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Our Team

Powering Potential has attracted a team of highly-qualified, dedicated professionals with diverse expertise, and funders from foundations, governments, corporations as well as hundreds of individual donors.

Janice Lathen

Janice Lathen

Founding Director

Janice Lathen was inspired to start Powering Potential in 2006 while on a safari in Africa. The group visited a school in the Karatu District of Tanzania and after introducing herself in Swahili, Janice was overwhelmed by the students’ expression of appreciation and the heartfelt connection she experienced.

Janice has been an entrepreneur throughout her career. Prior to starting Powering Potential, she managed her computer consulting business in New York City, specializing in training. Previously, she worked as an actress and a model after receiving a B.A. degree in Communications and Theater from the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota.

Board of Directors

Matthew Cohen, CPA

Chair

Matt Cohen is a principal in the small business group at Gettry Marcus CPA, P.C. Matt devises and implements tax and financial statement strategies for corporations, partnerships, and individuals, enabling them to minimize tax liability and thoughtfully plan for the future. He advises clients in a wide variety of industries, including not-for-profit, financial services, manufacturing and distribution, hospitality, arts and culture, and professional services, and has extensive experience serving start-up businesses.

Greg Obenshain

TREASURER

Greg Obenshain is Partner and Head of Corporate Credit at Verdad Capital, a private investment firm. He previously ran investment portfolios at Apollo Global Management and Stone Tower Capital. Prior thereto he completed GE’s post-MBA leadership program. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Sophia Kehler

Sophia Kehler

Secretary

Sophia Kehler is a leader, mentor, and creator with a passion for making a difference by organizing, implementing, and delivering programs to underserved communities. She has experience launching initiatives focused in a developing country. She has a track-record of enabling people to expand and achieve their dreams through positive decision making.

Janisa Anandamohan

Board Member

Janisa Anandamohan is a Senior Product Manager at Spotify where she develops and executes strategies around efficient cloud infrastructure. She previously worked at Facebook, Microsoft, and Google and graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. Global technology innovation is a large part of Janisa’s life which has led to her interest in Powering Potential.

Sonia Karkare

Board Member

Sonia Karkare is a digital transformation leader with a focus on the impactful and innovative use of technology in the international development sector. She currently serves in a leadership role at Doctor’s Without Borders, and has also served at The Global Fund and the American Red Cross. She is the co-founder of Heroes Everywhere, which celebrates Unsung Heroes across the world. She holds an M.S. degree in Computer Science and spends her time in Switzerland, India and the U.S, where she shares a home with her partner, Dr. Murali Shanker.

Team Members

Richard Segal

Management team

Rich Segal earned his Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Washington. He is a member of the research staff at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center where he researches the application of artificial-intelligence and machine-learning techniques to real-world business problems. Rich and his wife Joanna are the parents of three girls. Rich is an avid bicyclist who has completed the 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic nine times. Rich’s charitable interests include Africa, children with special needs, and epilepsy. He also serves as a board member of the Segal Family Foundation, a strong supporter of Powering Potential since its inception.

V. Ena Haines

Management team

V. Ena Haines is retired from her position as Director of Information Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, leading the IT department of 45 staff who handle everything from faculty and student computing to administrative systems. Her interest is in making technology work for people. She holds a BA from Smith College in Biochemistry (summa cum laude) and a Master’s in Library Science. A lifelong New Yorker, Ena visited Africa in 2009 and found the engaging people as unforgettable as the majesty of the Serengeti. Seeing the work that Powering Potential had begun at Banjika School, she and her husband Michael were inspired to support its growth.

Dana Rensi

Regional Director,
Latin America

Dana Rensi is an Educational Media Specialist in the Ashland, Oregon school district. She received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching and has a BA in Spanish and Education and an MA in Education/Educational Technology from Southern Oregon University, and has twenty years’ experience teaching Spanish in the United States. Throughout her career, she has taught and worked in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Peru. In 2006 she was selected to participate in a year-long Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program in Iquitos, Peru. She is leading Powering Potential’s Peruvian expansion.

Christopher Nickolas, CPA

Accountant

Chris Nickolas is an Audit Manager at Mazars USA LLP. He has a substantial background working with clients in a variety of industries including financial services, not-for-profit, professional services and retail. He works with businesses to help ensure accurate financial reporting and verify that strong and efficient control structures are in place across their financial processes. Chris helps corporations, partnerships, and individuals minimize tax liabilities and ensure tax compliance services. Chris received both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degree in Accounting from Queens College, City University of New York.

Nikki Will

Designer

Nikki Will is a multidisciplinary designer based in San Francisco, CA. After earning a BFA in Advertising Design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she started her career in advertising as an Art Director. Later, she transitioned to product design and her most recent role was the Head of Design at Pocket, a techology company she helped found. She started working with Powering Potential in 2017 after a recent trip to Tanzania inspired her to find a way to help bring technology to rural communities. When she’s not designing, Nikki enjoys exploring the Bay Area with her husband, young son and dog.

Olivia Magdelene​

Outreach Director

Olivia Magdelene, D.D. is an abstract artist, freelance writer and nonprofit consultant. A former political journalist, her professional background includes two decades of comparative religion research, including training in Diamond Cutter & Heart Sutras under the Ven. Pema Dorjee and Deyan Popovic, Ph.D. of the Nechung Foundation; an Hon. Doctorate of Divinity, a Masters of Gnosticism & a Masters of Metaphysics under Rev. Amy Long and the Universal Life Seminary School; and Gayatri Mantra training with Ravindar Kaur of Guiding Light Meditation. Well-versed in theology, secular belief, philosophy and 20 types of meditation practice, Magdelene is also a non-denominational crisis counselor in her spare time.

