BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ALISHA ROBERTSON-STEPHENS, foundER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Originally from a small town in Texas, Alisha has spent the last 10 years volunteering and working across seven countries and four continents – in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, India, South Sudan, Uganda and Indonesia. Her natural curiosity, coupled with her deep belief in global citizenship, propelled her to travel to and work with under-resourced communities in different parts of the world, listening and learning from each experience abroad.
Alisha has over 10 years of combined professional experience in the for-profit and non-profit sector, including numerous years working with multiple organizations where she played a key role in the human relations and training and development departments. She has worked and volunteered, with both small and large multicultural and multilingual teams, in many different areas including education, gender equality, community health and AIDS awareness, community development, and micro-finance.
As the Founding Director of The Kikulu Foundation, Alisha leads the strategic direction and operations for programs both in the United States and Uganda.
Beyond working to ensure all children have access to quality education, she enjoys traveling, biking, acroyoga, and being near the water. She currently splits her time between Texas, Seattle, and Uganda and is determined to master the ability to speak Lusoga and play the Ukulele.
You can read more of Alisha’s story here.
Justin nezda, board president
Justin is a Vice President of Asset Performance at Caliber Home Loans. In his capacity of managing Asset Performance, Justin also focuses internally developing and managing the various execution strategies that work across all servicing aspects and business units within Caliber Home Loans. In addition to mortgage banking strategy development, Justin also routinely develops and implements process improvement to address financial and legal challenges presented in a constantly changing banking environment.
Justin has a BS in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas at Dallas. Justin previously served as Treasurer on the board of directors for Dallas Social Venture Partners (DSVP), a North Texas Philanthropic Charity focusing on Education and Children at Risk. He remains a partner with DSVP and due to his interest in supporting causes focused on children and education he has also been fortunate to work with Room to Read to build and then visit a R2R school in Nepal. Justin plays a key role in the strategic direction and planning for The Kikulu Foundation.
Justin is an active triathlete and long distance runner. An avid traveler, having traveled to all 50 states and 28 countries. He’s climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. In his spare time, according to Kikulu team members, he also brews the best craft beer around!
anne hanisch, secretary
Anne currently serves as Board Secretary and leads the efforts in fundraising and product strategy. Her primary focus is on securing funding and building partnerships to support the mission of The Kikulu Foundation. Having spent the majority of her professional career working with various nonprofits, she has experienced firsthand how important fundraising is and how rewarding it is to connect with the community. She loves meeting new people and building their enthusiasm regarding Kikulu’s mission.
A native of Washington State, she spent her summers working with schools established for the children of migrant workers. Living and working with the families, she quickly realized education is not equal in this country, nor globally. This eventually led her to become an active advocate for The Kikulu Foundation and is personally driven to increase awareness of and participation in solving the education crisis. By combining life experiences with her formal education and professional background, she brings more than ten years of experience working with multicultural community engagement, marketing, fundraising, and merchandise management to The Kikulu Foundation.
When she is not working on all things nonprofit, she enjoys road trips, exploring history, and traveling to see her expanding family. Although she misses the Pacific Northwest, she is glad she moved south to the sunshine.
lauren landes, board member
The love of people, the love of learning, and the love of change is what brought Lauren Landes to be a part of the the Kikulu team. Before landing in Dallas, Lauren attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to study pre-Med and where she joined the Chi Omega Pi Chapter. Being involved with the university allowed her to work with various non-profits and local community groups and stirred her passion for helping those in need. She later transferred to Ouachita Baptist University and was given the opportunity to travel to Zambia, Cambodia and Malaysia assisting with building projects, community development and international relations. But, her greatest love was being able to interact and engage with the orphans, children and young adults she worked with along the way. After spending time overseas, she knew international work would always be a significant part of her life.
Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and is a certified Emergency Medical Technician. Working as an EMT, she gained yet another perspective on the human condition and developed an even greater passion for engaging with people. In 2010, Lauren moved to Dallas to work with her family’s business and continues to work there full time.
Throughout all her travels and experiences, Lauren found the best way to document, express and communicate the world around her was through photography. What started out as a simple creative outlet, it has now grown into a meaningful side profession. Lauren has photographed professional athletes, a number of main stream musicians and various events around Dallas but more importantly she has been able to capture the faces of Kikulu – here in the states and in Uganda. For her, nothing could be more fulfilling than to visually represent the work that Kikulu does but also the hearts behind it. Aside from her day job and love of photography, Lauren is a music enthusiast, a huge fan of road trips, can spin a basketball on her fingers and will use any excuse to be outdoors.
Barakatou Kone, Board Member
In 2001 after ranking 2nd in the National Exam in Tourism and top of her school Barakatou Kone was selected by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) in conjunction with the Women World Banking (WWB) for a Leadership Program in New York. After she completed the program she returned to Senegal, West Africa with the drive to create a community center to help women who wanted to become business owner. At age 22, Barakatou wanted to realize another dream of her which was to complete a post graduate education in the U.S.A and against her father’s wish she packed her suitcase and landed in Oklahoma City to make her dream come true.
