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.

    SEE FULL BIO
    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.

      SEE FULL BIO
      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.

        SEE FULL BIO

        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.

          SEE FULL BIO
          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.

            SEE FULL BIO
            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.

              SEE FULL BIO
              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.

                SEE FULL BIO
                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.

                  SEE FULL BIO
                  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.

                    SEE FULL BIO

                    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.

                      SEE FULL BIO
                      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.

                        SEE FULL BIO
                        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.

                          SEE FULL BIO
                          Christina Walsh

                          Christina Walsh

                          Intern

                          As a Kupenda intern, Christina supports research projects, data management, and social media post development.

                            Intern

                            Christina Walsh is a current student at University of Lynchburg in Lynchburg Virginia. She is studying both Psychology and Criminology. Christina’s interests include hiking, reading, skiing, surfing, nutrition, and community service. As a Kupenda intern, Christina supports research projects, data management, and social media post development.

                            SEE FULL BIO
                            Ivory Tang

                            Ivory Tang

                            Software Engineer Intern

                            Ivory Tang is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) pursuing Bachelor Degrees in Computer Science Engineering and Business Management.

                              Software Engineer Intern

                              Ivory Tang is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) pursuing Bachelor Degrees in Computer Science Engineering and Business Management. Ivory has had a lot of experience in tutoring and volunteer roles to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a result, she is passionate about supporting Kupenda’s work to provide children with disabilities in low income countries with the medical, nutritional, and educational support they deserve. As a member of Kupenda’s mobile application development team, Ivory is responsible for writing and editing programs in CommCare and developing and supporting application integrations, system enhancements, fixes, and user workflows. Ivory also regularly leads virtual demonstrations of new app content for our U.S. and Kenya teams.

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

                              SEE FULL BIO
                              Daysia Douglas

                              Daysia Douglas

                              Mobile App Development Intern

                              Daysia Douglas is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) finishing up her degree in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science.

                                Mobile App Development Intern

                                Daysia Douglas is a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) finishing up her degree in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. After noticing the lack of adolescent representation of hearing disabilities, she began her pursuit of disability advocacy by writing articles to empower teenagers with hearing loss. She is passionate about continuing to make sure children with disabilities are not forgotten, and receive the care they need.

                                Since September of 2020 Daysia has been providing technical support to Kupenda in developing a CommCare mobile application for Child Case Management. As part of this work, Daysia is regularly involved in application testing, field integration, and user interface and experience development. You can learn more about Kupenda’s app project here.

                                SEE FULL BIO
                                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.

                                  SEE FULL BIO
                                  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.

                                    SEE FULL BIO
                                    Mansi Varma

                                    Mansi Varma

                                    Mobile App Development Consultant

                                    Mansi is a health consultant who has a background in health marketing and communications.

                                      Mobile App Development Consultant

                                      Mansi is a health consultant who has a background in health marketing and communications. She has provided communications support for several medical institutions and has worked on telehealth projects. She is a recent Masters of Public Health graduate from Boston University and is paving her path in the digital health world. Since February of 2020 Mansi has been providing technical support to Kupenda in developing a CommCare mobile application for Child Case Management. You can learn more about Kupenda’s app project here.

                                      SEE FULL BIO
                                      Laura Holtz

                                      Laura Holtz

                                      App Development Consultant

                                      In early 2020, Laura and her graduate school colleagues from BUSPH formed a mobile application development team for Kupenda. Since then, Laura has actively participated in overseeing all phases of app development, such as conceptualizing the app, launching the app, and planning for project hand-off.

                                        App Development Intern

                                        Laura Holtz is a Master’s in Public Health candidate from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). In early 2020, Laura and her graduate school colleagues from BUSPH formed a mobile application development team for Kupenda. Since then, Laura has actively participated in overseeing all phases of app development, such as conceptualizing the app, launching the app, and planning for project hand-off. Laura 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 training videos and slides about the project for presentations at global conferences. Furthermore, she has tackled many other project-specific tasks along the way. You can learn more about the Child Case Management app Laura has been working on here.

                                        Additionally, Laura has worked within academic medical settings, specifically within cancer care for the past five years. Currently, she is a Project Manager at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She works full-time, while pursuing her Master’s in Public Health part-time. In the earlier years of her career, Laura focused on quality and patient safety, and is now emerging into the digital health realm. She’s contributed to a variety of projects including coordinating care for clinical trial patients, building a safety net for patients around test result management, and implementing and sustaining a digital health cancer care product. She plans to continue in this field, utilizing her Master of Public Health in Program Management, and Chronic and Non-Communicable Diseases from Boston University after she graduates in 2021.

                                        SEE FULL BIO
                                        Britta Magnuson

                                        Britta Magnuson

                                        Consultant

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

                                          Consultant

                                          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.

                                          SEE FULL BIO
                                          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.

                                            SEE FULL BIO
                                            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 founder, Cynthia 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 (see the tailer here). Knowlton continues to hone his craft directing and editing documentaries and branded content — projects which have earned several awards such as the Documentary Directing Award at the Amsterdam Film Festival. Philip was also nominated for the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) and Webby Awards. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and creates content through his company, OPPOSIT.

                                              SEE FULL BIO