Luena’s Foundation’s Commitment to Giving 100%
At Luena Foundation, every single affiliated individual works on a voluntary basis, wholeheartedly committing their time and expertise without financial compensation. This approach allows us to allocate all public donations we receive directly to our field projects, ensuring that every dollar donated makes a meaningful impact in our mission to create positive change for children, all over the world. Our team’s selfless commitment exemplifies our core values of putting the cause before personal gain, maximizing our ability to support those in need and make a tangible difference in the world.
Co-founder & Co-Executive Director, Luena Foundation
Ryan worked as a Medical Device & Diagnostics Research Analyst for 12 years for such firms as Jefferies LLC, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Adams Harkness & Hill, CIBC World Markets and Roth Capital LLC.
After leaving Wall Street, Ryan started his own consulting firm providing strategic advice to various emerging growth medical companies. Ryan also served as President and Chief Operating Officer at Transcription Factor Therapeutics, Inc. Ryan graduated with honors from Yale University in 1995.
For the past few years, Ryan has been traveling around the world with his wife and three young children trying to find ways to donate his time and resources. Ryan, his wife Emily and three young children have a home in Spain but they spend the majority of their time traveling abroad. Ryan is a co-founder and the Executive Director of Luena Foundation.
Co-founder & Co-Executive Director, Luena Foundation
Emily previously worked as a Medical Technology Equity Research Analyst and Corporate Finance Analyst for various investment banks, including Jefferies LLC, WR Hambrecht + Co and Lehman Brothers.
Prior to her time on Wall Street, she was a DJ in Connecticut and New York City. She holds a B.A. from New York University. She currently resides in El Gastor, a tiny Andalucian pueblo in the south of Spain. Emily is the co-founding Executive Director and Secretary for Luena Foundation.
ESTRELLA VELA FERNANDEZ
Estrella is a lifelong resident of El Gastor and is Luena’s mother. After suffering a debilitating spinal cord injury, she began working for the Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (ONCE), an organization that generates more than 80,000 jobs for the disabled. Prior to working for ONCE, she domesticated horses and worked in agriculture. Estrella is an honorary board member of the Luena Foundation.
ELIAS TROSO TONDELA
Elias, a resident of El Gastor, is Luena’s father. He originally hails from Luanda, Angola and immigrated to Lisbon, Portugal 1992 in order to continue his studies. In Spain, he currently works in construction and is pursuing a certification in Renewable Energy Solutions. Elias is an honorary board member of the Luena Foundation.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Executive Vice President of Strategy at Penumbra, Inc.
Jason Mills is the Executive Vice President of Strategy at Penumbra, Inc., an Alameda, California-based medical device company, which is a global leader in the development of innovative therapies in neurological, vascular and virtual reality.
Prior to joining Penumbra, Jason was a publishing sell-side analyst with coverage of the medical technology industry for over 20 years. In addition to serving as Head of US Healthcare Research at Canaccord Genuity, Jason’s specific research coverage focus is on the sectors of Cardiovascular, Imaging/Robotics, Ophthalmology and Women’s Healthcare. Jason joined Canaccord Genuity as Managing Director and Senior Medical Devices analyst in 2007, coming to the firm from First Albany Capital where he was managing director and senior medical devices analyst since 2003. He had previously served as a vice president and senior med-tech analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners (now part of Stifel), and has earned awards for his stock picking, including the #2 ranked Medical Devices analyst in the The Wall Street Journal’s 2011 ‘Best on the Street’ Survey and #1 in the Medical Products segment of Forbes 2010 Best Brokerage Analysts.
Jason holds a BA in Economics from Yale University and Master degree from Ohio University. Mr. Mills is currently acting as Treasurer for the Luena Foundation.
GREGORY LAM, M.D.
Medical Director of Cardiovascular Services, OhioHealth
Dr. Gregory Lam is a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, and serves as the Medical Director of Cardiovascular Services for OhioHealth Berger Hospital.
Greg has deep roots in philanthropy, social justice, and community service. He is Co-Chair and a founding member of the Physicians Action Network and the Ohio Institute of Communities of Color. He and his family also perform annual medical missions to Belize, where in partnership with the Luena Foundation they have developed a hypertension treatment program in the rural villages of northern Belize.