12 years later, after an Undergraduate degree in Economics, a Master Degree in Managerial Economics, A license in Business Education for the state of Oklahoma, and working in Corporate America she wanted to share her passion for education and her life experience to help others that were facing challenges to make their dream of a better education come true.
When she heard of The Kikulu foundation in 2013 she thought of it as a platform to give to children from Africa the same opportunity that was given to her over a decade ago; without the vehicle of a foundation she would not have been able to get an education in the United States.
Although Barakatou strongly believes that her own education has not been completed yet she enjoys raising her 5 year old boy and exposing him to different cultures, dancing to Latin American music, and being in a kitchen which she finds the art of cooking therapeutic. Today she is thankful to be part of a foundation that as cares deeply about education as she does.
Faye Dunaway, Board Member
Faye has been an educator for twelve years and currently teaches third grade at the Momentous Institute- a lab school focusing on social and emotional learning. Before Momentous, she spent ten years in "traditionally underserved" urban public schools, teaching English as a Second Language, Special Education and two-way dual language immersion. Her background includes political organizing and education programs coordinator for an AZA zoo.
In 2010, Faye visited Cuba as an education delegate, where she first read the words of civil rights activist Howard Thurman, which came to define much of life since: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and do that; because, what they world needs is people who have come alive."
In 2013, she was able to spend time with Kikulu in Uganda and "came alive" when immersed with the people and the mission. She returned the following year and began work with an NGO that provides education to East African refugees.
Faye attended Kansas State University where she majored in Psychology and Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education. Currently, Faye is working on her Masters at SMU, where she is designing her own degree in the Masters of Liberal studies program, focused on education coaching and international human rights.
While not in the world of schools, she loves the arts, her bicycle, her quirky neighborhood and nature.
Lindsay Whittemore, Board Member
Born and raised in the DFW area, Lindsay graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Biology. She is a Financial Advisor by profession and has worked with clients to help them achieve their financial goals and secure a sound financial future.
Lindsay quickly developed a passion for the nonprofit sector while volunteering in Mexico 19 years ago. Experiencing how others live and survive in challenging conditions, and seeing what a difference one person can make in so many people’s lives, set a lifelong passion for her in the philanthropic world. Since then, she has devoted her time and efforts to various children’s organizations and animal rescues in the Dallas area.
In addition to volunteering for her community, Lindsay spends her time outdoors, enjoys painting and cooking, and loves spending time with the most adorable baby (and husband) in the world.
Douglas Whittemore, Board Member
Douglas is a Utah native but has lived in and worked in Minneapolis, Dallas and Warsaw, Poland. Today he resides in Dallas, TX and serves as the Senior Vice President of Default Servicing at US Bank. In his role Douglas manages the back-end servicing functions of US Bank’s mortgage operations which consists of over 700 employees in five states. Prior to joining US Bank Douglas held several different executive roles with JP Morgan Chase, Nationstar Mortgage, Springleaf Financial, and has worked internationally with Citibank. While with Citibank he led a group that launched Citibank’s first successful mortgage in Poland which was the first mortgage product in the CEE region.
Douglas is also a partner with Dallas Social Venture Partners (DSVP), he has been a top fundraiser for the Dallas March of Dimes and has fundraised for several cancer research non-profits.
When Douglas is not working he enjoys in his free time traveling, racing Porsches, fishing, climbing, hiking, backpacking, snow skiing, biking and running with his wife and 1 year old daughter. Douglas is a huge proponent of global education, our national parks and environmental conservation.
Dr. Christine Blackburn, Board Member
Dr. Blackburn is an Assistant Research Scientist with the Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs in the Bush School of Government & Public Service and an adjunct faculty member at in the Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences in the School for Public Health at Texas A&M University. In these roles she conducts research on issues related to pandemics, zoonotic diseases, and health of vulnerable populations. Dr. Blackburn teaches course on infectious disease in the developing world, refugee health, the social and political impacts of pandemics, and bioterrorism.
Prior to her position at the Scowcroft Institute she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Field Disease Investigation Unit in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. Dr. Blackburn received her PhD in 2015 from Washington State University as part of the Individual Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program, a degree program that requires three major fields of study. Dr. Blackburn’s doctoral fields were Political Science, Communication, and Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
stanton j. stephens, Board Member
Stanton is a third generation photographer and film director who works nationally. He currently lives in Seattle, but he grew up in rural Missouri and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of North Texas. He has worked on national campaigns and shot for magazines in the US and Europe. Utilizing his background in fine art, photography, and storytelling, he specializes in finding the humanity of his his subjects, ranging from the intensely intimate to larger societal issues. His skills help in communicating the context of the children The Kikulu Foundation helps to educate, as well as their progress in school. Stanton traveled to Africa in 2017 to meet with the students and the community in Uganda prior to joining our Board of Directors.