We Connect Resources

World Connect’s small staff follows the example of our project leaders. Nimble, efficient and tireless, they too prove that commitment matters more than size.

Pamela
Nathenson

Executive Director
347-563-7452

Pamela Nathenson is the Executive Director of World Connect. Prior to joining the organization she was Director of Program and Resource Development at the Fund for Public Health in New York, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the work of the New York City Health Department. As its first hire, Pamela was integrally involved in all aspects of the Fund's start-up, development and growth.

She worked closely with leading scientists at the NYC Health Department to position innovative initiatives for funding, pursue new business opportunities, and develop relationship strategies and partnerships, while defining and implementing organizational policy decisions and directions. During her eight years with the Fund, she helped raise more than $250 million in public and private sector funds to support Health Department priorities. Prior to joining the Fund, Pamela was the Director of Programs at the REACH Community Health Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Northern Berkshire Health Systems in Massachusetts. Pamela earned her Bachelor's Degree in the Philosophy of Medicine from Boston University's University Professors Program and her Master's degree in Public Health with a concentration in International Health from Boston University's School of Public Health.

Christine
Lackowski

Chief Operating Officer

Christine Lackowski is the Chief Operating Officer at World Connect. Prior to joining the organization, she was the COO at Project Sunshine, a non-profit organization based in New York City, with programming across the United States and abroad. In addition, she has worked for multiple nonprofit agencies, while serving as a Client Manager at BTQ Financial, in the area of finance and accounting. Prior to entering the nonprofit sector, Christine worked in the financial services industry.

Christine holds an Masters of Public Administration degree from Baruch College, a Masters of Business Administration degree from Pace University, and a Business Administration degree from the University of Georgia.

Becky
Yi

Development Director

Becky is the Development Director at World Connect. Prior to joining the organization, she held various development and fundraising leadership roles including Executive Director of Development at The American University in Cairo, Leadership Gifts Officer at the International Rescue Committee, and Assistant Director of Development at the Institute of International Education. Becky is a graduate of Smith College and the recipient of the U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to the Russian Federation.

Patrick
Higdon

Program Manager
615-513-2943

Patrick Higdon is the Director of Programs at World Connect. In this role he is responsible for overall program quality and integrity and guides our program strategy, team, and key partnerships. He is also World Connect's representative in the United Kingdom. Prior to becoming Director of Programs, Patrick was Program Manager for 7 years and spent 2+ years as the Program Coordinator for World Connect's education program.

Morag
Neill-Johnson

Program Officer

Morag Neill-Johnson is the Program Officer at World Connect. Born in South Africa, raised in Botswana and a Zambian citizen, Morag has dedicated her career to addressing various forms of inequality across the continent of Africa. Prior to World Connect, Morag spent close to 5 years focusing on the inclusion and access for women and girls through WASH initiatives, sustainable agricultural projects, and improving health and educational infrastructure in rural areas in Africa countries. She has conducted research on the intersection of identity, exclusion, and re-victimization of survivors of gender-based violence in resettled Somali refugee communities in the US. Morag also worked with organizations to address HIV/AIDs in Uganda, partnered with UNHCR Botswana on advocacy efforts, and addressed child trafficking in the US. Morag earned her master's degree in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and was inducted into the Class of 2018 Most Influential People Of African Descent (MIPAD) in support of the UN declaration of the international decade for people of African descent.

Sarah
Garwood

Program Coordinator

Sarah Garwood is the Program Coordinator at World Connect. Prior to working at World Connect, she worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Nature for Development team, developing global communications campaigns and conducting research on nature-based solutions for sustainable development. At Jesuit Refugee Service South Africa, Sarah worked with refugee and asylum-seeking women who had experienced sexual and gender-based violence, highlighting their stories and designing a sustainable communication strategy for the organization. She also lived and worked in Belize City, Belize for two years, managing youth development programming at an all-boys high school with Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Sarah holds a Master’s degree in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University, where she was an Arrupe Fellow, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, International Business, and Theology from Villanova University.

