Our People


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Executive Director, Rwanda Girls Initiative

Hillary Carey

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Hillary Carey joined RGI in November of 2016. As Executive Director, Hillary leads fundraising, strategy development, partnership development and stewardship, communications, finance, as well as supporting other aspects of operations for the organization.

Prior to joining RGI, Hillary was the CEO of Camp Korey, a non-profit dedicated to providing support to children and families with serious medical conditions. As the first employee of Camp Korey, Hillary helped establish the nonprofit, building out is programming, operations, partnerships, and fundraising. During her time with the organization, Camp Korey served over 19,000 children.

Hillary lives in Seattle with her two children, Henry and Gus, and husband Brian.

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Head of School, Gashora Girls Academy

Atete Rugege

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Passionate about women and girls, Atete has over 15 years’ experience working in civil society and the private sector in different capacities including managing a Micro Finance Institution that worked to advance access to finance for micro, small and medium sized businesses. She has also been part of a program team and consulted for projects of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)/World Bank, fostering financial sector development in Rwanda and other Sub Saharan African countries.

It was during her years at the Micro Finance Institution that Atete first came face to face with the difficulties women were facing to access affordable finance to meet the personal and business financing needs. It was in her most recent role as Country Manager of New Faces New Voices (NFNV) Rwanda, an organization that focuses on the economic empowerment of women that she got a chance to build on her desire to contribute to gender equality by successfully developing projects, raising funds and implementing projects that have impacted over a 1,000 women and girls. She brings her experience and commitment to empowering girls and women to Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology.

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Deputy Head of School, Gashora Girls Academy

Theophile Habiyambere

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Before joining GGAST, Theophile was a Director of Academics at Kagarama Secondary School in Kigali City. He previously served as a Mathematics teacher since 2008 in different schools. From 2010 to 2015, Theophile worked with SMASSE-RWANDA project where his responsibilities included strengthening mathematics and science in secondary education; a project that was sponsored by Japan International Cooperation Agency in collaboration with Rwanda Ministry of Education. Theophile's priorities are to improving the teaching and learning of mathematics and science using technology and project-based Learning. His experience in hiring and mentoring new teachers has also helped the school to register tremendous success.

Theophile has a bachelor’s degree in Science with Education from Kigali Institute of Education. He also holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Rwanda-College of Education where He specialized in Trends and Methods of teaching mathematics. He lives in Kigali with his wife and two kids.

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U.S. Program Manager, Rwanda Girls Initiative

Emma Misner

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Emma Misner joined RGI in March of 2016. As US Operations Manager Emma is responsible for planning, development, marketing and donor relations for RGI, serving as a point of contact in the US for volunteers, partners and donors and supporting the Executive Director and Board of Trustees.

Emma’s passion is in serving others and believes that empowering and educating girls is the catalyst for change in the world. Emma previously was an Associate Director for a small Seattle nonprofit and worked at Seattle Children’s in Corporate Annual Giving. Additionally, she ran her own successful event and wedding planning business where she served as an event manager, wedding planner and consultant to nonprofits on a variety of fundraising events. She shares a very loud and busy house in Mill Creek with three boys and her husband Pete.

Dean of Students, Gashora Girls Academy

Samiah Millycent

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Samiah is an education enthusiast with experience spanning over 15 years working with higher learning institutions. She graduated from Makerere University with a Bachelor's Degree In Education, completed a Masters in Project Management at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Leadership in Education from Liverpool John Moores University. Prior to joining GGAST, Samiah worked for several higher learning institutions in Rwanda in various capacities including; content facilitator, course lead, trainer, and mentor. Her passion for education is driven by the opportunity to support young adults in discovering their inner potential, launching successful careers, and evolving into accomplished global citizens. Throughout her career, she not only focused on content delivery but also offered mentorship for students aiming to develop workplace skills, community projects as well as personal growth in areas of interest. Her skill set includes; curriculum design, project management, client relationship management, mentorship, and facilitation. As an educator, she finds fulfillment in the practice of creating safe spaces where both learning and growth are experienced at their fullest. Away from work, she enjoys music, hiking, and a good chat with friends. She lives in Rwanda with her husband and 4 children.

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Dean of Operations and External Affairs, Gashora Girls Academy

Alaine Uwambaye

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Alaine joins RGI with a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Rwanda and a diploma in accounting.She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and moved to Rwanda after the genocide. From her experience living in these war-torn countries, Alaine understands first-hand how vulnerable women and young girls are. As part of a new generation fortunate enough to go to school and earn a degree, Alaine is a passionate advocate for education, and is devoted to the empowerment of women and girls. Being with RGI is not only a job but an opportunity to fulfill a moral duty. Alaine lives in Kigali with her husband and three children.

Director of University Counselling and Placement, Gashora Girls Academy

Cleo Ingabire

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Having experienced first-hand the power of educating girls as a Gashora Girls Academy (GGA) student from 2013-2015, Cleo returned to GGA in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Rochester. Today, Cleo is passionate about inspiring young people to pursue their academic ambitions at universities worldwide and supporting them through the application process. As both a GGA Alumna and college counselor, Cleo enjoys sharing her experience with students to encourage them to take full advantage of every opportunity at GGA. Before joining GGA, Cleo worked for Mastercard Foundation in Rochester as a program assistant to support high school graduates in preparing for college. She implemented a “Life Skills” curriculum to prepare graduates to successfully navigate the North American college environment. Cleo loves reading in her free time and having great conversations with friends and family.

