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The Team

Zoe Empowers multi-national Leadership team includes respected professionals from a range of background and specialties including business, economics, social justice, international law, academia, theology, and ministry.

Leadership

Epiphanie Mujawimana

Empowerment Model Founder and Rwanda Country Manager

Epiphanie Mujawimana

Empowerment Model Founder and Rwanda Country Manager

Epiphanie helped to develop the empowerment model at the heart of Zoe Empowers program. Epiphanie and her husband have four children and are also raising four nieces and nephews.

Reegan Kaberia

Chief Program Officer and Kenya Country Manager

Reegan Kaberia

Chief Program Officer and Kenya Country Manager

Before joining Zoe Empowers, Reegan served both local and international child-centered community development organizations. In March 2007, he joined the staff of Zoe Empowers in Kenya, opening and growing the empowerment program initiative. He holds an MBA in strategic management from Kenya Methodist University. Reegan is married and has two daughters.

Gaston Warner

Chief Executive Officer

Gaston Warner

Chief Executive Officer

Rev. Gaston Warner is an elder in the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Gaston has led congregations in inner-city, multi-ethnic, and suburban settings, from Chicago to Bristol, England.  He has consulted with and served on a number of non-profit boards and as staff for Habitat for Humanity, Duke Divinity School, and Duke University Chapel. Gaston joined Zoe Empowers as a board member in 2007 and currently serves as CEO.

Zoe Empowers currently facilitates the empowerment of over fifty-eight thousand orphans and vulnerable children in seven countries and across two continents including:  Africa and India.  Gaston earned a BA from Brown University; a MDiv from Duke Divinity School, and a MBA from The University of Durham in England.   He lives outside of Abbot, TX (population:  356) with his spouse, the Rev. Dr. Laceye Warner, who teaches at Duke University Divinity School, their daughter Clare, and various pets and livestock.

John Boswell

Chief Operating Officer

John Boswell

Chief Operating Officer

John Boswell is the Chief Operating Office for Zoe Empowers. Prior to taking on that role, he served on the Zoe Board of Directors for 7 years. In his prior professional career, John was Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company. Before joining SAS, Boswell was President of Vista Development Corp., and General Counsel and Secretary for Raima Corp. In addition to his work for Zoe Empowers, John is active in his church and conducts a monthly ministry at the N.C. Central prison. John is married with three sons.

U.S. Staff

Toni Cole

Director of Administration

Toni Cole

Director of Administration

Laura Nemecek

Director of Program Communications

Laura Nemecek

Director of Program Communications

Tina Schmidt

Director of Brand Strategy

Tina Schmidt

Director of Brand Strategy

Lyndsey Lessner

Regional Development Associate

Lyndsey Lessner

Regional Development Associate

Elena Ballam

Travel and Event Coordinator

Elena Ballam

Travel and Event Coordinator

Kristin Magee

Program Reporting Coordinator

Kristin Magee

Program Reporting Coordinator

Robin Boyer

Accountant

Robin Boyer

Accountant

Suzanne Morrison

Sustainability Manager

Suzanne Morrison

Sustainability Manager

Ruth Hillmann

Administrative Assistant

Ruth Hillmann

Administrative Assistant

International Program Leaders

Epiphanie Mujawimana

Empowerment Model Founder and Rwanda Country Manager

Epiphanie Mujawimana

Empowerment Model Founder and Rwanda Country Manager

Epiphanie helped to develop the empowerment model at the heart of Zoe Empowers program. Epiphanie and her husband have four children and are also raising four nieces and nephews.

Reegan Kaberia

Chief Program Officer and Kenya Country Manager

Reegan Kaberia

Chief Program Officer and Kenya Country Manager

Before joining Zoe Empowers, Reegan served both local and international child-centered community development organizations. In March 2007, he joined the staff of Zoe Empowers in Kenya, opening and growing the empowerment program initiative. He holds an MBA in strategic management from Kenya Methodist University. Reegan is married and has two daughters.

