California Staff

Linda Hooper    
Executive Director

linda@thesamburuproject.org

Linda.jpg

After more than 25 years as the Director of the Manny Silverman Gallery, where she curated exhibitions, collaborated with artists and artists' estates, museum academics and collectors, Linda is now dedicating her talents to The Samburu Project (TSP) full time as the Executive Director. 

An avid traveler, Linda visited Kenya for the first time in 2005 when she was touched by the daily efforts that women and children endure just to procure water. The years that followed, Linda looked for an organization to work with that would directly effect a change to this very basic problem.

In 2010, Linda attended The Samburu Project's 25 Wells Celebration and never looked back. She became very involved with TSP initially as a volunteer and organized the Art Meets Africa event benefiting TSP. She then became a board member (2012) and eventually became the Board Chair (2013-2015). Linda spearheaded The Face of Water: An Exhibition of Photography and initiated From Seely to Samburu, an educational and fundraising program for K-6th grade students in Scarsdale, New York.  Linda also lent her time and efforts to assist with other TSP events and fundraisers, including: the annual Walk for Water; the Forever21 launch event; and the annual Splash Bash gala and art auction.

A graduate of UCLA, Art History, Linda spent several years living in New York City working as the director of Gallery Schlesinger-Boisante. Upon her return to Los Angeles, she was part of the curatorial staff at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, before becoming Director of the Manny Silverman Gallery.  Linda became the second Executive Director of The Samburu Project in early 2016. 

 

Kiki Swanson
grants & program MANAGER

kiki@thesamburuproject.org

Falling in love with Africa at the age of 7, Kiki has always dreamed of working for an organization that helps people in that area of the world. However, it was a trip to Tanzania in 2013 that really pushed her to pursue her dream. 

Kiki has been the Project Coordinator at TSP since February of 2015. Wearing a variety of hats in the office, she works on planning all of our events, tracking donations and donors, managing interns and volunteers, coordinating with our team in Kenya and so much more at TSP HQ. Kiki has also become a public face for The Samburu Project, speaking on behalf of the organization, spreading awareness of our work and recruiting ever increasing groups of interns, volunteers, and donors.

Working with the team on the ground and knowing we are changing people's lives is the most gratifying part of the job for Kiki. A photo of a new well, or a thank you from those whose lives are changed, makes a very big difference for everyone involved. 

Kiki received her B.A in Integrative Physiology from The University of Colorado Boulder (Go Buffs!) and is currently working on her Masters Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Colorado Denver. 

 

VICTORIA PACOS
Office Administrator & electronic marketing 

Victoria@thesamburuproject.org

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Victoria’s passion for water began in 2013 while she was interning for Safe Water Network, an international nonprofit based in New York City. A freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, she was studying Civil Engineering and had taken the position in hopes to learn more about the design of sustainable water systems. Instead, what she found was a passion for sustainable development and community culture. Upon returning to school she completely changed her focus, transferred majors, and concentrated all her efforts on studying international development.

In 2015 Victoria relocated to India for 2 months to work for Community Empowerment Lab. During her time there, she was tasked with designing a community center in the rural town of Shivgarh that would encourage and service expecting mothers in an effort to bridge the gap between local customs and western medicine.

Victoria graduated from UCLA this past June with a dual degree in International Development Studies and Economics. Currently, Victoria holds the position of Office Administration and Outreach Associate for The Samburu Project. She first began working as an intern with The Samburu Project in June 2016. Her past experience with Salesforce made her a key asset in transferring campaign data from Excel onto the Salesforce platform. Gradually her role expanded to include the management of all social media platforms as she spearheaded our online presence.  In January 2017, Victoria became a permanent staff member of the TSP team. 

Kenya Staff

eric lekolii
Project Manager

Eric@thesamburuproject.org

Eric Portrait.jpg

Eric Lekolii was born in Wamba, Samburu, Kenya into a traditional Samburu family of 8 children. Like all village boys, he tended to goats and other livestock before attending Wamba Boys High School.  Eric heading to Nairobi for college where he graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor's Degree in Hotel Management in 2007.  He proudly passed his bronze level certification as a safari guide in Kenya (not an easy test to pass).  Eric spent 8 years working at the exclusive Sasaab Lodge in Samburu (5 of those years as a guide) before joining The Samburu Project team early in 2016.  

As a true Samburu, Eric knows every hill, bush, bird and village in the region and spent time volunteering with the Kenya Wildlife Service on their Save the Grevys (Zebra) program. He is a married, devoted father of three and has a passion for his culture and serving his community. He first became aware of TSP in 2006 when TSP put a well near his village. TSP is fortunate to have him on our team. Eric became Project Manager early in 2017. 

