Who We Are

Board of Directors

Chief Executive Officer/Director of the Board- Dr. Kristen Brown is currently the One System/Whole Child Integration Lead for the California Department of Education where her charge is align a system of resources and supports to better meet the needs of the whole child (from cradle to career) and the Local Control Accountability Planning process. Her background includes work, research and travel in Asia, Caribbean, the United States and West Africa. Previously, Dr. Brown worked as an Academic Director for the Arts Institute International in the United States, as a Business Advisor for the U.S. Peace Corps in Jamaica, a Group Leader for Operation Crossroads Africa in West Africa and as a Foreign Advisor for Gram Educational Institute in Taiwan. Her research has focuse on designing appropriate government and nongovernmental training on a global front, economic adjustment and policy development in developing countries, uncovering the disguised effects of structural adjustment, and integrating skill training and rural policy development for informal economic sectors. Dr. Brown has two decades of instruction and curriculum design. She has written and secured international grants for under-represented groups in developing countries. She has also evaluated Fulbright, Upward Bound and International Research grants for the U.S Department of Education.  She earned a PhD from the University of Southern California in International/Intercultural Education Administration, Planning and Policy.

Chair of the Board/Director of the Board - Kian Dwyer (Minnesota, United States), founded the World Help Organization along with Key On Giving and Key on Action services which promotes active giving (www.world/helporganization.org). Ms. Dwyer has authored two books entitled, Living Your Chosen Eulogy: Live Today How You Want To Be Remembered and There is an Angel in all of Us. As an orphan in Iran, Ms. Dwyer was one of five children allowed to leave the country after being adopted. Her journey in the United States has been published in the book Women as Healers: Voices of Vibrancy. Ms. Dwyer has over 25-years experience in the design industry. Her experience includes generating new strategies to meet current market needs, identifying today's trends, initiating resolutions and implementing organizational and time management skills for a lifetime. Ms. Dwyer volunteers and is an active participant and contributor for classes and workshops in development training for special needs kids. Ms. Dwyer holds a BA in Speech and Communications with a minor in Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.

Director of the Board - Jelena Song has ten years of experience in education with the focus on program management and team leadership. Her experience and skills include program delivery, operations and budgeting, curriculum development and implementation, program assessment and accreditation, strategic planning, staff hiring and management, networking and community relations, developing and supporting engagement initiatives and events, and career advising and mentoring.  Jelena has also been involved with a number of nonprofit organizations in Twin Cities, most recently doing collaborative work with the focus on programming, design and communications, and development. Jelena is a native of Sarajevo, Bosnia, where she grew up and finished high school. After three years spent in the Architecture Program at the Technical University in Vienna, Austria, Jelena moved to Minnesota in 1997. Prior to accepting a full-time position at the Art Institutes International Minnesota, Jelena spent a year practicing as an Intern Architect and Designer at a local architecture office. Jelena graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2004 with the Master Degree in Architecture. She received Thesis Award for Design Excellence in 2002 for her thesis work on human daily rituals and the habitual use of space.

Director of the Board - Dr. Janet Jones Balcom has been working the educational field for over 30 years. She was most recently the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Student Services in a large urban district in Sacramento, California. She currently is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at National University. Janet has worked in a variety of settings and positions including state, county, and Special Education Local Plan Area levels.  These varied positions together have shaped her knowledge in the field. In addition to this, she was director of a federally-funded statewide Head Start-Public School Transition research and demonstration project in the state of Idaho.

