Meet The Team
Program Manager, Ethiopia
Hassen Ahmed Assen
Hassen Ahmed Assen is a Program Manager for the Luminos Fund in Ethiopia. As Program Manager, Hassen plays a key role in program planning and execution, the monitoring and evaluation of Luminos’ Second Chance program, as well as data collection, analysis, and reporting.
Hassen is an education, conflict prevention, peace building, and development program specialist with more than 25 years of experience in government and the NGO sector. In his previous roles with Save the Children (Finland, Denmark, and the UK), Pact Ethiopia, and Somaliland Development Fund (SDF), Hassen managed various projects in education, conflict prevention, organizational capacity development, and child rights. He also served as a Chief of Party for Strengthening Institution for Peace and Development Program 2 (SIPED) at Pact Ethiopia. Recently, Hassen served as a Deputy Team Leader and Engagement and Influence Lead for Civil Society Support Program 2 (CSSP2) implemented by a consortium of Pact, Social Development Direct, and the British Council.
Hassen holds a diploma in English language teaching from Kotebe College of Teacher Education, a BA in Educational Administration, and a master’s degree in Educational Research and Development from Addis Ababa University.
Chief Executive Officer
Caitlin Baron is the founder and CEO of the Luminos Fund, an education nonprofit dedicated to giving the world’s most vulnerable, out-of-school children a second chance to learn. Luminos has set 152,051 children across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East on a path to lifelong learning. Caitlin believes in the power of creative pedagogies and activity-based education to transform children’s lives, even in the poorest corners of the world. She spent the previous decade as a senior leader within the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, helping to grow the organization to steward over $1 billion in charitable giving. She founded and led the foundation’s office in South Africa and built MSDF’s impact investing portfolio. Caitlin graduated from UCLA in Political Science and is pursuing an executive master’s with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Development & Communications Associate
Kirstin Buchanan serves as the Development & Communications Associate at the Luminos Fund where she amplifies student voices and program stories, in addition to helping drive content, messaging, and fundraising strategy. Kirstin works closely with the CEO and Vice President of Development & Communications, providing essential communications, fundraising, and executive support. She also leads stewardship of the Luminos Fund Advisory Board. Kirstin originally joined the Luminos Fund in 2020 as Special Assistant to the CEO. She is passionate about global development and believes the best strategies for breaking poverty cycles come from harnessing the knowledge, resources, and power within marginalized and vulnerable communities. She holds a MA in International Affairs and a BA magna cum laude in International Relations from Boston University, as well as a certificate in Latin American studies and has conducted extensive research on Community-Led Development strategies in the Global South. In her spare time, Kirstin loves traveling to new places and learning from different people and cultures.
Mara Chan serves as the Luminos Fund’s Content Producer where she curates the Luminos brand and manages content planning, design, and production alongside the Vice President of Development & Communications. Prior to joining Luminos, Mara worked as The Bridgespan Group’s Visual Communications Manager where she oversaw all branding, design, and photography needs in addition to collaborating with consulting and editorial staff on complex visual representations of nonprofit and foundation strategies. She also served HOPE International as an inaugural Field Communications Fellow in the Republic of Congo while working as a freelance graphic designer for other nonprofits. Mara holds a BA from McDaniel College in French with a minor in Graphic Design and a focus in Communications. Outside of work, Mara loves exploring the outdoors, traveling, and creating delicious food with her husband.
Caitlin Collis is a Program Associate at the Luminos Fund where she provides turnkey support on an array of deliverables, including Ethiopia project management and reporting, data gathering and analytics, and curriculum development support. She is also in the final phases of a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania, preparing to defend her dissertation on roads and empire building in twentieth century Ethiopia. From 2017-2020, she lived in Addis Ababa, where she split her time between conducting archival research and co-founding a fitness center, GoFigure Fitness. She most recently served as Associate Director of Admissions at Havergal College in Toronto. She holds a BA in Regional Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and an MA in History from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ethiopia Country Director & Regional Strategic Advisor
Dr. Alemayehu Hailu Gebre
Dr. Alemayehu “Alex” Hailu Gebre is the Ethiopia Country Director & Regional Strategic Advisor for the Luminos Fund and is based in Ethiopia. Alex advises on the Luminos Fund’s growth strategy; provides guidance and support to Luminos classrooms, curriculum, and monitoring & evaluation; and helps Luminos liaise with partners and governments.