A former Commissioner of Ohio’s Commission on Minority Health, he now serves as the Vice-President of the Ohio Asian American Health Coalition. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, the Public Health Fund of Ohio, the Asian Festival Corporation, and Buckeye Healthcare.
Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Greg received his Bachelors of Science from Yale University, his Medical Doctorate from the University of Rochester, his Masters in Health Science from Duke University, and his MBA from Capella University. He now resides in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, Dr. Kristen Lam, and their 2 sons, Ben and Ryan.
Founding Partner and Chairman of the Investment Committee at Atlas Merchant Capital LLC
David Schamis is Founding Partner and Chairman of the Investment Committee at Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, an investment firm, and is based in New York. Previously, David worked at J.C. Flowers from 2000 to 2014, most recently as Managing Director and member of the Management Committee. He joined J.C. Flowers at its inception and has had significant experience investing in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. His day-to-day responsibilities include transaction and sourcing execution, portfolio company monitoring and firm operations. Prior to J.C. Flowers, David worked in the financial institutions investment banking group at Solomon Smith Barney LLC from 1995 to 2000.
David is currently a member of the Board of Directors of South Street Securities Holdings, Inc., Panmure, Gordon & Co. PLC, Ascensus, LLC and Talcott Resolution. In 2007 and 2008, Investment Dealers Digest magazine named David to its “40 Under 40” list.
A native of Plainview, New York, David earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Yale University. He served as co-chairman of the Class of 1995’s Reunion Gift Committees in 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020. Mr. Schamis is currently a member of the board of Yale College Alumni Fund. He remains active in his community and has coached football and lacrosse at various levels.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer at UbiDX
Kate is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of UbiDX, a startup company developing a novel home diagnostic and disease monitoring platform for infectious and chronic diseases.
Kate was also the cofounder of Israel-based MEDX Xelerator, a medical device and digital health incubator with Boston Scientific, Sheba Hospital and MEDX Ventures. She led led the biomedical startup practice for the Invention Science Fund at Intellectual Ventures as inventor and executive leading new company creation in the fund.
She brings 18 years of capital markets experience in investment banking and equity research specializing in medical technology as well as 5 years of strategic business strategy consulting working with startup ventures as well as pubic companies on business strategy, M&A and institutional investor relations programs.
Chief Financial Officer at Gopuff
Ted Stedem is the CFO of Gopuff, a market leader in instant commerce, with a national network of fulfillment centers that focus on rapid delivery. Prior to his current role, Ted served as Chief Financial Officer at Panera Brands from 2019 to 2022, where he led all aspects of the finance function as well as International Development. Prior to Panera, Ted spent 2 years building the global finance team at WeWork where he served as the Global Business and Financial Operations.
Ted served in a number of leadership roles for Yum Brands since 2009, including Chief Financial Officer of Yum China and General Manager and Managing Director of KFC Asia. Prior to joining YUM, he worked in finance, business development and marketing roles with Merrill Lynch, Bain Consulting and Office Depot.
REGIONAL DIRECTORS & COUNTRY COORDINATORS
ADIE ADIE ELVIS
West Africa Regional Director, Luena Foundation; Founder and Executive Director, Action For Change (AFC)
Mr. Adie is a high school teacher in Economics and the Coordinator/co-founder of Action for Change (AFC) in Cameroon. Adie holds a master’s degree in development economics and a diploma in project writing, monitoring, and evaluation. Before being the coordinator of Action for Change (AFC), Adie worked with different reputable organizations in practical field work pertaining to matters such as organic farming techniques, farmers’ field school activities, environmental education activities, and hygiene and sanitation activities. As the coordinator of AFC since 2015, he has implemented several successful projects in the fields of education, agriculture, hygiene and sanitation, environment, etc. He has more than eight years of working experience in these areas and is deeply familiar with local communities since he was born in the South West Region of Cameroon.
DIDIER KABADILWA OMAR
Country Coordinator: Kenya, Luena Foundation; Director and co-founder of Christ’s Victory Center
Mr. Kabandilwa Omar is a Congolese national who was born in small village called Munene in the eastern part of the Democratic of Congo. He was forced to flee his country due to political violence and has been residing in Kenya as a refugee since 1999 with his four girls and wife.
