Meet Our TeamThe people that make this program possible...
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.
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.
Martha Bua Peace
Martha Bua Peace
Prior to MindLeaps, Martha worked as a social worker and an NGO administrator. She was field coordinator of Uganda Youth Empowerment. She has worked at Refuge and Hope International as a social worker in a shelter for female survivors of sexual and gender based violence. She was also the Psychosocial Program Manager at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Martha worked as a consultant for Playing to Live on the Care for Caregivers’ program aimed at addressing psychological wellness needs for front-line staff working in refugee settlements in the West Nile Region of Uganda. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Gender Studies at Makerere University with a special interest in Gender and Forced Migration.
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.
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.
Project Coordinator, North Macedonia
Shpetim is currently managing MindLeaps’ newest program in North Macedonia. He is Assistant Professor at the University AAB in Prishtina, Republic of Kosovo,and also visiting professor in a few universities in North Macedonia. He has extensive experience of around 20 years in the NGO sector, as well as with humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross of North Macedonia. As a Fulbright alumnus, he graduated from Purdue University and holds a PhD in computer science. He has worked as chief of party for numerous project grants from USAID, Foundation Open Society Macedonia, and EU funded projects. He is currently head of North Macedonia’s NGO “Florence Nightingale”.
Board of Trustees
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 he 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 he 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.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Michael Maguire is Chairman of the Board of MindLeaps. He combines his experience in corporate finance, entrepreneurship, and international development in this strategic advisory role.
Michael has spent the last 20 years as a corporate banking executive in New York working for a variety of US and international banks. Most recently, Michael was Head of the Technology, Media, Telecom and Transportation division at Santander Bank, N.A. Prior to Santander, Michael spent ten years at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as the Director of the Retail, Healthcare, Technology, and Media divisions. At RBS, Michael was responsible for $30 B portfolios across 200 companies and 9 industries, evaluating corporate credit risk, industry trends and capital market conditions. Prior to RBS, Michael was an SVP at Mizuho Americas, where he directed credit risk deal teams in the Chemical, Oil and Gas, Automotive, Aerospace, Mining, Defense, and Structured Finance sectors.
Michael has served in an advisory role for a number of international development organizations while living in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2015 and 2016. He was Senior Advisor at the field offices for the NGOs MindLeaps and Survivor’s Fund/Foundation Rwanda. He supported both NGOs with ongoing program development efforts, leading grant research, and delivering management coaching for key staff. In 2016, he developed and taught the Business and Entrepreneurship class at MindLeaps Rwanda, that focuses on developing business, math and life skills in vulnerable youth. Upon his return to New York City in 2017, Michael joined the Board of Trustees of MindLeaps and became Chairman of the Board in 2018. As Chairman of the Board, Michael has overseen MindLeaps expansion into new countries, increased corporate social responsibility funding, and developed partnership programs with international humanitarian and governmental organizations.
Michael 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. Michael is also a dance enthusiast who has supported dance schools and companies throughout his life and has personally studied dance at Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center, and the Juilliard School.
Kathleen (Katie) Bakarich is an assistant professor in the Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University. Utilizing her experience working as an auditor for RSM USA LLP in New York City and time spent in Frankfurt, Germany, during a Fulbright scholarship, Katie focuses her teaching and research on international accounting. Her research has been selected for presentation at various conferences in the U.S. and abroad, and she also teaches a summer course at the Hochschule Bremen’s International Summer Program in Germany. Katie is a licensed CPA in New York State and received the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) 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 currently serves as President of the Fulbright Alumni Association’s Greater New York Chapter.
Bank of America
Richard (Rich) Paulson works at Bank of America where he assesses the ethical, social and reputational impacts of AI solutions developed or used by the bank. As a compliance official and Big 4 consulting partner, he helped global banks navigate through the 2008- ’09 Financial Crisis and implement enterprise-wide governance, data and conduct reforms. He previously worked as the Senior Technical Advisor at Deutsche Bank. Before joining Deutsche, he was a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) where he consulted with global capital market clients to implement regulatory changes. During his 10 year career at PwC, he focused on complex operations and compliance assignments; he was accountable for selling engagements, developing solutions, and delivering value and results to clients.
Rich has also held management positions at SunGard and Bridge Trading Company. Prior to joining the MindLeaps’ Board of Trustees, Rich was the Board Secretary of Boys Town New York, a nonprofit serving children, families and communities since 1917. Rich holds a BBA with Honors in the Humanities and Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
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!
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.
