SARA LAFRANCE, M.A.
In 2006, Sara Lafrance and her husband, Leonard, established Educational Pathways International with the mission of recognizing, nurturing, and supporting gifted young people in developing areas of the world as well as contributing to educational programs and establishing scholarships for gifted children in their local area. She currently serves as its President.
Prior to this effort, Sara co-founded and served as President of Century Analysis, Inc. (CAI), a software manufacturer that provided integration solutions to large commercial, industrial, and healthcare enterprises, from 1975 until its sale to New Era of Networks, Inc. (NEON) in 1998. Under her leadership, the company achieved a preeminent position in the enterprise application integration marketplace, with a product line and customer base that became a vital component of NEON’s growth strategy. She was a frequent speaker at many industry conferences, as well as academic and investment forums.
Sara has also served on and chaired many local boards including KNPB Public Television; the Reno Philharmonic; Classical Tahoe, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare.
She is a member of Sierra Angels, a Northern Nevada investment group that focuses on promising early-stage companies and has been involved at an advisory level with several early-stage local businesses.
Sara holds a B.A. in English/Journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, and an M.A. in Organizational Change from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.
Dr. Braimah Ampambire is Senior Assistant to the President for Global Sustainability and Director of the Center for International Water and Sustainability at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. He is an expert in international Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) with extensive field, academic, teaching, grantmaking, and management experience. He has a deep understanding of the importance of integrating WASH programming into other development sectors such as health, agriculture, education, environment, gender, and micro-finance, as well as the need for strong partnerships to ensure long-term sustainability.
Prior to returning to DRI, Braimah served as a Senior Advisor at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, where he managed the Foundation’s WASH grant portfolio and represented the Foundation to the broader WASH sector. He was also previously the Director of the WASH Sector at World Vision US where he led the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of global WASH strategies and large-scale integrated sustainable programs.
Early in his career, Braimah worked with the World Vision Ghana Ghana Rural Water Project as a hydrogeologist where he was involved in the siting, design and construction of over 500 water supply systems in about 400 remote and guinea endemic communities and institutions in Ghana.
Braimah was born in Ghana, West Africa, and grew up in the northernmost and poorest region of the country. As a child, he sometimes walked long distances to fetch water during the dry season. He has researched and published numerous papers, articles and reports on WASH issues in developing countries, and on water quality and human health.
Braihah received his B.S. from the University of Ghana; M.S. from Carleton University, Canada; and his Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Motivated by the power of scientific innovation, the magnificence of our natural environment, the untapped spirit of at-risk families, and the benefits of strategically designed communities, Mark Bruce dedicates his time and talent to key organizations in Northern Nevada which support his vision of the future. He believes education is the cornerstone of just about everything.
A strong and committed advocate for science innovation and a healthy natural environment, Mark Bruce is the current Vice-Chair of the Desert Research Institute Foundation, serving on its Governance and Audit Committees. As the Nevada Governer’s Appointee to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), he serves as Vice-Chair to both the Regional Plan Implementation Committee and Environmental Improvement Program for TRPA. Mark is also Co-Chair of the Innovation and Technology Committee to the Bi-State Consultation on Transportation, an effort initiated by the states of Nevada and California to improve transportation in and around Lake Tahoe.
Additionally, Mark has dedicated a substantial portion of his life to the health and well-being of at-risk children and families. He was a courtroom voice for at-risk children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and helped economically disadvantaged families negotiate life-changing legal issues as a Trustee to Washoe County Legal Services. Proudly, Mark is a long-time Trustee with The Children’s Cabinet, a public-private organization serving thousands of homeless, foster care, and other at-risk children.
Understanding the power of scientific innovation, the magnificence of our natural environment, and the untapped potential of at-risk families, Mark has become uniquely qualified to spearhead the reshaping of communities through the art of redevelopment. In addition to his redevelopment efforts at Lake Tahoe, he has assisted the City of Reno, the County of Douglas, and the City of Fernley in revitalizing Northern Nevada.
When he isn’t working on projects involving science education, the environment, at-risk families, and redevelopment, Mark serves as an AV-rated (pre-eminent) corporate and development attorney to local, national, and international companies.
Mark received a B.S. degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.
DR. KOFI A. MENSAH
Dr. Kofi Mensah is a retired Food Process Engineer/Senior Fellow residing in the Twin-Cities of Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife Mrs. Akua Mensah. He spent his professional career of 34 years with Pillsbury/General Mills before retiring in 2013. Dr. Mensah currently consults for General Mills, helping project teams with processing and equipment design issues.
Kofi also spends a significant amount of time volunteering for the Ghanaian Association of Minnesota (GhanAM), of which he is a Past President. He is a member of the GhanAM Scholarship committee, the mission of which is to award modest financial assistance to qualified post-high school students in the Twin-Cities area. For the past two years, he has led the GhanAM Scholarship Selection Team and was a recipient of a GhanAM Presidential Award on the occasion of Ghana’s 60th Independence Celebration in March 2017.
