Our Staff Members

US Staff Members

Discover the talented staff of Kupenda US division.

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.

      Development Director

      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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          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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                  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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