 

Paul Lekuuk
Well Maintenance specialist

Paul Lekuuk reigns from the Margwe Community in Samburu where The Samburu Project drilled a well in 2007. Paul, a quick learner with a natural ability to understand all things mechanical, community leader and all around great guy, became an expert in well maintenance. Before he knew it, he was fixing wells all around Wamba. It seemed natural for Paul to officially join the TSP team. Now he’s fixing TSP wells all over Samburu. Paul can be seen, sometimes with one or more of his 7 children on his motorbike, driving through the Samburu landscape on his way to remote communities on duty to repair or inspect TSP wells.  

 

Mussa Lekwale
Country Coordinator

Country Coordinator for The Samburu Project since 2007, Mussa is also the Security Manager at Governor's Camp in the Maasai Mara. He holds a diploma in hotel management and is responsible for security at 7 luxury camps with 300 staff and 500 annual visitors. Prior to joining Governors’ Camp, Mussa served in the Kenya Armed Forces, as well as the United Nations Protection Force and United Military Observers. Like his brother Lucas, Mussa has pledged his devotion to TSP and to continue the work of their late mother, Mamma Mussa.

 

Board Members

Alan Leavitt
Board Chair

Alan Leavitt is Managing Director at Trently Advisors, where he oversees personal investments on behalf of a family. Alan previously worked at the investment management firm of Beach Point Capital Management, specializing in high yield and distressed securities and workouts. He began his career at the international law firm of Latham & Watkins where he worked in the finance department in New York and Los Angeles.  He has served as a mentor to disadvantaged youth through the Fulfillment Fund. 

Alan has traveled extensively throughout the world to both developed and developing countries. As a child, his parents volunteered with international health organizations, which gave him the opportunity to attend local schools in the Caribbean and Africa. 

Alan received a Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and a J.D. From Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harian Fiske Stone scholar. He joined The Samburu Project Board in 2012 and became Chairman in 2016.

Debbie Buderwitz
Treasurer

Debbie comes from an agricultural family where the need for water has been a constant concern in her life. She grew up in Orange County, California with Executive Director, Linda Hooper and first became involved with TSP due to their close friendship. Debbie began her involvement with TSP by attending Splash Bash and Walk for Water events and was so moved by the stories of the daily struggles of the people of Samburu to find fresh water. It seemed so wrong that we take for granted the presence of water in our daily lives when others pray daily for this basic necessity. 

Debbie is a graduate of UCLA, Theatre, Film & Television and has her MBA in Finance from USC. Professionally, Debbie is the Chief Operating Officer and Accountant for a boutique management company in the entertainment industry. It seemed like a natural fit to take on the role of TSP Treasurer, which she assumed in early 2016. Debbie is the mother of two young adults who have been known to volunteer for TSP as well. 

Doretta Bonner
Board Member

Doretta Bonner worked in television broadcasting for 14 years, working in Los Angeles and for the San Francisco CBS affiliate. Most of her professional career was spent as a video producer at Oracle Corporation. There she produced videos and created productions for online use, product marketing launches and customer success stories. She recently spent time working on an independent film.

Doretta pursued her passion for photography by starting a photography business, which she still enjoys today. She volunteers as an event photographer and is on the fundraising committee for the San Francisiso 49ers Academy, a school located in East Palo Alto which provides high level education to at risk youths. 

She serves on the board of directors for Community Ice Skating Association, a nonprofit in Palo Alto, CA. She volunteers in her local community, working every year on her school fundraising auction committee, and is also on the board of the Woodside Fire Protection District, working on various fundraising initiatives. She first learned about The Samburu Project in 2009. Since then, Doretta has been responsible for the implementation of 7 annual "Walk for Water" events involving the children and community of Woodside, CA. The 7 walkathons have raised enough funds to drill 8 "Woodside Wishing Wells" in the Samburu region of Kenya. Having visited Kenya 17 years ago, Doretta hopes to return soon with her family to experience first hand the efforts of The Samburu Project.  

Doretta received a B.A in English from UC Santa Barbara and attended San Francisco State in Broadcasting. 

Robert Falkenberg III
Board Member

Robert Falkenberg recently retired from Babcock & Brown after a 29 year career in investment banking. For 15 years he has served on the board of Aim High, a San Francisco Bay Area summer enrichment program for economically disadvantaged youth and plans to continue serving the needs of the underprivileged in his future endeavors. 

In July 2008, Robert spent 3 weeks in Wamba, Samburu with his family. He worked in local schools supported by The Samburu Project as well as in the field assisting in the oversight of TSP's third well drill. Robert has served on The Samburu Project board since 2008.

Robert received a B.S in Business Administration (Finance and Marketing) from University of Colorado and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

 

Board Members Emeritus

Mara Brock Akil    Vivian Geffen   Dr. Brian Perri    Michael Rossi    Brian Silverman
                                

Kenya Advisory Committee

Ndung'u Muchane Nairobi, Kenya
 

Water Ambassadors

Dawn Curran Croton Falls, NY
Christine Schefman Detroit, MI

 

Consultants

Robert Sax
Press Relations
Robert@saxpr.net

Brandy Stone
Media Outreach
BrandystonePR@gmail.com

Pi-Isis Ankhara
Strategic Planning
pi@ps3onefour.com

 

Photographers

The Samburu Project has had the privilege of working with a number of talented photographers who have documented our work and the Samburu people. All photography seen on this website is copyrighted and cannot be used without permission.

