Our Team

Kennedy Odede: Executive Director

Kennedy is an internationally recognized human rights activist. Kennedy was born and raised in the Kibera Slum. As the oldest of eight children, he assumed responsibility for his family at the age of ten. In Kibera he became a certified HIV/AIDS counselor, worked at a community health center, and ran several slum-wide AIDS education campaigns. In 2005 he founded SHOFCO-Kenya, one of the largest organizations in Kibera and the only organization founded and run by residents of the slum itself. Kennedy is currently a sophomore at Wesleyan University in Connecticut double majoring in Government and Sociology. At Wesleyan he is the Campus Organizing intern as well as the founder of the student group Wesleyan Friends of Africa. He recently completed a prestigious human rights fellowship in France with Humanity in Action. He is twenty-five-years-old, speaks five languages, and brings his extensive experience in grass-roots organizing as well as passion for social justice and poverty alleviation to his work with Shining Hope for Communities. Email Kennedy at kennedy@hopetoshine.org

Jessica Posner: Managing Director

Jessica is the co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities and a nationally recognized social justice advocate.  Jessica is a Colorado native and began her career in professional theatre for ten years as an actor and director. In the past several years her interests shifted to theatre as a tool of social change and activism. She has appeared on panels around the world, including at the Humana Festival where she spoke about her involvement with the largest nationwide theatre festival in U.S. history, Suzan Lori Parks’ 365 Plays/365 Days. She has lived in Kenya’s Kibera slum for ten months working with SHOFCO-Kenya. In the fall of 2007 she created and directed a play with young people in Kibera about their lives and struggles, living inside of the slum itself. During the summer of 2008 she directed and created a play with young people from different ethnic groups to work through the division resulting from Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence. Jessica graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University in May 2009 with honors in African-American studies. Jessica was the recipient of the 2010 VH1 Do Something Award. She is twenty-four-years-old, fluent in Swahili, and brings her passion for grassroots community initiatives to her work with Shining Hope for Communities.  Email Jessica at jessica@hopetoshine.org

George Okewa: Programs Administrator

George Okewa in thirty-years-old. He was born in Kibera and has lived there his entire life. In Kibera George is a well-known and respected community organizer and activist. After graduating from high school George continued to educate himself, attending seminars in community health and development. He has organized around issues of labor injustice, unemployment, and the government’s denial of services to the people of Kibera. In 2005 George worked with Kennedy Odede to help start SHOFCO-Kenya, the first community organization founded and run by the people of Kibera. George has since led slum-wide sanitation and anti-violence campaigns. In 2006 George founded Kibera’s own grass-roots security organization to protect and serve residents, as the police do not work inside the slum. George’s work has received widespread acclaim, even attracting the attention of Prime Minister Raila Odinga himself. George believes that the uplift of women is central to changing Kenyan society and the lives of all people in Kibera. He also believes that for such change to take place men and women must work together for equality, education, and justice.
 Email George at george@hopetoshine.org

Inslee Coddington: General Manager

Inslee Coddington is a 2010 graduate of Wesleyan University with a degree in psychology. She is a native of Irvington, NY where she first cultivated her interest in civic engagement and community service while working for village and county political offices. While at Wesleyan, Inslee became engaged in the field of public health, and particularly women's health, while working at the Community Health Center, Inc., and later coordinated the non-profit's student employee and volunteer program. She further pursued her interest in health care and women's studies during a semester abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. She has also worked as a senior research assistant for Wesleyan's Memory and Cognition Lab, and served as secretary of the Wesleyan chapter of Psi Chi, the national honors society for psychology majors. Inslee is currently our General Manager and will be working from Kenya this year. Email Inslee at inslee@hopetoshine.org

Ari Tolman: Programs Director

Ari Tolman hails from Ann Arbor, MI. Ari graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2010 as a double-major in Neuroscience and Sociology. She completed thesis projects in both departments and was awarded High Honors. In the fall of 2009, Ari was inducted into the Wesleyan chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and in April 2010 Wesleyan University awarded her the prestigious Victor Lloyd Butterfield Prize. Ari has a long history of leadership in public service; in high school, she was the first teen to ever serve on the Board of Directors of Ann Arbor's battered women's shelter. At Wesleyan, Ari was the Director of ASHA (AIDS and Sexual Health Awareness), a student group that leads sexual health education workshops in local CT high schools, Co-Founder of an after-school poetry workshop at the juvenile detention facility in Middletown, and a Founder of the campus Sexual Assault Response Team Intern Position. Arielle currently serves as the Programs Director of Shining Hope for Communities and will volunteer for the organization out of Nairobi, Kenya this year. Email Ari at ari@hopetoshine.org.

