Our Team


Emily Nana

Emily’s passion for international development led her to co-found Africa Strong. She has 8 years of experience in the non-profit, international development sector. She also has experience as an educator, fueling her desire to support educational opportunities around the world.

Emily earned a BS in Biology from Florida State University and an MPH in Global Health from the University of South Florida. She loves to travel and enjoys the beach in her free time.

Executive Director

Erin Bagniewski

Erin brings a wealth of experience from her 23-year career, bridging corporate America and the nonprofit sector, both domestically and internationally. With a deep-rooted passion for equitable education, she holds a Masters in Comparative and International Development Education, dedicating herself to empowering educators and advancing learning opportunities.

In 2016, Erin’s journey took her from a Senior Director role at a Fortune 6 company to Zambia, where she volunteered in a Teacher and Community Development program, a pivotal moment that led to meeting Emily, the co-founder of Africa Strong. She later relocated to Uganda, managing HealthPartners’ field office, and found her way into the Rotary Club of Mbarara, where she connected with Allan Asingwire.

A visit with Allan to Rwemiyenje Primary School solidified her commitment. Then, reconnecting with Emily in 2018, Erin assumed the role of Executive Director at Africa Strong in 2019. She envisions continued growth for the organization.

Beyond her work, Erin revels in travel, photography, getting out for walks and yoga, and cherishing moments with family and friends.

Board of Directors

Charity Bilal

Charity is the Owner of Kiza Lash & Beauty, a lash and beauty studio that services everyday women as well as women who struggle with health conditions. She has worked within healthcare for almost a decade, specializing in billing, coding, and Health records systems. Her dedication is to help and make a difference in patients’ lives, not only with physical care but in the lives of others. To help positively impact communities far and near. Her Passion has led her to become a new volunteer at Africa Strong.

Charity holds a MA in Healthcare Administration and a Bachelors in Business Administration. She’s eager to bring her healthcare and business knowledge to Africa Strong, where she can understand healthcare management and create systems to help vital organizational stakeholders.

Charity enjoys spending her free time volunteering, getting involved with her cultural community, reading and learning new things, and exploring new places to eat. She currently resides in Minnesota.

Ina Lee

Ina Lee is a seasoned fundraiser with over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She believes in the power of philanthropy to create positive change for the issues she cares about. She has worked with a wide range of donors and organizations around the world, from international NGOs to local charities in the US, Europe, and Asia. She has a proven track record of success in fundraising planning, campaign management, donor data analytics and strategic consulting.

Ina became a Board member of Africa Strong in May 2022, after learning about the inspiring stories of the communities that the organization supports. She is committed to advancing Africa Strong’s mission of providing a safe and quality learning environment to children in Sub-Saharan Africa. She also strives to raise awareness and mobilize resources for this cause that is close to her heart.

Ina was born and raised in Hong Kong, where she developed a global perspective and a curiosity for different cultures. She enjoys traveling, learning new languages, and experiencing new cuisines. She currently resides in Boston, USA.

Jared Duffy

Jared Duffy is a seasoned finance professional with 10+ years of accounting and finance experience in tax, audit, financial analysis, and budget management. Currently, Jared is a Senior Finance Manager at Clarify Health Solutions where he leads the planning and analysis team. Jared received an accounting degree from the University of St. Thomas and an MBA from Notre Dame focused on Strategy.

In Jared’s free time, he enjoys traveling, hiking, trying new restaurants, and cooking.

Jessica Mabaso

Jessica Mabaso is an accomplished marketing and digital professional with a distinguished career in the technology and marketing sectors. With over a decade of experience in the corporate world, she has held pivotal roles in esteemed organizations across the globe. Currently, Jessica serves as the CEO of Craft & Slate, a leading UK-based creative agency, where she has demonstrated visionary leadership and an unwavering commitment to innovation.

Jessica brings a wealth of expertise to our executive board, garnered from her diverse professional journey. Her tenure in the corporate sector has seen her excel in roles that have shaped her into a strategic thinker and a dynamic leader. She is well-known for her ability to drive businesses forward, foster creativity, and harness the power of digital technologies to achieve remarkable results.

Beyond her role as CEO, Jessica also serves as an Advisory Board Member for Steps Forward US, a prominent organization dedicated to fostering positive change in various domains. Her involvement with Steps Forward US reflects her deep-rooted passion for youth development, education advancement across Africa, and social development initiatives. Jessica is a staunch advocate for leadership programs, with a particular emphasis on empowering both youth and women to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to society.

Jessica’s global perspective and unwavering dedication to making a difference in the world align seamlessly with our organization’s values. Her commitment to pushing boundaries, fostering innovation, and championing causes that matter most to society makes her a valuable addition to our executive board.

