Friends of Ngong Road is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Responsibilities include:
- Assure that affairs of FoNR are conducted in a fiscally responsible manner, and that legal and compliance requirements are met.
- Actively participate in the strategic planning, development and recruitment activities of the organization.
- Monitor and evaluate programs, outcomes, impact and performance of FoNR.
The FoNR board is a working board, with each board member having his or her own responsibilities in the U. S. and Kenya. All travel and many expenses are borne by the individual board members.
Our sister organization, Ngong Road Children’s Foundation, is governed by a Kenyan board of directors.
Board Member Biographies:
Paula Meyer: Founder and President
Paula Meyer left a successful career at Ameriprise Financial in 2006 and has since focused on building Friends of Ngong Road, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide education and support for Nairobi children living in poverty whose families are affected by HIV/AIDS so they can transform their lives.
As President of Friends of Ngong Road, Paula leads a talented team of senior executive volunteers from a variety of business backgrounds. Under her leadership Friends of Ngong Road has grown from an idea to a vibrant organization delivering education and life transformation for over 500 children in Nairobi, Kenya.
After many years as a corporate executive Meyer’s belief is that the skills she and the organization’s board of directors have learned in business can be applied successfully to deliver results in a different context. Friends of Ngong Road provides support to one of the most at-risk populations in the world – children who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS and living in poverty in Nairobi’s slums. U.S.-based fundraising operations are handled by volunteers and a small staff.
For full biography, please click here.
Turner Cobden: Board Member
Turner Cobden is Chief Operating Officer at Gatzies.com, a growing E-Commerce company in Massachusetts. As one of the original employees at the company, he had a unique opportunity to grow an organization of five people and 20,000 annual orders to 30 people and over 2 million orders annually. Turner is responsible for both the operations and technology development, combining the two into new ways to deliver a variety of products to customers that might not have been available online before. An entrepreneur first, Turner is focused on making good investments of time, effort and money to achieve optimal results with minimal risk.
Responsibilities at FoNR: Turner is responsible for internal operations at Friends of Ngong Road. He oversees the information exchange between Kenya and US and assists with managing the FoNR database that tracks donations, sponsorships, and children. In addition to this, he provides capacity planning and pieces of the roadmap for Friends of Ngong road to continue balancing growth and minimizing overhead.
Why I am involved with FoNR: I first became involved with Friends of Ngong Road in 2008 when Tom Gleason reached out to me asking about my summer camp experience as a program coordinator and counselor. I had grown up going to summer camps nearly every year and my first job during high school was being a camp counselor. Once I began to learn more about Friends of Ngong Road, its mission, and the camp program, I was hooked. For all the different ways a volunteer can donate time, effort, and money, this was an opportunity to also share an experience.
I’ve travelled to Kenya multiple times to help with running camp. My wife, Emily, and I have sponsored a child since 2009. In 2015 I joined the board of Friends of Ngong Road.
Meghan Feige: Chief Human Resources Officer
A native of Minneapolis, Meghan earned her Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College and her Master of Arts from New York University. With her years of experience at Allianz, Ameriprise Financial, New York University, Cargill and now nVent, she has performed in and led various global functions within the talent acquisition and talent management areas of human resources.
Meghan is an avid traveler, foodie, yoga enthusiast, dog lover, and hiker.
Responsibilities at FoNR: Meghan’s efforts at Friends of Ngong Road include overseeing the post-secondary program to ensure sound career goals and appropriate preparatory arrangements (including further education, training and employment) are developed for each child. She supports all of the Human Resources related issues and policies within the organization. She is responsible for the creation, launch and sustainability of the Life Skills Program, which is a 5 year program to help educate the students about various skills to help them in their daily lives and careers. Lastly, she is a champion for the Ambassadors Program, which is a program geared at fundraising and developing new sponsors.
Why I am involved with FoNR: One of Meghan’s biggest passion areas is access to education. Meghan believes that no matter what socioeconomic status, gender, race, or disability, all kids in the world should have access to an education. Specifically with Friends of Ngong Road, the program focuses not only on helping each student to obtain an education, but also ensuring that the needs of the students and families are met and supporting the students to get a job in order to break the cycle of poverty. Meghan was able to travel to Kenya a few times and spend time with the students, as well as teach them with her husband. After the travels and experiences with the students and staff in Kenya, Meghan is a lifelong supporter of the organization because she sees the difference it is making for so many.
