tackled many other project-specific tasks along the way. One particular project-related task Caroline has greatly enjoyed is the opportunity to present new app content to both the U.S. and Kenyan teams. You can learn more about the Child Case Management app Caroline has been working on here.

                              Currently, Caroline works full-time as a Research Data Manager for a Clinical Research Organization on the Data Management team. In the future, she sees herself working in cross-disciplinary settings that support vulnerable populations by applying models of integrative primary care. Caroline hopes that one day, she will be able to contribute to research on this important topic in her career.

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                              Rebecca Majeau

                              Rebecca Majeau

                              Intern

                              Rebecca Majeau is a current student at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. She is studying Political Science with a minor in Psychology.

                                Intern

                                Rebecca Majeau is a current student at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. She is studying Political Science with a minor in Psychology. Rebecca is also a member of the Gordon College Women’s Volleyball team. In playing for the team, she had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and serve local children in 2019. This experience gave her a heart for missions work and serving the impoverished. In addition to playing volleyball and volunteering, Rebecca also enjoys reading, bike riding, and going to the beach. As an intern, Rebecca assists in data cleaning, managing spreadsheets, developing blog and social media posts, among other administrative tasks. She is abundantly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the incredible work Kupenda is doing to service children with disabilities in Kenya.

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                                Grace Santa

                                Grace Santa

                                Kuhenza Intern

                                Grace provides data collection, translation, research and child and family counseling support to both Kupenda and Kuhenza.

                                  Grace provides data collection, translation, research and child and family counseling support to both Kupenda and Kuhenza. She is an environmentalist by profession and has been an intern at Kuhenza for the Children since 2019. Grace completed her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Monitoring and Management at University of Eldoret in Eldoret, Kenya.

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                                  Amy Allaire

                                  Amy Allaire

                                  Design Consultant

                                  Amy has over 13 years of experience in graphic design, working both with in-house design teams and on independent contracts.

                                    Design Consultant

                                    Amy has over 13 years of experience in graphic design, working both with in-house design teams and on independent contracts. She has designed and built websites, produced award winning magazines, and brought new brands to life. You can find samples of her work at www.amyallaire.com.

                                    Amy has been working as a consultant to Kupenda since 2015 and has found it a great privilege to help them communicate both to the communities they are assisting and the donors who make the work possible.

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                                    Phil Knowlton

                                    Phil Knowlton

                                    Media Consultant

                                    Philip Knowlton is a commercial and documentary film director and editor who always strives to tell inspiring stories in a vibrant and unique way.

                                      Media Consultant

                                      Philip Knowlton is a commercial and documentary film director and editor who always strives to tell inspiring stories in a vibrant and unique way. Just out of college, Knowlton landed a position working alongside Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch as an assistant editor at Oscilloscope Films. He soon connected with Kupenda for the Children’s Cindy Bauer on his first documentary project, Adventures for the Cure, and was so inspired by their work helping people impacted by disabilities that he later went on to direct the feature project, KUPENDA. Knowlton continues to hone his craft directing and editing documentaries and branded content — projects which have earned several awards including the Documentary Directing Award at the Amsterdam Film Festival, and been nominated for AICP and Webby Awards. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and creates content through his company, OPPOSIT.

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                                      Sam Levine

                                      Sam Levine

                                      Bookkeeper Intern

                                      Samantha Levine graduated from Curry College in 2015 with a BA in Management and a concentration in Accounting. She has experience working in non profit at the STEM Garden Institute.

                                        Bookkeeper Intern

                                        Samantha Levine graduated from Curry College in 2015 with a BA in Management and a concentration in Accounting. She has experience working in non profit at the STEM Garden Institute. Her interests include bank and account reconciliation, reading, video games, and cuddling with her new cat. As a Kupenda intern, Sam has helped with data entry, data cleaning, and general accounting. As someone who grew up with Asperger’s in America, Sam is thrilled to be helping kids in low-income countries to thrive.

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                                        Julie-Ann Burkhart

                                        Julie-Ann Burkhart

                                        Design Consultant

                                        Julie-Ann is a design consultant based in San Francisco.

                                          Design Consultant

                                          Julie-Ann is a design consultant based in San Francisco. She has been a professional designer for over 15 years. She brings a solid background from the agency world, both traditional and interactive design. She strives to create unique design solutions to solve visual challenges. She has successfully completed interactive and branding design initiatives for Fortune 500 clients and a variety of small-to-medium-sized businesses and organizations.

                                          Julie-Ann is honored to utilize her design skills to spread the word about Kupenda’s mission to improve the lives of children with disabilities.

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                                          Julia Nash

                                          Julia Nash

                                          Mobile App Development Consultant

                                          Julia Nash has a demonstrated history working in both academic settings and the non-profit sector with significant experience in clinical research, worksite wellness, and civic engagement. She currently serves as Kupenda’s App Development Team Lead.

                                            Mobile App Development Consultant

                                            Julia Nash has a demonstrated history working in both academic settings and the non-profit sector with significant experience in clinical research, worksite wellness, and civic engagement. She currently serves as Kupenda’s App Development Team Lead assisting the Director of Development in identifying and tracking deliverables for the Kuhenza App Outreach project. She works closely with the project’s interns, supporting day-to-day operations and weekly app content demonstrations with our U.S. and Kenyan teams. Previously, Julia and her graduate school colleagues from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) built a mobile health application that helped Kenyan community leaders support children with disabilities and their families during Covid-19.

                                            Currently, Julia is finishing her Masters in Public Health degree at Boston University specializing in program management with a focus in chronic and non-communicable diseases. Her work revolves around chronic disease management, tackling food insecurity, and creating more equitable environments. Julia excels at program management, digital health application development, and leveraging multi-disciplinary frameworks to tackle multi-layered issues.