Didier is the Director and co-founder of Christ’s Victory Center, a community based organization which operates as a primary school specifically for other refugee children in Githorai, Nairobi.
Didier has an advanced diploma in Theology and Biblical studies, a certificate in leadership and loves putting smiles on kids’ faces.
Country Coordinator: Tanzania, Luena Foundation; Founder and Director of the Saidia Agriculture and Social Care Organization (SASCO)
Mr., a lawyer by profession, is the Founder and Director of the Saidia Agriculture and Social Care Organization, an organization that has empowered more than 200 vulnerable children through education. He is currently one of the charter members and Past Presidents of the Rotary Club of Hai-Kilimanjaro. He has also served as an Assistant Governor in District 9214 which combines Uganda and Tanzania.
Mr. passion for service leads him to reach out to vulnerable children and those who are from poor families who do not have the opportunity to realize their potential.
Country Coordinator: Malawi, Luena Foundation; Founder and Executive Director, Nancholi Youth Organization
Mr. Nedi’s educational background includes an advanced diploma in nutrition and food security, a diploma in public health, a bachelor’s degree in Community Development, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. His academic and professional journey has equipped him with a diverse skill set and knowledge base, encompassing areas such as resource mobilization, utilizing theater for educational development, facilitating community discussions, managing projects, crafting proposals, understanding organizational behavior, mastering internet and computer technology, utilizing social media and communication tools, and efficiently overseeing international volunteer programs.
His professional expertise extends across various domains, including leadership and development within non-governmental organizations (NGOs), personal leadership development, addressing issues related to violence against women and girls, promoting education, advocating for mental health, and providing support to young individuals affected by HIV and AIDS.
PAM BAYOCH GATLUAK
Country Coordinator: South Sudan, Luena Foundation; Founder and CEO of Dit-Ni-Tek General Trading and Investment Co
Mr. Pam, who is South Sudanese, hails from Akobo County. In 2021, he founded Dit-Ni-Tek General Trading and Investment Co, and is the current CEO. Prior to that, he held various posts at 734 Water Company, as a financial manager at 3k Financial Management, as a Senior Health Manager at Africa Relief Ministry College, as a dean at Western Gambella Health Science and Leadership College, as a supervisor and Community Health Worker at MSF-Holland, and as a Rapid Response Team Leader at South Sudan Public Lab. Pam enjoys reading and working with different communities regardless of religious and ethnic differences.
Pam holds a Bachelor of Science in public health from Kea-Med Medical College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Country Co-Coordinator: Western Uganda, Luena Foundation; Coordinator / Founder of PARC-Uganda
Mr. Ndungo was born and raised in a remote community in the Rwenzori Mountains, Kasese District in Western Uganda, where conflict and violence have re-occurred for a long period of time largely because of historic injustices, tribalism, and cultures seeking recognition.
Samuel lost his father to war at the age of 7 years. He was raised by a single illiterate mother, and against the traumatic backdrop of political conflict and injustice, Samuel experienced firsthand the plight of orphans and other vulnerable children/people.
Armed with his desire to make a difference and his belief that education could counteract violence, injustice and poverty, Samuel initiated a student discussion group while attending secondary school with the intention to promote peer-learning and positive educational outcomes. Samuel strengthened and transitioned this effort to create PARC-Uganda, a community based organization which envisions a world of equal opportunity where children live and grow without barriers and suffering regardless of their race, ethnicity, location or socioeconomic status.
Samuel holds a national diploma in animal management from Bukalasa Agriculture College and a degree in Biomedical Laboratory Technology from Makerere University.
He is currently a Ugandan civil servant working with Kasese District Local Government. Prior to joining Kasese District, he also served as a volunteer consultant with many local community and international organizations.
Country Co-Coordinator: Eastern Uganda, Luena Foundation; Coordinator / Founder of See Them Grow Foundation
From a young age, Mr. Kisitu faced the challenges of growing up without parental guidance, instilling in him a deep empathy and drive to make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children. His journey towards philanthropy and entrepreneurship has been profoundly influenced by his early life experiences as an orphan. Motivated by his own upbringing, he aspired to create opportunities for disadvantaged youth and provide them with a chance for a better future.