Brian Hartert: Board Member
Brian is the Vice President of Business, Planning & Analysis at Ameriprise Financial. He is responsible for coordinating the annual planning and forecasting processes across the enterprise, as well as facilitating monthly and quarterly results reporting and analysis. Prior to joining Ameriprise 10 years ago, Brian obtained his bachelors of arts degree in finance, investments, and banking from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is also a CFA charterholder.
Responsibilities at FoNR: As Treasurer of Friends of Ngong Road, Brian is responsible for overseeing the budgeting, accounting, cash handling and financial reporting processes, which are almost exclusively performed by volunteers. In addition, Brian is responsible for working with Ngong Road Children’s Foundation in Kenya to understand their financial results and processes, and for providing support and guidance in those areas as needed.
Amy Johnson: Chief Operating Officer
Amy retired in 2019 from her role as Global Head of Operations at Columbia Management Investment Advisers, a division of Ameriprise Financial. With 20 years of experience in the financial services industry at Ameriprise, US Bank and Piper Jaffray, she has performed various functions ranging from detailed analysis and accounting processes to her most recent role overseeing the operations of one of the largest investment management firms in the United States.
Amy obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees in Accounting from the University of Iowa and spent the first two years of her career at KPMG auditing financial institutions, manufacturing companies and non-profit companies. While currently inactive, Amy was licensed as a CPA earlier in her career.
Responsibilities at FoNR: As Chief Operating Officer of Friends of Ngong Road, Amy is responsible for the operational, financial and control activities of the organization in the US and Kenya. She sets strategy and provides oversight for effective operational processes, internal controls, financial management and reporting.
Why I am involved with FoNR: Working with the team in Kenya and the US allows me to leverage skills I have developed in the corporate world to make a tangible difference for individual people who need our help. I was always drawn to sponsor children but only Friends of Ngong Road has allowed me to develop the close relationship with the children my husband and I sponsor. They are my proof that with our investment of time, support from generous donors and effective implementation of thoughtful plans, our sponsored children will help others over time and we can drive meaningful change together.
Keith Kale: Chief Marketing Officer
Keith retired after 10+ years as an independent marketing and strategic planning consultant at The Kale Group. Before starting his own company, Keith spent five years at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray as Marketing Director for the brokerage unit. Before moving to financial services, Keith had spent 15 years in marketing at The Pillsbury Company in the U.S. and Europe. He holds a B.A. from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa and an M.S./Marketing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Responsibilities at FoNR: Keith handles marketing and communications for Friends of Ngong Road. He also leads the strategic and annual planning processes for Friends of Ngong Road and supports the planning process for Ngong Road Children’s Foundation.
Why I am involved with FoNR: I became involved in Friends of Ngong Road at its inception. In 2006 Paula told my wife and me about her trip to Kenya I have always been a deep believer in the value of education and Paula’s idea to found Friends of Ngong Road appeared to be a perfect fit with my interests. With my wife, Kathleen, we sponsored the second child entering the program, Jackline. I became one of the founding board members and helped launch the program in late 2006 to ready the children for the January 2007 school term. My first trip to Kenya was in early 2008 as the program was just beginning to take shape. There we met our sponsored child and her mother in their very humble home where we were graciously and gratefully welcomed. Jackline has worked very hard and graduated from high school in 2012. She finished a post-secondary course in front-office management and was employed at NRCF and Karibu Loo as a receptionist for a few months. She is now employed full-time at Bimeda, a veterinary supply company, in their customer care area. We now sponsor another girl, Freshia and four boys – Eric (one of the first university graduates from the program), Gavin, Michael, and Jack. We are happy that all of them continue to progress in ways that would not have been possible without our support.
John Kundtz: Marketing and Development
John joined the board of FoNR in 2020. As an independent marketing and business consultant with Spotlight Consulting, he works with a range of clients in different industries to help them better understand their customers, categories or competition; to refine value propositions; or to develop customer centered marketing plans. John’s work includes projects, interim leadership roles and social intelligence research. Most recently he served as Interim Vice President of Marketing for University of MN Health and Fairview Health System for four years. He started his career at The Pillsbury Company (13 years), becoming Vice President of Marketing. He also worked as a Vice President at CNS (Breathe Right products) and Nielsen. John also was a co-owner of a bar and restaurant in Minneapolis for 6 years. He holds a BA and MBA from the University of Michigan.
