24 Preble Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Georges Budagu Makoko, President and Conference Committee Chair
Ladder to the Moon Network
Education, Awareness, and Special Programs in Support of the People of Sub-Saharan Africa
Georges Budagu Makoko is the founder of Ladder to the Moon Network. Georges was born In Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Rwanda in 1994 due to political unrest in his country. He graduated from National University of Rwanda in Business Administration and moved to the United States in 2002, where he sought and received asylum. He is the author of Ladder to the Moon: Journey from the Congo to America” a book about his life. Georges is a Senior Property Manager with Avesta Housing. He was awarded 2012 Site Manager of the Year, a joint award from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service and Maine Rural Development. He serves as a motivational speaker and professional interpreter. He speaks more than six languages, including English, French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Lingala and Kinyamulenge. He strongly believes in advocating for peace, reconciliation and justice for all.
Kathreen Harrison, Vice-President and Newspaper Committee Chair
Kathreen (Kit) Harrison is co-founder and Managing Editor of Amjambo Africa! She is a writer based in Camden, Maine. She has been a newspaper columnist and teacher for many years. She is a U.S. State Department Fulbright Fulbright Teacher for Global Classrooms. Kit is a graduate of Harvard College and the Bank Street College of Education. Originally from Washington, D.C., she spent her childhood abroad, where she learned that all people on earth are bound together by a common humanity that transcends nationalistic divisions. She believes Maine is enriched by her newest citizens and considers working for mutual acceptance and understanding to be both an obligation and a joy.
Betsy Mayberry, Treasurer and Finance Committee Co-Chair
Betsy worked as a social services consultant in New York City until her retirement in 2011. Prior to this, Betsy served as the Executive Director of Louise Wise Services, a child welfare agency; Director of Services at the Children’s Aid Society, in New York City and as the Administrative Director of Operations of New York City’s public child welfare organization. A graduate of Cornell and Columbia, she lives in the West End of Portland, Maine. She served on the Board of the Camden Conference for over 10 years and chairs the Camden Conference Southern Maine Initiatives Committee.
Belyse Ndayikunda, Secretary
Belyse was born in in Burundi and grew up there. She moved to Portland, Maine in 2012. She graduated from Deering High School, earned an associate’s degree in Liberal Studies at Southern Maine Community College, and now is a math major at the University of Southern Maine. She advocates for peace in Burundi and is interested in raising awareness of social justice issues around the world.
Alexis Semuhoza, Finance Committee Co-Chair
Alexis Semuhoza has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Economics. He has worked for over five years in the fields of Accounting, Finance Management, Community Development and Mental Health.
Most recently, Alexis served as a member of Living With Peace where he oversaw the management of the organization, linked newcomers to resources, and promoted and strengthened community participation. Alexis has served on the board of Bethel Ministries International, where he oversaw the financial department. Previously Alexis served as Program Coordinator of Feed the Children in Rwanda, which offers support by providing children with food, school materials, and reunification of children with their parents. He coordinated a team of more than 100 people at Feed the Children. His biggest dream is to bring sustainable solutions to people and help them find happiness and valid answers to their concerns and problems.
Brice Romeo Ndayisenga
Brice is from Burundi, where he grew up on the sunny shores of Lake Tanganyika. After high school he received an Andrew Young International Scholarship to attend Morehouse College. During college, he interned at Comcast as a Salesman in Atlanta and at JP Morgan & Chase as a Wholesale Loan Operations Analyst in New York City. He earned a Business Finance and Economics degree in May 2016. In May 2017, Brice moved to Portland-Maine to rejoin his younger brother, Eloi. He volunteers at Learning Works in their English Literacy program and at the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center. He also serves on the Boards of Learning Works and Welcome the Stranger. Brice worked at Bank of America as a Relationship Banker from January 2018 to January 2019 and is currently working as Member Service Representative at cPort Credit Union. In his free time, Brice enjoys hanging with friends, playing guitar and attending Church activities. He chose to serve on the Board of Amjambo Africa Newspaper because he believes that information is power and that easy access to the right information is indispensable in promoting social justice.
Laura was born and raised in Maine. She lived out west for eight years and moved back several years ago with her husband to raise a family. She is a part-time radiology technician and a full-time mom to three boys, a birth son, a son adopted from Ethiopia, a son from DRC of whom she has guardianship, and is “Mama Laura” to many other young New Mainers. Laura cares deeply about equality, the environment and both human and animal rights. She loves meeting New Mainers, helping them adapt to their new life and, and most importantly making sure they feel welcome in their new home. Laura just recently started chaperoning for the Pihcintu Choir and loves tagging along on their many adventures. She was co-host of the most recent Empower the Immigrant Woman Conference and is now a proud distributor of the Amjambo Africa newspaper. She is honored to be joining the Ladder To The Moon Network board.
David was born in Democratic Republic of Congo. At the age of 28 years he went into exile to Rwanda because of the political unrest in his country. In early 1999, he immigrated to Canada where he pursued his studies in Science in Mineral Resources “Geology”. He has lived in diversified communities in Congo, Rwanda and Canada and strongly believes in a vibrant and mutually supportive society. He is a member of the Association of Professional Geologists of Quebec, Canada. In June 2016 he moved from Canada to Maine where he lives with his beautiful wife and four children. He speaks more than five languages. He currently works as Life Insurance Broker with Cemetery Financial Groups.
Friends and Advisors
Jeff Thaler, Counselor
Jeff is the Associate University Counsel for the University of Maine and Visiting Associate Professor at Maine Law School. Jeff has been a successful trial, environmental and energy lawyer in Maine for several decades, and has taught students from nursery school to graduate school. He created and still directs a unique program called Resettling Refugees and Immigrants in Maine, for which he has had students from Williams College (and now Colby College, and one from Waynflete High School) each live with a host immigrant family and work either in a public-school classroom with ELL students or in a public health clinic. Jeff is married and has two sons.
Alex Ntung, Counselor/Consulting
Alex is the head of Education Department of Migrant Help, UK national NGO. He is a researcher; trainer, speaker and analyst specialized on social and political issues of the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. He is author of the "Not My Worst Day" and Co-author of "Education in A Diverse UK". He is an University guest lecturer with an honest insight into issues of war and human security, cultural insensitivity and conflict resolution. As trainer, Alex has recently co-developed a course program on the generation of Effective Leaders in Africa. He is actively involved in initiatives of promoting peace and political mediation around the world. Alex is a professional member of the UK Expert Witness Institute (EWI), Mind Professionals and the Experts Immigration Network. He speaks more than six languages.