Morgan’s determination and resilience paved the way for a scholarship that took him to the United States of America. There, he pursued higher education and achieved a bachelor’s degree of Arts in Business Administration, specializing in Entrepreneurship, from the esteemed University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
During his time at the University of St. Thomas, Charles’s passion for giving back and uplifting the less fortunate grew stronger. This enthusiasm culminated in the vision to establish an orphanage, a dream he nurtured and developed while pursuing his degree. He envisioned creating a safe and nurturing environment where orphans and underprivileged children could thrive, receive education, and be empowered to realize their potential.
With this vision at the forefront of his endeavors, Morgan Kisitu founded See Them Grow Foundation. This noble organization provides support, education, and essential resources to orphaned, teenage mothers and disadvantaged children, with the aim of enabling them to grow into successful, self-sufficient individuals.
In addition to his philanthropic pursuits, Morgan is the proud owner of 1000 Shades of Green Tour & Safaris, a venture that allows him to merge his love for community development with his passion for showcasing the beauty of nature. Through this enterprise, he not only offers exceptional travel experiences but also contributes to the economic growth of the communities he serves.
Morgan Kisitu stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration, embodying the belief that resilience, education, and a compassionate heart can lead to transformative change in the lives of those in need. His journey from adversity to advocacy reflects a profound commitment to making the world a better place for everyone.
Field Coordinator, Luena Foundation
Lindsey is a field coordinator for Luena Foundation with a passion for connecting and empowering communities all over the world. For the past ten years she has spent months at a time living in South America, Central America, Asia, and Africa working with communities on grassroots movements relating to a wide range of social causes related to education, women’s rights, extreme poverty, sustainable farming, disability services and health issues. Lindsey recently joined the Luena Foundation team to collaborate not only on addressing immediate needs on the ground but also on fostering long-term local relationships and community-led initiatives.
RITA MARIA CAPPELLO
Social Media Strategy & Implementation, Luena Foundation
When she was 17 years old, Rita chose Luena Foundation to be the nonprofit organization that she would focus on at the extracurricular charity club that she started at her high school. She is Luena Foundation’s lead social media strategist, who role is to develop and produce creative, informative content. She has a passion to work in Event Planning, so together with Gabriella and Luisa, she will be involved in all aspects of planning various events in the future.
MARIA GABRIELLA CAPPELLO
Social Media Strategy & Implementation, Luena Foundation
Gabriella, at age 14, co-founded her school’s extracurricular charity club together with her sister Rita. Her main role is spreading Luena Foundation’s message effectively via newsletter writing. She also has an important part in creating much of the social media content, specifically on Instagram. She will be playing a crucial role in future event planning alongside Rita and Luisa, focusing on writing event proposals and event organization.
Social Media Strategy & Implementation, Luena Foundation
At age 15, Luisa was one of the founders of her high school’s extracurricular charity club. Her passion for social media led her to take the lead in creating Luena Foundation’s content on TikTok, a platform our organization has just started to explore thanks to Luisa’s ability to write content that engages with a young, modern audience. She will also be co-planning the events with Rita and Gabriella as she helps with the writing of the proposal and coming up with different ideas for different events.
Grant Writer, Luena Foundation
Taylor is a coordinator for grant-writing at Luena Foundation. She is dedicated and determined to help those in need access the resources and funding required to sustainably develop their communities on their own terms. Over the past five years she has worked with communities and NFP organisations in Fiji, South Africa, Zambia, Sudan, and Kenya. She is particularly passionate about the empowerment and health of women and children. Moreover, she is committed to listening to the community and ensuring decision-making power is given to those who best understand the issue. Taylor has recently joined the Luena team to focus on grant-writing for various grassroots projects, and to coordinate a team of grant writers who have the manpower to cover Luena’s extensive list of partner organizations.
Grant Writer, Luena Foundation
Collin Milone has been volunteering around the world for five years. He likes to see himself as a brother, a son, and a friend. He earned a Bachelor’s of Political Science and Master’s of Public Administration with a focus in Social Work from Binghamton University in New York State. Kenya is the only place in the world that he has returned to while traveling. He’s currently on his third Kenyan visa.