Board of Directors
Debby Rooney, co-founder
In 1993, Debby began working with women’s business development in the Maasai regions of southern Kenya. In 1998, she began the sponsorship program for girls’ education. Her work experience includes sales, advertising, public relations, high school teacher and environmental education. Debby personally funded all start up costs for BEADS for Education. She holds a B.A. in Education from Penn State University.
Lisa Stevens, co-founder
Curator, Pandas and Primates, Smithsonians’ National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
Lisa Stevens has managed all aspects of the Zoo's giant panda program since 1987, and the primate program since 1981. Her areas of supervision include daily operations, personnel, budget, long-range planning, record keeping, research, education, exhibit design, and construction. Before working at the Zoo, Stevens worked as a field research assistant, in pet and aquarium retail, veterinary clinic operations, insect zoo husbandry and interpretation, and riding stable management. Stevens participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for several species. Through Friends of the National Zoo, International Expeditions, SI Journeys and World Wildlife Fund, Stevens has been a tour leader for natural history tours in Africa, Madagascar, India, and South America. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree, zoology/pre-veterinary medicine, from Michigan State University.
Jeffrey P. Elefante, Esq.
Jeffrey P. Elefante retired in 2005 as Executive VP, General Counsel, Secretary and Director of Contract and Administrative Services of CACI International Inc, a multi-billion dollar government contractor whose securities are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CAI. A valued member of CACI's top management team between 1992 and 2005, Mr. Elefante offers more than 28 years of experience as a senior executive, counselor, negotiator and consultant on corporate governance and dispute resolution. He has significant experience as a board member for several non-profit organizations, as well. Mr. Elefante earned a bachelor's degree in political science from West Virginia University in May 1968.In 1974 he received his juris doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Elefante resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife.
Dr. Bernhard Heersink
Bernhard Heersink, M.D. is a practicing (33 years) ophthalmologist in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. He is a Clinical Associate on the faculty of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. He has served as Chief of the Department of Surgery and President of the Medical Staff of Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, and as a Board member for the Pregnancy Care Center in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He is currently serving on the Board of Stewardship and Finance for the Belleville Congregational Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He volunteered with CUSO (the Canadian counterpart to the Peace Corps) in Uganda 1971-72, doing mostly general surgery, and has been on two BEADS-related visits to Kenya in 2005 and 2010.
Linda Reichart Macht is the President and CEO of Tottser Tool and Manufacturing located in PA. She is the Founder and President of Garden of Eve, an organization determined to enrich the lives of women around the world. The Garden of Eve’s first project was Beads for Education where she sits on the board as Secretary. She is a member of PWDC Industry Partnership, WBENC (Women’s Business Executive National Council), Rydal Meadowbrook Civic Ass. and Abington Art Center. She was a speaker for the Executive Leadership Radio. Ms. Macht earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Shippensburg University in 1979. She resides in Rydal, PA.
Owner and Founder, Jaberwocky Bookstore, Newburyport, MA
Thirty-seven years ago Sue Little opened Jabberwocky (the Little Bookshop) in Newburyport, MA. Today, they are one of the largest independent bookstores on the Northshore. Their goal is quite simply to offer the community the most unique, the most beautiful, the most interesting, the most timely, and the most entertaining books. And now she brings this love of reading to the students of BEADS for Education.
William J. Rooney
Mr. Rooney has served as Treasurer for BEADS for Education (“BEADS”) since its incorporation. He is husband to the co-founder of BEADS, Debby Rooney. In addition to the financial reporting and record keeping responsibilities of his position, he is also responsible on a daily basis to help Debby ensure the organization stays on course and true to its mission. Mr. Rooney spent his entire 35-year professional career in the information technology field, holding positions in technology development, sales, sales management, finance, executive management and management consulting. An accomplished golfer, he served (6) years on the Board of Governors at a prestigious golf club as Treasurer and President of the Club. Mr. Rooney has traveled to Africa several times in support of BEADS and is the author of the BEADS motto – “Changing lives – one girl at a time”. Mr. Rooney attended Fairfield University, majoring in Economics.
Kenya Board Members
Program Director and Trustee, Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE)
Born and educated in the U.S.A., Cynthia Moss moved to Africa in 1968 and has spent the past 42 years there studying elephants and working for their conservation. Her involvement with elephants began in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania where she worked with Iain Douglas-Hamilton on his pioneering elephant study. In 1972, with Harvey Croze, she started the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP) in Kenya which she continues to direct. Her studies have concentrated on the distribution, demography, population dynamics, social organization and behavior of the Amboseli elephants. In 2001 she created the Amboseli Trust for Elephants in both Kenya and the USA. Her present activities include: overall direction of ATE which includes: research and monitoring; training elephant researchers from African elephant range states; outreach to the Maasai community in Amboseli; disseminating scientific results; networking with other elephant scientists and conservation in Africa and Asia; and promoting public awareness by writing popular articles and books and by making films about elephants. Moss is the author of four books: Portraits in the Wild (University of Chicago Press); Elephant Memories (University of Chicago Press); Echo of the Elephants (William Morrow); Little Big Ears (Simon & Schuster); and co-author with Laurence Pringle of Elephant Woman (Atheneum). She has written numerous popular and scientific articles and has made four award-winning TV documentaries about elephants.
Dr. Helen Gichohi
President, African Wildlife Foundation
Dr. Helen Gichohi joined the African Wildlife Foundation in February 2001 as Director of the African Heartlands Program and quickly moved on to become the Vice President for Program in February 2002. She was elected President of the organization by the Board of Trustees in January 2007. Dr. Gichohi provides overall strategic leadership to AWF’s Conservation Program in Africa. She is responsible for building strong partnerships with large donors for funding of AWF’s conservation work and represents the organization at the highest levels of government in Africa.
She also serves on the board of Trustees of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Prior to joining AWF, she was the Director of the African Conservation Centre (ACC), supported by Wildlife Conservation Society, where her key focus had been to provide vision, leadership and strategic direction towards the development of the ACC as a centre for conservation excellence.
Dr. Gichohi is a graduate of the University of Leicester, where she attained her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Ecology. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Biology of Conservation and a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University respectively.
Irene Katete Nairowua, is the Assistant Community Development Officer (A.C.D.O) in charge of social welfare for the County Council of the Kajiado District. Her responsibilities include HIV/AIDS trainings in the community and work place. She is in charge of Drug and Substance Abuse campaigns and community trainings. Works with the community, local NGO’s and the private sector to implement these programs.
Irene is a Maasai woman from the Kajiado District and works in her home region. She is a member of the BEADS for Education PTA and supervises the programs for the sponsored girls in Kenya.