Director of the Board - Dr. Jeffrey Allen has been an innovative leader driving the quality delivery of educational and social services over the last 25 years.  He believes in creating a community of shared values and goals. Through community and relationship building, he has guided organizations to create solutions, and overcome barriers to success. Dr. Allen has held positions as a college President, academic leadership positions at The Art Institutes and National American University and leadership positions providing services to people with disabilities.  He works diligently to provide students learning and professional development opportunities to make their lives and their community better.  Dr. Allen’s approach to community and relationship building began when he led support programs providing more independence for people with disabilities and mental health issues.  He developed one of the first residential non-institutional programs in Minnesota for people with traumatic head injury.  He has written about the reciprocal relationships between the care giver and the care receiver, and the personal growth with emerges from this relationship.  This experience for Dr. Allen has led to his ideas of community building, shared values and personal responsibility; leading to the growth of human capital and innovation leading people and organizations to overcome barriers to success. In his spare time he raises bees, taps maple trees for syrup, and practices acetylene welding. Dr. Allen earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Administration, Higher Education from the University of Minnesota. He is also a licensed independent social worker in the state of Minnesota.

Director of the Board - Mr. Akpan Etukudo is a Management Officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) within the cluster of AIDS/TB/Malaria in the Africa region. Mr. Etukudo supports 46 African member states of the WHO Africa region through organising, directing, planning, monitoring and reviewing the implementation of program budgets and workplan activities. He also provides authoritative advice on financial policies, rules, regulations and practices of the organization. Mr. Etukudo holds a Masters degree in Economics coupled with professional training certificates with the World Bank Institute and Cornell University. His work experience and career spans two decades within the United Nations system in various duty stations- Geneva (Switzerland), Brazzaville (Congo), Kinshasa (DR Congo), Harare (Zimbabwe), Pretoria (South Africa). His skills include Negotiation, Results-based Management, Human Resources Management, Budget Planning and Monitoring. Mr. Etukudo currently holds professional membership with the American Economic Association, Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, International Health Economics Association, Society for Human Resources Management, and the Global Health Council.

Director of the Board - Bertina Macaulay (Jamaica, West Indies) is a Sierra Leone-born actress & businesswoman who has called Jamaica home for almost 3 decades. After majoring in acting at the Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts, Ms. Macaulay has appeared in motion pictures & TV shows including the female lead in the international hit Cool Runnings & a series regular for the past 10 years in the No 1 Jamaican soap opera, Royal Palm Estate. She has also been the featured talent in commercials for products such as Heineken, Malibu Rum & Tia Maria. As part of her commitment to film as a tool for social development & empowerment, Ms. Macaulay has  also appeared in television/community movies about incest and domestic violence produced by The Women’s Centre of Jamaica. As a theatre artist, she has appeared in numerous stage productions in the Caribbean, USA, Canada, UK & Belgium, earning several acting nominations along the way. Additionally, Ms. Macaulay is the owner & Managing Director of Bee Enterprises Limited, a more than 2 decades old advertising company in Jamaica. Over the last 8 years, she has also cultivated computer programming skills, producing database applications for a diverse client base from manufacturing, retail & service companies to larger organizations like the General Legal Council of Jamaica & the Jamaica Agricultural Society. Since 1992, Ms. Macaulay has been involved in community development efforts for disadvantaged inner-city children, organizing lunch programs for basic schools, paying school fees & mentoring young people. She is currently a board member of the Saints Peter & Paul Preparatory School and of Guiding Light, a registered charity that works in the inner city community of Kencot in Kingston.

Advisory Board

Jamaica Advisor - Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, Honorable Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (London) is the former Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture (previously the Ministry of Industry and Tourism). Ms. Ndombet-Assamba is also an Attorney-at-Law and Mediator in Private Practice. She was a Lecturer at the Mona School of Business and a Mediator and Trainer for the Dispute Resolution Foundation. Ms. Ndombet-Assamba has continuously reached out to help the disadvantaged throughout her career. She has worked with many government agencies on the development of special loan programs including work with the Policy Review Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister on the development of Micro Investment Development Agency and representatives of the Dutch Government on the Government of Jamaica/Government of the Netherlands development of special loan programs, just to name a few. She also has extensive experience in the area of small and micro business, negotiating with United States Agency for International Development and Caribbean Housing Finance Corporation on the Housing Guarantee Loan Programmes, and formulating and supervising the mortgage loan facility offered with the National Housing Trust. Her community involvement includes directing the COK Sodality Co-operative Credit Union Ltd, chairing the Social & Economic Alliance for Development Ltd, directing and consulting the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons Ltd.  She is a member of the Jamaican Bar Association, the Jamaican Institute of Management and the Lions Club of New Kingston.  

