Erica pursues her passion for helping communities through empowering women in her role as Country Director. Prior to joining Akola, she worked in Tanzania for the Jane Goodall Institute—where she founded a girl empowerment program and peer-based mentorship program—and served as the Donor Relations Coordinator for The School of St Jude in Arusha, Tanzania. She received her BSc in Wildlife Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Guelph and was named a Woman of Distinction for Sudbury, Ontario, Canada in 2003.
Robyn is the Empowerment and Educational Programs Manager and earned her B.A., summa cum laude, in International Relations from the State University of NY at Geneso. Prior to Akola, Robyn assisted in the creation of an investment fund for development projects in Africa and traveled to Uganda with the Foundation for Sustainable Development, during which she offered workshops offering locals business skills. She worked on AUDACIA, led by Emma Willard School and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, seeking out the best practices of global girls’ education.
Allison currently serves as the Business Operations Manager. She earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and an MA in Arts Management, also from SMU. Allison also holds a BA in Art History from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the Akola team, Allison worked in the marketing department of Christie’s auction house in New York City developing strategic partnerships with like-minded companies and luxury brands. With a passion for social business, style, and design, Allison is thrilled to be working for an organization in which all of these worlds intersect.
Jackie earned her degree in Business Administration and Finance from the University of Maryland. After many years of working in a bank, Jackie took her financial expertise and went on an adventure. Upon arriving in Uganda in June 2014 with Peace Corps as an Agribusiness volunteer, Jackie was partnered with the Akola Project to serve as our Northern Uganda Programs Coordinator. She is currently working with Akola’s women in the north to implement the cotton and yarn program in the Pader Distict of Northern Uganda.
Lauren currently serves as the Material and Procurement Manager. Prior to joining Akola Project, she worked for International Justice Mission in Northern Uganda for 18 months, and then returned stateside briefly to work for the 30th annual AIDS Walk New York campaign. Lauren was born and raised in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX area and completed her undergraduate studies at Pepperdine University, earning a BA in Art History with a minor in Nonprofit Management. She cares deeply about pursuing professional opportunities that align with her personal values, as well as empower and encourage others. Lauren is grateful to be back in Uganda contributing to such a unique and beautiful community.
Emily is Akola's current Operations Coordinator. She earned her BA in Environmental Studies - Sustainable Development with a certificate in Technology, Arts and Media from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her interest in women's empowerment with development non-profits and also spending time in Kenya and Senegal for non-profits that are focused on women's education and empowerment. She feels blessed to work for an organization like Akola that aligns with her values and passions.
During college, Loren interned for True Vineyard Ministries in Rwanda, discovering that her love for fashion and Africa could be used to empower women. After earning her BS in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in business from Texas State University, she began working as the Retail Operations Coordinator for Akola Dallas. It was was there that she fell in love with the product and the women in Uganda and was eager to work directly with them. Now Loren is working in Uganda, serving the women of Akola by using her talents and her education. She's so excited to continue her work with Akola, learning both sides of the social business.
Rachel currently serves as Senior Production Manager. She is working on her MA in International Development with Eastern University and has a BA in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to joining the Akola Team, she worked as Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for an international non-profit called Bright Hope helping to tell stories of empowerment from their programs. Her love of empowering others grew out of the time she spent on the Westside of Chicago tutoring and empowering students in primary school and teaching English to international adults in the Chicagoland area.
Mercy began working with Akola in 2004. She quickly rose from an entry-level position to an administrative role. As the inventory assistant, Mercy is responsible for tracking product/supply inventory, entering shipments, and recording material receipts. She also plays a vital role in the paper bead collection process, connecting the Akola women in the rural villages to the Akola team in Jinja. She loves working at Akola Project because it has transformed her life and she is empowered by the power of education and opportunity.
Kaitlyn graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Government and Politics and a minor in International Development. Her passion for working with marginalized women developed throughout her schooling, as she completed extensive research studies on global gender and educational inequalities and their impact on development. She also studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she volunteered at a non-profit that focused on furthering educational opportunities of the children in a nearby community. Previously, she interned at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Bureau of Africa.
Mariel graduated from Seattle Pacific University with her B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Women's Studies. Her interest in community development and women's empowerment has carried her to several countries, including Mexico and Malawi. In 2013 she participated in the BestSemester Uganda Studies Program at Uganda Christian University-Mukono, where she studied cross-cultural ministry, East African politics, community health, and holistic poverty alleviation. She also completed internships with Hope 2 One Life and Professional Reach Enterprise. She toured the United States as a sales representative for My Fight, a social business that sells products made by women around the world to fund micro-loans.
Nkirote completed her BS in Social Work, cum laude from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. Originally Nkirote is from Nairobi, Kenya and thoroughly enjoys immersing herself into new cultures and with different people groups. This love and passion was inspired by various opportunities to travel and engage with different cultures. Prior to joining Akola, Nkirote has interned with Life in Abundance Ministries in the slums of Nairobi, with the Department of Child Services in Marion, IN and with Lutheran World Federation in Kakuma, Kenya.