Rudi Dundas
www.rudidundas.com

Rudi Dundas is a photographer focused on social change and environmental issues. She photographed wild tulips in the Tien Shan Mountains for Michael Pollan’s film, BOTANY OF DESIRE, as well as in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Indonesia covering sustainable farming for Peet’s Coffee, US AID, and others. She has photographed extensively in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and West Bengal for drinking water issues. A recipient of fellowships from the NEA, NY Foundation for the Arts and the Adobe Foundation, she was nominated for a Lucie Award for international photography in 2014.

In August of 2011, I went to Samburu with my photographic partner, Chris Majors, to photograph for Blue Planet Network and The Samburu Project. We drove all day from Nairobi and into the night on rutted roads.  As we neared Wamba, our headlights illumined elegantly dressed figures in beads and red “shukas,” carrying spears across the road.  We had arrived in Samburu…
Chris and I spent the next two weeks in Samburu with Kristen Kosinski and Lucas Lekwale photographing at several villages: Sordo Namunyak, Upper Margwe, Lauragi and others where Lucas and his team were installing ten new wells that year.  The accompanying photograph was taken while I was dancing with the women in Lauragi, to bring the water in…  
I have maintained close ties to the Samburu people.  I have an adopted Samburu Godson, Chris Saidimu, who is soon to graduate with a teacher’s diploma from Kenyatta College in Nairobi.  Once you visit Samburu, it is hard to leave.

 

Daniel Jack Lyons
www.danieljacklyons.com

Daniel Jack Lyons is a New York-based photographer and global health practitioner whose work is guided by his strong commitment to human rights and social justice. Fundamental to this commitment is a belief that the subjects of his photography should have agency in telling their own stories. Lyons’ ultimate goal is to support his collaborators’ efforts in overcoming their challenges by uncovering the human element that connects them to his viewers, encouraging further investment.

It was truly an honor to spend time with the Samburu communities.  I will forever consider each story told to me, and every portrait made to be an invaluable gift for which I am deeply grateful.

 

Chris Majors
www.chrismajorsphotography.com

Chris is a commercial and art photographer based in Oakland, CA. He is passionate about his craft and using his skills to showcase the stories of the life-transforming change that sustainable safe drinking water brings to everyone it touches. 

Chris was a contributor to The Samburu Project's Face of Water exhibition. 

 

 

 

Mamen Saura
www.saura.com

Mamen Saura is a Spanish humanitarian photographer based in Northern California. She has made it her life’s work to use her skills to give voice to the stories of women and children around the world. She is deeply interested in bringing global communities together, and driving awareness of other cultures through art and education. For seventeen years she has collaborated with water organizations, such as: The Samburu Project, Blue Planet Network, Water.org, and Sabore’s Well to bring a human perspective to one of the most dire problems of this planet: the lack of access to clean water. Mamen has also volunteered for organizations focused on education and poverty alleviation, such as Pratham (India), IPPFWHR (Colombia & Mexico), 10Books a Home (California), Banco de Alimentos (Spain), and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University (India).  

I had the privilege to visit The Samburu Project in 2014 with my own children (aged 15 and 12) - it was an extraordinary experience in many ways. What struck me the most was the similarity between the women/mothers I met and myself - we all want the same things for our children/communities. These simple but common threads created a strong bond that I will always cherish.

Iris Schneider
www.irisschneiderphotography.com

Iris Schneider is a photojournalist who spent much of her career working for newspapers and documenting people and their communities. It has been her dream for many years to visit Africa and document work being done for the betterment of the African people. It was a privilege to travel to Samburu, Kenya with the Samburu Project and chronicle the work they are doing to help women, children and communities in rural Kenya by providing access to clean water. Without water, life is limited for so many who live in rural areas of Africa and other parts of the world. Water truly makes everything possible, from the simple necessities like nutrition, healthcare and sustenance, to grander goals of self-sufficiency and education.

It was my great joy to travel with The Samburu Project and get to know the generous and humble Samburu people. Meeting women, and their families, and talking about their dreams and hopes reinforced the idea that we are all united by our common struggles and goals. The hard-working women of Samburu toil every day to give their children the opportunity to reach beyond what their parents have achieved. I hope my photography can bring their story to an even bigger audience so the work of The Samburu Project can continue and grow.

Interns

India Krappe     Alyssa Castronuovo   Naazley Boozari     Olivia Hachohen
 

 

Founder

Kristen Kosinski 

Inspiration

Mama Mussa