Richard Abeeku Mills Robertson
Richard Abeeku Mills-Roberston
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
A skilled litigator with a business background, Richard Abeeku Mills-Robertson combines legal, business, and international experience to provide responsive counsel. He is driven to provide critical support, manage risk, and reduce costs. Richard practices as a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and focuses on all aspects of complex intellectual property litigation, transactions, and counseling including patents, trademarks, and trade secrets; due diligence, compliance, and regulatory analysis; and ANDA/Hatch Waxman patent litigation. He has wide- ranging legal experience across many technologies and industries including branded and generic pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics such as semi- conductor lithography and software modems, and automotive technology. In a prior role as a strategic consultant for a not-for-profit organization, Richard led a multi-faceted initiative to create and integrate a new organizational unit, including staffing and organizational design, branding, vendor management, startup operations, and change management. Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, Richard was a lead singer in his high-school band in the United Kingdom, he and remains an avid supporter of the arts.
Julia brings expertise in technology management and biotech to the Board of MindLeaps. She works in economic and strategy consulting for major tech companies and uses data science and AI/ML to generate actionable insights. She brings experience in digital transformation, platform business models, intellectual property valuation/strategy, market assessment, and financial economic modeling, as well as an extensive blend of analytical and managerial expertise.
She is passionate about the MindLeaps’ mission of sharing dance as a catalyst for development, education, creativity, and wellness; and seeing real-time results that “[d]ance can change the way you think” – Dr. Peter Lovatt, Univ of Herfordshire Dance Psych Lab. She has danced all her life in various styles.
Julia holds a PhD in Bioengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. She serves as a weekly volunteer teacher with ADEO Clubs, a Leonine Fellow, and a member of the Schola Cantorum of Old St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Taylor English Duma LLP
An experienced transactional real estate and hospitality attorney with a business background, Thea Parent has closed billions of dollars in acquisitions and financings along with joint venture agreements. She is a skilled negotiator and understands risk management and practical deal points. Thea practices as a lawyer at Taylor English Duma LLP, focusing on real estate and hospitality acquisitions and financings. Early in her career, she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Stanley S. Brotman of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and the District Court of the Virgin Islands. Thea received her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center. She also strongly supports giving back to the community and provides pro bono legal assistance to non-profit organizations.
Kathy is Founder and Managing Partner of Goodstone Group LLC, a global network of sixty business savvy executive coaches who work with individual leaders and with senior teams to improve their leadership effectiveness, to prepare for their next challenges, and to succeed into new roles. In addition to leading Goodstone, Kathy coaches leaders across a broad range of industries and functions. Kathy’s current and recent clients include senior executives in financial services, private equity, executive search, telecommunications, retail, and higher education. She also has a deep interest in working with organizations to retain and advance women leaders.
Prior to her role with Goodstone, Kathy was Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Fannie Mae, where she led a major change program for the Human Resource function and for key people processes including design of an emergency senior succession plan mandated by the Board. In a former role as Partner and Director of Professional Development for McKinsey and Company where she worked for sixteen years, Kathy led the design and implementation of innovative programs to help recruit, develop, excite, and retain 12,000 consultants operating in 44 countries.
Kathy holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, an M.B.A. from Marymount University of Virginia, and a certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University.
David Hartman Consulting
David Hartman is an attorney who recently retired from full-time work after a 28 year career, and who now intends to split his time between providing advisory and consulting services to companies in the financial services industry on a part-time basis, and various types of volunteer work.
For the past 18 years, David served as the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at General Motors Asset Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors and an SEC-registered investment adviser that manages GM’s employee benefit plan assets and other institutional investment portfolios. In this role, David was a member of the firm’s executive committee, managed the legal and compliance staff, and was responsible for legal affairs and regulatory compliance. Prior legal roles include attorney positions at Zurich Scudder Investments, American International Group and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. David has spoken at numerous industry conferences on a variety of topics and issues that have impacted his clients, and has authored several articles over the years.
David received his B.A. in history from Colgate University (magna cum laude, phi beta kappa) and his law degree from the U.C.L.A School of Law. He is a member in good standing of the New York bar.
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.
Immediate Past Chair
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.
Joel Soffin was Chair of MindLeaps Board of Trustees from 2014 – 2018. Under his chairmanship, MindLeaps expanded into two new countries, increased its operational budget by over 50%, and reached 3,000 new youth beneficiaries.
In founding and serving as the Executive Director of MindLeaps, Rebecca is responsible for the strategic direction, fundraising and management of an organization currently operational in six countries and with headquarters in New York City.
