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.
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 Secretary
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.
Heather Kun, MS PhD
Heather Kun, MS PhD, is Executive Director of Fuck Cancer where she leads strategic programming to help prevent, detect and provide support to cancer patients and their families. She brings years of research, evaluation and health experience to the agency in order to better design programs with potential for impact in the cancer space. She is also principal and founder of HK Impact Advisors that partners with philanthropic, non‐profit and corporate clients to build strategy with maximum potential for impact.
Prior, Dr. Kun was Vice President of Research and Evaluation at the National Health Foundation (NHF) for over 6 years. She was responsible for overseeing the research and evaluation arm of the organization in addition to participating in development, operational and fundraising activities. She also oversaw all of the chronic disease prevention and management, patient safety, patient family centered care and other hospital/community clinic based programs.
Before working for NHF, Dr. Kun was an epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stationed in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Acute Communicable Disease Control Branch. She has also worked as a consultant for various private family foundations and has led and participated in multiple large-scale quantitative and qualitative research projects specifically centered on immigrant health.
Dr. Kun received her doctorate degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Her dissertation work addressed health status and access to healthcare of farmworkers living along the eastern Mexico‐California border. Dr. Kun also holds an M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Sciences from Yale University.
Tina lives in Los Angeles where she is a member of the Women’s Advisory Board in West Hollywood, focused on ensuring that all women have the chance to succeed. She holds a BA in English and Human Development from Boston College.
Tina had the honor of visiting the Jacaranda School in October 2015, where she worked with a group of influencers and the United Nations to create the documentary #TreatmentForAll, a social media campaign with the mission to provide treatment for all diagnosed with HIV/AIDS from the time of diagnosis. Her love of Jacaranda, its mission and progress inspire her daily.
John Staheli, Treasurer
John Staheli is a CPA and finance professional at the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group of Medtronic, a global healthcare solutions company.
John was introduced to Jacaranda in 2016 and was immediately inspired by the foundation’s mission and its impact on the children and communities of Malawi. In 2017 John became the Jacaranda Treasurer, bringing a background in strategic financial planning, project analysis and financial internal control processes.
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, Board President
Dr. Michael Tarnoffis a practicing minimally invasive surgeon who also serves as Medtronic’s Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for the America’s region. In this role Michael provides regional leadership over a team of clinical, analytical, operational and commercial experts whose work serves to create better patient and healthcare professional experience by improving outcomes and lowering cost. This team focuses on optimizing acute care setting management and clinical care.
Michael received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where he also completed a general surgery residency and a surgical research fellowship. He completed a fellowship in advanced laparoscopic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington University. Michael 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 serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Surgery.
Michael has been involved with the Jacaranda Foundation since 2007 when he first heard Marie DaSilva’s story on CNN. Michael called Marie to find out how he could get more involved which began a 10+ year relationship that has since extended to include Michael’s wife and their 5 children all of whom have visited Jacaranda and Malawi. Michael has served as Board President since January of 2017.
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