Barbara Matsanga

Zimbabwe Country Manager

Barbara Matsanga

Zimbabwe Country Manager

Maclein Harawa

Malawi Country Manager

Maclein Harawa

Malawi Country Manager

Isaac Dowah

Liberia Country Manager

Isaac Dowah

Liberia Country Manager

Jabez Williams

Chennai, India Country Manager

Jabez Williams

Chennai, India Country Manager

Nani Chintala

Vizag, India Country Manager

Nani Chintala

Vizag, India Country Manager

Dr. Trice Shumbusho

Tanzania Country Manager

Dr. Trice Shumbusho

Tanzania Country Manager

Board of Directors

Mark Konen

Chairperson

Mark Konen

Chairperson

Mark Konen has 35 years of experience in the insurance industry. Prior to his retirement in February 2017, Mark Konen was President of the Insurance and Retirement Solutions division of Lincoln Financial Group and a member of the company’s Senior Management Committee, reporting directly to the CEO. Under Konen’s leadership, the life and annuity businesses realized record growth, achieved industry-leadership based on third-party rankings, and became recognized for product innovation and responsiveness. Additionally, as a member of Lincoln’s Investment Committee and Enterprise Risk and Capital Committee, Konen helped guide and monitor the Company’s $100+ billion investment portfolio, as well as the $140+ billion of assets managed by outside mutual fund companies within the variable annuity and RPS platforms. He resides in Texas.

Ann Eppinger

Vice-Chairperson

Ann Eppinger

Vice-Chairperson

Ann Eppinger-Davidson is currently the President of Eppinger & Associates, LLC, a municipal finance advisory firm located in Windermere, Florida. Previously, Ann was an investment banker at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette in New York City, and Prager, Sealy & Company, LLC, in Orlando, Florida. In her 28-year investment banking career, she assisted a number of real estate developers with funding their infrastructure needs, and was responsible for the issuance of over $2.5 billion of tax-exempt debt. Ann has a MBA degree from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting and Economics from Shepherd University. Ann has had the privilege of visiting Zoe Empowers in Rwanda, Kenya, India, and Zimbabwe. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida United Methodist Foundation, where she is on the Executive Committee and chairs the Finance Committee. She is married to Scott Davidson and is the mother of two children and stepmother to three grown children.

Stan Bradshaw

Treasurer

Stan Bradshaw

Treasurer

Stan Bradshaw serves as the Lead Director of First Busey Corporation, the holding company of Busey Bank, which serves markets in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Florida. He also serves as the principal of Bradshaw Capital Management, LLC, an asset management and advisory firm serving institutional investors and eleemosynary organizations since 1998. After 40 years in banking, Mr. Bradshaw has diverted much of his time toward charitable organizations, and in so doing, serves as the chair of the Bradshaw Charitable Foundation, which provides funding for empowering individuals via religious, educational, scientific research and social stewardship organizations.

Linda Folger

Secretary

Linda Folger

Secretary

Linda Folger is Executive Vice President for HUB International Southeast, Cary, NC, the seventh largest insurance and risk management broker in the world. Linda specializes in designing and managing insurance and risk management programs for non-profits, healthcare organizations, financial institutions, biotechnology/technology, and a wide range of miscellaneous businesses. She is a member of many professional organizations and has achieved the prestigious professional certifications of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Associate in Risk Management (ARM), and Certified Risk Manager (CRM). Linda is on the Board of Directors of The Miracle League of the Triangle, currently serves her church First United Methodist Church of Cary on the Board of Trustees, and is a group leader in the Western Wake Bible Study Group in Cary. Over the years, Linda has served on the Zoe Empowers Team at First United Methodist Church of Cary, organizing fundraising breakfasts and traveling to Africa on five occasions to visit Zoe Empowers groups. Linda Is married to Cleve Folger and has one grown daughter and a 10 year old granddaughter.