Frank Charles
Kasonga

Project Manager, Malawi

Frank is a Certified Grants and Program Management professional with over thirteen years' experience in projects and grants management. Prior to joining the World Connect team, he spent six and half (6.5) years at U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, Malawi managing their small grants program. His experience spans from project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to project closeout. He is also highly experienced in organizational capacity building and development of monitoring and evaluation tools. Before to joining U.S. Embassy, he spent eight years working as Program Manager for the Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA). He holds an MSc in Transformative Community Development from Mzuzu University and a BSc in Rural and Community Development. Frank grew up in the village and was the first person in his village to go to University. His passion in community development is to lead a transformative change in his country. He is married to Susan and together, they have three children, two girls and one boy.

RUTH CANESHA
CHAMANGWANA

Program and Training Assistant, Malawi

Ruth is the Program and Training Assistant at World Connect. Prior to joining the team, she served as a CorpsAfrica volunteer in Salima District, Malawi for a year, where she used Asset Based Community Development approach and Human Centered Design in facilitating community projects. She is also a 2017 Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center alumna, an opportunity that accelerated her drive for community development and women inclusion in the development arena. Ruth holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry education, from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

Arianne
Wunder

Communications Manager

Arianne is the Communications Manager at World Connect. Prior to joining the team she was an Account Executive at gyro, an advertising agency, in New York, NY.

Arianne graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Dakota with a B.A. in Media & Journalism, specializing in Strategic Communications and minoring in French and Photography.

Sarah
Haas

Development and Operations Associate

Sarah is the Development and Operations Associate at World Connect, responsible for supporting the development and administration activities of the organization.

Sarah graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a B.A in Sociology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Natacha
Weiss

Field Coordinator

Natacha Scott-Weiss has been a Field Coordinator for World Connect since 2016. She is an expert on refugee issues and on development impact analysis with a special focus on gender.

From 1995 to 2000, she worked as an advocate for Refugees International in Africa, both West Africa and the Great Lakes. Natacha's work in Sierra Leone was credited in the New York Times and she was interviewed by CNN, ABC and Fox News. In 2001, she founded the US foundation "American Friends of the Bambi Homes Colombia" a foundation for abandoned children in Colombia. She was the President of the organization from 2001 to 2011. In 2007, Natacha helped form Surgeons Overseas (SOS), an organization assisting and developing surgical capacity in under-resourced countries, such as Sierra Leone. Her two decades of experience include missions throughout Africa and the Americas.

Born in Toronto, Canada and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, she holds a BA (Honors) in International Relations and Psychology with an emphasis on Refugees Studies from Webster University. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and conversational in German.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

John
Adams

John Adams co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970, serving as NRDC's executive director and later president from its inception until 2006 — a tenure unparalleled by the leader of any other environmental organization. As NRDC's founding director, Adams continues to play an active role in the organization on the local, national and international levels.

In February 2011, Adams received the U.S.'s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In presenting it, President Obama referenced Rolling Stone magazine’s description of the recipient: "If the planet has a lawyer, it's John Adams."

In 2010, Adams and his wife Patricia co-authored A Force for Nature, their memoir of 40 years of NRDC battles and victories. He currently chairs the board of the Open Space Institute and sits on the boards of numerous other environmental organizations. He has also served on governmental advisory committees, including President Clinton's Council for Sustainable Development. Prior to his work at NRDC, Adams served as Assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Duke University School of Law. Adams lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York, not far from the farm where he was raised.

Christoph
Becker

Christoph Becker has spent more than 25 years building brands and creative cultures around the globe. Serving as both Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer of gyro, he has grown it into one of the largest, most successful business-to-business agencies in the world. gyro is the current Ad Age and ANA/BMA 2016 business-to-business agency of the year.

Before gyro, Becker spent eight years as Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of FCB New York and then DraftFCB New York. Under his watch, the agency secured high-profile accounts including Diet Coke, Motorola, MetLife, Gerber and US Census 2010. Prior to FCB, he was Chief Creative Officer of Bozell's Latin American region.

A seasoned creative judge, Becker has sat on juries at Cannes, Spikes, D&AD, The Effie Awards and Dubai Lynx, where he was a jury president. He has shared his thoughts on creative excellence, speaking at high-profile events including the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Fortune Brainstorm:Tech, the Forbes CMO Summit and Advertising Week. He is also a columnist for Adweek magazine. Christoph has long supported the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a non-profit providing humanitarian aid worldwide, and he currently sits on its Board of Directors.