Board of Directors

President & Co-Founder

Suzanne Sinegal McGill

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Suzanne is Co-Founder and President of Rwanda Girls Initiative. Additionally, she is an Advisor to the Sinegal Family Foundation, a member of the College’s Board of Advisors at Georgetown University and has served on a number of non-profit boards including, the Foundation for Early Learning, Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Board, and St. Thomas School. She was a World Affairs Council Fellow in 2016 and was named by Goldman Sachs as one of the Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2017 at their Builders and Innovators Summit for her work with Rwanda Girls Initiative. She passionately believes education, particularly the education of women and girls, is one of the most powerful tools we have to break the cycle of poverty. Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in Medina, Washington with her husband T.J. McGill and their three children.

Co-Founder & Board Emeritus

Shalisan Foster

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Shalisan is Co-Founder and Emeritus Board member of Rwanda Girls Initiative. Prior to founding RGI, Shal worked in the investment business at both Ragen MacKenzie and The Rainier Group. She has devoted time and energy as a trustee on the boards for Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association, and the Seattle Art Museum. Shal is heavily involved in her four children’s schools working on capital campaigns, development committees, annual funds and auctions. Shal has a BA in Economics from the University of Washington and lives in Bellevue, WA.

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Vice President and Secretary

Thien-Di Do

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Di (pronounced "Zee") has a background in marketing & communications and is originally from Michigan where she worked in the automotive industry for almost 10 years. Since moving to Seattle with her husband and two children seven years ago, Di started her own consulting firm, specializing in brand management and business strategy. Passionate about children's health and wellness, she and her husband - a pediatric dentist - founded Everyone By One, an oral health initiative that raises awareness around access to care and the importance of the Age 1 visit. If Di could be granted one wish, it would be that all children would have the opportunity to be healthy and educated. Until then, she supports organizations that share that same dream. Di currently serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Thomas School in Medina, WA and is an active volunteer at her church. She holds a B.A. in English from Grand Valley State University with minors in International Business and French.

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Board Member, Treasurer

Lindsay Beck

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Lindsay Beck is the Co-Founder & Co-CEO of NPX where she is leading the charge to transform the way the impact is financed in the nonprofit sector with her Co-Founder & Co-CEO Catarina Schwab.

Before NPX, Lindsay earned her MBA at Wharton, where she explored the disconnect between funding and impact in the nonprofit sector. The financial acumen garnered at Wharton, combined with her deep experience in the nonprofit space, inspired Lindsay to develop the Impact Security — the foundation of NPX.

Before Wharton, Lindsay founded Fertile Hope, a nonprofit organization that addressed the reproductive needs of young adult cancer patients in the U.S. With her vision and leadership, Fertile Hope positively changed the standard of care in two fields of medicine – oncology and fertility – and catalyzed the establishment of a new medical discipline coined “oncofertility.” She has co-authored a book titled 100 Questions & Answers About Cancer and Fertility, published several papers on the topic, most notably ASCO’s Fertility Preservation Guidelines, presented extensively around the world, and appeared in numerous media outlets, including the TODAY show, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and SELF magazine.

Fertile Hope was acquired by the LIVESTRONG Foundation in 2009. Lindsay served as the founder of its Fertility Advisory Committee as well as led a groundbreaking initiative that convinced major insurance providers to reform healthcare benefits for cancer patients facing sterility from their treatment.

Lindsay currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance, and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, where she recently helped develop and launch a novel college loan program with AtlasMara. Lindsay is also an active member of the NationSwell Council.

Lindsay earned a BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder in International Affairs & Economics and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. When she is not working on NPX, she enjoys traveling the world, skiing, hiking, meditation, and the daily adventures of life with her husband and their four children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Board Member

Nichole Heidrick

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Nichole Heidrick is a Managing Director and Wealth Manager with First Republic Investment Management. Prior to joining First Republic in 2020, she was a Managing Director at Wells Fargo Private Bank. She helps families and heirs with multigenerational wealth find purpose, discover opportunities and manage risks associated with that wealth. A cornerstone of her practice is helping individuals impact the world in meaningful ways – both through philanthropy and impact investing. She began her career at Goldman Sachs in 2004 as an Investment Professional in the Wealth Management Division.

Nichole has been active in her local community for many years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Virginia, and her MBA in Finance & Accounting from New York University Stern School of Business. She is also a GreyCoast Crossfit coach, and with her partner Mike Schulam is managing a blended family with 5 active teenagers.