While at the Research and Development department of Pillsbury/General Mills, Kofi worked on several product and process development projects, some of which led to the commercialization of products such as Pillsbury Toaster Strudel and Freezer-to-Oven biscuits for a major national foodservice restaurant. He co-developed and co-taught two internal courses on 1) Dough Processing Technology and Practice (6 yrs.) and 2) Successful Manufacturing Line Commercializations (8 yrs.). He possesses one patent in the area of dough processing equipment.
He was the 2010 recipient of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)’ Lifetime Achievement in Engineering in Industry award.
Kofi has a PhD (1979) and an M.S. (1976) in Food Process Engineering from the Ohio State University. He graduated with a B.Sc. (Eng.), with distinction, in Biological Engineering from the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1974. He has published several articles in the areas of Agricultural and Food Processing. Prior to enrolling at Guelph, he studied engineering for one year (1969-1970) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana, and immediately following that, he was awarded a scholarship by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to pursue Engineering at Guelph.
Dr. Jane A. Nichols has been involved in higher education and social policy issues throughout her career. She is currently retired after serving as Vice President for Academic Affairs for Truckee Meadows Community College, and the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs for the statewide Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). Under her leadership, Nevada’s system of higher education developed a statewide Master Plan which includes accountability measures, increased financial aid for low-income students, and created a new State College to improve the college-going rate of Nevada’s high school graduates in Las Vegas.
Jane has been a gubernatorial appointment to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education since 2001 and is currently the Commission’s Past President. She has served on advisory boards for the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and the National Collaborative for Post Secondary Education Policy. She has also served as a grant reviewer and program assessment advisor for NSF Division of Undergraduate Education programs.
Prior to joining the NSHE in 1997, Jane was an Associate Dean for the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. From 1990 to 1995, she was Coordinator for the UNR Core Curriculum and University Assessment programs. She served as Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work from 1984 to 1990. She served on the faculty of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Her publications are primarily in the area of higher education assessment and finance.
Jane earned a doctorate in higher education with a concentration in administration and statistics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She also holds a master’s degree in social work with emphasis in administration and casework from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a B.A. (with distinction) in psychology from Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College).
Dr. Nelson Shelton earned his Ph.D. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Until 2011, he was the Associate Dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration at Saint Mary’s College of California, where he worked on accreditation and strategic planning, and taught courses in business ethics and business strategy. For most of his career at Saint Mary’s College, he was the Director of the Graduate Business programs at the College.
Nelson has long held an interest in international business and international education. As Director of Graduate Business, he was instrumental in establishing an international MBA program that drew students from around the world, and in organizing exchanges and immersion trips that exposed Saint Mary’s students to various national and business cultures outside the U.S. He has led trips to England, France, the Czech Republic, and Mexico, and has taught in Saint Mary’s Executive MBA Program in Graz, Austria, as well as in the international MBA program on campus.
Nelson is a graduate of Stanford University in political science, and earned master’s degrees in political science from Northwestern University (with a specialization in African politics), in education from Stanford University, and in business from Saint Mary’s College. His doctoral field of study at Berkeley was business and public policy, with a focus on early attempts to restructure the financing and delivery of health care in the U.S. His intellectual interests focused on business ethics and corporate social responsibility, including the issue of climate change, and he serves on the board of the Climate Path Ecological Fund, a foundation that selects and finances carbon offset projects around the world.
In 1982, Dr. Carmelo Urza founded the University Studies Abroad Consortium® (USAC), a consortium serving international educational needs of 33 U.S. universities located throughout the United States. He serves as President and CEO.
The mission of USAC is to provide students with the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, experiences and attitudes to prepare them for the global society of the 21st century, believing that study abroad is the most effective way to accomplish these goals. Courses taken abroad on USAC programs are integrated into students’ degree programs at their universities at home. Through USAC, students are able to take courses in most disciplines and areas of study abroad. More than 50,000 students have studied on USAC programs since its inception.
USAC provides faculty and administrators of its member universities teaching opportunities, site visits, faculty and staff exchanges and the opportunity to host academics from USAC’s partner universities abroad. Hundreds of U.S. professors have broadened their experiences by taking advantage of these opportunities.
Under Carmelo’s direction, USAC has grown from a single program in the Basque Country into one of the most successful study abroad organizations. Currently it offers students the opportunity to study on 49 programs in 27 countries, including Ghana. He credits the Consortium’s success to his many dedicated colleagues and participating universities who educate and support the more than 4,400 students who study abroad with USAC each year.
Prior to this effort, he served in the academy.
Carmelo earned a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and has taught at several U.S. universities, including the University of Nevada, where he is a Professor Emeritus. He has published many articles on the Basques and on literature, a monograph entitled “Solitude: Art and Symbolism in the National Basque Monument,” and edited or co-edited four scholarly books. He continues to serve on Ph.D. and Tenure Review committees at various USAC universities.
