Meet Our TeamThe people that make this program possible...
Board of Trustees & Advisors
RSM US LLP, CPA With over eight years of professional experience, Kunal provides financial advisory services to middle market-focused private equity funds and strategic buyers. For the past five years, he has focused on transaction advisory and financial due diligence projects. Kunal has successfully completed due diligence on companies with transaction sizes ranging from $5 million to $1.5 billion, including the preparation of comprehensive reports detailing quality of earnings and working capital. Kunal holds a Bachelor of Arts in History as well as a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is also a Certified Public Accountant in New York State.
Product Manager, Wondersauce
Erin is currently responsible for owning the overall quality and delivery of digital customer experience for her clients at Wondersauce, a creative agency in New York City. Her areas of expertise include sales and marketing strategy, integration of technology , and process optimization. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Georgia. Erin has trained in a variety of dance styles since childhood and acknowledges what an important role it has had in shaping her life. It is this belief that drives her passion and support for MindLeaps’ mission.
Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway
LaMar is a native of Camden, New Jersey. He is currently dancing in Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway and has performed for such artists as Patti LaBelle, Ben Vereen, Danny Glover and Jill Scott. In 2007, LaMar played the lead male role in the production of My Brotha Marvin directed by Zeola Gaye. LaMar received his B.F.A. in Jazz Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. LaMar has performed with Eleone Dance Theater, MindLeaps (formerly Rebecca Davis Dance Company), Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), and is currently Assistant Artistic Director of Waheed Works. He has choreographed works on D/2, D/3, Straight To The Pointe Dance Company, Eleone Dance Theater, and most recently a commercial for REEBOK!
Jacoby & Meyers, Legal Counsel
Ken is an attorney with over 30 years of litigation experience and a long history of community service and social justice. He began his legal career as a Public Defender in Essex County New Jersey where he represented indigent criminal defendants. After leaving the PD for private practice, he continued providing pro bono legal services to those who could not afford to retain private counsel. Over the years, Ken’s passion for community service has become a central focus in his life. He has served as a volunteer EMT on the west Essex First Aid Squad, lent his time to several political campaigns, and volunteered with Blue Wave New Jersey. Ken also volunteers with the Interfaith Hospital Network and is currently the First Vice President at his synagogue.
Temple Ner Tamid
Ronni is currently the Cantorial Assistant at Temple Ner Tamid in New Jersey. After receiving a Master of Science in Special Education at SUNY New Paltz as well a Master’s in Computers & Technology in Education from Long Island University, Ronni taught special education for many years at Crystal Run School, Twin Towers Middle School, and Monroe Woodbury High School. In addition, she taught education courses for many years at the State University College at Purchase, Hunter College, and New York Institute of Technology. She has taught as well as held numerous administrative and leadership positions at Monroe Temple Beth El, Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), Temple Emanu-El, and Temple Ner Tamid.
American Ballet Theatre
Misty is the first African American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. In 2008, Copeland was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. She is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a children’s picture book, Firebird, in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014. Misty Copeland received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form.
Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance
Tracy’s accomplishments include receiving the Philadelphia Rocky Award for Dance Excellence and serving as the Assistant Rehearsal Director, Master Class instructor, soloist and principal dancer for Philadanco. She has also performed professionally with Footprints Dance Company, Wylliams / Henry Dance Theatre, Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater, and Verb Ballets.
Tracy has taught in many schools, colleges, and universities across the United States and abroad including North Atlanta High School, Roswell Dance Theater, Philadanco, University of the Arts, University of Akron, Ohio State University, University of Missouri in Kansas City, Lake Erie Ballet, Erie Dance Conservatory, Dancing Wheels Dance Company and Verb Ballets.
University of The Arts & Corzo Center for the Creative Economy
Neil is the senior fellow in the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy and professor of Multimedia and Communication at the University of the Arts, where, until Summer 2009, he served as Dean of the College of Media & Communication and Director of the Applied Research Labs. He’s created and taught in programs at the University of Baltimore, the City University of New York, Stockton State College (NY) and the University of Illinois. He’s published and taught in a variety of areas and has been the editor for books, magazines, and newspapers. Neil has a JD from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in English from the University of Connecticut. He’s the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships.
