Esu is a co-founder of The BARKA Foundation and has served as the President of the Board since 2006. He had a successful career as a television producer for CNN, CNBC and FOX in New York City, and as a media technology consultant in the Seattle area where he parlayed his television expertise to streaming media on the web at RealNetworks and Microsoft. In 2005 he was deeply affected by a visit to Burkina Faso under the tutelage of renowned wisdomkeeper, Dr. Malidoma Somé. This led him down a path of passion and purpose that resulted in the creation of The BARKA Foundation with his wife, Ina.
Esu has a B.A. in Theatre and English from Williams College and attended Trinity Rep Theatre Conservatory where he studied acting and directing.
Ina is a co-founder of BARKA Foundation and has served in various capacities as a member of its Board of Directors since 2006. She is the Directrice Generale of Fondation BARKA, the local affiliate organization in Burkina Faso. Ina has traveled to Burkina annually since 2000. She has earned the respect of national government leaders, traditional authorities and most importantly, local villagers and women throughout Burkina. Ina is devoted to the issue of women’s empowerment, particularly the cross-cutting issues of how women are affected by lack of access to safe drinking water.
Cathie joined the Board of Directors in 2013 and has served as its Secretary since 2015.
In her own words:
I first came to know BARKA from meeting Ina and Esu at a church gathering where they spoke about the preciousness of water and about a little country in West Africa called Burkina Faso. Being close to retiring from being a nurse for 40 years , I welcomed the opportunity to help with this work. I was privileged to visit BARKA’s headquarters in Fada N’Gourma, Burkina Faso for about a week in 2014. What was most enriching was how Ina and Esu and all the BARKA employees were loved and respected by the villages in which BARKA serves.
Tracy J. Heilman
As a BARKA board member, Tracy draws upon her considerable experience growing small organizations and startups in the health technology industry. She has a history of designing and launching successful products with compelling user experiences, as well as unique expertise in creating effective consumer-facing, information-rich, interactive applications. Tracy is currently VP, Product Innovation at Connecture, a health insurance and benefits platform company. Previously, she co-founded Subimo, a start-up that developed a suite of healthcare transparency tools and was acquired by WebMD in 2006. Tracy’s experience also includes strategic planning and marketing consulting for health systems and providers. She holds an MBA in Finance, Marketing, and Health Services Management from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and a BA in Economics and Psychology from Williams College.
Tracy currently serves as Co-Chair for the Williams College Alumni Fund, in addition to supporting Williams in a number of additional volunteer capacities. She is also a member of the Winnetka Board of the Northwestern Settlement in Chicago.
Animator, Field Worker
Adam Ruderman has been a lifelong entrepreneur, creating companies and organizations to help people, many with a social mission, some within the field of organic food and sustainable agriculture, and more recently within real estate and finance. Adam grew up in New York City where his award-winning restaurant and catering company, Herban Kitchen (1994-2004), was a pioneer in providing healthy and tasty organic meals, as well as educating the public about organic food and forging ties between local family farmers and restaurant patrons.
Adam is a creative thinker and problem solver who believes in the power of private and public enterprises to produce both financial and social returns, and to improve the world as part of their organizational mission. Adam believes that all organizations need to be responsible for their actions and create and promote sustainable practices. Adam also believes that non-profit organizations must provide real value and create self-funding mechanisms that provide streams of revenue which insure their long-term survival.
Adam received his BA in Political Economy from Williams College in 1988, and resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Katie, and children Jake (12), Phineas (9), and Gigi (6).
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.
“To work alongside Esu and Ina is to feel their relentless passion, energy and drive to make the BARKA Foundation into a significant force for positive change. They do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because they are driven by a greater force which compels them to act. They work at this feverish pitch not for their own gain, but because they see the urgency of the situation and know that time is of the essence for the future of the children in this world.”