Malaika consists of a local, on-the-ground team of passionate individuals responsible for running the school and overseeing the day-to-day operations. The team works with a number of international pro-bono volunteers who bring a wealth of expertise across sectors, industries, and geographies.
At the helm of Malaika is founder Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, a Congolese/Cypriot philanthropist and international model.
After finishing her studies in Business Management, Noëlla entered the world of modeling. As her career took off and she took her talents to the global stage, Noëlla uncovered a platform through which to share her passion for human rights. In 2007, she founded Malaika. Fiercely proud of her African heritage, Noëlla’s determination to help improve the lives of Africa’s youth has made her an international advocate for their welfare.
Noëlla has shared her insight at a number of world-class forums spanning the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Economic Forum in Davos to the university halls of Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, and MIT.
In 2017, Noëlla was named one of the BBC’s 100 Most Influential & Inspirational Women of the Year, and in 2018, she received an award at the 100 Years of Mandela celebration. She is an Ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Board of Directors
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka Founder & CEO of Malaika
Alain Pakabomba Managing Partner for Obsidian LLC
Sanjay Rawal Documentary filmmaker and human rights specialist
Eileen Walmsley Program Officer at the Claims Conference
Charlotte Kirby Vice President of Global Strategic Relations at Salesforce
Founder & CEO of Malaika
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, a Congolese/Cyriot philanthropist and international model,is the Founder & CEO of Malaika, a grassroots nonprofit that works to educate andempower girls and communities in her home country ofthe Democratic Republic of theCongo. Fiercely proud of her African heritage, her determination to help improve thelives of Africa’s youth has made her an international advocate for their welfare.Noëlla founded Malaika in 2007, and this community-drivenapproach acts as a modelthat can be replicated on a global level. Today, Malaika’s education and health programsare impacting thousands of people’s lives and are all offered free of charge. Malaika’swork has three components: an accredited school that provides a quality education to346 girls; a community center that offers a range of programs to 5,000 youth andadults; and, a clean water program that has built and refurbished 20 wells to supplyfresh water to over 35,000 people each year.Noëlla has shared her insight at a number of world-class forums spanning the ClintonGlobal Initiative and the World Economic Forum in Davos to the university halls ofCambridge, Oxford, Harvard, and MIT. In 2017, Noëlla was named one of the BBC’s 100Most Influential &Inspirational Women of the Year, and in 2018, she received an awardat the 100 Years of Mandela celebration. She is an Ambassador for the Global Fund toFight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Managing Partner for Obsidian LLC
Alain joined Malaika in 2008, after 14 years in the investment banking world, where he gainedextensive leadership experience while maintaining a strong involvement serving in a number oflocal and national non-profit organizations. Born in the DRC and passionate about the power ofeducation, Alain strongly believes that Africa must commit to improving education standards sothat economic growth can be sustained. Alain brings his wealth of experience and passion to help shape Malaika’s strategic direction and structure in supporting and managing its futuregrowth. Alain works as a Managing Partner for Obsidian LLC, a specialty advisory firm hefounded in 2015, which focuses on financial services in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to that, heheld executive roles in Investments and Capital Markets for a Fortune 50company.
Documentary filmmaker and human rights specialist
Sanjay Rawal is a documentary filmmaker and human rights specialist with over 15 yearsexperience in nearly 50 countries. Hisfirstfilm Food Chains, produced by Eva Longoria andnarrated by Forest Whitaker, exposes the abuse of farmworkers in the United States. In additionto making films, Sanjay has started and run a number of nonprofit initiatives including the VossFoundation, on whose board he currently sits. He has worked for a number of philanthropists, corporate leaders and entertainers in crafting solutions to pressing issues in emerging markets. Sanjay had the opportunity to work on healthcare issues facing the Democratic Republic ofCongo and was privileged to accompany Khaliah Ali on her trip to the DRC to celebrate the 35thanniversary of her father Muhammad’s fight with George Foreman. Sanjay is a dedicatedsupporter of girls education and has been an admirer of Malaika’s work for almost a decade
Program Officer at the Claims Conference
Eileen is a Program Officer at the Claims Conference. Prior to this Eileen was the ProgramManager for Malaika and has remained dedicated to the organization as she is passionateabout development work that has a deep impact on communities, with quantifiableresults.Eileen grew up in India,the Philippines and Brazil, leading to her passion forinternational affairs. She spent years working at a human rights NGO in Peru, focusing onhealth issues affecting women in lower income areas. She saw firsthand the obstacles womenface to rising outof poverty and came to believe in the power of education as a means tobreaking the cycle.Eileen has an acumen for strategic thinking, adaptability and problemsolving. She speaks four languages and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology fromMcGill University.