As a forward-thinking executive, Jessica embodies the qualities of leadership, vision, and social responsibility that drive our organization’s mission. Her extensive experience, global mindset, and commitment to positive change make her an exemplary board member and a true inspiration to all.

Keith Anderson

Keith leads strategic initiatives and shared services across Health Solutions, a division of OptumHealth. He focuses on identifying and cultivating new businesses and transforming existing businesses to meet the needs of the customers we serve.

Keith started his career in the financial sector before transitioning into healthcare seeking ways to apply his experience and energy to improve healthcare access, quality, and affordability. Keith joined UnitedHealth Group in 2007 and has held various general management, development, and operational positions across Optum over his 15 years. His accountabilities include leading the development of member advocacy services in the commercial market, developing products to accelerate provider transitions to value-based care for OptumCare, and managing transitions of care and senior housing products for Optum Home and Community.

His experience and interests revolve around challenging norms and continuous improvement. Keith is a graduate of St. Johns University and holds an MBA from the University of Saint Thomas. Keith lives with his wife and two daughters in Medina, MN.

Madeline Kasic

In 2016 Madeline volunteered as a teacher in Livingstone, Zambia. She then went on to receive a BA in English from Colorado State University and her Colorado teaching license. Madeline spent the next six years teaching and developing the English curriculum at Clear Creek Middle School in Evergreen, Colorado. When the pandemic moved instruction online, she restructured the curriculum to better serve students learning from home, and then successfully transitioned students back into the classroom when schools were opened again.

Looking for an opportunity to expand her skill set outside of education, Madeline reconnected with Emily Nana, Diego Cruz, and Erin Bagniewski who she met in Zambia, and was inspired by the work they were doing with Africa Strong. Madeline has since leveraged her experience in education not only to help Africa Strong, but also to study business as an MBA student at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado.

Dr. Mariah C. Bond

Dr. Mariah C. Bond is an adept marketing professional from New Orleans, LA holding a prestigious doctorate in business administration. Their marketing expertise lies in blending creativity and analytics to craft impactful campaigns, driving growth and brand recognition for diverse entities and industries. Outside work, Mariah is an avid traveler, published author, and collector of antique items. Their passion for exploring diverse cultures informs their marketing approaches, while their writing skills add finesse to their campaigns. Their fascination with history and craftsmanship inspires their storytelling. With a commitment to excellence and continuous learning, Mariah remains at the forefront of marketing trends, tackling challenges with innovative solutions. A true visionary, they aim to leave a lasting impact on the community landscape, while cherishing the joy of exploration, nurturing the global social sphere, and preserving the treasures of the past.

Rebecca Aurelious

Rebecca Aurelious is a results-oriented individual with extensive experience as a social media manager, business owner, and former television reporter and anchor. She brings a unique blend of strategic thinking, creativity, and storytelling expertise to drive engagement and deliver impactful messages. She holds a Master’s and a Bachelor of Science degree.

Rebecca was introduced to Africa Strong by a friend. She channels her skills into creating compelling content for various social media platforms, helping to spread the word and amplify the impact of Africa Strong.

Rebecca spends time with her family in her free time and looks for ways to get involved in the community. She resides in Minnesota.

Sandra T Kaganzi

Sandra is a distinguished customer experience professional with an impressive track record spanning 20 years across diverse sectors and industries. Her expertise extends to financial institutions, renewable energy, telecom and e-commerce, with a special focus on African markets of Rwanda, DRC, Kenya and Uganda.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science from Makerere University, Sandra’s academic foundation is complemented by an array of professional courses in customer experience. She has honed her skills through extensive hands-on experience and a deep understanding of the customer-centric landscape.

Sandra excels in leveraging various enterprise customer relationship management tools to facilitate seamless customer interactions. Her proficiency encompasses managing customer journeys, complaints, loyalty and retention while providing a comprehensive 360-degree view of customer engagement. She is well-versed in employing data-driven surveys to measure and enhance customer satisfaction, including methodologies such as customer satisfaction surveys, Rate my Support evaluations, Customer Effort Score assessments, and Net Promoter Score analyses.

Beyond her expertise in customer experience, Sandra is a multifaceted professional who has established herself as a seasoned marketer. Her proficiency extends to business marketing, strategic communications, public relations, and event management. Sandra also brings a strong background in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) management, further enhancing her ability to align customer engagement with broader organizational objectives.

With a dynamic career marked by continuous learning and a commitment to excellence, Sandra consistently delivers results that elevate customer experiences and drive business success. Her unique blend of skills, combined with a wealth of real-world experience, makes her an invaluable asset in cultivating customer loyalty and advancing organizational goals.