Alex is an accomplished international development and education leaderwith over twenty years of experience in the NGO sector across project management, partnership development, project monitoring and evaluation, human resource and organizational development, and management.
Previously, Alex worked for the Adult and Non-formal Education Association in Ethiopia (ANFEAE), the international nonprofit Pact, and most recently served as a Country Director for Geneva Global. He has served as a valued partner to the Second Chance program (also known as Speed School in Ethiopia) since its early days.
Through Alex’s leadership, ANFEAE won UNESCO’s International Literacy Prize of 2008 and the World Bank’s Development Market Place Award of 2003. Alex has co-written the book Everyday Literacies in Africa, and wrote the case study, “Action Research for Curriculum Development: An Example from Ethiopia” for UNESCO’s 2015 book, Action Research to Improve Youth and Adult Literacy. Alex has a master’s in economics from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and a PhD in education.
Meredith is the Development Manager at the Luminos Fund where she is privileged to play a key role cultivating and stewarding our donor community, including organizing events and trips to our programs. Previously, she served as a Development Coordinator at Health Equity International (HEI). In her role as Development Coordinator, she worked closely with the development, finance, and communications teams to coordinate appeal mailings and plan fundraising events. Before HEI, Meredith was the Manager of Social Impact Journeys & Events Coordinator at Elevate Destinations. At Elevate, she organized donor trips across the globe for a wide array of non-profit organizations and development teams, such as the END Fund, World Bicycle Relief, American Jewish World Service, and Smile Train. She holds a degree in International Relations & Religion from Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies. Meredith is passionate about threading personal connections between donors and organizations that are creating sustainable solutions to issues of inequality and poverty.
Associate Director of Programs
Emily Joof is Associate Director of Programs at the Luminos Fund. Emily is based in The Gambia where she collaborates closely with the government and local education partners, and supports Luminos programs across West Africa. Previously, Emily worked as the Global Education Technical Advisor for Save the Children Sweden where she led the global work on Inclusive Education and the portfolio against Physical and Humiliating Punishment in School Settings. Emily also worked for Mentor International as International Program Manager where she led the design of evidence-based programming for at-risk youth. Prior to that, Emily worked as Program Associate for Poverty and the Millennium Development Goals for UNDP in The Gambia. Her work experience spans across Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
Emily is a staunch advocate for literacy and the power of education to build inclusive and just societies. In addition to her work, she is also an author of inclusive children’s books which celebrate the African diaspora. A lifelong learner, Emily holds a BA in Ancient History and Social Anthropology and a MA in International Development and Education, both from the University of London. Emily is currently completing a PhD Program in Education and Social Justice.
Program Manager, Liberia
Abba G. Karnga Jr.
Abba is Program Manager for the Luminos Fund in Liberia where he oversees all Luminos Second Chance classrooms and training for teachers and supervisors, and coordinates with the Ministry of Education and local implementing partners. Previously, Abba worked in the World Wide Mission School System as a principal, developing an educational work plan for the school and overseeing all administrative activities. During the Ebola crisis, Abba served as Director of the Stop the Spread of Ebola Campaign. In partnership with the Country Health Team, he created an Ebola Emergency Response program responsible for social mobilization, case identification, and distribution of emergency supplies to affected homes. Abba has dedicated his career to advancing educational opportunities in his country, working with organizations such as World Education, the International Organization for Migration, USAID, and the Nyonblee Cares Foundation. Abba holds a BS in Secondary Education from the Cuttington University and lives in Buchanan City with his wife and four children.