George
Biddle, Chairman

George Biddle is a humanitarian and development expert with over three decades of experience in crisis response, peace-building, and conflict mitigation. He is currently the chairman of World Connect.

From 2000 to 2015, Biddle was the executive vice president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a leading humanitarian organization that responds to conflict and natural disasters across the globe. He served as the IRC’s acting president from May to July 2002. Previously, he served as the vice president of the International Crisis Group. Biddle was also president of the Institute for Central American Studies, an organization he founded in 1989 to assist post-cold war Central America in its transition from violent conflict to peace and democracy.

Biddle has testified before Congress and presented at the UN Security Council and the European Parliament, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and currently serves as a board member of the IRC as well as several other nonprofits. He received his AB from Harvard and MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Clara
Bingham

Clara Bingham is a journalist, author and documentary film producer whose work has focused on social justice and women's issues. Her most recent book is Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul (Random House, 2016). Previously, she produced a documentary that exposed the ravages of mountain top removal coal mining in Appalachia. Clara and Laura Leedy Gansler co-wrote Class Action: The Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law (Doubleday, 2002), which was adapted into the 2005 feature film North Country (Warner Bros).

Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress (Times Books, 1997) chronicles the lives of four female members of the 103rd Congress following the 1992 "Year of the Woman" elections. As a Washington, D.C. correspondent for Newsweek from 1989 to 1993, Clara covered the George H. W. Bush White House leading up to and during the 1992 presidential election. She also worked as a press secretary on the Michael Dukakis 1988 Democratic presidential campaign.

Clara's freelance writing has appeared in publications including The Daily Beast, Ms., Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Talk, Glamour, The Washington Monthly and United Press International, the wire service for which she wrote as a stringer from Papua New Guinea. Clara graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in History and Literature.

Stephanie
Cabot, Secretary

Half French, half American, Stephanie was educated in Europe and in the US where she majored in History at Harvard. She worked for JPMorgan in New York and London for seven years and then became a literary agent in London and spent nine years at the William Morris Agency- London, the last five as Managing Director where she built a list of international bestselling and prize-winning authors. She moved back to the States in 2005, joined The Gernert Company. She spends her weekends working on a family dairy farm with her husband and four children.

Courtenay Cabot
Venton

Courtenay Cabot Venton is an international development economist. By demonstrating the relative returns of social and environmental interventions, she contributes to an evidence base for what works and what doesn't when it comes to reducing poverty worldwide. Courtenay's recent work demonstrates that, by responding proactively to some of the world's most pressing problems, we can not only avert human suffering, but we could also save billions of dollars – dollars that are critically needed to continue to support people's growth out of poverty.

John G.
Coumantaros

John G. Coumantaros is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), the largest food and agro-allied concern in West Africa. An experienced and successful entrepreneur with interests around the globe, Mr Coumantaros was born in 1961 and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. Degree in History in 1984.

Mr. Coumantaros began his long relationship with FMN in 1984 and was appointed to FMN’s Board as a non-executive Director in 1990. He served as a Non-Executive Vice Chairman of the Company and its subsidiaries from 2012 until he was elected Chairman of FMN Board of Directors in 2014. He is also the Chairman & CEO of Southern Star Shipping CO. Inc. of New York, sits on the Board of the Oxbow Carbon LLC, a leading U.S. based international energy company, and is a Director of ELBISCO, a fast-moving consumer food business in Athens, Greece.

Mr. Coumantaros has over 30 years’ experience in international trade, logistics, manufacturing, and industry and is passionately dedicated to the industrial and agricultural development of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. The founder of the US Nigerian Business Council, he is also an active supporter of a number not-for-profit initiatives globally.

Glen
Davis

Glen Davis is Assistant Medical Director for Education at the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), a non-profit social services agency that provides psychiatric and primary care to disenfranchised individuals. A physician and mental health professional, he provides clinical care through the Project for Psychiatric Outreach to the Homeless (PPOH) at CUCS and directs all medical education and professional development activities at the agency. He also leads the implementation of a New York State opioid overdose prevention initiative in 54 programs across New York City. Dr. Davis graduated from Hamilton College with a concentration in comparative literature and earned his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. He completed residency and fellowship training in psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York University Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center, where he is an instructor in clinical psychiatry. Dr. Davis has been a co-investigator on NIH funded research studies, and he has authored peer-reviewed articles on the epidemiology of psychiatric and substance use disorders in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to medical school, Dr. Davis served for three years as a community health education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso.