United Airlines, Senior Counsel
Sucheta currently serves as Managing Counsel of United Airlines, Inc. where she advises on corporate governance and securities law matters. She received a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School and a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University. Supporting the arts is of utmost significance to Sucheta, as it aligns with her visual arts background that began at the age of six and her Indian classical dance background that began at the age of nine. Fusing her legal experience with her arts background, she is particularly inspired by utilizing the arts as a vehicle for greater social awareness and empowerment.
Jewish Helping Hands
Joel has been a life-long social activist, addressing the needs of the poor and the vulnerable in many places around the world. His study of economics and his rabbinic career of more than thirty years enabled him to begin to address their needs. Joel became the Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Succasunna, NJ. While there, he developed a long series of social action projects. He has helped disadvantaged communities in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Argentina, Israel, Rwanda, Ukraine, and carried out many projects throughout the USA. In retirement from the congregation, he continues his work through Jewish Helping Hands–an organization that supports needy and vulnerable populations in the United States and all around the world.
Dance 101, Dance Instructor
Catherine is a life-long social activist and has served in various capacities with Amnesty International, Memorial Drive UMC, Boca West UMC, and East Cobb UMC. She has also worked as an educator at West Side Montessori, Barbara Bush Elementary, Ashford Child Enrichment Center, and Grace Christian School. Catherine is currently studying dance and movement therapy and creating learning strategies for injured or challenged individuals. As a brain-injury survivor, Catherine discovered that the patterns and movement of dance helped change the structural organization in the brain.
Ansoumane joined MindLeaps in 2012 and assumed the role of Country Director in 2014. He received his Baccalaureate Degree in Science & Mathematics from Kamsar College (2004). In 2007, he obtained a license in Commercial Financial Management from the International University of Mercure. In 2009, he graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance & Banking from the same university. Ansoumane served as an Administrator for The Carter Center’s Election Observation Mission in 2010. A year later, he became the Chief Controller for GEP (Guinea Petrol Equipment). In addition to his role with MindLeaps, he is an active member of the International Youth Chamber of Guinea.
Ssali Eugene Joseph
Ssali Eugene Joseph
Ssali, originally from Uganda, moved to Rwanda in 2005. In Rwanda, he joined two gospel dance crews: Revolution and Passionate Ambassadors. Ssali started working with MindLeaps in 2011, where he continues to teach dance and IT classes.
Prior to her work with MindLeaps, Tanja published two books and managed cultural events in the city of Mostar. Utilizing her entrepreneurship training, she founded RINGO in 2008. RINGO is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the interests of all citizens and assists them in creating conditions for meaningful, comprehensive and independent life within the greater society. Tanja holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Communication and Public Relations from the University of Mostar. Tanja now works for CARITAS in Bosnia-Herzegovina and assists with MindLeaps programs.
English Teacher, Guinea
Professor Dumbuya is the Kindia-based English Teacher in the MindLeaps’ program. He is a Guinean who was born in Sierra Leone. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Arabic and a Teacher’s Diploma from M.M.Teachers’ College in Freetown. He speaks three Guinean national languages, English, Arabic, French and two other African languages. Professor Dumbuya has traveled extensively, including to Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali. He has taught with MindLeaps since 2012.
Asst. Director, Rwanda
Bashir is a dance and IT teacher as well as Assistant Director of MindLeaps in Rwanda. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the National University of Rwanda. He started dancing in 2008 in Inshoza Contemporary Dance Company located in the Southern Province of Rwanda. He led Inshoza in 2010 and also participated in the dance film Urwintali (created by the international/Rwandan choreographer Niwenshuti Theogene “Totto”).
Bashir met the staff of MindLeaps in 2010 during a workshop that was organized by Amizero Dance Company and Rebecca Davis Dance Company (RDDC). He attended several MindLeaps’ workshops, including Train The Trainers in December 2012 and June 2013, and Lighting Design in June 2013. He volunteered for three months at MindLeaps before he was hired in 2013 as a Dance and Lighting Design teacher. In 2014, he was promoted to Assistant Director. Bashir speaks English, French and Kinyarwanda.