Prior to MindLeaps, Rebecca worked for The Carter Center, Stage Holding Russia, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She ran a professional dance company and a pre-professional training program in Philadelphia for five years known as RDDC: Rebecca Davis Dance Company.
Rebecca graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from Temple University, and she holds a Masters in International Relations with a concentration in Peacekeeping from American Military University. She received a post-graduate certificate in Ballet and Choreography Studies during her Fulbright year in Russia.
Rebecca has been recognized for outstanding leadership and MindLeaps’ potential to scale an innovative solution: how to achieve and quantify behavioral change through movement. Rebecca is a two-time Fulbright Scholar (Russia, Ukraine) and a former Greater New York City Fulbright Alumna- in-Residence. She was a 2017 Truman Security Fellow, and a 2018 Gratitude Network Fellow. A sought-after speaker whose accomplishments are frequently noted in various news media, Rebecca has most recently spoken at The World Bank’s Human Development Week (2019), Segal Family Foundation’s Annual General Meeting (2019) and chaired the Arts & Resiliency Panel for Ubumuntu Arts Festival with panelists Reggie Van Lee, LaMar Baylor and Royce Zackery.
Janelle Junkin, PhD, MT-BC. Dr. Junkin is a board-certified music therapist and an independent researcher.She has taught at various universities in the Philadelphia region and is currently an adjunct professor at Harrisburg University, Philadelphia campus. Dr. Junkin works with BuildaBridge International as the Dean of the Restorative Arts Institute providing professional development opportunities. She has trained and supervised community artists and creative arts therapists who work with refugees, survivors of torture and vulnerable populations and is the founder of Orchestral Dialogues: Accepting Self, Accepting Others. She has completed research and consultation with the Armed Services Arts Partnership and MindLeaps and has consulted with organizations and companies to build their own internal Monitoring and Evaluation systems. Dr. Junkin has worked in 15 countries on five continents. She is published in the Journal of Applied Arts & Health and the International Journal of Education & the Arts. Her most recent book chapter was published in Arts in Healing, August 2018. Her areas of research include child and youth identity development, the role of the arts in conflict transformation, and understanding the community arts and creative arts therapies as vehicles that provide hope and healing to people and communities in crisis.
Bashir, from Rwanda, is currently Technical Director at MindLeaps. He started dancing in 2008 in the Inshoza Contemporary Dance Company. Bashir holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the National University of Rwanda and is fluent in English, French, Luganda, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda and Kisoga. He has been working with MindLeaps since 2014 and launched the 2018 program with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Rwanda.
Bashir served as the Assistant Director of MindLeaps in Rwanda before becoming Director of Strategic Partnerships in 2019. In that role, he launched MindLeaps’ UNHCR project serving vulnerable children across Rwanda’s six refugee camps. He trained and managed a team of 36 youth refugee trainers to implement the program. In 2020, Bashir moved into his new role as Technical Director in which he is standardizing operations across the continent of Africa and launching a MindLeaps Academy to build leadership skills in African youth. Most recently, Bashir has been joining MindLeaps’ Rebecca Davis to speak about the organization’s response to COVID-19 and new online learning strategies. Some engagements have included at Rahway High School (USA), World Outside My Shoes (Global) and the upcoming Together We Remember Vigil (Global). Bashir’s media appearances include TV21 in North Macedonia, and interviews with Budd Mishkin, Together We Remember and Russian Pointe’s 5-6-7 EIGHT podcast.
International Dance Trainer Teacher Training Specialist
Caitlyn Casson is Teacher Training Specialist and an international dance trainer with MindLeaps. Originally from Philadelphia, Caitlyn graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and a minor in Psychology. She has performed repertoire by distinguished artists Bill T. Jones, Doug Varone, Talley Beatty and Sean Curran. Casson’s desire for internationally diverse, artistic endeavors has taken her across the globe to perform and teach including Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival and Kigali’s Ubumuntu Festival. Since 2013, she has been working as an international dance trainer and teacher training specialist with MindLeaps to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda and Guinea. Caitlyn is currently based in NYC. She also teaches yoga and is a performing company member with Ariel Rivka Dance, Dance Entropy and Matthew Westerby Company.
Chantal Ujeneza is the Financial Officer in charge of finances for MindLeaps Rwanda and Uganda since January 2020.
Chantal believes that finance is not only the lifeblood of an organization but is also a way of planning, allocating funds and effective use of funds. In addition to managing finances, Chantal develops policies and procedures to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
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.