Program Director, Curriculum
Noor Khan is Program Director, Curriculum at the Luminos Fund where she leads the organization’s curriculum development and enhancements for education programs serving children across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Previously, she worked for a non-profit education organization in the UK where she collaborated with teachers, leaders, and researchers in providing high-quality ‘whole education’, with a mission to end inequality in learning. Noor has served as an education consultant on capacity building projects, tasked with reviewing current provisions and implementing change. By working across public, private, and non-profit sectors from schools to further education, she has focused on developing curriculum, teacher training, and effective school leadership. She has experience in Africa and the Middle East working with governments to build capabilities and student agency. Rooted in her teaching background from the UK, she has spent the last 17 years committed to developing the teaching profession and collaborating with organizations and students to transform lives. This laid the foundation for her love of learning and empowering students to reach their full potential. Noor holds a MA in Education and Social Justice from the Institute of Education, University of London.
Country Manager, Liberia
James Earl Kiawoin
James Earl Kiawoin is the Country Manager for the Luminos Fund in Liberia where he manages day-to-day operations, overall program delivery, government and stakeholder engagement, and supports staff development. Previously, James worked as a Strategy Consultant at Dalberg Advisors in Rwanda where he completed projects on higher education financing and digital ecosystem development including e-government services.
James began his career at Last Mile Health in a strategic advisory role with the Liberian Ministry of Health. There, he worked to develop, finance, and scale a national community health workers program that delivered health care to 1.2 million people in rural, hard-to-reach areas. James has vast experience leading initiatives in Liberia and previously held leadership roles at the Khana group, LEAD Monrovia Football Academy, and SMART Liberia, which he co-founded.
James holds an MPA with a focus on international development from the school of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a BA in Political Science from Colorado College.
Director of Finance & Administration
Anh is Director of Finance & Administration and is responsible for managing Luminos accounting, financial planning, tax and finance functions, as well as operational support for the organization. She oversees our financial processes and policies to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and accurate reporting. Anh began her career at Deloitte & Touche where she performed external audit procedures in financial services, and Bain Capital where she was responsible for analyzing daily investment activity, and preparing and reviewing financial statements, performance reports, and capital reporting to investors. Anh holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Northeastern University and is a certified public accountant. In her spare time she serves on the Board of Directors for the New England Intercollegiate Vietnamese Student Association (NEIVSA), a non-profit organization focusing on leadership development, cultural awareness, and community building.
Program Associate, Liberia
Emmanuel is a Program Associate for the Luminos Fund in Liberia, ensuring the smooth operation of our Second Chance program. Alongside our Liberia team, Emmanuel works to ensure classrooms have a positive impact on students and collaborates with our partners on the ground. Prior to becoming a Program Associate, Emmanuel served as a classroom teacher for Luminos and has years of direct experience working with children in Luminos classrooms and creating an atmosphere of joyful learning. Emmanuel’s passion for education stems from his experience as a child during Liberia’s civil war, a 14-year conflict which prevented him from attending school. As a result of the war, Emmanuel experienced the difficulty of being an over-aged student first-hand.
Program Coordinator, Liberia
G. Alphanso Menyon
G. Alphanso Menyon is a Program Coordinator for Luminos in Liberia where he leads teacher trainings on phonics and best practices for teaching reading and comprehension. Alphanso also coaches program supervisors and teachers. An experienced educator, Alphanso served for five years at the Heritage Early Learning Center as the principal. Previously, he taught at Spiritan Academy – A Catholic Demonstration School, Stella Maris Polytechnic, and in the World Wide Missions School System. He also tutored at the American International School of Monrovia (AIMS). Alphanso serves as the Chief Learning Officer of Logic, a network of teachers that developed a phonics and reading program for students and teachers who still struggle to read. Alphanso holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and lives in Monrovia with his wife and son. In his free time, Alphanso enjoys singing gospel music with his family.
