Georges Budagu Makoko
Georges is the founder of Ladder to the Moon Network and co-founder of Amjambo Africa. Georges was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Rwanda in 1994 due to political unrest in his country. He graduated from National University of Rwanda with a degree 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 worked as Senior Property Manager with Avesta Housing for 15 years. In 2012, he was awarded Site Manager of the Year, a joint award from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service and Maine Rural Development. He is currently the Director of Residential Services at Serenity Residential Care, LLC. He serves as a motivational speaker and professional interpreter, and 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.
Jeff is a long-time environmental, energy, and litigation attorney in Maine, and currently works at Preti, Flaherty in Portland. Jeff is a graduate of Williams College and Yale Law School, and is proud to support the endless efforts of Georges Budagu Makoko. He created and directed a program for Williams College students entitled “Resettling Refugees in Maine.” The program, which ran from 2006-2014, placed Williams College students in the homes of refugee or immigrant families for four weeks at a time. He ran the same program for two years for Colby College students, and for two years for Waynflete seniors. He gave a TEDx talk about “Resettling Refugees in Maine” and helped create and teach a course at the University of Southern Maine named the “Refugee Experience: From There to Here.” He was an early Advisory Board member for Ladder to the Moon Network before joining the board.
Betsy worked as a social services consultant in New York until her retirement in 2011. Previously, 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. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia University. She served on the Board of Directors of the Camden Conference for over 10 years, and chairs the Camden Conference Southern Maine Initiatives Committee.
Kathreen (Kit) Harrison is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Amjambo Africa. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Harvard College, a master’s degree from the Bank Street College of Education, and is certified as an educational administrator in Maine. She is a 2018 U.S. State Department Fulbright Teacher for Global Classrooms and had a 25-year career in K-8 education, in both New York and Maine. She created and piloted a language program for K-8 students in a large rural school district that eventually grew to serve all children K-8. Originally from Washington, D.C., Kit has lived in India and Japan as well as France. She speaks French and English. Kit writes fiction in addition to her other pursuits, and is a founding member of Connecting Across Cultures, a grassroots organization in the midcoast that helps immigrants who are new to the area. She and her husband founded Acadia Center for English Immersion in 1999.
Community Engagement Committee
Belyse was born in Burundi and grew up there. She moved to Portland, Maine, in 2012 and works in finance at Unum as an information project analyst. Belyse graduated from Deering High School, has a bachelor’s degree in math and statistics, and a master’s degree in applied statistics. She is part of the executive committee of the Burundian Community Association. Belyse speaks Kirundi, French, Swahili, and English. She loves singing, cooking, and spending time with friends, and is pleased that her participation on the Ladder to the Moon Board allows her to make a positive impact on her community and on the state.
Community Engagement Committee
Laura was born and raised in Maine. She lived out west for eight years and moved back several years ago to raise a family. She works at Maine Medical Center as a Radiologic Technologist and just recently became a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion ambassador. Laura is a mom to three boys. She cares deeply about equality, the environment, and human and animal rights. In her free time Laura loves to spend time doing things in the great outdoors, discovering new places, and just enjoying time with those dear to her. She has been a distributor and photographer for Amjambo Africa since joining the board in 2018.
Community Engagement Committee
Mathilde Micomyiza Mamy
Mathilde has a bachelor’s degree in management, and works as a mental health professional. She speaks four languages – English, French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda. She loves to travel, watch movies, read, and spend time with friends and family. She joined the board because she wanted to contribute to an organization whose main purpose was keeping immigrant communities informed. She says that when she moved to Maine in 2018 it was very difficult to access the information she needed. Joining the team has brought her a deep appreciation of Maine’s immigrant community, and a feeling of pride in knowing she is doing something to help others.
David Greenham is the Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission. Prior to working for the State of Maine, he served as the associate director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. David has been involved with theater and community arts in Maine for more than 40 years, including 14 years as the Producing Artistic Director of The Theater At Monmouth, the Shakespearean Theater of Maine. David lives in Gardiner with his wife, Amie, and is a contributing theater reviewer for the Boston-based online newsletter The ArtsFuse (artsfuse.org). He is a lecturer of drama at the University of Maine at Augusta and is a member of the board of the New England Foundation for the Arts. He is proud to be involved with Amjambo Africa/Ladder to the Moon Network.
Mike Rurenza Mfashingabo
Mike has a diverse background in international trade and healthcare services. At present he is a Partner at Standard Care LLC in Portland, and leads Quality Assurance and Licensing efforts with the Office of Aging and Disability Services. In the past he worked at Pokémon Company International and Amazon, where he developed, implemented, and maintained analytics and reports as part of his responsibility for ensuring compliance with customs laws and regulations and cross-border initiatives between European and North American markets.
In his free time, he likes to read nonfiction books, hike, and ski. His current project is mastering the guitar.