Vice President of Global Strategic Relations at Salesforce
Charlotte is Vice President of Global Strategic Relations at Salesforce. Charlotte is responsiblefor building formal strategic partnerships, international collaborations and strong strategicrelations to holistically supportSalesforce.org. Saleforce.org’s mission is to put technology inthe hands of nonprofits and education institutions so they can connect with others andaccelerate their impact.Charlotte is passionate about driving learning-based programming, employee volunteerism, andgrant management in areas of STEM education, youth workforce development, and technologyinnovation.Prior to this role, Ms Kirby worked in senior management roles in the telecommunicationsindustry, holding senior management positions within Verizon and WorldCom and focusing onbusiness transformation and customer success. Ms Kirby holds a BA (Hons) in Business fromAnglia Ruskin and a MSc in Corporate Governance from London South Bank.
Elvis Nshimba Programs and Evaluation Manager
Sarah was born in Lubumbashi, DRC. She traveled throughout Africa while studying to become a veterinarian and she received her license at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Lubumbashi. Her love of football and children brought Sarah to the Kalebuka Football for Hope Center, where she oversaw the programs. Having been raised by a single mother, Sarah knows firsthand how hard life can be for those less fortunate, and she hopes to make a positive impact in the lives of the children at the School. To Sarah, Malaika represents a refuge for all those who seek to overcome the various barriers in life that stem from a lack of education and self-esteem. As Malaika’s Country Manager, Sarah uses her knowledge and life experiences to make a difference in the lives of the community of Kalebuka and to help make their futures brighter. She believes that everyone has the right to become whatever they wish, and that it is the responsibility of those who are able tohelp to assist those who need support.
Sylvain Koj Tshikut is Headmasterat the Malaika School. He was born in Kasaji and studied Computer Science at the Superior Institute of Statistics (ISS) in Lubumbashi.Sylvain has a passion for youth and music, and he plays many musical instruments (piano, keyboards, drums, etc.). He also has experience in choir directing and has managed a youth movement called Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade. In 2003, Sylvain and his family were living in Bunia but fled to Aru (a Congolese border territory of Uganda) to take refuge from the war. The death of his dear friends during the massacre in Bunia is a sad memory that he will carry with him always. Knowing personally the effects of war, he is passionate about investing in the field of education to help the Congolese youth. He hopes to use his life experiences and education to make a positive difference in the lives of the girls at the Malaika School. He counts the day that he received the call from Malaika announcing that hehad successfully passed the test at the School as one of the happiest in his life.
Programs and Evaluation Manager
Elvis Nshimba Wa Mwanza, born in Kamina, DRC, is Programs and Evaluation Manager at Malaika. Originally a teacher at Malaika, his current role sees him extend education and social change practices to the entire community. He earned a State Diploma in General Pedagogy and has studied English & African Culture (in applied Pedagogy) at the university level. His teaching experience includes teaching English and cultural courses at the elementary level and serving as an English tutor at numerous schools. Elvis was also an English interpreter at the Methodist Missionary Committee and has held many leadership roles, such as Secretary to the Association of Teachers, the Association of Katanga Solidarity Youth, Batwa Bemba (O.N.G.), and his local church. In addition to these leadership roles, he has built his own house and supervised the building of his church. Elvis is passionate about contributing to the development of his community. His love for children motivates him in his work, and he looks forward to using his knowledge andtalent to help the girls, and the entire community, reach their full potential.
