Our Team

Tomaida Banda
Tomaida Banda
Program Officer
Tomaida Banda is a social worker by profession and holds a Master in Social Work degree from the University of Zimbabwe. She has 15 years experience in development work. She has worked for the Zimbabwe government as a probation office and for SOS Children's Villages in their Research Department. She is also the former Executive Director of Child Protection Society (CPS), a Firelight Graduated Partner. CPS is a child rights organization that works with communities to bring about change in the lives of vulnerable children and their families. The main projects being implemented by the organization focus mainly on the reintegration of children outside family care, community-based care of children and access to early education and development for vulnerable children. Tomaida is Firelight's Program Officer for our child rights and girls empowerment initiatives in Tanzania and Rwanda.

She also serves as the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Council of Zimbabwe which advises the Minister of Social Services on matters relating to the welfare and well-being of children and monitoring the overall situation of vulnerable children.
Nina Blackwell
Nina Blackwell
Executive Director
Nina joined Firelight as Executive Director in July 2015. Nina comes to the Firelight Foundation from Humanity United, a leading human rights foundation, which is part of the Omidyar Group of philanthropies. As Senior Strategic Advisor and Head of External Affairs at Humanity United, Nina led the Communications, Policy, and Partnerships teams to support and leverage the organization's strategic work in the prevention of conflict, mass atrocities and modern slavery.

Prior to joining Humanity United, Nina spent several years at Yahoo!, Inc., where she led two global teams as Senior Director of Americas Communications and Senior Director of Global Public Affairs. In the latter role, Nina was responsible for developing global communications across a broad range of issues including privacy, data governance, online safety, human rights and freedom of expression. Nina joined Yahoo! after seven years working for U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, first as Special Advisor and then as Press Secretary and Spokesperson. Her work with Senator Clinton began in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks and spanned the successful 2006 Senate reelection campaign and the 2008 Presidential Campaign.
Monica Dey
Monica Dey
Strategic Partnerships Associate
Monica Dey comes to Firelight having returned from a Princeton in Africa fellowship at Hope Through Health in rural Togo, where she assisted with a quality improvement project for a pediatric HIV program. A recent graduate of the Human Biology program at Stanford University, Monica researched and wrote her honors thesis at the university’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) about the impact of contraceptive prevalence on maternal mortality worldwide. Monica received a Stanford PACS Small Grant and a CDDRL grant to conduct her field research in Uganda and participated in the Public Service Scholars Program to ensure that there was community benefit from thesis research.

At Stanford, Monica was a member of the Social Entrepreneurial Students’ Association (SENSA) Pre-Professional Team and student government's Social Impact Initiative, developing social impact career programming and establishing a new social entrepreneurship fellowship. Outside her studies, Monica has interned for Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Safe Mothers, Safe Babies in Uganda, the Institut Pasteur in Madagascar, and the Tides Foundation, enabled by a Sand Hill Philanthropy Fellowship from Stanford. In 2015, she was a recipient of Walk the Talk Award from the Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service and graduated as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and Public Service Honors Society.
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Joshua Kyallo
Joshua Kyallo
Managing Director
Joshua Kyallo is Firelight’s Managing Director, overseeing our team and initiatives in Africa. Joshua is a Kenyan-born international development specialist with 25 years of experience providing child-centric, program management, and community-based development strategy across Africa and has been a respected thought partner to an array of regional and international organizations supporting sustainable development on the African continent. Prior to joining Firelight, Joshua was President and CEO of Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs (U-TOUCH), a non-profit organization whose mission is to transform lives in disadvantaged regions by bridging the digital divide. He also served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Text to Change Mobile, a non-profit organization that utilizes technology to support global development in emerging markets. For nearly four years, he served as the Director of Africa Programs at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, overseeing programs and partnerships across Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this, Joshua was the Country Director of AMREF Health Africa in Uganda. Previously Joshua served in multiple senior leadership positions with Partners for Development in Nigeria; Save the Children in Tanzania; Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) in Somalia and CARE International in Kenya. He has also been a University Lecturer in Kenya. He has served on the Board of Directors of UTOUCH, AMREF Health Africa and the University of Cape Town (South Africa).
Jim Laske
Jim Laske
Program & Grants Administrator
As Program & Grants Administrator, Jim Laske works closely with Africa-based Program Leaders and the Firelight Programs Team to ensure effective planning and implementation of education and resilience initiatives in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Jim also works collaboratively with the Firelight team to plan and track capacity building of grantee-partners. He maintains the administrative flow of the grantmaking process, updates grants management and legal compliance procedures, and processes contracts and payments. He works with the Programs Team to collect, code, and analyze data to document the results of initiatives in order to inform programming, promote organizational learning, and to report to donors.

