our board

  • V. Bonnie Nezaj: Founder

    Bonnie self-financed her visits to East-Africa to observe what actions grassroots organizations and individuals are taking to tackle the roots of poverty. The purpose of her trip was to meet people who were truly agents of change and in the process became one herself with the founding of Empowering Development Alternatives, an initiative devoted to holistic educational solutions to empower young people.

    In January 2010, Bonnie founded EDA, a 501(c)3 organization in the US. The goal is to enable orphans living in impoverished households with little hope for a future beyond their immediate circumstances, to realize their full potential through support and access to quality secondary education. The project began with 20 students who were selected through a process working with local educators. These students were enrolled in a local school with a tuition that none could afford. The goal is to increase the numbers served and encourage participating students to return and give back to their communities, to be agents of change, to shift the current viscous circle of poverty into a virtuous one of increasing educational standards, income and well-being.

    Bonnie believes that education is "The Way" for individuals, families, communities and nations to prevail in the battle against disease and poverty. The truth of this sentiment is recognized by all. However, there may be no place on earth where the impact per dollar spent could be greater than in helping the children of Uganda, many of them orphans who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Bonnie has worked with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York, International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva, and is currently working as a Psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. For more information on how to participate or contribute please send a message to vbn@em-powering.org

  • Robert Kainamura: Director

    Rob has over 10 years of entrepreneurial experience in finance and information technology. Mr. Kainamura adds to EDA a cultural and educational diversity that stems from his studies and professional experience in different parts of the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Exercising his beliefs in creating a difference in the lives of others, he leverages his technical expertise engaging with nonprofit organizations. Working at the Computer Disaster Operations of the American Red Cross, he was among the first volunteers assisting in New York City's post September 11th recovery.

    Rob earned his graduate degree from Columbia University in 2003 where he studied Information Technology. In addition to his formal education, he was awarded four Industry Certifications from Nortel, Lucent, Intelsat and University of Maryland.

  • Fr. Tom Smith: Director

    Fr. Tom is a catholic priest from the Camillian congregation of the Irish Province. In 2000, he started a community based program in Uganda, covering many villages, providing comprehensive care and support to HIV infected clients. From here he launched Nyenga Mobile Clinic that reached the far off villages to bring help and support to HIV/AIDS sufferers and their families.

    Fr. Tom holds a B.A. in Divinity, Graduate in Clinical Pastoral Education, plus contemplation of lifes experience. He lives in Jinja, Uganda since 2000.