Founders & U.S. Board of Directors

Claudia Cooper, Ed.D Claudia is a co-founder of Global Family Initiative and has been visiting and working in Ethiopia since 2003. She also teaches in the Education Studies and English departments at Middlebury College, where she focuses on literacy, global education, and writing and literature for children and young adults.

Claudia Cooper, Ed.D

Claudia is a co-founder of Global Family Initiative and has been visiting and working in Ethiopia since 2003. She also teaches in the Education Studies and English departments at Middlebury College, where she focuses on literacy, global education, and writing and literature for children and young adults.

Nicholas Rogerson Nick is one of the original co-founders of GFI. He teaches Philosophy at the University of Toledo and is currently completing an M.A. at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, in Washington, D.C. He likes food, travel, books, and being outside.

Nicholas Rogerson

Nick is one of the original co-founders of GFI. He teaches Philosophy at the University of Toledo and is currently completing an M.A. at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, in Washington, D.C. He likes food, travel, books, and being outside.

Eric Hoest Eric is a co-founder of the Global Family Initiative.  He has spent a significant amount of time in Ethiopia both for the Betasab Project as well as through his work in the coffee industry.  In addition to being a passionate advocate for empowering marginalized women and children, Eric is also a pilot, triathlete, consumer products executive and investor. He lives in Portland, Oregon.  

Eric Hoest

Eric is a co-founder of the Global Family Initiative.  He has spent a significant amount of time in Ethiopia both for the Betasab Project as well as through his work in the coffee industry.  In addition to being a passionate advocate for empowering marginalized women and children, Eric is also a pilot, triathlete, consumer products executive and investor. He lives in Portland, Oregon.  

Peggy Burns Peggy is Director of the Center for Careers and Internships at Middlebury College where she works to create a career education planning experience interwoven throughout the undergraduate years that encourages independence, exploration and aspiration, helping to ensure that Middlebury students go on to live a rich life of meaning and purpose. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Peggy Burns

Peggy is Director of the Center for Careers and Internships at Middlebury College where she works to create a career education planning experience interwoven throughout the undergraduate years that encourages independence, exploration and aspiration, helping to ensure that Middlebury students go on to live a rich life of meaning and purpose. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Cynthia Stoldt Cynthia joined the GFI Board in December 2015 and is CEO of executive search firm Aherne Executive Search LLC.  She brings thirty years of global talent acquisition, marketing and sales experience from Estee Lauder, Donna Karan International and L’Oreal. 

Cynthia Stoldt

Cynthia joined the GFI Board in December 2015 and is CEO of executive search firm Aherne Executive Search LLC.  She brings thirty years of global talent acquisition, marketing and sales experience from Estee Lauder, Donna Karan International and L’Oreal. 

Lorraine Tobias Lorraine joined the GFI board in October 2015. Lorraine is an independent digital strategist with over 15 years experience working with top brands and agencies on product development, branding, and marketing strategies.

Lorraine Tobias

Lorraine joined the GFI board in October 2015. Lorraine is an independent digital strategist with over 15 years experience working with top brands and agencies on product development, branding, and marketing strategies.

Staff in Ethiopia

Firewoyni Fransou Firewoyni is the Country Director for the Betasab Project. She has two biological children, Christian and Lael, and 20 loving Betasab children. She is happy to be a part of the Betasab family and she loves to play tennis, to swim, and loves fashion and design. 

Firewoyni Fransou

Firewoyni is the Country Director for the Betasab Project. She has two biological children, Christian and Lael, and 20 loving Betasab children. She is happy to be a part of the Betasab family and she loves to play tennis, to swim, and loves fashion and design. 

Ephrem Gezahegn Ephrem works at the Betasab Project as a program coordinator. He likes film and makes movies in his spare time. He's a huge fan of the Liverpool Football Club, which he has supported in fandom since he was a child. He loves the Betasab children and being in their lives - and the fact that they're in his life. 

Ephrem Gezahegn

Ephrem works at the Betasab Project as a program coordinator. He likes film and makes movies in his spare time. He's a huge fan of the Liverpool Football Club, which he has supported in fandom since he was a child. He loves the Betasab children and being in their lives - and the fact that they're in his life. 