Leah Lucid: Development Director

Leah Lucid was born and raised in Santa Monica, California.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University in May 2010 with honors in Psychology, and was awarded the Leonard Prize in recognition of exemplifying the highest standards of character and performance in her campus life.  Leah has extensive experience working with children from a variety of backgrounds, including theater camps, a camp for homeless children, and the Reach Out and Read program at free medical clinics.  During the latter half of her undergraduate career, she found a love for psychology.  She has been a research assistant for psychology labs at both Wesleyan and Dartmouth, volunteered with psychiatric inpatients, conducted original psychology research on racial discrimination for her honors thesis, served as vice president of the Wesleyan psychology honors society (Psi Chi), and published an article in the Wesleyan psychology journal, Mind Matters.  In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school for Clinical Psychology.  Leah is currently the Development Director of Shining Hope for Communities, and will be working from Kenya for the next year. Email Leah at Leah@hopetoshine.org

Katherine Kitfied Bascom: U.S. Programs Director

Katherine Kitfield Bascom is a recent graduate of Wesleyan University, where she majored in English. She is a native of Northern Vermont and grew up on her family’s dairy farm, where she developed an early interest in environmental sustainability and agricultural policy. At Wesleyan, she was a founding member and Market Master of the Wesleyan Farmers’ Market, working to increase the accessibility and affordability of local food for the community. She has worked in Bangladesh for BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities) programs distributing agricultural grants to support impoverished rural women develop sustainable livelihoods. Katherine is the recipient of Wesleyan University’s Olin Fellowship for creative nonfiction, the Service Careers Fellowship for her dedication to community work, and the Herbert Lee Connolly prize for outstanding ability in non-fiction writing. She is currently a fellow with the Northwest Institute for Social Change, and brings her unwavering enthusiasm and devotion to Shining Hope’s innovative work. Email Katherine at katherine@hopetoshine.org.

Ilana Nelson-Greenberg: Health Services Director

Ilana Nelson-Greenberg graduated from Brown University in 2010.  She concentrated in Development Studies, informally concentrating on global.  Ilana interned at Partners In Health during the summer of 2009, where she recieved training on global health care delivery.  As the practical component of her studies, Ilana traveled abroad to Kenya in the fall of 2008, studying health and development while living in Nairobi and traveling around the country for nearly 4 months.  She is originally from Brooklyn, NY, and has volunteered in many capacities at home and at Brown.  She will spend the next year working on site in Kenya. Email Ilana at ilana@hopetoshine.org.

Julia Alubala: Kibera School for Girls Teacher

Julia has lived in Kibera her entire life. She is the youngest in a family of nine, and has eight older brothers. As a child Julia used to devour storybooks and magazines and would cry as she watched her older brothers go to school. Eventually her father agreed to send her to school, which is very rare for girls in Kibera. Julia studied hard and after graduating from high school worked for several years to save money to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. She first got her certificate in early childhood education and development and then went on to get an advanced diploma in early childhood education and development from the University of Nairobi. She has taught at schools in Nairobi for the past ten years, however was often frustrated by the poor management and teacher-centered model of education. While she taught Julia continued her own education, attending seminars in community development and women’s empowerment. In addition to teaching she has also helped to start several community groups that use microfinance programs to improve the lives of women. Julia believes strongly in a child-centered, experimental approach to education that focuses on play and creativity. Because of her own experiences of abuse as a woman in Kibera she is especially passionate about teaching the slum’s girls. She believes that, “when you educate a girl, you educate the whole world.”
Email Julia at Julia@hopetoshine.org

Mary Okoth: Kibera School for Girls Teacher

Mary was born to a single mother and grew up in her grandmother’s house near Nairobi. As a child, her mother had always told her that she would love teaching. After graduating from high school, she began volunteering with young children at a local Sunday school and realized that she had found her calling. Recognizing that she needed more training as a teacher, she attended teacher’s college at Nairobi University and earned her teaching certificate in 2008. She is a single mother and lives in Kibera with her two boys, ages 13 and 6.  It was the Kibera School’s child-centered curriculum that drew Mary to her current teaching position. She appreciates being able to work outside of the traditional Kenyan educational system and focus on her students’ talents and interests. The Kibera School’s curriculum and students make her excited to come to work every day. Mary teachers a combined first/second grade class and is also the liason between the school and women in the community.

Consolata Arajoro: KSG Teacher

Consolata is the eldest of five girls and one boy. After her first year of high school, Consolata ’s father decided to stop paying her school fees because he considered girls’ education unimportant. She went straight to his boss with the situation, and he convinced her father to relent, allowing her to finish high school. However, when she graduated, Consolata  was forced out of her home without money or a job. She spent four years working as an informal teacher, and then decided to go back to school for training. She paid her own way through teacher’s college and earned a teaching certificate. Consolata  and her husband have lived in Kibera since 1997. They have four boys, ages 13, 10, 7, and 2. She also cares for her younger siblings, paying one of her sisters’ high school fees and her brother’s pre-school fees. The Kibera School has special meaning for Consolata  because she has struggled with the same gender discrimination that many girls in Kibera face. She hopes that she can serve as a role model to her students, and works tirelessly to support them in pursuing their educational goals.  She teaches a combined kindergarten/first grade class room.