Meet Our TeamThe people that make this program possible...
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.
Olivier graduated from Mount Kenya University Rwanda with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, mass media, and communication. He is fluent in English, Kinyarwanda, and conversant in French and Kiswahili. Since 2015, he has been a MindLeaps staff member. In 2017 and 2018, Olivier worked with the MindLeaps International Team in Uganda to train trainers. In 2019, he assisted the training of a team of 36 young refugee trainers to implement MindLeaps’ UNHCR program in Rwanda. Olivier had served as the dance instructor, English teacher and education coordinator in Rwanda before becoming project coordinator in 2020 in which he is coordinating MindLeaps’ UNHCR project serving vulnerable children across three of Rwanda’s six refugee camps (Gihembe, Mahama and Nyabiheke). In 2022, Olivier became the International Coordinator, helping to manage MindLeaps’ programs globally.
Youth Alumni Coordinator, North Macedonia
Omer Hamiti was born in the northern part of Skopje, in a village called Luboten. He graduated from International Balkan University where he studied English, Finance and Banking. He manages MindLeaps’ program and the Alumni Network in North Macedonia. In 2022, Omer visited MindLeaps’ program in Rwanda.
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.
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.
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.
Education Coordinator, Mauritania
Alioune is the Education Coordinator for MindLeaps project with SOS Pairs Educateurs and lives in El Mina. He is fluent in English, French and the local languages. Alioune was originally a dance trainer with MindLeaps in Mauritania.
Vedaste is the Acting Country Director of MindLeaps Rwanda. Vedaste joined MindLeaps as a dance trainer in 2019 and was the lead trainer at Kiziba Refugee Camp. In 2021, he became the Education Coordinator at MindLeaps’s Jim Bell Centre in Kigali Rwanda. He graduated from the Southern New Hampshire University Kepler Program in 2020 with a Bachelors in Communication with a Concentration in Business.
Protection Coordinator, Mauritania
Moussa Cissokho is the Protection Coordinator for MindLeaps project with SOS Pairs Educateurs. He was selected to travel to Rwanda in January 2020 where he completed specialized training in project management and the MindLeaps methodology to protect and empower children. He is fluent in English, French and Hassaniya.
Board of Directors
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.
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.
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!
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.
Andrea Gosfield focuses on corporate law, commercial real estate, public finance, employment law, and regulatory compliance in PA, NJ, and NY. Her clients are in the sectors of real estate development, manufacturing, construction and project management, accounting, health care, hospitality, media and communications, telecommunications, education, and government. She counsels individuals, private companies, and non-profit organizations.
As a former attorney for the United States government, Andrea enforced federal labor laws on behalf of United States Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor. As Assistant Regional Counsel for the Social Security Administration, she managed regulatory compliance and litigation matters in the areas of privacy, civil rights, employment, disability, and bankruptcy. Prior to working for the federal government, Andrea served for two years as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Chief Judge Petrese B. Tucker of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Andrea began her legal career as a Corporate Associate at Blank Rome LLP, an Am Law 100 firm with headquarters in Philadelphia. There, she performed complex transactional and regulatory work, which included servicing a private company in a multi-state healthcare acquisition and counseling corporate boards of directors on fiduciary duties.
Before she became an attorney, Andrea worked as a business technology consultant for consumer product companies, universities, and financial institutions in New York and California. She has also worked as a professional artist, dancer, and choreographer.
Robyn has held senior management positions in Operations, Sales, and Human Resources in the telecommunications and professional services sectors. She has broad consulting and coaching experience with clients including Citibank, Columbia University, Digitas, GroupM, Lifetime Television, Pitney Bowes, Reliance Standard Life Insurance, Verizon, World Wrestling Entertainment, and a number of public-sector and not-for-profit organizations. Robyn’s diversity of skills, knowledge, and experience brings a unique perspective to her consulting and coaching clients. A member of several professional organizations including the International Coach Federation, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the National Black MBA Association, Robyn holds degrees from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications and School of Management and an MBA from Columbia University. She currently serves as a Leadership coach for Columbia’s MBA and Executive MBA programs. Robyn is the co-author of The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes to Being the Leader You Want to Be.
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.
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.
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.
Susan’s professional life has spanned language teaching, translating and editing, operations management in the textile industry, as well as stage management and costuming for theater and dance. She has worked as an ESL instructor and curriculum developer at universities in Europe, the Middle East and the US. In addition to her work in the textile and garment field in the United States, she consulted with NGOs in Cambodia and India on product development. Her long-time love of ballet grew from her work with performing companies across the US. Susan’s collaboration with MindLeaps began with her visit to the Jim Bell Centre in Rwanda in 2018.
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.