Board of Advisors
Valerie is a career development professional with expertise in strategic planning, donor identification and engagement, and fundraising. She currently serves as Director of Prospect Development at Boston Children’s Hospital Trust, a global leader in pediatric health and medical research. She has served as an advisor to BARKA Foundation since 2012.
Bill spent 30 years in senior management of corporate sales and marketing in Chicago. Following that he spent an inspiring ten years as CEO of World Neighbors, an international development agency in Oklahoma, which focused on rural communities learning to help themselves. For the past 25 years Bill has served as a volunteer Senior Advisor with several nonprofit agencies throughout the world with emphasis on water and agriculture. Bill’s guiding principles include honoring the inherent dignity of each person, looking for win-win situations in everything, and listening to understand rather than be understood.
Malidoma Patrice Somé, Phd., was born in Burkina Faso and came to the West to share the ancient wisdom and practices which have supported his people for thousands of years.
He is the author of several books, including Ritual: Power, Healing and Community; Of Water and The Spirit; and The Healing Wisdom of Africa. Dr. Somé holds three Master’s degrees and two doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University. He is an initiated elder in his village in Dano. He travels throughout the world bringing a message of hope, healing and reconciliation through the powerful tools of ritual and community building.
Many people consider Malidoma Somé to be the most important living interpreter of African indigenous wisdom in the west. He is credited with coining the term “Indigenous African Spiritual Technology” to describe the shamanic work of his Dagara tradition. As divined by his elders before he was born, he was given the name Malidoma which means “to become friends with the stranger”. His life has been devoted to building a bridge between his indigenous culture and industrialized civilization.
Genevieve lives in Epernay, France, the heart of Champagne country. From 2001-2014 she was part of the Municipal Council of Epernay which is dedicated to the cooperation between Epernay and Fada N’Gourma (they have been sister-cities for 40 years). In particular, Genevieve worked on a 5-year program that sought to strengthen Fada’s water and sanitation services. She has traveled annually to Fada since 2002 and has become a vital part of its community. As a member of the sister-city committee, she helps French people discover the similarities and difference of life in Fada. This culminates in an African-inspired festival that takes place in Epernay every two years in September to educate on issues of world citizenship and to raise funds for schools, books and nutritional programs in Fada.
Genevieve is also a member of the BAMISA project which combats malnutrition in Burkina Faso. BAMISA is a local porridge for infants 6 months – 2 years that contains far higher nutritional content and is simple to make from local ingredients. Genevieve has visited villages where BARKA has implemented projects and worked with mothers to teach them how to make BAMISA.
Fatou Batta is the Executive Director of Association Nourrir Sans Détruire (ANSD), Groundswell’s national NGO partner in Burkina Faso, and serves on Groundswell’s Board as a Representative of Groundswell’s International Council. Until 2009 Ms. Batta had worked for over 15 years as World Neighbors’ Area Representative for West Africa, overseeing all aspects of strategy, programs and management for the region (4 countries). Prior to joining World Neighbors, Ms. Batta held several positions with the government of her native Burkina Faso, where she helped to develop family planning policy and planned and administered projects sponsored by international and bilateral agencies. She received her Master’s degree in Public Health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. She did her undergraduate work at School of Technical Education in Paris and has recently completed a diploma in participatory development at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University
Daniel Da Hien
Mr Daniel Da Hien is a General Coordinator of African Youth Network, an African network of information and training on youth, based in Burkina Faso. He also currently chairs the Federation of Burkina Archery, which was created by him in 2000. Mr Daniel Da Hien studied law, project management and banking economy. He held responsibilities at the national, African and global levels in the World UNESCO Clubs Movement (over 5000 UNESCO Clubs worldwide) and was a Member of Parliament (Senator) in Burkina Faso and took an active part in assisting in the establishment of a dozen programs and organizations of civil society. Each year with a group of youth activists, he plants 1000s of trees in different parts of Burkina Faso. Mr Da Hien is Knight of the Order of Merit Burkina for Youth and Sports. He is a former national champion in handball.
Gwen Young is the Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center. The GWLI focuses on empowering women across the globe into leadership positions. Ms. Young recently left Africare where she was the Country Director in Senegal launching women’s economic empowerment programming. Ms. Young has worked as a legal consultant for various universities and NGOs and a Policy and Advocacy officer for global development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. An alumna of Smith College, Harvard and the University of California Davis, Martin Luther King Jr School of Law, Ms. Young has pursued a career in humanitarian relief, international development, and human rights. Her career has encompassed a comprehensive array of international organizations including MSF, International Rescue Committee, ACCION International, CARE and the Harvard Institute for International Development. Ms. Young spent over ten years living in strife-filled countries throughout Africa. As an attorney, Ms. Young has worked as a professional advocate for refugee and human rights in both corporate law settings and with the ICTY and the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. She also worked as a Humanitarian Affairs Advisor for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) providing humanitarian law, human rights, and advocacy training in conflict ridden zones.