Paula Mann Nassivera

Paula Mann Nassivera

Grant Writer

Paula Mann Nassivera is honored to be working with Founding Director Janice Lathen and the Powering Potential team as a grant writer. She has worked as a journalist in New York City in the travel and entertainment industry. From 2006-2019 Paula worked as an Associate Professor and Director of the
Theater Program at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. Paula also has a life in the theater, having worked as a professional actress since 1975. During that time, she performed Off Broadway in NYC, regionally and locally in southern Vermont.

Chrisalyn Fernandez

Chrisalyn Fernandez

Videographer

Chrisalyn (Crissy) graduated from Baruch College with a B.A. degree. Throughout college Ms. Fernandez had a desire to pursue a career in business. She has a deep passion for human resources and marketing. She is currently an HR Assistant at Betances Health Center. She assists with recruiting, and benefits and employee relations. In her spare time she interviews individuals on her youtube channel — Crissy Presents. She is inspired to promote people’s businesses, talents and ideas through social media. Her personal vision is to curate a platform where everyone has a voice. She wants people to feel confident, inspired and empowered after viewing her content.

Emmanuel Ackerman

Software Engineer

Emmanuel (Manny) Ackerman, born in 1949 in Madison Wisconsin. Mostly grew up in State College, Pennsylvania and Rochester, Minnesota. Graduated from Reed College (Portland, Ore.) in 1971 with BA in mathematics. Conscientious Objector status in draft in 1971. Manny has worked in many fields as a programmer and a researcher since 1969. From 1979 until his retirement in 2009 he worked at Depository Trust Company, which later became Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), as an analyst and engineer, eventually becoming an Enterprise Architect leading a team of a dozen programmers working on special projects within the company. Manny’s first personal computer was a CPM machine with 8” floppy disks in 1979, later replaced by an Amiga and then a PC in the mid-1980s. Among his other interests are making pottery, Sufi and participating in Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreading.

Bill Kositsky

Photo Editor

Bill is a retired Registered Nurse in Reno, Nevada. Fifteen years ago he developed an enthusiasm for photography and is delighted to offer his photo editing experience to Powering Potential. Bill’s photography has been published in Nevada Magazine as well as local newsletters and the Mensa Bulletin. He is a Cooperative Extension Master Gardener and volunteers for that organization. Hobbies include pickleball, vegetable gardening and painting rocks. B.S. in Psychology 1980 and A.A. in Nursing 1982 from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

Advisors

Walter Minja

ADVISOR

Walter Minja is a Tanzanian who grew up in Dar es Salaam where he acquired his early education. Mr. Minja received his first degree, a B.S. in Computer Science from Mysore University in India. He returned home after finishing his degree and began his professional career working at Tansoft System and General Tyre (T). In 2001, Mr. Minja joined Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) where he worked on bringing technology to rural areas within the country. After spending four years on ICT for rural development projects, he moved to the US for further studies and opportunities. Mr. Minja continues with his passion of giving back to his country; in 2010 he joined Powering Potential. He brings valuable cultural, government and technical knowledge to the team.

Scott Morgan

ADVISOR

Scott Morgan completed his MPA in International Non-Profit Policy and Management at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and currently serves a Deputy Executive Director for TAG (Treatment Action Group). He had a long career in the corporate sector managing domestic and global outsourcing and services contracts. He worked at NPower NY where he used his technical and operations management background to provide consulting services to non-profits throughout New York City. Scott has worked in Tanzania teaching and creating HIV prevention programs.

Denis Petrov

ADVISOR

Denis Petrov brings over 25 years of experience in computer systems, networks, software design and development, Web and Internet technologies. After college he began his career developing geophysical data processing software, and volunteered with several non-governmental organizations in Moscow. Since coming to the United States, he continued advancing his information technology career working at Human Rights Watch, Public Interest Law Initiative and NPower New York. He currently serves as a Principal Software Engineer at Northwestern Mutual.

Anand Sethupathy

ADVISOR

Anand Sethupathy is an avid supporter of the Powering Potential organization. He is an experienced technology manager and has been working in the space for more than a decade. He currently serves as Executive Director in JPMorgan Chase’s technology organization heading up the CAO Social Good Programs group. Prior to JPMorgan Chase, Anand worked as a Senior Manager at NPower where he was responsible for getting effective technology into the hands of Nonprofit organizations. Anand’s prior experience also includes a technology company that he founded and ran for more than three years. Anand holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and attended NYU for his Bachelors degree.

Surya Ganguly

ADVISOR

Surya Ganguly is the Senior Director at The Asia Foundation, a 60 yr old nonprofit that promotes peace, prosperity and a just and open society. Surya has worked as an international eRider, consulted for nonprofits, NGOs and the U.S. Government, leading technology strategy, training and project management. Surya holds MCSD and CISSP certifications and attended Whitman College for a B.A. in Mathematics, and received his J.D. from NYU in 2009.

In Memoriam

Milton Finger (1936-2019)

Chair of the board

Milton Finger served as Powering Potential’s first Chair of the Board. He was a retired deputy director, Department of Defense Programs Office at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He served on numerous scientific boards including task forces for the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and the Defense Science Board. Finger received the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service and the U.S. Army Award for Patriotic Service. In his community service as a member of the Livermore Rotary Club, he supported local K-8 schools with dictionaries as well as scholarships. International projects included potable water systems in South India, orphanage support in Nepal with the Gates Foundation, the eradication of polio worldwide, a burn center in Chile, and equipping a pediatric ward in Kosovo.

Support Our Efforts

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for students in developing countries to have access to information and communication technology to protect their communities and improve their lives. Will you join us?