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Board Members

Mariama Thera

Executive Director

Mariama graduated from the National School of Administration, Bamako Mali (ENA: Ecole Nationale d’Administration du Mali) with a Masters in Economic Science. She also did post graduate work in International Development at American University. Mariama has 13 years of consulting and program management experience in International Development in Africa, working with the Institute of Research on Public Health in Bamako Mali, the African Development Bank (ADB) in the Department of Women in Development (WID), UNICEF, and UNHCR in Ivory Coast.

Since 2000, Mariama has been living in the USA and is currently working as a French Language and Cultural Insight Instructor, Curriculum Developer and French Language Tester with the US Defense Military and Intelligence, US Diplomats and US Agency for International Development.

Mariama is a self-studied scholar of comparative religions. She is the co-founder and the CEO of Baobab Learning Center, a Diaspora initiative program for children’s education and community‘s empowerment in the South of Mali

Margie Ferris Morris


Margie Ferris Morris has nearly three decades of experience in international development primarily in the food security and health arena. She has extensive experience in program design, performance monitoring and evaluation with the United Nations, US government, and public and private sectors. Other areas of expertise include facilitation, training and developing performance indicators. Most notably, she led the development of USAID’s food security indicators in concert with the USAID Bureaus, academia, and aid agencies. She also led the technical units at UNHCR to produce the book “Practical Guide for Standards and Indicators in UNHCR Operations”.

She is also trained in conflict mitigation and mediation in domestic and organizational and multicultural settings at American University and Eastern Mennonite University’s Summer Peace Institute, among others. She severed as adjunct staff at Tulane University, the Peace-Building and Development Institute at American University and has taught at a number of other universities on humanitarian topics. She has field experience in twenty countries and traveled extensively in more than sixty countries world-wide.

Jonathan Crane

Supporting Former Board Member

Jonathan Crane is an economist, consulting mainly in the areas of program evaluation and social policy. Formerly he was the Research Director for the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, a Principal at the Council for Excellence in Government, a Senior Fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, a Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice-President Al Gore, and an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.


He has written numerous articles on social programs, social policy and foreign policy for various academic and policy journals. Social Programs that Work (ed., Russell Sage, 1998) identified social programs with rigorous evidence of effectiveness. He has a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an A.B., Summa Cum Laude, from Harvard College.

Allen Jackson

Board Member

Mr. Jackson has a Master’s Degree in Economics, a Juris Doctorate in law, and a Certified Mentor Mediator (ret) with the State of Virginia. He has published in both economics and law journals. His areas of note include Non-Profits, International Project Management, Finance, Law, International Compliance (OFAC, USAID, FCPA),
Conflict Mitigation, Program Management, Public Finance, International Trade, and Administrative Procedure. His experience includes non-profit financial and organizational management, international program start-up – implementation - close-out - and donor reporting, and the design, evaluation, and statistical understanding of project performance and effectiveness.


A core competence in this work is communicating his understanding of the intent, strategic goals and objectives, and the social and financial constraints being faced by individuals and organizations implementing complex activities worldwide. As a logical extension of his expertise, Mr. Jackson is active in international and domestic conflict management, financial audit and compliance testing, and organizational dispute resolution.

David Berry

Chairman of the Board

David Berry co-founded and runs the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable, a federal advisory committee subgroup, where government agencies, corporations, universities and NGO’s work on sustainability of water resources including available supply, quality, infrastructure and habitat. 


In addition to being on the board of the Baobab Learning Center, he is on the steering committee of the Balaton Group, a forum for Sustainability and Systems thinking and on the board of the Initiative for Equality.


While at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, he chaired Groups on Sustainable Development and Industrial Ecology. The groups raised awareness of environmental, social, and economic trends, and encouraged creative action by organizations and individuals. He has spoken and undertaken projects in Europe, Asia, and Africa. He leads workshops and retreats in the US, Mexico, Canada, and gave talks in Russia to a range of groups including the Academy of Science. He is a member of the Balaton Group, a global network on systems and sustainability. 

David was President of the Dharma Centre of Canada, one of the oldest meditation centres in North America. He continues to support and teach at that centre and others. In the 1970s and 80s, he performed on Korean and American television and radio including on National Public Radio’s "The Prairie Home Companion.”

Martin Mandelberg

Board Member

Martin Mandelberg is a strategist, scientist, electrical engineer, executive and educator with experience and achievements in government, corporations and academia.  PhD in Electrical Engineering and a Masters of Arts in Strategy.  Authored 75 professional papers and reports. Registered Professional Engineer.

In addition to being on the Board of the Baobab Learning Center, he currently serves on the Board of CrytoSOlis,  high-tech startup in California.  He served on a Board of Directors of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for 14 years, and the Board of Advisors for Jerome Translation Group for 15 years.

Philanthropic and International Experience:  Co-founder and Chairman of The Step It Up Foundation (WWW.TSIUF.ORG, a philanthropic organization focused on “Helping People Change Their World – Now”.  Currently implementing innovative projects and for education, humanitarian aid, solar electric generation, clean water, and legal aid in the US, Virgin Islands, South Africa, Bolivia, Kenya, Mali and Honduras. Managed projects in Korea, Greece & Chile.

Corporate Experience:  Formed Mandelberg Consulting Group LLC, a business consultancy firm that developed strategies and implemented effective solutions for 13 years.  Advised CEOs on business strategy & developed proposals that won $1 Billion in contracts.  Previously held engineering management executive positions at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for 17 years including Senior Vice President responsible for 300+ employees and $350 million revenues.  Develop proposals that won $3 billion in contracts.  Helped SAIC grow from 5,000 to 43,000 employees.

Government Experience:  Chief Scientist & Division Chief (GM-15) at Office of the Secretary of Defense on national-level programs supporting the White House for 3+ years.  Provided strategy & technology guidance for teams from government agencies, national laboratories, industry and academia.  Previously Senior Scientist and Branch Chief (GS-13/14) at the Coast Guard R&D Center for 3 years leading 25 individuals developing navigation and computer information systems.  Previously Design Engineer and Project Manager (GS-7/12) at the Naval Underwater Systems Center for 10 years developing improving sonar systems for submarines and surface-ships.

Academia Work Experience:  Part-time Adjunct Professor teaching graduate courses and advising students at the University of Connecticut, Hartford Graduate Center, University of Maryland, Marymount University and University of Fairfax.

Awards and Honors:  Received Office of the Secretary of Defense Award from LTG V. O. Lang (USA) in 1987.   Included in the 16th Edition of American Men and Women of Science in 1986.  Received Office of the Secretary of Transportation Meritorious Achievement Award with Silver Medal from Mr. Drew Lewis, Secretary of Transportation in 1982.  Elected as Senior Member in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), member in SIGMA XI scientific research honor society and as a member in Eta Kappa Nu engineering honor society.

Other Memberships: Association for Computing Machines (ACM), International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Society of Industrial Mathematics (SIAM), Association of Women Mathematicians (AWM) and Engineers Without Borders.

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