The Board

The African Grandmothers Advisory Board




Paola Gianturco, African Grandmothers Advisory Board


Paola Gianturco is an author and photographer who has documented women’s lives in 60 countries.

She has had five books published and is a grandmother. (Click here for Paola’s website).

Her involvement with women’s issues is long standing. She has lectured about them in the US, Canada, France and Spain. She spoke at UNESCO International Headquarters in Paris on International Women’ s Day 2008; her photographs were exhibited there in 2009 and 2011. Paola co-developed and taught Executive Institutes on Women and Leadership at Stanford University, and served on the Board of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). She was a principal in the first women-owned advertising agency in the United States and is a current member of International Women’s Forum.


Paola presented a TED TALK in Dubai in May of 2014.

In 2013, Paola was named one of “40 Women to Watch over 40” – and in 2014, she was named one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews. She serves on the Leadership Council of Let Girls Lead and on the Advisory Board of Global Grandmothers.

Jackson Kaguri, African Grandmothers Advisory Board


Jackson (blue shirt) mentoring students in Uganda

CNN Hero Twesigye Jackson Kaguri is the Global Ambassador for Pencils for Africa.

Jackson was born and raised in Uganda in the small village of Nyakagyezi.

At a very young age he demonstrated an unquenchable desire to learn, which led him to graduate from Makerere University in Kampala. During this time he co-founded the human rights organization, Human Rights Concerns, to help victims of human rights violations in Uganda and to educate the public about their rights. In the 1990s he became a visiting scholar at Columbia University where he studied Human Rights Advocacy. In 2001, Jackson founded The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project in response to the devastating effects of the disease in his hometown.

The organization, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, provides free education to children who have lost one or both parents. In addition to two schools, it operates a library, a community agriculture and nutrition program, a medical clinic, and a clean water system, and support services to the grandmothers who care for up to fourteen children at a time.


Jackson is the author of A School for My Village where he shares how he built the first school and the struggles he faced during the first few years. He has been named a Heifer International Hero, recognized in Time Magazine’s ‘Power of One’ Series, spoken to the UN about his work, and is a 2012 CNN Hero.

Shannon Sutherland, African Grandmothers Board


Shannon Sutherland is CEO of Girl Smart Africa

Shannon is a the CEO of Girl Smart Africa.

She is also the Editor of African Kitchen Table. To learn about African Kitchen Table click here.

Carly Yoon, African Grandmothers Advisory Board


Carly Yoon is the CEO of Portfolio PFA

Carly is the CEO of Portfolio PFA.

Rutendo Urenje, African Grandmothers Advisory Board

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Rutendo was born in, grew up in, and attended high school in Harare, Zimbabwe.

She recently completed a Masters in International Human Rights Law degree at Lund University in Sweden. Prior to this, Rutendo spent five years at Rhodes University, South Africa, studying for a Social Sciences degree and a Law degree. During her studies she worked for the Rhodes University’s Community Engagement office as a student liaison officer. In her own words:

I earnestly have a passion to serve people, especially children who may not have developed the capacities to help themselves.

In Sweden, she actively volunteered at both Save the Children Gotland and Save the Children Lund and was a project leader for the Kids in Transit Project in Lund. She is fluent in both English and Shona, and has working knowledge of French, Afrikaans and Ndebele.

Rutendo is the Managing Editor of African Peace Journal for which she completed a field journalism assignment as well as taught in a village school in South Sudan, Africa’s newest country. She is based in Geneva, Switzerland, where African Peace Journal is headquartered.

Rutendo has recently chronicled a series on refugees and she blogs at Rutendo’s Corner.

To read the Pencils for Africa Team’s reflections on interviewing Rutendo, kindly click here.

To watch Rutendo’s recent video greeting to the Pencils for Africa Team, kindly click here.

Chyah Weitzman, African Grandmothers Advisory Board


Chyah was educated at Harvard College and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree through Harvard’s international study program in Japan. She learned to master the history, culture and technique of traditional Japanese paper making through the National Treasures of Japan.

She completed her masters thesis at the University of Copenhagen, teaching Japanese textiles to graduate students. Chyah was in Samburu, Kenya during November of 2013, meeting with fellow Pencils for Africa board member James Lekadaa (see below) as well as elders of Nangida Village in Samburu. Chyah is working to build an alliance between the local Nangida Village school and Saint Hilary Middle School in Tiburon, California, where she has been teaching for the past seventeen years and is the Director of the Arts Program.

Chyah directs and mentors the Pencils for Africa program.

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