The Founders

Two returned Peace Corps Senegal and Cameroon volunteers, one former teacher and curriculum developer in South Korea who studied abroad in Ghana, and one accomplished entrepreneur. We first bonded over a mutual love of empowering girls.

We all gravitated to Seattle as graduate students to amp up our knowledge and skills in creating global change. From there, our startup nonprofit romance evolved over some pizza and local beers. 

We clicked as classmates, colleagues, creators, advocates, and friends, and are excited to embark on this incredible venture together. We are passionate about enabling girls to own their future through [1] providing youth with life-changing sexual health information and [2] engaging communities in supporting their sisters, daughter, and mothers.

 

Sheena Lahren, Executive Director

MPA, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON EVANS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVERNANCE

Small (but gritty) and with Yoda-like ears (and wisdom), Sheena was forever forced to play one of Santa's elves in every Christmas pageant throughout childhood... and adulthood. But now Sheena is the head-honcho of a nonprofit startup - elves get to work!

Favorite Quote: "Who run the world? Girls!" -Beyonce

 

Sophie Danner, Program Director

MPA, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON EVANS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVERNANCE; RPCV Senegal

Sophie is pretty much too cool for us. She's made a number of contributions to empowering girls around the globe -- working for the New York Women's Foundation and helping to coordinate a girls scholarship program while a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. AND unlike most of us, her first concert was not Phil Collins with her mom, it was the Violent Femmes!

Fun fact: Sophie has lived in 5 different countries! If you can guess all five, she'll do a dance.                                  

Melissa Lafayette, Administrative Director

MPA, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON EVANS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVERNANCE; RPCV Cameroon

If any of us had daughters, we would want her to be exactly like Melissa - incredibly thoughtful, intelligent, driven, adventurous, and able to eat an entire block of Tillamook cheese in one sitting. 

Favorite Quote: "People are strange, but more than that, they're good. They're good first, then strange." - Dave Eggers

 

Nick Pernisco, Development Director

executive MBA Candidate, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON EVANS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVERNANCE

Do not be fooled by the picture, in addition to co-founding Power2Girls and being a dedicated ally in feminism, Nick is an accomplished entrepreneur, educator, author, and politician. Oh, you weren't fooled by the picture? Fair enough. 

Fun Fact: Nick isn't all business, in fact, he's an internationally ranked  pinball player!                                               


The Ghana Team

Joining Sheena and Sophie in Ghana, is our incredibly talented, energetic team, dedicated to achieving our mission.  Each member was hand-selected based on their experience, motivation, creativity, and bright personality. 

Emily Rasinski, Program Manager & Communications OFficer

MPA, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON EVANS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVERNANCE

When Emily approached Power2Girls about joining us in Ghana, let's just say we had to try not to faint with joy. She's got a powerhouse of skills: photojournalism, communications, policy analysis, research, and being a fervent supporter of all northeast Ohio sports teams, to mention a few. 

Favorite quote: "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."-Dorothy Parker

Eva Abugabe, Change Agent Educator

Much like Sheena, Eva is also a small but mighty champion for female empowerment. She embodies everything we could have asked for in a team member. She is a born leader who can take control of a room and has the incredible patience to teach and mentor young men and women. Take note of her now, because she is destined to leave her mark on this world. 

Learn more about her here.

 

Adam Fusheini, Change agent educator 

Adam described himself as curious minded individual who is always searching for new things to learn. We consider this an understatement. His interests span from entrepreneurship, to youth empowerment, to agribusiness and has worked as a community journalist, a youth leader, and president of a local drama and debate club. In his free time (when he has any) he can be found attending anywhere from 4-7 workshops or speaker series a week! Whew, we don’t know how he does it! Learn more about him here.

Favorite quote: “The best of knowledge is that which benefits its possessor.”

Joyce Stoff, program coordinator

Joyce is our team member who rolls with the punches. She is always ready to handle any surprise that comes our way with a smile on her face and some Dolly Parton playing in the background. She has a passion for helping youth in Ghana and has experience workings as an HIV/AIDS activist.

We're not sure if she is just being really really nice, but Joyce always eats the random lunches we prepare that seem strange to the rest of the staff (hummus, tacos, cous cous). This is why we love her. Learn more about her here.

Samuel Gordor, program coordinator

When Samuel isn't at the Power2Girls office helping to make our program awesome, he is studying for his Master's in Development Studies at University of Ghana. He specializes in statistics for the social sciences and previously worked as a Researcher for Youth Empowerment Synergy as well as a Field Surveyor for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). He is passionate about girls' empowerment as well as climate change and his dream job would be working for the United Nations. He also wins "Best Smile" in the Power2Girls office. Learn more about him here.

Quote: "I believe that empowered girls who are educated, healthy and free can transform their communities and pass on the benefits to their children, and to their children’s children."


Board of Directors

Along with our four co-founders, some fantastically stellar people serve on our board of directors.

Lila Djaba

Founder, Lila's Childcare Foundation

A mentor and close friend, Lila has been an inspiration to our team and consistently fires our passion for positive change through her incredible example. She started Lila's Childcare Foundation in 2004, a school that provides basic education for deprived children and child workers living near a rock quarry in Greater Accra. Lila believes that every child should have equal opportunity to education and life chances. She believes that every child has a right to enjoy a childhood, be shown love, to feel valued, and given the change to become credible people to themselves, their families, and society.

 

Grace AMPONSAH

Founder, A New Dawn; Dalai Lama Fellow 2015-2016

Our connection with Grace was serendipitous to say the least. We met her as she was beginning to launch her own nonprofit for empowering girls, A New Dawn. A New Dawn aims to tackle barriers to education faced by girls in Berekuso, Ghana and help them to develop stronger potential for success. A number of A New Dawn girls have set up social enterprises aimed at solving some of the pressing social issues in their community and a few have take up prefectural positions in high school. The lessons Grace has learned and shared with us along her incredible journey as a startup nonprofit founder has helped us to build a better program ourselves. We look forward to continuing to grow together.