Program Coordinator, Ghana
Patrick Nyarko is a Program Coordinator for the Luminos Fund in Ghana where he supports the smooth operation of the Ghana program, day-to-day office operations, and data management and analysis. Patrick is a development practitioner with over five years of experience in project design, planning, monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning within the international and local NGO sector. Prior to joining Luminos, Patrick worked as Planning and Monitoring Coordinator for Plan International, Ghana, where he was responsible for ensuring quality in project design, planning, and monitoring in line with Country Strategy and Program Quality Policy. Patrick holds MSc Planning Monitoring & Evaluation and BA Geography & Rural Development from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology as well as a Certificate in Project Management in Global Health from University of Washington, USA.
Associate Director of Programs
Ernesta Orlovaitė is Associate Director of Programs at the Luminos Fund. Ernesta oversees the design and delivery of Luminos’ program in Ghana, collaborating closely with the government and local implementing partners. She also guides Luminos’ efforts to strengthen its capacity for data-based decision-making and drive better outcomes for our students. Previously, Ernesta worked as a Product Manager at Google, leading product design and development teams in Switzerland and Japan. Ernesta believes in the transformative role of education in achieving one’s potential. A lifelong learner, she holds BSc degrees in Economics and Engineering and MSc degrees in Artificial Intelligence and International Development.
Manager of Finance and Administration
Derek is the Manager of Finance and Administration at the Luminos Fund. He manages day-to-day financial operations for Luminos in the U.S. and supports our international program offices. Prior to joining Luminos, Derek worked in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors at ACP Facility Services and Root Capital. At ACP, Derek managed financial reporting, wrote contracts for clients and subcontractors, and prepared and submitted bid proposals for potential clients. As the Senior Account Grant Management at Root Capital, he managed grant reporting and accounting processes, and developed and implemented financial policies and procedures. Derek holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance Concentration: Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Outside of work, Derek likes being outdoors (golfing or hiking) and, when he is not being active, he is actively enjoying baked goods such as donuts or cookies.
Education Program Manager, Ethiopia
Tegistu Petros is an Education Program Manager for the Luminos Fund in Ethiopia. As Education Program Manager, Tegistu supports the planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of Luminos’ Second Chance program. Tegistu brings over 14 years of experience in international development and education for vulnerable populations, program and project management, research, and assessments, including EGRA/EGMA. Prior to joining Luminos, Tegistu worked at the Finnish Refugee Council as an Education Specialist. He has also worked for a variety of INGOs including World Vision Ethiopia as an Education Specialist, Save the Children International as a Program Coordinator, and Nuru International as an Education Program Manager. Tegistu holds an MA in Social Psychology from Addis Ababa University, an MA in Linguistics and Communication from Hawasaa University, and a BED degree in teaching English from Mekelle University. Tegistu is excited to be part of Luminos Fund family and the Second Chance program’s impact in Ethiopia.
Associate Director of Programs
Liz Robinson is Associate Director of Programs at the Luminos Fund where she oversees several strategy, programming, and business development initiatives. Previously, she worked as an independent consultant for local and international NGOs in the education sector, providing research, business development, and technical writing services, with a focus on the Middle East. Liz also worked as the Asia Regional Lead for an international consulting firm specializing in social and behavior change, where her portfolio comprised Afghanistan and Pakistan. Liz first began her career in the humanitarian aid sector in Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with a focus on business development and grant management.
Liz strongly believes that education can and should act as a crucible for social change and systems transformation, especially for learners on the margins. She holds a BA from Tufts University and is pursuing a MA in Education and International Development at University College London, where she focuses on the intersection of complexity, systems theory, and educational leadership in crisis.
