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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.

Board of Directors

Matthew Cohen CPA


Matt Cohen is a partner at Kurcias, Jaffe & Co. LLP. 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.

Janice Lathen

Janice Lathen

Founder, President

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.

Greg Obenshain


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.

Philip Brandt


Philip Brandt is a VP at Deutsche Bank where he partners with Local and Global Divisional leaders to improve transparency to data quality and he is also an active real estate investor. He previously worked for Citi across Risk, Finance, and Treasury, and has experience in the Insurance and Trading industries. He graduated from Cornell University with a Master’s of Engineering and resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys pick-up basketball, soccer, skiing and cyclocross.

Laszlo Schneider

Laszlo Schneider

Board Member

Laszlo Schneider is a Senior Manager with KPMG where he has served clients in a variety of industries and countries, including large multinational companies listed with the Securities Exchange Commission and internationally, as well as domestic entities. He is currently working in KPMG’s National Office. Laszlo is a licensed CPA in the state of Virginia, a fellow member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Corvinus University in Budapest.

Deidré Smith

Board Member

Deidré Smith is the Vice-President of Client Services & Business Transformation for NTT America, a global technology company. Prior to this, she founded and ran a consulting company in South Africa advising on strategy, M&A and doing execution for clients across many sectors. Dee holds an executive MBA from Henley Business School. She and her husband have three daughters and reside in Virginia.

Claire Avett

Board Member

Claire Avett serves as a Senior Advisor for Co-Financing Partnerships in the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s (DFC) Office of Structured Finance and Insurance. Prior to DFC, Ms. Avett held a variety of positions spanning the public and private sectors including leading management consulting engagements in the fintech, healthcare, and higher ed sectors. She resides in Washington, DC, and holds an M.B.A. in International Business and Strategic Management from George Washington University School of Business, and a B.A. from Georgetown University.

Team Members

Caitlin Kelley

Executive Director

Caitlin has 15+ years of experience in various leadership and advisory roles across the non-profit sector. Prior to joining Powering Potential, she worked in Tanzania for eight years, where she helped run a Tanzanian NGO that she co-founded. She also had her own business as a social impact consultant, specializing in helping international organizations and entrepreneurs strategize and navigate important moments of transition. Caitlin holds a B.A. in African history from Northwestern University, and is fluent in Swahili and French.

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


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.

Jill Salter


Jill Salter has 20+ years of nonprofit experience; most recently as Associate Director, Philanthropy Operations, at the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. Prior to that, she served as a Major Gifts writer at UJA-Federation. She is a volunteer with Catchafire, where she provides writing, research and strategic assistance to her pro bono clients. In her initial nine months with Catchafire, she worked on 16 projects, delivering an impact valued at $45,000. You can read more about Jill on LinkedIn:

Smita Ganguli

Human resources consultant

Smita is an HR professional with 10+ years of experience  across a start-up and Fortune 500 companies in US, Europe, Asia and Africa. She holds an MBA specializing in Human Resources and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from premier Indian Universities.
Smita has broad based skills as an HR Business Partner, Specialist and Project Manager leading strategic HR projects in the areas of employee engagement, compliance and operations. Smita is currently Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Lazard in New York.

Emmanuel Ackerman

Software Engineer

Emmanuel (Manny) Ackerman grew up in State College, Pennsylvania and Rochester, Minnesota. He graduated from Reed College (Portland, Ore.) in 1971 with B.A. in mathematics and had Conscientious Objector status in the draft. Manny has worked 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), eventually becoming an Enterprise Architect leading a team of a dozen programmers. Among his other interests are making pottery, Sufi and participating in Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreading.

Bill Kozitsky

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.


Walter Minja


Walter is an information technology expert and co-founded the Potential Enhancement Foundation, Powering Potential’s partner organization in Tanzania. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and enjoyed implementing various ICT projects in rural areas during his employment with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology. In 2005, Walter moved to the U.S. to further his education and opportunities, and joined Powering Potential in 2010. He currently works at an automotive and energy company based in Fremont, California and is also a graduate student studying Information System Management at the University of San Francisco.

Anand Sethupathy


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


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

As participation in the global economy increasingly relies on digital literacy, it is more important than ever for students in developing countries to have access to information and communication technology to improve their lives. Will you join us?