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Board Member

Larissa Kaze

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Larissa was raised in Rwanda and Burundi and moved to the United States to pursue her college education. She joined Boeing in 2005 as a Financial Analyst and is currently a manager in the Fabrication core division overseeing financial performance of sites located around the world that make parts for commercial airplane models. Larissa has previous experience at Standard & Poor’s in the transparency and disclosure unit and at Delphi Automotive in supply management. She has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Michigan Technological University and a Certificate in International Business. Larissa volunteers her time teaching Math and Science to elementary school students through the After School STEM Academy. She is a founding member of the African Business Development Support Group whose mission is to support Boeing business engagement in Africa and provide a platform for networking, leadership and professional development. Larissa received Imbuto Foundation’s young Rwandan achiever award in 2009 for her work reaching out to the community.


Board Member

Teresa Wells

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Teresa servers as the Managing Director in Wealth Management for Tiedemann Advisors. In addition to managing client relationships, Teresa leads the U.S. Advisory team for the West Coast and also sits on AlTi’s Global Policy Committee and its Impact / ESG Committee. Her past experience includes guiding investment strategy at Threshold Group and Laird Norton Wealth Management.

Teresa is a frequent speaker, writer and moderator and is widely regarded as an expert on issues of gender equality and inclusion in the fields of finance and investing. She has been instrumental in building out the firm’s Catalytic Investment Strategy and Gender Forward theory of change.

Teresa is a Chartered Financial Analyst® and a member of both the CFA® Institute. She is proud to be a new member of the board of the Rwanda Girls Initiative and previously served as President of the Seattle Alternative Investment Association.

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Board Member

Edward Taylor

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Dr. Edward Taylor is vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs at the University of Washington where he oversees educational opportunities that deepen and enrich the undergraduate experience. Ed is a professor in the UW’s College of Education, which he joined in 1995. His research and teaching center on moral dimensions of education and integrative education, leadership in education and social justice, and he has written, taught and presented extensively on these topics.

Ed earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Washington. He earned a master’s degree in psychology and bachelors’ degrees in sociology and in psychology at Gonzaga University.

Affiliations: Gonzaga University Trustee; founding board member of Rainier Scholars; Seattle mayors Education Summit Advisory Group; serves on the boards of College Spark Washington, the Road Map Project, and Lakeside School. Nationally he is the faculty for the Academy for Contemplative and Ethical Leadership; part of the Mind and Life Institute; 2010-2011 Fetzer Institute Fellow.


Advisory Board

Francis Gatare (Rwanda)

Francis Gatare is Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum & Gas Board. He is also a member of the Cabinet in the Government of Rwanda. Previously, Francis was CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, and also served as Principal Private Secretary to H.E Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. He has also been Chief Economist and Deputy Head of Policy and Strategy in the Office of the President, Director-General of the Rwanda Investment & Export Promotion Agency, and Rwanda’s Representative to the NEPAD Steering Committee of the African Union. He joined Government after 5 years with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Francis Gatare studied Economics at University and is a Mason Fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School.

Emmanuel Hategeka (Rwanda)

Emmanuel Hategeka is the Ambassador of Rwanda in the United Arab Emirates. He previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Rwanda Development Board and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, focusing on creating innovative programs for job creation, export diversification, and recapturing the domestic market in Rwanda.

Eric Kacou (Rwanda)

Eric Kacou is the Co-founder of Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESPartners).He was raised in Cote d’Ivoire, and his passion is enterprise solutions to poverty for Africa and the rest of the developing world. Eric is actively engaged in consulting and investing across Africa.Rwanda is one of ESPartners key focus countries.

Arthur Karuletwa (Rwanda, US)

Arthur Karuletwa is a Rwandan-American. He is the Global Coffee Traceability Director for Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle. Ten years after the 1994 genocide, he returned to his native home of Rwanda to play a role in the economic and social recovery of a post-genocide era, as a consultant under the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. Karuletwa currently leads the development and implementation of Starbucks’ end-to-end traceability system—a system he co-developed to make the connection from the farmer to the customer in more than 20 countries. Karuletwa is also a 2009 Legatum Fellow at MIT.

John Meisenbach (US)

John Meisenbach has had a successful career in the financial services industry since 1961. His considerable and enduring success is due to the individual attention and expertise that he brings to each of his clients.

Mr. Meisenbach serves on the boards of Costco, Expeditors International, M Financial Group, McCormick Capital Management, Seattle Children’s, and Atlantic Street Center. He is active in numerous industry and civic organizations including the United Way of King County, Global Partnerships, Medical Teams International and Zion Preparatory Academy. He has spoken throughout the country to business and financial service groups. John spent two years in the Navy Submarine Service and then entered Seattle University in 1956, graduating in pre-law in 1960.

Hope Murera (Rwanda)

Mrs. Hope Murera (CEO/Managing Director) LLB and MBA, is a qualified lawyer by training. Hope has been with ZEP-RE Reinsurance Company in Nairobi, Kenya since 2002. Hope formerly served as Managing Director of SONARWA of Rwanda and has over 20 years working experience in the insurance and reinsurance industry.

John Speanburg (US)

John Speanburg serves as Vice President of Grocery Sales at Cargill Incorporated, bringing over 26 years of industry experience to the role. John Speanburg is responsible for collaborating solution based programs with national and international companies across the consumer product sector. He contributes to the Cargill strategy to be the leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way and to be the most trusted partner in agriculture, food and nutrition.