Megan has over 18 years of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors. She has been a fierce advocate for underserved young people in Louisiana, working to improve services and significantly reduce the juvenile prison population. After Hurricane Katrina, Megan led the effort to reunite young people with their families scattered across the country and because of this work, co-founded the first stand-alone juvenile public defender office in the United States. Prior to joining Malaika, Megan worked at the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) as the Director of Operations, ensuring all programs and staff had the resources necessary to meet the needs of New Orleans’ most vulnerable youth. As Program Manager at Malaika, Megan focuses on operations management and fund development. Her passion for education and social justice make Megan excited to support the amazing work Malaika is doing in the DRC. Megan received her Bachelor’s of Science in education from Temple University-Philadelphia and her M.B.A. from the University of New Orleans.
As a former counseling advocate for survivors of rape in domestic violence in the emergency rooms of New York City and research assistant at Cornell New York Presbyterian Hospital–Westchester, Anthea is committed to the emotional well beingof others. A firm believer in education as the tool that will set one free and an advocate of the women’s empowerment movement, Anthea lends her previous public relations and event planning experience to Malaika with great aplomb. Anthea holds an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Bethany is a mother of 4 boys and a devoted activist for the rights of women and girls around the world. She has been a generous supporter of V-Day for over a decade and produced and directed a recent production of “The Vagina Monologues” in Philadelphia. Through Bethany’s work in the DRC, she came to know Noella and get involved with Malaika, and she is honored to sit on the Advisory Board.
Tina had always wanted to give back to the DRC as she had prior experience with the country and recognized that, although it faces many challenges, it is populated by such lovely people. She specifically became involved with Malaika because, upon studying the operation and operators, she was convinced it was a well-run project with a high likelihood of success. She met the co-Founders in the early stages of the Malaika School and very quickly concluded that they were hard-working and determined individuals who were intent on completing this project and ensuring that the students’ lives were enriched and changed forever, through education. It is the goal of Tina’s foundation to support a class A project run by class A operators. Time and continued exposure to the project convinced Tina that this is what she found in the Malaika School.
Charlie Collins is the founder of Creative Wardrobe – a mindful consultancy that helps women to build and maintain more sustainable wardrobes. Alongside private wardrobe appointments, vintage treasure hunt sales and inspiring events, Charlie has collaborated with global brands such as Eco Age, UGG, Mulberry and RIXO to help inspire their communities with her sustainable philosophy. Charlie has spent over 10 years working within the sustainable fashion industry, alongside leading brands such as Vestiaire Collective, William Vintage and Smart Works Charity. She feels incredibly passionate about Malaika and the vital work they are doing and has been actively supporting the charity since first meeting Noella and hearing her incredible story.
Eve is a co-host on the daytime chat show The Talk on CBS and a Grammy Award-winning musician who’s already racked up an impressive hit list (“Let Me Blow Ya Mind”, “Who’s That Girl”, “Gangsta Lovin’”, etc.) along with four multi-million selling albums. Originally from Philadelphia, she won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2002 for the song “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” with Gwen Stefani. Eve is also an established actress, known for her role in the Barbershop film series, among other features. She has achieved success as a fashion designer and was the recipient of a Breakthrough Style Award from Vogue. Eve resides in London with her husband, Maximillion Cooper. She became a Goodwill Ambassador for Malaika in 2016, after visiting the village of Kalebuka and seeing Malaika’s projects firsthand. Education is the key to self-esteem and opens up a world of choices. In many parts of the world, not every little girl has access to education. My trip to the DRC to visit Malaika’s projects exceeded my expectations. Malaika goes above and beyond and provides a great environment for the girls. You can feel the excitement when they take their seats in class. I support Malaika because of the positive impact they are having on girls’ lives.
