Meet Our TeamThe people that make this program possible...
Board of Trustees
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.
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.
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.
Katie is a licensed CPA in New York State and received the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Accounting Doctoral Scholars award to fund her doctoral studies. She earned a Ph.D. and MBA in accounting from Baruch College, The City University of New York (CUNY) and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Accounting) from Fairfield University in Connecticut. Katie
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.
Corporate Governance/Regulatory Compliance/Risk Management Operational Excellence □ M&A/Restructuring/Turnarounds Strategy/Vision/Technical SME
People Development/Global Acumen
Rich Paulson has extensive experience as a Principal with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), and in COO, CFO, and Compliance Officer positions for several global capital market firms. As a subject matter expert in financial services risk and regulation, Rich has expertise developing strategy and implementing impactful improvements to capital market enterprise risk and compliance programs; optimizing sales and trading, settlement, clearing, margin, finance, and accounting functions for sell- and buy-side institutions; and advising clients on mergers and acquisitions of financial services institutions. In addition to his technical competencies, Rich feels passionate about coaching and mentoring, and spearheading and sponsoring demographic fairness, social responsibility, and organizational cultural health initiatives.
Most recently at PwC, Rich served leading capital markets clients as Partner focused on complex operations and compliance assignments, where he was accountable for selling engagements, developing solutions, delivering value and results to clients, and mentoring and managing teams from two to 20+ consultants. He consulted with C-suite and business line leaders at global capital market firms to assist them in adapting and implementing regulatory and business change, manage financial and operational risks, and increase profitability. In this role, Rich personally sold and managed $5M to $10M in revenue every year.
Prior to PwC, Rich was Managing Director and Principal, Equities Direct Market Access with SunGard Data Systems, during which time he oversaw the start-up institutional Direct Market Access platform. Before this, Rich held multiple senior executive roles with Bridge Trading Company, a multinational institutional equities and options brokerage, including Executive Vice President and COO, and member of the Operating Committee. In this position, Rich led operations and compliance and chaired the firm’s Credit and Compensation committees. Before this, he was Senior Vice President and CFO, where he built, ran, and transitioned the firm’s financial management and regulatory reporting functions. Rich started with Bridge Trading Company as Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer, when he revamped and led regulatory compliance department for broker-dealers in the US, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Earlier, Rich was Chief Compliance Officer for Capital Institutional Services, Inc., an independent agency broker, beginning with the firm as Head of Research. He started his career as an Associate, Equity Research for Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette, Inc.
Rich received his BBA in the Humanities from Southern Methodist University, Edwin L. Cox School of Business, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He is a former Allied Member of the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (NYSE), and a former Approved Director of UK FSA/FCA member dealer.
Rich is a member of the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), New York Society of Security Analysts, Inc., and CFA Institute.
Michael Maguire received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from New York University
and an MBA in Finance from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. He
has spent the last 19 years in corporate banking in New York working for a variety of US and
International banks, most recently he was a Director at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). He is
a dance enthusiast who has supported this art form most of his life and has studied dance in his
spare time at Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center and the Juilliard School.
As a volunteer at MindLeaps in Rwanda, Michael assists with dance classes, provides mentoring,
and teaches the Business Roundtable pilot class that focuses on developing business, math and
life skills. He joined MindLeaps after being a Senior Advisor at Survivor’s Fund / Foundation
Rwanda supporting both NGOs in Rwanda with ongoing program development efforts, leading
grant research and delivering management coaching for key staff.
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
Susan Hu is an Associate at the law firm Arnold & Porter specializing in complex commercial litigation and arbitration. Prior to joining the firm, she served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle of the District of New Jersey. Susan received her JD from NYU School of Law, where she was a Notes Editor for the NYU Law Review and a recipient of the NYU International Human Rights Fellowship. Prior to clerking, Susan was a Bertha Legal Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she litigated civil liberties and national security cases. She received her BA from Columbia University and is currently based in NYC.
Ramie Arian Consulting
Ramie Arian is a consultant who works with non-profits, mainly in the Jewish community, and specifically in the arena of Jewish summer camps. Most assignments involve either project management or research. Current and recent clients include the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the JCC Association, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Funders Network, the Jewish Agency for Israel North American Section, Young Judaea Global, the National Ramah Commission, Birthright Israel Foundation, The iCenter, The Jewish Education Project and Jewish Helping Hands, among others.
Throughout his 40-year career he has worked with non-profit management and with Jewish education, mainly in experiential settings. He was founding Executive Director of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and has served as National Director of Young Judaea and as Vice President of the Wexner Heritage Foundation. He served for 15 years with the Youth Division of the Union for Reform Judaism, and enjoyed 22 summers at URJ camps.
A graduate of Brown University, he holds an MA, rabbinic ordination and a Doctorate of Divinity (honoris causa) from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
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!
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.
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.
Denise is a human resource practitioner with 10 years of experience in strategic human resource management, payroll management, compensation & benefits, performance management, employee relations and HR compliance. Denise is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Right Seat, a human resource firm based in Kigali-Rwanda that supports organizations to maximize their business performance through strategic HR management. Prior to creating Right Seat, Denise was the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Communication and Director of HR at Airtel Rwanda Ltd., and the Resourcing Manager at I&M Bank. She received a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and an MBA from Oklahoma Christian University.