Ghana Country Director
Ethel is the Country Director for the Luminos Fund in Ghana where she is responsible for overseeing Luminos programs and our partnership with the Ministry of Education. Luminos’ work in Ghana builds on the Ministry of Education’s efforts to scale Complementary Basic Education (CBE): a national accelerated learning program. Ethel has 16 years of experience within the NGO sector and a longstanding commitment to education in Ghana. Prior to joining the Luminos Fund, Ethel served as the Regional Director of Worldreader West Africa where she provided leadership and oversight for all digital reading projects and programs in Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Ethel also previously worked with Right to Play as the Country Director for Ghana and as the Regional Program Officer for Right to Play’s West and Francophone Africa (WAFA) Regional Office. Ethel has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Sociology, a Master of Philosophy in Public Health, and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership and Management, all from the University of Ghana, Legon.
Associate Director of Programs
Kaitlynn Saldanha is Associate Director of Programs at the Luminos Fund where she oversees Luminos’ work in Liberia, including facilitator training, collaboration with government and implementing partners, and monitoring and evaluation. Kaitlynn first joined the Luminos team in 2019 as a Senior Research Analyst. Prior to joining Luminos, Kaitlynn worked as an Education Manager at PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools), a UK-based social enterprise and operator of low-cost rural secondary schools in Uganda and Zambia, where she provided technical assistance across a range of functions including education programs, government and strategic partnerships and global advocacy. Previously, she worked in External Affairs at Teach For America where she led stewardship of high net worth individuals in the Bay Area. Kaitlynn began her career in the low-cost private school sector, designing and piloting education innovations with Gray Matters Capital in Bangalore. She holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MPhil in Education (Globalization and International Development) from the University of Cambridge, where she focused on non-state education and its impact on student learning. Outside of work, Kaitlynn is an avid runner, cyclist and mountain enthusiast.
Vice President of Development & Communications
Maretta Silverman serves as Vice President of Development & Communications at the Luminos Fund where she is privileged to lead engagement with our community of supporters, amplify student voices and program stories, oversee the fundraising and communications teams, manage events, and more. She joined the Luminos Fund in 2019. For the prior decade, Maretta worked in communications, marketing, business development, and event management roles at Massachusetts General Hospital, Veson Nautical, and the American Enterprise Institute. She holds a degree from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in International Politics & Foreign Policy and is an active Georgetown alumna. Maretta believes firmly in the life-changing power of education and is passionate about helping out-of-school children catch up and experience the joys of learning.
Senior Director of Programs
Angie is Senior Director of Programs at the Luminos Fund where she oversees the design and delivery of the Luminos Second Chance program in different geographies, working in close collaboration with governments and our local implementing partners. Previously, she served as the Programs Manager at Dubai Cares where she managed the portfolio of Dubai Cares’ Education in Emergency (EiE) programs and informed the organization’s strategic thinking and priorities in the EiE space. Prior to working for Dubai Cares, Angie was the Education in Emergency Programs Manager at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). There she led the implementation of the Agency’s emergency education response to the Syrian crisis and supported the integration of Palestine refugees from Syria into UNRWA’s education system in Lebanon. Angie has worked in the development and humanitarian sector for over ten years, designing and implementing programs that provide critical services to people impacted by crises. She believes education has the transformative power to improve lives and create peaceful, tolerant, and prosperous societies. Angie holds a MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
Program Associate, Liberia
Folley J. Toe
Folley is a Program Associate for the Luminos Fund in Liberia, where he ensures the smooth operation of the Second Chance program. Alongside our Liberia team, Folley works to ensure classrooms have a positive impact on students and collaborates with our partners on the ground.
Folley previously served as classroom teacher for Luminos and assisted with the distribution of food supplies for Second Chance classes. Folley has years of direct experience working with students and creating an atmosphere of joyful learning in the classroom. Folley worked extensively with his fellow teachers, providing ideas to strengthen their teaching and support students.
Having witnessed Liberia’s high poverty rate prevent many children from going to school, Folley is passionate about the need for education, particularly literacy. He believes strongly in Luminos’ mission of helping children get a second chance at education in Liberia.
Catch up with Luminos!
Subscribe to our quarterly Spotlight newsletter and get the latest news, blogs, and more.