Jim is originally from Akron, OH. He earned a B.S. in Business Economics from Miami University and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga for three years as a small business development and education volunteer. After Peace Corps, Jim returned to school and earned an M.A. in International Development Studies from Ohio University with a focus on community-based development in water, sanitation and hygiene.
Carolyne Ng'eny
Carolyne Ng'eny
Program Officer
Carolyne Ng’eny has over 12 years experience in project and program management of interventions aimed at social justice for disadvantaged populations including women and girls, youth, marginalized communities, and people in low-income communities, in Eastern and Southern Africa and India. Her experience spans across project and program management, capacity development and organizational development for community-based and civil society organizations.

A trained teacher, Carolyne comes to Firelight from the Edukans Foundation where she served as a Senior Programmes officer in Kenya, supporting civil society organizations and schools to achieve Education for All (EFA) goals and to improve quality, access, retention and transition of students in educational institutions in marginalised and disadvantaged areas.

Carolyne’s professional qualifications include a Masters in Project Planning and Management, a Bachelor of Education (Arts), and an Advanced Diploma in Teaching, Training & Assessing Learning.
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Sadaf Shallwani
Sadaf Shallwani
Senior Officer for Learning and Evaluation
As Senior Officer for Learning and Evaluation, Sadaf Shallwani leads Firelight's learning, evaluation, and research strategy and activities. Sadaf works closely with program staff, consultants, and partners to develop monitoring, evaluation, and research frameworks, processes, and tools; support partners in their monitoring and evaluation activities; and analyze and interpret data to inform practice and strategy. Sadaf also guides learning and reflection processes at Firelight and among partners.

Sadaf has many years of research and evaluation experience, including extensive work with different agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network in East Africa, South Asia, and Central Asia. She has also led a number of child development programs and research projects in Canada. Sadaf completed her PhD in Developmental Psychology and Education (focusing on early childhood development) from the University of Toronto / Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Her dissertation research examined how school and classroom environments affect children's adjustment and learning at early primary levels in Pakistan. Sadaf also holds a Masters degree in Social Work, with a focus on community practice and research, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, with a focus on child development.
Jane Stokes
Jane Stokes
Finance and Administration Manager
As Finance and Administration Manager, Jane is responsible for managing all aspects of Firelight’s accounting, and oversees internal and external financial reporting. She manages all operational systems, processes and policies for the organization.

Jane joined the Firelight team in August 2011 with over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Jane previously served as Director of Development at Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School and as Accounting Director at KUSP Central Coast Public Radio in Santa Cruz.

Jane began her career at the international professional services firm KPMG and provided audit, accounting and management advisory services to South Bay for-profit and nonprofit organizations as an independent practitioner. She studied at The Evergreen State College and San Jose State University, earning a BA in Humanities and pursuing additional studies in finance and accounting.
Cheryl Talley-Moon
Cheryl Talley-Moon
Human Resources & Office Manager
As Firelight’s Human Resources & Office Manager, Cheryl manages HR functions including recruitment, new hire orientation, compensation and benefits, performance evaluations, policies and procedures, and works in coordination with the Finance and Administration Manager in payroll administration. She is also responsible for general office administration, vendor accounts, facilities, travel logistics and board support.

Cheryl joined Firelight in December 2000 as Firelight’s first employee. Prior to working with Firelight, she worked as an administrator for an alternative medical clinic.

Cheryl earned her BS in Art, with an emphasis on Photography, from the University of California Santa Cruz. She also holds certifications in massage and nutrition.
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Puiyee Tse
Puiyee Tse
Part-time Accounting Associate
Puiyee joined Firelight Foundation in July 2015. As Accounting Associate, she assists the Finance and Administration Manger by maintaining Firelight’s accounting records and creating internal reports.

Puiyee studied at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan and earned her bachelor’s degree in Literature. After coming to the US, she received an A.S. in Accounting from Mission College in Santa Clara. She has worked as an accountant for over 20 years. Currently, Puiyee also works part-time for CASA of Santa Cruz County, another nonprofit in the area.
Rebecca Verlaque
Rebecca Verlaque
Program Assistant
As Program Assistant, Rebecca works closely with Firelight’s Programs Team to support the administrative flow of grants. As grants move through the approval framework, Rebecca enters information, processes contracts and payments, and maintains files in our database. She works to ensure good relationships as she responds to inquiries and communicates with Grantee-Partners.

Rebecca graduated from UCLA in June 2012 with a B.A. in International Development Studies and minors in Spanish and Environmental Studies. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Senegal from 2013-2015, focusing on the areas of preventative health, girls’ & youth empowerment, and community education. Most recently, Rebecca was selected as a 2015 Fellow for Peace in Middlebury College’s Language Schools program.
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