Dr. Mark La Branche

Dr. Mark La Branche

Dr. Mark La Branche was appointed the twenty-seventh president of Louisburg College in 2008 after serving as Senior Vice President at Huntingdon College in Alabama. Previously, Mark spent eighteen years in parish ministry, serving churches in the Alabama – West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He also spent ten years in the health field, eight of those years as a neonatal respiratory therapist. Mark has served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Franklin County, and served as United Way Campaign Co-Chair in 2009. He is a member of the Louisburg Lions Club, and its past president. Mark is a member of the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Association of Independent Colleges, and a board member of the National Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities of the United Methodist Church. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Boston University, his Master of Divinity from Emory University, and his B.A. from the University of South Alabama. Mark is married to Mona Maxwell La Branche. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Erik Ross

Erik Ross

Erik Ross currently serves as a Sales Executive with Accenture. He has over 20 years of experience in information technology and management consulting. Erik has served on the board of the Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh, NC and was their Chairman for three years. He is married to Jenny and they have two sons, Nick and Noah.

Rev. Emmanuel Jackson

Rev. Emmanuel Jackson

Emmanuel Jackson is head of staff and lead pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church, a thriving and vibrant ELCA congregation in the suburbs of Houston. As Lead Pastor, he oversees the spiritual health and vitality of the community, ensuring that Living Word remains focused on its God-given mission and vision. God first called Emmanuel to Living Word in 2008 as Associate Pastor, then in 2012 as Lead Pastor. He is gifted preacher and visionary; always exploring new ways to be church in a changing world. Emmanuel is a native Liberian who survived a brutal civil war, lived for 7 years in refugee camps along the West African coast, and migrated to the United States as a refugee in 2001. Emmanuel has a compelling life story that celebrates hope, the courage of the human spirit, and God’s deliverance. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Carthage College in Kenosha Wisconsin, and a Masters in Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Pastor Emmanuel is married to Annick and they have two sons, Rod and Matrix. He is also an avid sports fan who believes that “real football” is played with your feet, not with your hands.

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is passionate about helping children “trapped” in generational poverty see themselves as change agents in their communities. He has been fortunate enough to make several trips to India and Africa to encourage kids and finds himself changed and challenged even more after every visit. Michael worked with PepsiCo for 22 years in a variety of management/leadership positions and is now working as a Client Alignment Executive for Netsmart Technologies in Overland Park, Kansas. He is very involved in the local community and also serves on the Board of The Kansas City Rescue Mission. Michael is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri State.

Rev. Matthew Williams

Rev. Matthew Williams

Rev. Matthew Williams’ chief desire is to assist others in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. As a follower of Christ and an elder in the United Methodist Church, Matthew has served churches in Tallahassee and Pembroke Pines. He is presently the Senior Pastor of Lighthouse United Methodist Church in Boca Grande, FL — a hallmark congregation for missional involvement internationally, regionally, and locally. Upon answering the call to a vocation in ministry, Matthew quickly was drawn to missional initiatives. Matthew and his wife Joy are personally active in international and local missions both in and outside of the church. Under Matthew’s leadership, Boca Grande UMC has entered into a partnership with Zoe Empowers and Matthew visited Zoe Empowers Rwanda in June of 2017. He resides in Florida where he is viewed as a visionary leader in the Florida United Methodist conference.

Mike Mandl

Mike Mandl

Mike Mandl is Executive Vice President of Piedmont Healthcare, a private, not-for-profit organization serving nearly 2 million patients across Georgia. Mandl retired in 2016 after 13 years as Executive Vice President for Business and Administration at Emory University. He began his accounting and finance career at KPMG Peat Marwick, followed by positions at Duke and Penn. Mandl is a passionate supporter of Zoe Empowers, having seen the program in Zimbabwe and committed financially through his church. He has extensive board experience throughout his career and has already brought in a new partner to ZOE. He resides in Atlanta, GA.

Jini Thornton

Jini Thornton

Jini D. Thornton, CPA, has more than 20 years of experience in the accounting profession and entertainment industry. Her business, Envision Business Management Group, provides accounting, tax, tour accounting and logistics, and other financial related services to individuals and businesses in the entertainment industry. Jini has worked with clients such as Ludacris, Future, Jeezy, August Alsina, Ceelo, Anderson Paak and many others.

Jini is currently the co-host of the Money Monday segment on the nationally syndicated Willie Moore, Jr. show and a financial correspondent for the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley and Ed Lover Morning Shows. Her background in radio allowed her to create her own media business, Thornton Media Group. This business produced Never Broke Nation, a movement that teaches the masses how to be financial superstars. She is also creator and host of the Never Broke podcast which can be seen and heard on her website jinithornton.com. With the podcast, YouTube channel, book series and several other media avenues, Jini plans to enlighten the masses about money. 

