Chris Bradshaw, Advisory Board, Liberian Librarian
Chris Bradshaw was inspired to help start libraries in Africa after being told on a pony trekking trip in Lesotho that the country had just one library.
Her interest in Africa began during her junior year in college when she studied at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone and traveled throughout western and central Africa.
An ardent traveler, she has now traveled, lived or worked in 62 countries on five continents including 23 African countries. Chris is the Founder of African Library Project.
Her background includes ten years as a YMCA executive directing camps and conference centers in Indiana, California and North Carolina and home schooling her two children, Ben and Mariah.
Over the years, she has worked with nonprofits serving the homeless, children of war torn countries, a soup kitchen, and home schooling education and support services.
She has a B.A. in Sociology from Denison University with minors in African Studies and Studio Art.
Jackson Kaguri, Advisory Board, Liberian Librarian
Jackson was born and raised in Uganda in the small village of Nyakagyezi.
At a very young age he demonstrated an unquenchable desire to learn, which led him to graduate from Makerere University in Kampala. During this time he co-founded the human rights organization, Human Rights Concerns, to help victims of human rights violations in Uganda and to educate the public about their rights. In the 1990s he became a visiting scholar at Columbia University where he studied Human Rights Advocacy. In 2001, Jackson founded The Nyaka Orphans Project in response to the devastating effects of disease in his hometown.
The organization, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, provides free education to children who have lost one or both parents. In addition to two schools, it operates a library, a community agriculture and nutrition program, a medical clinic, and a clean water system, and support services to the grandmothers who care for up to fourteen children at a time.
Jackson is the author of A School for My Village where he shares how he built the first school and the struggles he faced during the first few years. He has been named a Heifer International Hero, recognized in Time Magazine’s ‘Power of One’ Series, spoken to the UN about his work, and is a 2012 CNN Hero.
Back in January, 2013, fellow Pencils for Africa Executive Board Members Jackson Kaguri and Paola Gianturco, discussed ‘The Power of Grandmothers as Effective Community Builders’.
To read this discussion between Paola and Jackson, kindly click here.
Paola Gianturco, Advisory Board, Liberian Librarian
Paola Gianturco is an author and photographer who has documented women’s lives in 60 countries. She has had five books published and is a grandmother.
(Click here for Paola’s website).
Her involvement with women’s issues is long standing.
She has lectured about them in the US, Canada, France and Spain. She spoke at UNESCO International Headquarters in Paris on International Women’ s Day 2008; her photographs were exhibited there in 2009 and 2011. Paola co-developed and taught Executive Institutes on Women and Leadership at Stanford University, and served on the Board of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). She was a principal in the first women-owned advertising agency in the United States and is a current member of International Women’s Forum.
Paola presented a TED TALK in Dubai in May of 2014.
In 2013, Paola was named one of “40 Women to Watch over 40” – and in 2014, she was named one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews. She serves on the Leadership Council of Let Girls Lead and on the Advisory Board of Global Grandmothers.
Purity Kagwiria, Advisory Board, Liberian Librarian
Purity is based in Nairobi, Kenya and is the Executive Director of Akili Dada.
A journalist by profession, Purity has worked on the rights of women since 2004.
As an active member of the feminist/women rights movement, she is committed to analyzing the private and personal spaces and developing strategies that lead to the emancipation of women.
Founded in 2005 to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Africa, Akili Dada is an international organization based in Nairobi and officially registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Kenya.
The organization focuses their programs around scholars and building networks with other women’s rights organizations both in Kenya and across Africa.
Akili Dada, envisions a world where empowered African women from diverse economic backgrounds are equally represented in leadership roles and decision-making processes in Kenya and across the continent.
Chyah Weitzman, Advisory Board, Liberian Librarian
Chyah was educated at Harvard College and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree through Harvard’s international study program in Japan. She learned to master the history, culture and technique of traditional Japanese paper making through the National Treasures of Japan.
Chyah completed her masters thesis at the University of Copenhagen, teaching Japanese textiles to graduate students.
Chyah was in the Samburu region of Kenya 3 years ago, during November of 2013, meeting with fellow Pencils for Africa (PFA) board member Lekadaa and elders of Nangida Village, Samburu.
She is working to build an alliance between the local Nangida Village school in Samburu, and Saint Hilary Middle School in California, where she has been teaching for the past seventeen years and is the Director of the Arts Program.
Chyah has worked with 8th Grade middle school student Charlotte, the CEO of Liberian Librarian, on the PFA program, since Charlotte was in 4th Grade.