Prior to recently becoming the Resident Program Director for the International Republican Institute (IRI) in CAR and the DRC, Majda El Bied served as the Deputy Director of the Africa Division at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). Majda has worked in the field of parliamentary and political party strengthening for more than 9 years and has in-depth experience implementing democracy programming in Africa ( Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Tanzania, South Africa and Botswana). While at WFD, she managed a large EU-funded election project in the DRC focused on political party agents and election monitoring. Prior to that, she implemented several programs focused on increasing women’s political empowerment, financial oversight, public outreach, evidence-based policy, etc. A native French speaker, Ms. El Bied has a BA(hons) in Journalism and an MA in Communication Studies from the Institute des Hautes Etudes des Communications Sociales, Brussels (IHECS). She also completed a program on ‘Understanding Women’s Human Rights’ at the London School of Economics and was a guest speaker on the ‘Impact of Policy Implementation in Africa’ for LSE masters students. She cares deeply about education and empowering young girls and has joined the malaika team in 2010.
Lauren Gilbert graduated from the University of Virginia in May, 2010, with a degree in Foreign Affairs. She currently works for LitWorld, a non-profit promoting worldwide literacy, while volunteering her time as an advisor for Malaika. In the process of applying to law schools, she hopes to become an international human rights lawyer specializing in access to education and women’s and girls’ rights. Lauren is a firm believer in the power of education to empower girls to change their communities, their countries and the world.
Francois has been the vice-principal of Lycée Français de Zurich since 2019. Prior to this role, Francois was a teacher, teacher instructor, and the directory of a primary school. He is passionate about his work, particularly, teaching, pedagogy, and ensuring the progress of his students. After living in Vienna and Paris, Francois settled in Zurich in 2015 where he lives with his wife and three children. “I wish to participate in the Advisory Board of Malaika to continue to accompany the school’s pursuit for educational excellence at a higher level. I am very happy to belong to this great family which offers a huge opportunity for these young girls to grow up through education.”
Philippe is an early supporter and active contributor to the Malaika effort since its conception. He has spent the largest part of his career in senior executive positions at a Belgian commercial bank, accumulating more than tree decades of experience in corporate finance. He has been leading the bank’s corporate division in Belgium and established new offices for the institution in New York and Hong Kong. Having also been active in several other financial centers around the world, he has acquired a keen sense of expertise for building international businesses. His experience has been very useful for Malaika’s constitution and expansion. Philippe is a Master of Science at the Antwerp campus of the K.U.Leuven University (Belgium) with a degree in commercial and financial engineering.
James Masters has worked in the IT industry for over 30 years, most of which he spent at LRS, Inc., a U.S. based software firm. During his time as the company’s EMEA VP, he has grown their EMEA operation to 100 plus staff with a turnover of over $35 million. After a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo with his wife Noella, the founder of Malaika, James found a passion for the cause and decided to utilize this same professional drive to help the girls of the DRC. Since this time, he has leant his professional expertise, contacts, and copious amounts of his time to our fundraising goals.
Jonathan is a Congolese mathematician working on the geometry of string theory. Trained around the world (College Boboto, ULB, Cambridge University, Leiden University, Stanford University, Harvard Math and Harvard Physics), he is currently Professor of Mathematics at Northeastern University after being a Benjamin Peirce Fellow at Harvard, working with Fields Medalist Shing-Tung Yau. Jonathan has solved important problems in mathematical physics and won several prestigious awards (Wiener-Anspach Fellowship, Ford Fellowship, Marie-Curie Fellowship, Benjamin Peirce Fellowship, NSF research grants). Jonathan was recently named a Next Einstein Fellow for 2017-2019, an award that celebrates the best young African scientists and technologists. Jonathan is a passionate advocate for African excellence in the sciences and African women’s access to education. Education in STEM is an absolute necessity to bring Africa to its full potential. We cannot do it without a special focus on our young girls and women. They are our hope and our future. They deserve the best of us, especially in the smallest villages of the Congo.
Josuel Musambaghani is a Software Engineer at Microsoft, working in the cybersecurity division. Previously, Josuel worked with Silicon Valley startups and organizations, including Code2040 and Slack. Josuel’s team at Microsoft won the 2019 and 2020 CSO50 Awards, a prize for cybersecurity projects and initiatives that demonstrate outstanding business value. Josuel serves on the Advisory board for the Microsoft Aspire Experience and is the Co-Chair of the Employee Network Africans @ Microsoft. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College, with degrees as valedictorian in both Mathematics and Computer Science.