Robert
Hecht

Robert Hecht is a Managing Director at Results for Development. He manages a growing portfolio of projects analyzing policy barriers and solutions related to AIDS and health financing, and improving R&D and access to new health technologies in developing countries. Previously he spent four years as Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Prior to this, he enjoyed a 20 year tenure at the World Bank, where he occupied a number of senior posts.

His posts at the World Bank include Manager of the Bank's central unit for Health, Nutrition, and Population, Chief of Operations for the Human Development Network, and Principal Economist for the Latin America region. He was a lead author of the 1993 World Development Report, "Investing in Health,"" and from 1987 to 1996 he was responsible for World Bank sponsored studies and projects in health in Africa and Latin America, most notably in Zimbabwe and Argentina. Robert served as a director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) from 1998 to 2001, where he managed technical units based in South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, and Thailand, as well as in Geneva. He led UNAIDS efforts to portray AIDS as a development and poverty issue impacting a wide range of social and economic goals, and published a number of papers advancing this view. Robert is the author of more than 30 articles and other publications. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale and his doctorate from Cambridge University.

James
Hunt, Treasurer

James Hunt is a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Tocqueville Asset Management, where he serves as Chairman of the Investment Committee and lead portfolio manager for the firm's International and Global strategies.

Prior to Tocqueville, he spent 10 years as an executive in corporate finance at Lehman Brothers and Dillon Read, advising corporations and governments globally on privatizations, mergers and acquisitions and capital raising transactions. James also serves on the board of WaterAid America, a not for profit focused on clean water and sanitation. He earned a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Yale's School of Organization and Management.

Avinash
Kaza

Avinash Kaza is the Co-Founder & CEO of Upswell, cutting edge data science and technology services company, with a focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Its customized data science and technology driven analytics and solutions empower the world’s leading organizations to innovate, solve problems, and make optimal business decisions. Upswell also develop products in its Labs business. Prior to Upswell, he held senior level macro finance roles across sales, trading, and research at Goldman Sachs, Perry Capital, and Bank of American Merrill Lynch.

In addition to his World Connect service, Avi serves on the Boards of Emerging Markets Charity Benefit and Hunger Free America. He also serves on the Funds Board for BRIC and the US Programs Leadership Committee for the International Rescue Committee. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Truman National Security Project. He holds a B.A. in Economics and M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University.

Diane
Lifton

Diane Lifton is a Partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLC with more than twenty years' experience with the business of drug and medical device development, regulation, insurance, sales and marketing, medical standards of care, the structure and ethics of clinical research, and the science and medicine of disease diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Substantive knowledge of and experience with basic contract drafting, negotiation and interpretation, commercial disputes, tort and product liability claims, FDA regulations, medical and scientific expert development, all aspects of single and multi-case litigations, bench and jury trials. Pro bono representation, and supervision of representation, in child custody, disability benefits, Section 1983, criminal defense, housing, consumer debt class action and other matters and Hurricane Sandy counseling. At Hughes Hubbard, Diane is Partner and Co-Chair of the HHR Product Liability Group where she provides leadership and collaborates with her committee Co-Chair and HHR's Managing Partner on the direction and growth of the Group's approximately 100 attorneys, para-professionals, and medical analysts, co-Chair of the Hiring Committee and Faculty, The Hughes Institute, where she recruit, supervises and trains new attorneys, and on the HHR Women's Roundtable and Diversity Committee, which plans and presents quarterly professional development programming for HHR's women attorneys, and mentoring. Diane has provided approximately 15 years of continuing service on the Goddard Riverside Community Center Holiday Dinners Committee. Diane is the Successor Trustee on the Jerome & Delores Z. Gewirtz Charitable Trust.

Carolyn
Makinson

Carolyn Makinson was executive director of International Rescue Committee UK 2010-2014; executive director of the Women's Refugee Commission 2004-2010; and executive director of MIT's Center for International Studies 2002-2004. Before joining MIT, Carolyn spent 15 years as a program officer for population and forced migration at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In these roles, she advocated for reproductive health services for displaced populations, for education in emergencies, for programs to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in conflict zones, and for greater attention to the needs of displaced populations in urban settings.

