Rob Burke is a mathematics teacher at Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario. He has been supporting the Jacaranda School since 2008 in partnership with his prior school, Shanghai American School. Rob has now visited the school twelve times with students, parents and teachers from Shanghai American School. During the past seven years, he has fundraised for a science lab, a nurse’s clinic, a storage facility, classrooms, restrooms, renovations to student’s homes, and much more.
A new member of the faculty at Ridley College, he looks forward to introducing Jacaranda to his new community and forging a strong relationship.
Marie Da Silva, Founder
Born and raised in Malawi, Marie Da Silva worked as a nanny in the U.S. for nineteen years. During this time she lost many members of her family to the AIDS pandemic. In 2002 after realizing the school in her home village in Malawi was going to close and seeing firsthand the devastation AIDS had wrought in her home village, she founded the Jacaranda School for Orphans in her childhood home. For the next nine years, Marie supported the school financially by sending a third of her monthly salary to Malawi.
In 2008 Marie was recognized as Top Ten CNN Hero for her dedication to orphans in Malawi. Among many other awards received for her work, Marie also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the President of Malawi.
Today Marie spends most of her time in Malawi at the school and frequently travels abroad for fundraising and speaking engagements. Marie is married to Jacaranda’s Executive Director, Luc Deschamps.
Luc Deschamps, Executive Director
Born and raised in France, Luc Deschamps obtained his Master in communication and journalism from the university of CELSA Paris Sorbonne. In 1994, he worked as assistant director to the French Cultural Center in Malawi and then moved to New York City.
In 2007, Luc returned to Malawi to run the Jacaranda School for Orphans. For the past ten years, Luc has been directing the development of Jacaranda School, the construction projects and the academic programs.
Luc created Mr. Luc's Libraries, Jacaranda's outreach programs of school and community libraries and literacy programs.
Luc is also Honorary Consul of France in Malawi and organizes French linguistic and cultural cooperation activities in the country. He is the director of the Jacaranda Cultural Center & Maison de la France, located in Blantyre.
Nicole DeVault teaches French, Art and Ethics at the Alexander Robertson School in New York City. She holds an M.S. Ed., in Multi-Cultural education. A harpist and vocalist, Ms. DeVault enhances and supports her instruction with music and art to facilitate a multi-sensory approach in her teaching practice. She is the winner of the 2014 Blackboard Awards for teachers, in recognition of her outstanding work for New York City students. She is currently collaborating on writing and developing an inter-spiritual curriculum for children.
Emil Feiger is a second-generation jewelry manufacturer and designer, and is the president of Valentine Jewelry Manufacturing Company based in New York City's Diamond district. Emil majored in geology in college and has spent most of his career with a focus on jewels and gems.
Emil met Jacaranda’s founder, Marie De Silva, and Executive Director, Luc Deschamps, in New York more than twenty years ago. He was so moved by the stories of Marie’s students that he felt compelled to help support her work. Emil's son has spent several life-changing months at Jacaranda as a volunteer and hopes to return soon.
Jackie Filla PhD
Dr. Jackie Filla is an Assistant Professor of political science at Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles, CA. Recently, Dr. Filla was appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women by Mayor Eric Garcetti. She served on the Advisory Board of the LA Education Fund’s “Girls Build LA” initiative. She is an active member of social justice organizations and has worked locally and globally on parity issues.
Dr. Filla has presented and published academic research on women's representation, has received grants to study trends in women's political participation, and is a regular contributor to "Status of Women and Girls" reports in Pennsylvania, California and Los Angeles. She directs Mount St. Mary's annual “Ready to Run” women's campaign training program.
John Heilman, Board President
John Heilman is a law school professor at both Southwestern Law School and the University of Southern California Law School. Mr. Heilman earned his law degree at the University of Southern California, where he was Notes and Articles Editor of Southern California Law Review and the recipient of the Shattuck Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Law Center.
Mr. Heilman is also a prominent elected official, having served as Mayor and City Council member of West Hollywood since the city was incorporated in 1984. Professor Heilman has been an active member of the National League of Cities and has served on the board of both the National and California League of Cities. He is a past board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Local Government Commission and is also past president of the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Local Officials Group.
Randi Malkin Steinberger
Randi Malkin Steinberger is an American photographer and documentary filmmaker whose work has been shown worldwide. She sits on the board of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and The Azzurra, an Italian Cultural organization based in LA.
Randi was introduced to the Jacaranda Foundation by her son who met Marie Da Silva in 2006 when he was twelve years old after he heard her speak at his school. Since then, he and his family have visited the school in Malawi and they remain dedicated to supporting the work of the organization.
Michael Tarnoff MD
Dr. Michael Tarnoff is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Medtronic’s Minimally Invasive Therapies Group. A board-certified general surgeon, Dr. Tarnoff received a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and also completed a General Surgery Residency and a Surgical Research Fellowship at the same institution.
Dr. Tarnoff maintains a part-time clinical and academic practice in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, where he is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Surgery.
Ileana Wachtel is a seasoned communication strategist with extensive experience working in communications for cutting edge political campaigns, nonprofit organizations and startups that have been instrumental in laying the foundation for change in our nation. She has worked for political candidates and organizations over the past two decades, from Governor Jerry Brown and Senator Barbara Boxer to organizations such as Americans Elect and StudentsFirst. She has also advised on communication strategy for Super PACs as well as conducted opposition research on multiple national and state level campaigns. She has also advised on film projects, book tours and other advocacy campaigns promoting social change.
Isaac Nsamala, Chairperson
Chairman of the Association of Pension Fund Nico,
Chairman of Victoria Forex Bureau, Former CEO of National Bank of Malawi
Marie Da Silva, Vice Chairperson & Founder
Luc Deschamps, Secretary
Aaron Sangala, Board Member
Malawi Member of Parliament, Ndirande Malabada constituency
Marilyn Dantier, Board Member
Office Manager of Property Management Company
Reed Morrissey, Board Member
Investment professional, Fulbright scholar and Georgetown University graduate