Karina Nagin is a non-profit and social impact leader. For the past 15 years Karina has worked with non-profits, foundations and philanthropists to build social impact programs around the world from New York to Tanzania. Karina currently runs an assistive technology non-profit based in New York, while also managing North America’s longest running all documentary film festival in Hot Springs, AR.
Karina has lead several global health non-profits and previously worked at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) as the Head of Response & Resilience. At CGI Karina consulted corporate, philanthropic and government leaders on issues of disaster response and post-conflict reconstruction around the world. While at CGI Karina launched the Democratic Republic of Congo Action Network, facilitating cross-sector partnerships and highlighting the opportunities in the region. Karina became familiar with Malaika’s work in 2011 and in 2014 she visited the school in Kalebuka and saw first hand the impact the Foundation has on each student, as well as their families and communities. Karina believes with her whole heart that Malaika is educating the next generation of leaders, and therefore the future of the country is bright! Karina hails from Arkansas, lives in Brooklyn and is always trying to return to the DRC!
Purva is Senior Programs Director at V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls where she has helped to develop and grow programs, global spotlight campaigns and safe house networks as well as fundraise and establish partnerships including launching and managing V-Day’s DRC campaign and establishing City of Joy, a leadership center for survivors of sexual violence in South Kivu, DRC. Purva’s career has been devoted to social justice. She was a Program Officer for Safety and Youth at Ms. Foundation for Women, where she worked on a feminist movement-building project, convened the Gender, Youth & Safety symposium, and oversaw grant-making in the safety and youth areas. She also served as the Acting Executive Director of Lower Eastside Girls Club. As the Director of Community Education, Outreach & Advocacy at Girls Inc. of NYC, she ran anti-violence programs for girls in East Harlem, trained NYC teachers and youth workers on best practices for girls programing and convened a symposium on sexual harassment in public schools at Barnard. In 2018, Barnard College awarded her with The Millicent Carey McIntosh Award for Feminism.
Rosie Rafferty recently left her role as Vice President of Strategy & Planning for External Affairs at multinational energy company Shell to pursue her passion of helping tackle poverty through education. In her former role at Shell, she was responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of a global reputation strategy and for advising and supporting the CEO and Chairman. Prior to this, as Head of Crisis Management for the company, she was responsible for developing a best-practice approach to crisis planning and response across 128 countries. As Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Downstream Business, she was involved in the development and implementation of local, country, and global programs aimed at increasing access to energy and supporting local enterprise and STEM programmes. She has worked all over the world, including in South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Senegal, and was brought up in Malawi. Rosie is a mentor to young businesswomen and a Trustee of the Nick Jenkins Foundation and the iAfrica Foundation — two organizations that are focused on improving the quality of education for primary school children in Africa.
Corina was born in the beautiful lakeside city of Goma, in Eastern DRC, and has an international background of Greek, Congolese and Belgian origins. She grew up in Goma and started travelling the world at the young age of twelve. She still speaks Swahili fluently and has remained close to her native country ever since. Corina has been involved with Malaika since the early stage discussions and she has witnessed Malaika’s amazing growth since then. Corina saw firsthand the progress on the ground during a visit to the School in 2013. Corina has always been very sensitive to inequality and poverty and is a strong advocate for gender equality and the right to education for all, which is why she supports Malaika’s work with young girls in the poorest parts of the DRC. Corina and her husband, Hervé-Lomami, share a common passion for this project and are both involved in actively promoting Malaika across their global network.
Hervé-Lomami was born from a Congolese mother and a Belgian father and spent his formative years in Lubumbashi and Kigali. He has over fifteen years of international banking experience and is currently a director in a prestigious private bank where he recently became the lead on the Africa team. Hervé-Lomami has always had a keen interest in development topics and strongly believes in the transformative power of education. Hervé-Lomami and his spouse, Corina, have been involved with Malaika since its conception in 2007 and are active in awareness- and fund-raising for the foundation. He has visited the School in Kalebuka and is proud to be involved with an organization that is having such a positive impact in the DRC. Hervé-Lomami holds an MBA from Manchester Business School and a Master’s degree in Governance and Development from the University of Antwerp.