Africa Advisor - Thaddeus Mensah (Florida, United States/Ghana, West Africa) is the Founder, Chairman of the Board and the Chief Financial Officer for the Sampa Community Educational Project which is a nonprofit organization that empowers communities with educational, financial, technological and cultural resources in Ghana, West Africa and Los Angeles, California (See www.myscep.org). He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and supports various community projects. Thaddeus Mensah was born in Sampa, Ghana, West Africa where he was mentored and trained by his father as a Master Leather Craftsman. He turned this trade into a creative passion of Fashion and Design. His clothes and leatherworks have been exhibited and sold all over the world. He has mentored, trained and headed development efforts for over two decades in several countries. He has lived in Europe, the Caribbean and now resides in the United States. Mr. Mensah obtained his Bachelors of Arts in Finance from the University of California North Ridge.

United States
Sacramento, California

Chief Executive Officer/ Kristen Brown

Co-founder & Liaison of Mexico - Fernando Valdivia has over a decade of experience in small business development and computer science. As the founder and owner of WondrouSoft Network/Software Design and Development Company, he aids small businesses in software and website development. The main drive of this company is to help small businesses develop technical infrastructure by providing services that allow automation of processes utilizing current technologies. Mr. Valdivia is the owner of a tax preparing and small business bookkeeping company. As an Income Tax Specialist, he has reached out and worked with the Spanish speaking community for the last seven years with their tax preparation and small business management. Mr. Valdivia is also the owner of WondrouScapes Landscape Design and Development Company which designs and develops home landscapes. By day, Mr. Valdivia is a Staff Information Systems Analyst for the California Department of Education where he offers technical and data support for the Accountability, Assessment and Awards Division. Previously, he worked with the County of San Joaquin Public Health Services as a Public Health Service Analyst developing an immunization application to keep track and ensure children were properly protected against disease. Mr. Valdivia holds degrees in Computer Science/Electronics, Computer Technologies and Network Technologies from the HEALD Institute of Technology. He also holds a degree in Computer Science from MTI Western Business College. He is certified as a Netware Engineer. In his spare time, he runs and operates a farm in Mexico.

Fundraising & Volunteer Director/Gayle Jamerson

Project Director/ Delia Mamosh

Visual Communications Director/Holly Brown

Paula Brown (Minnesota, United States)

Terry Williams (Minnesota, United States) 

International Staff
Mexico, Tuxpan, Jalisco
Corazones Unidos Por Una Sonrisa United/United Hearts for a Smile (2x4 International Sister Non-Governmental Organization)

Bertha Isaura Torres Osorio (Tuxpan, Jalisco / Mexico) is the Director of Civic Events. Her mission is to manage civic events, preserving the patriotic and cultural values, in coordination with the education and civil institutions. Bertha Isaura has been in charge of the House of Health in Platanar, municipality of Tuxpan, Jalisco, where she has developed and performed strategies to alleviate health issues and to combat disease in rural areas. Bertha Isaura has functioned as the Officer of the Civil Registry of Platanar for seven years. Bertha Isaura has a obtained a degree as a registered nurse from the University of Guadalajara Centro Universitario del Sur and has completed courses to update her knowledge and skills participating on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th program of actualization in nursing skills and knowledge. Collaborated in the program Salud Rural (Rural Health), structured by the Government of the State of Jalisco, Mexico.

Vice President
Victor Manuel Campos Muñoz Tuxpan, Jalisco / Mexico

Chief Legal Counsel
Leure Larios Mejia   Tuxpan, Jalisco / Mexico             

Chief Financial Officer
Arturo Cortez Villavicencio  Tuxpan, Jalisco / Mexico 

Project Administrator

Alma Delia Ceballos Ceballos Cardonaz Tuxpan, Jalisco / Mexico     


In Memoriam

 Chief Advisor -Jerry brown

Chief Supporter - Karen Kauffman