Our Board of Directors

Katie Balk - Chair, Executive Committee

Katie Balk is Founder of Luminary Consultants, an organizational development consulting firm which helps organizations become more resilient and dynamic through strengthening individuals, relationships and organizational processes. She has worked in China, Costa Rica and France, as well as in the U.S. and her work has included, for-profit, non-profit and governmental sectors. Katie came to The Baobab Home as a volunteer in 2010 and fell in love with the kids and with Tanzania. She has since returned four more times and continues to work on accounting, marketing, and organizational change projects within the organization. 

Lara Bancroft - Vice Chair, Executive Committee & Strategy Committee

Lara is a global consultant based out of Denver, Colorado with 20+ years of experience guiding leaders and organizations through change and transformation. Her expertise includes designing employee experiences that activate change and align human behavior to business strategy. In addition to being a consultant, Lara is passionate about travel and volunteering (especially with children and primates in Africa). She returns as often as she can to her birth country of South Africa, as well as Tanzania and Kenya where she has been volunteering for the past ten plus years. Lara is a lifelong learner and is always ready to explore something or somewhere new!

James Dailey - Advisor, Executive Committee

Jim has over 20 years of professional experience holding various leadership roles in Global Marketing, Product Marketing, Sales Management, and Direct Sales roles primarily in the medical device, pharmaceutical, and technology industries. In 1993 he graduated from Auburn University with Bachelors of Science in Marketing and in 2009 earned an MBA concentrating in International Business from the University of Colorado, Denver. He currently resides in Denver, CO with his wife Ellen where they enjoy the outdoors, international travel and community involvement.

Joanna Krop - Finance Committee

Joanna has 20 years of professional experience in Finance & Administration across Europe. For the past 12 years, she has been working as Chief Financial Officer in a globally operating logistic company. She enjoys cross-functional cooperation in developing and executing successful strategies for organizations. Joanna originally comes from Poland; she worked and lived in Switzerland, Hungary and Denmark before settling down in Vienna, Austria.

Carla Cochran - Finance Committee & Treasurer

Carla is an accountant running a public practice for small businesses in Canada. She loves to volunteer her time helping non-profit companies improve their accounting practices and came to Tanzania in November 2019 to support The Baobab Home in an assignment through AFID-Accounting for International Development. She loves to spend her time outdoors and travelling exploring the world while making a difference.

Michael Paulhus - Administrative Committee & Secretary

Michael has worked for more than 20 years in local government serving as an Administrator, First Selectman, and Town Manager. He lives in Willimantic, CT and is currently serving as the Town Manager of North Branford, CT. Michael holds a BA in Biology; MA in International Affairs; and MA in Public Administration and prior to starting his career in public service, he served in the US Peace Corps as a Fisheries Volunteer in Tanzania. Michael visited the farm in 2017 and 2018 to help with the fish ponds.

Angela Papcun - Administrative Committee

Angela is an Associate Manager of Customer Service at Celularity, Inc., a biotechnology company based in New Jersey, USA. Angela has over 20 years of experience in Customer Service and Sales Support, most spent in the Biologics and Medical Device areas. Angela volunteers as Secretary for the American Legion Auxiliary in her hometown and assists with fundraisers for local Veterans and their families. She has 3 children and currently resides in Raritan, NJ.

Danielle Wolfrum - Fundraising Committee

Danielle is a dynamic fundraiser, creative storyteller, and avid environmentalist. For over 10 years, she’s helped arts, cultural, and environmental non-profits raise money to support their mission. A Jersey girl born and raised, you can find her hiking the trails or kayaking the rivers of her home state. A life long learner, she enjoys reading every book she can get her hands on, travelling the world, and immersing herself in different cultures. Danielle is passionate about equity and inclusion, working tirelessly to disrupt the power dynamics that have been in place for far too long and creating more equitable communities for future generations.

Shane Hofeldt - Fundraising Committee & Videography

Shane is a freelance filmmaker working in documentary and other non-fiction media. He is based in Maine, but works globally on various independent feature films, short documentaries, stories for NGOs, podcasts, and interactive media. He earned degrees in Supply Chain Management and Computer Information Systems from Arizona State University before working in IT at a consulting firm in Washington, DC. He was also the Post Production Manager and Faculty at Maine Media Workshops in Maine. Shane first encountered The Baobab Home through a mutual friend and lended remote technical support from the US before making his first trip to Bagamoyo in 2006 to volunteer. He has been a board member since 2008.

Denise Okonsky - Fundraising Committee & Assembly Hall

Denise has worked for Johnson and Johnson for over 24 years primarily in the clinical trial space. Her most recent position is working for an independent non-profit committed to providing eligible patients with medications at no cost. Denise and her husband Dave split their time between Bridgewater, New Jersey and West Palm Beach, Florida where she is working on her golf game. Denise and her daughter, Hannah have been long time supporters of The Baobab Home. They first visited the shamba in 2010 and Hannah returned as a volunteer in March 2020. Both are planning many more trips in the future.

Marco Turco - Environmental Committee

Marco has over 36 years of professional experience in agriculture, rural development, and education. Most of this time has been spent on projects, programmes, and assignments in Sub-Sahara Africa, working for development and humanitarian organisations such as USAID, IRC, EU, and UNDP. Born and raised in South Africa, Marco has a PhD in Rural Development. He currently divides his time between development work, teaching at the State University of New York, and managing his own certified organic vegetable and livestock farm.

Michael Place - Environmental Committee

For 20 years Michael Place has helped build breakthrough enterprise software management programs for multi-billion dollar organizations spanning the public and private sectors and three continents. Now he is disrupting the status quo in global food production. The creation of EntoHack7G, merges his approach to building thriving learning cultures in rapidly advancing technical realms with his longstanding passion for emerging circular economic business models. In 2016, EntoHack7G launched a pilot project on The Baobab Home shamba.  

Lauren George - Education Committee

Lauren is a primary school teacher with experience teaching in Australia, Tanzania, and Scotland. Lauren first volunteered for The Baobab Home in 2006, returning in 2009 and then again in 2013 (for 5 years) to help set up Steven Tito Academy (STA). She has worked in a variety of different roles at STA, primarily teaching and training teachers, as well as marketing and fundraising, financial management, and other administrative duties.

Eugénie Fontugne - Volunteer Committee

Food is central to her life beyond the obvious reasons. She has been working in the food industry for over five years, mainly focusing on candies and chocolate. As the famous quote goes "choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life". She visited twice as a volunteer in 2018 and since then The Baobab Home has truly become her "home away from home". Eugénie helps develop the volunteer strategy, making sure that all the programs and the skills needed are well-served by volunteers, local and coming from abroad. She wants to continue spreading the word about how great the opportunity of volunteering at The Baobab Home is.

 

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