Since 2002, Eugene has been a dancer and Co-Founder of Amizero Dance Kompagnie based in Kigali and Inshoza Dance Company based at University of Rwanda. His passion for dance led him and his colleagues from Amizero Dance Kompagnie to win a silver medal while representing Rwanda at the International Dance Competition (2009). In addition to his dance career, Eugene has been a volunteer at the Centre des Jeunes de Gatenga and at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in Rwanda. Eugene holds an advanced diploma and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and Rural Development from the High Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Eugene speaks Kinyarwanda, French and English.
Fode Chouaibou Keita
Fode Chouaibou Keita
Keita, a native of Kindia, is responsible for facilitating the administrative and financial partnership between MindLeaps and its local partners. He has been working with MindLeaps since 2012. Keita holds a Diploma of Higher Education (DES) in Management from the University of Conakry and a Masters Degree in Community Development from the Higher Institute of Distance Education in Kindia. He speaks French and three local Guinean languages.
Innocent was born in 1989 in Kampala, Uganda. When he was 6 years old, his parents moved to Rwanda where he attended primary and secondary school. In 2005, Innocent joined a dance group from his church. In 2010, he attended a Christian dance camp in which he was sponsored to attend dance courses at Kigali City-Arts Center where he met Rebecca for the first time.
Innocent began working with MindLeaps in 2011. In 2012, Innocent performed “Darfur” choreographed by Rebecca Davis at the East African Nights of Tolerance Festival. Currently, Innocent is a dance and IT teacher at MindLeaps. Innocent speaks Kinyarwanda and English.
Entrepreneur and choreographer, Rebecca founded MindLeaps (formerly known as RDDC) and led the organization to standardize a dance curriculum that teaches street children cognitive skills to prepare them for formal education.
Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Rebecca has choreographed and taught in Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea and the United States. She was classically trained in the Russian Vaganova method of ballet while studying in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk, Russia. She received a degree in choreography from The Saint Petersburg Conservatory under the tutelage of Nikolai Boyarchikov (former Artistic Director, The Mussorgsky Ballet). She is a two-time Fulbright scholar and summa cum laude graduate of Temple University with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship. She holds a Masters of International Relations with a concentration in Peacekeeping from American Military University. In 2010, she was awarded the Carl Wilkens Fellowship from the Genocide Intervention Network.
In 2013, CCTV made a documentary about Rebecca’s work in Rwanda. Rebecca has appeared on The Melissa-Harris Perry Show, given two TEDx talks, and been a guest speaker at several universities, including Brandeis, Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology, Princeton, and University of Michigan. In 2014, she gave presentations at the Pan-African Film Festival, United Nations Film Festival, and Fulbright’s International Institute of Education Seminary.
Over the last two years, Rebecca’s work has been featured in several publications, including: Project M, Dance Studio Life, American Military University’s Spotlight, The New Times (Rwanda), Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, and The Good Service Magazine.
In 2015, Rebecca received Dance Studio Life’s “Generous Heart Award” and was selected as the Greater New York City’s Fulbright Alumnus-in-Residence for her work involving arts, technology and education in conflict zones.
Media Coordinator, Bosnia
English Teacher, Rwanda
Keilah came to Rwanda on a U.S. Fulbright English Teaching grant. She lectured at University of Kigali and began volunteering with MindLeaps as part of her Fulbright community project. Keilah recently graduated from Union College where she studied Mathematics and History and minored in Dance. As a dancer, cellist, and scholar who has witnessed the combined power of the arts and education in her own life, she is excited to share her passions with the students at MindLeaps.
Special Programs Manager
Eleanor brings over seven years professional experience in arts administration and over thirteen years of dance and music training to MindLeaps. Eleanor studied ballet at the School of American Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. She completed two degrees at Columbia University: a Bachelors in Music and Mathematics from Columbia College and a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. Eleanor previously worked at the Arts Initiative at Columbia University, where she was the Assistant Director of Event and Program Administration, and helped engage Columbia’s diverse student body with the arts of New York City.
Caitlyn joined MindLeaps officially in 2013 as a trainer for the teaching teams in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda. In 2014, her role expanded to include administrative and communications tasks, and serve as the lead teacher for outreach programs in the USA.
Caitlyn graduated from the University of South Florida, summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and a Minor is Psychology. While at USF, she worked with and performed repertoire by Bill T. Jones, Doug Varone and Talley Beatty. In 2012, she performed in the notable Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. She is currently based in New York City working as a freelance performing artist and yoga instructor.