Fikirte Getachew Fikirte has worked at the Betasab Project since 2012 as the Head Mother and Cashier. She likes to read and to watch sports, especially table tennis! 

Fikirte Getachew

Fikirte has worked at the Betasab Project since 2012 as the Head Mother and Cashier. She likes to read and to watch sports, especially table tennis! 

Feven Tadesse Feven works at the Betasab Project as a secretary. She is happy to be a part of the Betasab family and likes to listen to music (especially gospel!), watch movies, and read books. 

Feven Tadesse

Feven works at the Betasab Project as a secretary. She is happy to be a part of the Betasab family and likes to listen to music (especially gospel!), watch movies, and read books. 

Ejigayeh Lahew Ejigayeh is the mother of 10 Betasab children in the Fikir House. She likes to listen to the news, she loves to cook, and she likes to garden. She plants flowers and vegetables. She also likes to sew. 

Ejigayeh Lahew

Ejigayeh is the mother of 10 Betasab children in the Fikir House. She likes to listen to the news, she loves to cook, and she likes to garden. She plants flowers and vegetables. She also likes to sew. 

Yeshi Alebachew Yeshi is an aunty in the Fikir House, where she works with Ejigayeh and takes care of 10 Betasab children. She loves to cook vegetables, listen to songs, watch TV dramas, and eat injera (delicious!). 

Yeshi Alebachew

Yeshi is an aunty in the Fikir House, where she works with Ejigayeh and takes care of 10 Betasab children. She loves to cook vegetables, listen to songs, watch TV dramas, and eat injera (delicious!). 

Selam Girma Selam is the social worker for Betasab. She works with the children in both the Origins Homes and the Learning Lions programs, and collects data for the monitoring and evaluation reports. She also works with staff on Child Development issues. She likes music and reading.

Selam Girma

Selam is the social worker for Betasab. She works with the children in both the Origins Homes and the Learning Lions programs, and collects data for the monitoring and evaluation reports. She also works with staff on Child Development issues. She likes music and reading.

 

GFI INTERNS

Leyla Abdella Leyla is a proud Ethiopian in the diaspora born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A rising junior at the University of Chicago double majoring in Global Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Leyla joins the team this summer as an intern in Addis Ababa. Leyla is also the president of the Muslim Students Association and a board member of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago. It is her commitment to service and social justice that motivates her to join the Global Family Initiative team.

Leyla Abdella

Leyla is a proud Ethiopian in the diaspora born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A rising junior at the University of Chicago double majoring in Global Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Leyla joins the team this summer as an intern in Addis Ababa. Leyla is also the president of the Muslim Students Association and a board member of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago. It is her commitment to service and social justice that motivates her to join the Global Family Initiative team.

Layla Al Layla is a rising second year at the University of Chicago majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Human Rights. She is interested in focusing her studies on Northeast Africa and hopes for a career in International Relations in the future. She was born in Dallas, Texas and enjoys reading fashion journalism and listening to podcasts in her spare time. Layla will be working with Betasab in Addis Ababa this summer.

Layla Al

Layla is a rising second year at the University of Chicago majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Human Rights. She is interested in focusing her studies on Northeast Africa and hopes for a career in International Relations in the future. She was born in Dallas, Texas and enjoys reading fashion journalism and listening to podcasts in her spare time. Layla will be working with Betasab in Addis Ababa this summer.

Anna Paritsky Hailing from Brooklyn NY, Anna is a rising senior at Middlebury College in Vermont. A student of neuroscience, french, and the visual arts, she also enjoys leading the Middlebury College equestrian team. Anna frequently finds herself at the barn, in the kitchen, or worrying about the state of American education. 

Anna Paritsky

Hailing from Brooklyn NY, Anna is a rising senior at Middlebury College in Vermont. A student of neuroscience, french, and the visual arts, she also enjoys leading the Middlebury College equestrian team. Anna frequently finds herself at the barn, in the kitchen, or worrying about the state of American education.