Esther was born in the eastern region of Uganda, in Kaliro. She joined the Akola Project in 2010 and was promoted two years later to Studio Supervisor, working alongside the Production Manager to meet daily production needs in the Jinja Studio. In 2014, Esther was promoted again to her current role as Production Manager. She has enjoyed learning about American culture through UAPO and loves coming to work everyday. She feels proud to be able to pay her rent and be independent of her parent’s financial help.
Solomon began working with the Akola Project in the spring of 2014 during the expansion of our textiles program. His leadership and passion to teach has truly helped develop the skills and progression of our textile produces. During his free time, Solomon serves as a leader in his church, is involved in other ministry work, and leads others as a worship artist.
Wilson Odong is the Cowhorn Trainer and Production Manager at Akola Project. He joined Akola in 2016. He is originally from Gulu in Northern Uganda. Prior to working with Akola in Jinja, he managed his own business in Kampala for over twenty years. Throughout that time he developed a reputation as an expert artisan and employed and empowered several people in the Cowhorn industry in Uganda, making a true impact in the field. He enjoys working at Akola because he can fully empower women to learn more design and skill as they contribute to a global supply chain. Outside of work Wilson loves to go to church and spend time with his family.
Jennifer serves as the Northern Yarn Project Coordinator. She was born in Kampala, Uganda, and received her diploma in Social Work and Social Administration and a certificate in Community Based Development at Nkumba University. Jennifer worked for World Vision in Uganda prior to joining the Akola Project. Jennifer is inspired daily by the knowledge that her efforts are truly improving lives.
Anthony is the Northern Director and Construction Manager. He grew up in Northern Uganda and attended Kitgum Technical Institute. Anthony is married and has two kids, both of whom are in school. Anthony’s background in construction, conflict resolution, pastoring, and community building has helped him lead the Akola Project’s efforts in the North. He recently moved to Jinja to assist in the building of Akola’s newest vocational center. Anthony pastors the Church of Jesus Christ, mentors future church leaders, and is a counselor.
Charity comes from Kabala, a village in the Southern region of Uganda. After finishing grade school, Charity worked with Uganda Textiles. She joined the Akola Project at its birth in 2010, and in 2012, was promoted to Nabukosi Group Supervisor with Hellen to teach and oversee jewelry production in Akola’s village jewelry group. Showing her leadership and dedication to the mission of the empowerment programs, Charity was promoted to staff as the Ministry and Wellness Assistant in 2015. While Charity is away from work, she is singing and dancing at her church, thinking up new small business ideas, taking classes at the Busoga Bible School, and tending to her seven pigs and 35 chickens. Her favorite part about working with Americans is their desire to work hard, be time conscious, and be friendly to all. She enjoys sharing the good news with the women and being able to pay for school fees for her five children, including putting two of them through university, with her earnings and savings.
Hella is from Koboko in Northern Uganda. She worked for Uganda Textiles before joining Akola Project in 2010. In 2012, Hella was promoted to Nabukosi Group Supervisor and has played a key role in developing village programs. Considering her contributions to Akola, especially her leadership of the Nabukosi Production Group, in mid-2015 Hella was promoted to staff. She currently works as the Monitoring & Evaluation Assistant and facilitates the savings group program. She enjoys working with Americans because of their friendliness and openness to hearing ways to make improvements. Since joining Akola, she has put six of her children through university.
Mukisa, whose name means blessing, is the Eastern Assistant Operations Manager. Mukisa grew up in Kamuli and moved to Jinja in 1999 where he attended a 2-year vocational college, the International Development Agency. He has been with Akola Project since 2010 and has used the income he’s made through The UAPO to assist his five siblings complete their education. Outside of work, he enjoys singing in his church and eating delicious local Ugandan cuisines.
Olivia comes from Luwero, Uganda. In 2011, she was hired to work at Akola Project promoted to supervisor in 2014. After work, Olivia likes to spend time in her garden, digging in the dirt and growing plants and flowers. Olivia has identified her own sense of infinite worth with the help of others walking alongside her to discover it on her own. Olivia loves working at Akola Project and the relationships she has developed with her coworkers and the staff grows this love more each day.
Zaina was born in Jinja, Uganda. She began working at Akola Project in 2011 and was hired to be a supervisor in 2014. During the time that Zaina is not working, she enjoys rolling beads and playing sports, especially kickball and netball. She is thankful for her job at Akola Project and through her hard earned salary, she is able to pay rent, providing shelter for her family and send account for her children’s education, paying for their individual school fees.
Sandra grew up in Bosbu, an Eastern part of Uganda and moved to Jinja in search of a job. She joined the Akola Project in 2010 was promoted two years later to become the Human Resources Supervisor, assisting the Akola Project Director in providing HR for the women in the Jinja Studio. Outside of work Sandra enjoys praying, being with her children, and singing in choir. She feels proud to support her children, as well as two of her brothers who are HIV positive, with money made through the Akola Project.