Jini holds a bachelor of science, Accounting degree from North Carolina A&T State University;
and a Master of Science in Taxation from University of Illinois.

Lynn Dugle

Lynn Dugle

Lynn Dugle serves on the Board of State Street Bank and formerly served as Engility’s (NYSE: EGL) chief executive officer, president and chairman of the board of directors before leading the sale of the company to SAIC (NYSE: SAIC). She joined Engility in 2016 and brings more than 30 years of executive leadership experience in defense, intelligence and high-tech industries.

Lynn began her career at Texas Instruments as a program engineer and rose to vice-president of quality for the Defense Systems and Electronics Group. While at Texas Instruments, she held positions within manufacturing, operations, supply chain management, quality, financial analysis, strategic planning and productivity programs, as well as a general management role in commercial software.

She serves as the Chairman of the Technology and Operations Committee and is member of the Audit Committee of State Street Corporation, and as a member of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) Board.

Dugle was recognized as a Wash100 honoree in 2017 and 2018 for being one of the most influential leaders in government contracting, and was named to the Washington Business Journal’s distinguished “Women Who Mean Business” list. She received the 2015 Diversity in Technology award, and was recognized as one of the Top 100 Women in STEM in 2012 and as one of the Women Worth Watching in 2017 by Profiles in Diversity Journal. Dugle earned two degrees from Purdue University: a bachelor’s of science in technical management and a bachelor’s of arts in Spanish. She received a master’s of business administration from The University of Texas at Dallas.

Wendy Lee

Wendy Lee

Wendy Lee is an award winning travel writer and founder of the blog, Empty Nesters Hit The Road.  She and her husband, Jason Lee, travel frequently and use the blog as a vehicle to inspire couples 50+ to travel more. Prior to travel writing, Wendy had a successful thirty-year career as a development officer and non-profit executive.  She began her career with health non-profits including the American Heart Association, Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center. For the last decade Wendy worked in graduate education, first as a vice president at Claremont School of Theology and then as a major gift officer at Fuller Seminary.  

Wendy’s volunteer involvement has included Association of Fundraising Professionals, Family Promise of Orange County, Irvine Public Schools Foundation, and the Institute for Community Impact.

Wendy and Jason have been married for 28 years and have two adult children, Jessica and Ryan. They are active members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church (AUMC) and have served on almost every committee, often in leadership roles.  They have resided in Irvine, California, for the past 22 years. In 2016 Wendy made her first trip to Rwanda with Zoe Empowers, shortly after AUMC began sponsoring their first empowerment group. She returned in February of 2019 as the church
began their support of a third group.

Dan Bayly

Dan Bayly

Dan Bayly spent 30 years at Merrill Lynch Investment Banking assisting CEOs, CFOs and Boards of Directors from wide-ranging industries with multi-billion dollar financings, merger and acquisitions, and strategic planning. At Merrill, Mr. Bayly held a variety of management positions including Head of US Industrial Financing. He then assumed responsibility for all of North America before becoming sole Head of Global Investment Banking for Merrill Lynch in 1998. While Head of Investment Banking, Dan traveled extensively all over the world supervising a business with approximately $4.5 billion in revenue and 2000 employees. During this period Merrill Lynch frequently ranked as the #1,#2 or #3 Investment Banks in the world.

Dan is now very active working with many social businesses around the world, using his years of experience to help passionate entrepreneurs with a social mission. He is focused on developing a systemic expansion of those organizations that have demonstrated a successful business model that can now be expanded globally. Dan graduated from Denison University and received his MBA from Northwestern.

Mark McAndrew

Ex-Officio

Mark McAndrew

Ex-Officio

Mark McAndrew was raised in Kahoka, Missouri. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri in Columbia, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He is the retired CEO and Chairman of the Board of Torchmark Corp. Additionally, Mark serves on the Boards of The Samaritan Inn and the McKinney Education Foundation, both non-profit agencies.

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