Carolyn has lived and worked in Belgium, Burundi, Egypt, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique and Rwanda. She studied Arabic for several years, spent a year living with an Egyptian family in Cairo, and retains a strong interest in the Middle East.

Carolyn has a PhD in Sociology and demography from Princeton University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Currently, she serves on the boards of Peace Direct USA and the Vitol Foundation, as well as Village Health Works.

JJ
Ramberg

JJ Ramberg is the host of MSNBC's Your Business, the only television show dedicated to issues affecting small business owners. She is also author of the book It's Your Business – 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business. With her brother, JJ co-founded GoodSearch.com, a company that transforms every day actions into opportunities to support a favorite cause. Her business career began after JJ received her MBA while she was the Director of Marketing and Business Development and one of the first employees at Los Angeles-based Cooking.com.

Before joining MSNBC, JJ was a reporter at CNN where she covered a wide range of topics, ranging from breaking news to profiles of the country's top business leaders. JJ has been awarded Self Magazine's "Women Doing Good" award, Jewish Women International's "Women to Watch," and the New York Enterprise Report's Small Business Advocate among other recognition. JJ graduated cum laude from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and received her MBA from Stanford Business School.

Sean
Reilly

Sean Reilly is CEO of Lamar, which was founded by his great-grandfather. He served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1988-96, succeeding his father, Kevin Patrick Reilly Sr., in the position. From 1999-2005, he served on the board of the Louisiana Community College and Technical College System. Gov. Bobby Jindal called on him to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Louisiana Innovation Council, a group which emphasizes technology and economic development statewide. In 2011, Jindal appointed him to the Post-secondary Education Governance Commission. Reilly is co-founder and board trustee of Blueprint Louisiana, a non-partisan effort to fundamentally improve Louisiana. Reilly and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. Reilly's affiliations include board service to the Volunteers of America, Reserve Telephone Company and Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana. He is also co-chair of the Louisiana Flagship Coalition and a member of the Young Presidents Organization, Manship Board of Visitors, and Manship Campaign Advisory Board. Mr. Reilly is an alumnus of Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1984 and a juris doctorate in 1989.

Jack
Sullivan

Jack Sullivan has served as Chief Executive Officer of Broadway Video Entertainment since 2002. Jack joined Broadway Video in 1994. Jack oversees all of Broadway Video's operations, including the New York based Digital Studios, Production Services, Digital Delivery, Licensing and Ventures divisions and the Los Angeles based Television, Film and Branding + Creative divisions. Jack began his career as a finance executive for USA Network in New York. He received his juris doctorate degree from Pepperdine University School of Law and his undergraduate degree in business administration from Tulane University

Ayanna
Wayner

Ayanna Wayner is an attorney and serves as Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development for the City of New Rochelle where she is working to usher-in a massive estimated $4 billion downtown revitalization and redevelopment project to assure smart and sustainable growth, economic vibrancy, thousands of new jobs and millions in new revenue for the future of the city and its residents.

In the private sector, Ayanna joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP after law school as a corporate lawyer in the Banking & Institutional Investing group and later practiced real estate and affordable housing law at Goldstein Hall PLLC. As Assistant General Counsel at Urban American, a private real estate investment and management company, Ayanna negotiated large portfolio acquisitions, condominium conversions and was in charge of commercial leasing, where she significantly multiplied the commercial leasing revenue for the firm. Ayanna worked internationally in Honduras when she participated in a program supported by the Honduran Ministry of Tourism and led by non-profit organizations in the United States, to spur eco-tourism as a path to growing the Honduran economy. Ayanna holds a B.A. from Barnard College, with a major in Political Science and concentration in Caribbean Politics from the University of the West Indies, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School.

Julia
Haney

Julia Haney is a Co-Founder of World Connect and has been involved with our cause for eleven years, two of which she worked as the Director of Education and Outreach. Julia worked to expand the education program, support school and program partners, and empower students everywhere to believe that they can change the world.

Julia earned her bachelor degree cum laude in English at Harvard University.