                                            You can learn more about the Child Case Management app here.

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                                            Madeleine McMurray

                                            Madeleine McMurray

                                            Data Intern

                                            Madeleine McMurray has a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Leiden and an MSc in Psychology from the University of Nottingham.

                                              Data Intern

                                              Madeleine McMurray has a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Leiden and an MSc in Psychology from the University of Nottingham. One day, Madeleine hopes to work in community-delivered mental health – designing and implementing mental health interventions for communities who struggle to access the care they need in locations like coastal Kenya.

                                              Professionally, Madeleine currently works as a Special Education 1:1 Teaching Assistant in the United Kingdom, and prior to this, she was working in Community-Based Rehabilitation and disability-advocacy in Tanzania. At the University of Nottingham, she worked as a Research Assistant for the Self-Harm Research Group. Madeleine additionally has many years of experience working in digital marketing – both in-house at a tech start-up and freelance as a Consultant.

                                              Madeleine has been attached to Kupenda since late 2019, after becoming involved through her work with a partner organisation in Tanzania, EMFERD. In 2020, she joined Kuhenza in Gede, Kilifi to work as a Data Manager on the research project undertaken in collaboration with the University of Virginia. Following this three-month project, she has been one of Kupenda’s data interns working with Kupenda’s many data needs and projects, as well as offering insight and support on the digital side of things.

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                                              Abby Dulski

                                              Abby Dulski

                                              Mobile App Development Intern

                                              Abby Dulski is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), majoring in computer science and cognition and minoring in health policy.

                                                Abby DulskiMobile App Development Intern

                                                Abby Dulski is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), majoring in computer science and cognition and minoring in health policy. She has had previous experience volunteering at different non-profits where she has worked with athletes with disabilities and has raised money for children in various natural disasters. She is excited for the opportunity to assist Kupenda in helping children with disabilities in Kenya. She currently works as a Kupenda intern supporting the app development team where she edit programs, releases new versions of the app, and tests the content of the app. You can learn more about the Child Case Management app here.

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                                                Anthony Calandara

                                                Anthony Calandara

                                                Illustrator and Designer

                                                Anthony Calandra is a talented and versatile illustrator and designer based in New York City.

                                                  Illustrator and Designer

                                                  Anthony Calandra is a talented and versatile illustrator and designer based in New York City. Currently working  in the apparel industry as a graphic artist after 13 years in Halloween, Anthony has a solid foundation in traditional drawing and painting as well as digital design. Though working as a fulltime artist, he has enjoyed maintaining a successful freelance career,
                                                  and was excited to share his talents with a great organization like Kupenda for the Children.

                                                  Anthony grew up just outside of Buffalo, NY, received his BFA in Illustration from The Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, MA in 2001, and received his MFA in Illustration from the Hartford Art School/University of Hartford in 2013 studying under such famed American illustrators as Murray Tinkelman, C.F. Payne, and Gary Kelly to name a few.

                                                  You can see his oil pastel paintings, drawings, and digital design work on his website: https://www.anthonycalandra.com/

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                                                  Claudia Sahaj

                                                  Claudia Sahaj

                                                  Intern

                                                  As an intern with Kupenda, Claudia assists with data compiling and cleaning, research projects, writing blogs, and developing social media posts.

                                                    Intern

                                                    Claudia Sahaj is a student at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, studying International Affairs with a concentration in International Development and a minor in Education. During her time at Gordon, Claudia has tutored underserved children in the inner-city, led a campus ministry, and been a special education student teacher and community volunteer. Claudia’s interests include education advocacy, the economics of low-income countries, gender equality, and poverty-alleviation. As an intern with Kupenda, Claudia assists with data compiling and cleaning, research projects, writing blogs, and developing social media posts. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve children with disabilities in Kenya through her internship.

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                                                    Mikayla Martin

                                                    Mikayla Martin

                                                    Intern

                                                    Mikayla Martin is a current student at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. She is studying International Affairs and is a double Minor in Spanish and Peace and Conflict Studies.

                                                      Intern

                                                      Mikayla Martin is a current student at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. She is studying International Affairs and is a double Minor in Spanish and Peace and Conflict Studies. While studying at Gordon, Mikayla has received the opportunity to study global reconciliation efforts and the implementation of human rights in post-conflict and developing contexts. Mikayla’s interests include diplomacy, international outreach and development, post-conflict rebuilding, and the empowerment of marginalized people. Mikayla’s experience of being a person with a disability in the United States is what drew her to Kupenda’s global work. Mikayla helps in developing blog and social media posts, research, and Covid-19 response data collection. She says her work with Kupenda has been an incredibly empowering experience, as she has been able to help others who are like her.

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                                                      Jialan Wang

                                                      Jialan Wang

                                                      Mobile App Development Intern

                                                      Jialan Wang is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) majoring in electrical engineering and computer science and minoring in linguistics.

                                                        Jialan WangMobile App Development Intern

                                                        Jialan Wang is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) majoring in electrical engineering and computer science and minoring in linguistics. She has had previous experience in web-app development. She has a deep interest in learning about various social issues and is eager to use her knowledge and skills to support and empower people that are under- represented or marginalized. She is excited to be able to become a part of the team at Kupenda for the Children and participate in the development and testing of Kupenda’s mobile app, which enables our Kenyan staff and local leaders to provide effective counseling and care for children with disabilities. As a mobile app development intern, she focuses on testing and making edits to the app and integrating Kupenda’s sponsorship and app databases.

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