Responsibilities at FoNR: John is on the marketing and development committees. He supports the planning and execution of key events, newsletters, web content, communications and social media.
Why I am involved with FoNR: I learned about FoNR through Keith Kale and was intrigued by its unique mission and the potential to transform kids lives through education. I sponsored my first student in 2009 who graduated from high school in 2014 and am currently sponsoring a young boy in primary school. It is amazing to see how these individuals mature and set goals for their education, potential careers and life. The quantifiable success of FoNR is impressive. In joining the board I am excited to help take FoNR to the next level and I look forward to the time I can visit Kenya.
Andy Walz: Chief Technology Officer
Andy is a rare breed of computer geek and outdoor guru. After earning B.S. in Computer Science and the University of Minnesota, Andy worked for 11 years at Wilderness Inquiry, a fellow Minnesota-based non-profit organization that seeks to provide access to the outdoors for all. He started leading canoe and kayak trips but quickly rose to a position as Director of Operations where he planned and managed hundreds of trips all over the world. Andy started Wilderness Inquiry’s East Africa programs and has guided many groups there himself. He joined the FoNR board after volunteering at Camp in 2010 and 2011 where he helped to make field trips and hiking and integral part of the camp program. In 2012, Andy switched gears to consulting and returned to the U to pursue a Master’s in Geographic Information Science (GIS). His graduate research was focused on modeling solar potential with GIS. After graduating in 2015 he received funding from the MN Dept of Commerce to help create mn.gov/solarapp (an application that allows consumers and installers to calculate and map sites through the web). Andy is married and the proud father of three young daughters.
Responsibilities at FoNR: Andy brings his technology expertise to FoNR board to make systems more efficient, our website more powerful, and our database more streamlined. Travel to Kenya has also become easier with Andy on board. Andy facilitates a partnership with Wilderness Inquiry and plans several trips per year for volunteers and travelers to engage with NRCA and see Kenya. Camp is also a sweet spot for Andy–he’s planned field trips and helped make camps held outside of Nairobi possible.
Why I am involved with FoNR: My wife Heidi and I were lucky to have had the opportunity to volunteer with a Ngong Road Children Association camp in Kenya a number of years ago…we saw first hand an organization changing hundreds of lives with a small budget and an extremely dedicated team of staff and volunteers. On previous trips we worked with organizations 10 times the size who weren’t nearly as effective. We decided to sponsor as way to show our support to the organization but quickly learned there was much more to it. We volunteered at camp and now can’t stay away. These kids have changed our lives as much as the help we provide changes theirs.
Kim Jenson: Development
Kim Jenson is Chief Operating Officer of Raymond James Financial, Private Client Group. Among her responsibilities is to prioritize solutions and services for advisors and clients with a focus on productivity, growth and operational excellence. With more than 30 years of experience at Norwest Bank, Piper Jaffray, UBS and Raymond James, she has held leadership roles in trust, product management, marketing, training and recruiting, and field management.
A native of Minnesota, Kim obtained her BS from Minnesota State University, and has completed programs at the Securities Industry Institute, Center for Creative Leadership, and holds the Certified Cash Manager designation, along with several securities industry licenses. She has received multiple leadership awards including New York YWCA Woman of Distinction, Chicago Biz Journal Woman of Distinction, Investment News Woman to Watch, the Bobby Piper Community Leadership Award and the Ed Connolly Leadership Award. In addition to Friends of Ngong Road, Kim serves on the boards of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and the Dean’s Advisory Board for the University of South Florida. Her passions for community involvement focus on the needs of at-risk families and children.
Responsibilities at FoNR: Kim currently serves on the development committee, supporting key programs to expand the reach and impact for the organization.
Why I am involved with FoNR: Paula Meyer and Keith Kale introduced me to this mission during its initial start-up. My husband Tom Elsen and I believe strongly that education is the key that unlocks a child’s potential. Every child deserves an education and not every child is afforded that opportunity. We sponsored our first student in 2008 and are now sponsoring our third child. This is an extremely well-run organization in partnership with our stellar staff in Kenya. Getting to know these children through letters, report cards and videos is pure joy. FoNR makes it easy to invest a little, and produce life-changing returns for these students, their families, and marvelously, for ours as well.