Eugene Dushime is currently the International Coordinator for MindLeaps since January 2018; managing MindLeaps’ International partnership programs throughout Africa. Prior to that position, Eugene served as the Country Director of MindLeaps Rwanda for 8 years where he established the country office that currently has 11 staff members. Eugene also led the implementation of programs currently serving over 200 street children and vulnerable youth. He has assisted in the establishment of the MindLeaps Guinea programs and its activities.
As a professional dancer, Eugene received a silver medal from the International Dance Competition of the 6th Francophone Games held in Lebanon in 2009. In May 2013, his Choreography “Vulnerability” won the Jury’s Choice Awards at the Students Screen-dance Competition at the University of Utah, USA. Eugene also attended several professional dance trainings at the University Centre for Arts and Drama in Rwanda, West Africa and Europe. Additionally, he co-founded both Inshoza and Amizero Dance Companies for which he played a major leading role.
Eugene holds an MBA in Project Management from the University of Lay Adventist Of Kigali in Rwanda. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree and an Advanced Diploma in Agriculture Sciences with focus on Agroforestry from the University of Rwanda, College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences & Veterinary Medicine.
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.
Pacifique Kwizera Irumva
Acting Country Director, Rwanda
Pacifique Kwizera Irumva
Pacifique is passionate about youth empowerment, community transformation and development. He is an experienced coach and mentor in leadership, management and professional development. Pacifique is currently the Acting Country Director at MindLeaps Rwanda where he focuses on fundraising, building strategic relationships and developing income generating projects as well as overseeing program operations and reporting. He has also worked for Edify, Rwanda since 2015 as a Senior Mentor. In 2016, he led a five-month pilot in Monrovia, Liberia where he launched and managed the Cornerstone Leadership Model project in five schools and trained a local team that is currently managing the project and expanding it to more schools.
Pacifique also provided education and facilitation consultancies for various international organizations and companies including UNICEF and Infinite Potentials Consulting (IPC). Pacifique is a talented and devoted leader, a skill he developed from his early age through voluntary services for different youth movements, namely the Africa Youth Leadership Forum (AYLF), Youth Impact Mission Africa (YIM-Africa) and Bethsaida Ministries International (BMI). He also served as Vice-Guild President at his college Students’ Union and attended the 2013 All Africa Students Union (AASU) Summit in Accra, Ghana.
Pacifique is currently pursuing a Masters in Leadership Development from the International Graduate School of Ministry, Edmonds WA. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering from the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center, Kigali. Alongside his work and studies, Pacifique delivers leadership and career guidance training for university and high school students.
Managing 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.
Community Facilitator, Rwanda
In 2018, Salaama Numukobwa joined MindLeaps Rwanda in the role of Community Facilitator.
Salaama first became involved in MindLeaps’ activities back in 2016 when her children, Claudine Uwanyirijuru and Francine Niyingira, enrolled in the dance program. One year later, in 2017, Salaama was elected President of the Parents’ Committee.
With the generous support of the Arthur & Patricia Hill Foundation, MindLeaps launched a new approach to the Family Strengthening Program in July 2018. As part of the Community Transformation & Empowerment Through Self-Help Groups initiative, Salaama joined the staff at MindLeaps in selecting 12 leaders that will
execute functional trainings to serve 100 parents in four areas: Financial Literacy, Basics of Business, Gender-Based Violence, and Good Practices of Parenting.
Salaama is the first parent of a MindLeaps child to officially join the core staff. Since 2011, she volunteered with different organizations, including We Act for Hope and African Evangelical Enterprise, both funded by Global Communities. In these volunteer roles, she coordinated 14 saving groups consisting of over 200 members in Nyakabanda Sector in Kigali. Now, she has become a role model for the other parents and guardians of MindLeaps’ children, demonstrating how her experience in coordinating, mobilizing, facilitating and advocating for change can lead to permanent employment.
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.
Assistant Director, Guinea
Martin was born in Boké, Guinea, where he completed his primary and college education. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics at Kipé School in 2010. In 2013, he graduated with a degree in Mathematics from Gamal Nasser University of Conakry. In 2014, he completed a two-month internship at the National Institute of Statistics and another three-month internship at the National Agency for Agricultural and Food Statistics. Before joining MindLeaps as Assistant Director, he worked with Direct Dialog Media & Marketing services. He previously volunteered with the NGO Hope of Guinea and collaborated with MindLeaps on its Guinea Edugrade and Ruben’s Shoes partnership projects.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Program Manager
Leslie Massicotte is the author and program manager of the LEAPS curriculum, a MIndLeaps sexual and reproductive health program. She is a certified sexuality educator with more than ten years’ experience working with youth and extensive experience working in Africa. She was trained as an educator through Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education program, a comprehensive approach that prioritizes positive sexuality and youth decision making. In her career as a reproductive health advocate and educator, Leslie has served as an options counselor at Planned Parenthood and a health teacher for low-income minority students through Jesuit Volunteer Corps-Northwest. She also developed a women’s health training program for refugee women in her hometown of Indianapolis that connects clients to family planning services. Leslie has lived in Rwanda, where she worked with Kasha, an innovative local solution to provide feminine hygiene products and contraceptives using mobile phones, and also served as a technical advisor for the sexual and reproductive health program at Health Development Initiative. She believes in the power of education and the right to reproductive health for all and focuses her work on vulnerable populations and developing countries.
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.
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.