During the 25 years that Dr. Mary Ansari was a member of the University of Nevada, Reno faculty, she held a variety of administrative positions in the University Library. She was tenured in 1973 and promoted to professor in 1983. In 1994, she retired as Director Emerita of Administrative Services and Branch Libraries. During her tenure at the University, she published widely in library and place-name literature. She was national president of the Geoscience Information Society and the society’s Distinguished Service and Best Reference Book awards bear her name.
With her husband, Nazir, Mary was a major benefactor to education, human services, and the arts in Nevada. She acted as trustee and secretary-treasurer of the Nazir and Mary Ansari Foundation, a charitable foundation seeking to improve people’s lives through support of human services, education, the arts and culture in northern Nevada. In 2007, she and her husband were recognized by the University of Nevada’s Board of Regents as Distinguished Nevadans and honored as Outstanding Philanthropists by the Sierra Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The University of Nevada, Reno’s Map Library bears her name.
Mary received a Masters degree in Library Science from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. She received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Mary served on several public boards and published numerous books on Nevada place names, the most recent one published in 2015. She served on the EPI board from 2009-2020.
Dr. Nazir Ansari is a strong supporter and benefactor of the University and the state of Nevada. During his 28 years as a professor of business (1967-1995), he has taught and impacted the lives of nearly 6,200 University of Nevada, Reno students, many of whom have gone on to become prominent leaders in their chosen fields. His leadership gifts to the University of Nevada, Reno (endowment of the Mary B. Ansari Map Library, the establishment of the Business & Government Information Center, and support of the University scholarships) were most helpful in the success of the University’s Capital Campaign in the 1990s. The College of Business building at the University of Nevada, Reno was named for him in 1995.
For his dedicated service to the community, Nazir has been the recipient of many awards and honors. Dr. Ansari is a member of the board of directors of numerous not-for-profit organizations and serves as a board member and consultant to several U.S. and foreign public companies.
He holds a Ph.D. in Business from the University of Illinois (1964) and is widely respected as an expert in the field of strategic management and international business. On several occasions, he has been an expert witness before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on issues of national economic policy.
Nazir is president and trustee of the Nazir and Mary Ansari Foundation, a charitable foundation seeking to improve lives through support of human services, education, the arts, and culture in northern Nevada. In 2007, he and his wife, Mary, were recognized by the University of Nevada Board of Regents as Distinguished Nevadans and as Outstanding Philanthropists by the Sierra Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Ohene Kwaku Bonsu is currently the Founder and CEO of both “EntrepreneurSuccess” and Joy Family Lodge, the latter being a private hotel business.
Over the last 25 years of his professional life, he has spent his time working with small businesses, from the micro-level to small and medium enterprises. In the last six years, he has served as a key resource person making presentations to Barclays Business Clubs throughout the country and also lecturing at the nation’s premium training institution for senior and top-level public officials, Ghana Institute of Public and Management Administration, GIMPA.
In the nineties, he worked as a UNDP consultant for Small Business Development on national projects for six years. He pioneered the establishment of Business Growth Centers for the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and developed a synergy with the Danish Confederation of Industries to strengthen the technical and organizational capacity of AGI. Without a doubt, this initiative is recognized to have given AGI a “rebirth” which has made it one of the strongest powerhouses for economic consultations on the industry in Ghana.
Ohene was awarded the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship at Boston in 1999 where he studied Entrepreneurship. The program brought him into contact with several entrepreneurs, senators, and other leading business figures. In the aftermath, he established a major export company in the country with two other partners, which supplied shea butter to one of the leading shea butter users in Europe, Loders Croklaan. He was appointed CEO. Though the partnership broke apart, he used the lessons learned and the results of ensuing business research in partnerships to write a book on “Business Partnerships.” He lectured on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth at GIMPA from 2004 to 2006. In 2006, he resigned from GIMPA to concentrate on growing his business.
Ohene is currently working on developing an independent institution (“Entrepreneur Success”) for entrepreneurial services, targeting the youth in start-ups, especially for those in tertiary educational institutions.
DR. ANTONIA NEUBAUER (TONI) (1942-2023)
Dr. Antonia Neubauer (Toni) began traveling to Nepal in 1983. Twenty years ago, she asked a casual question of a Nepalese guide: “What is the one thing you would like to see in your village?” When she got the answer “a library,” she sprang into action. A former language teacher and education researcher, Toni had directed major studies on literacy and school-business partnerships in the U.S. and served as a consultant to the Pew Foundation, Lilly Endowment, and the U.S. Department of Education. Founding READ Global was what she had to do.
Today, more than 4 dozen, self-sustaining, community-chosen, READ Community Library and Resource Centers dot the landscapes of 3 countries, thanks to her energy and forward-thinking take on rural needs and village abilities.
Toni served on and chaired many boards including the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, White Williams Foundation, and the Northern Nevada International Center. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 Presidential Award, NEPCAN as well as the London Observer Ethical Award, The International Visionary Award from the Northern Nevada International Center, The Ambassador for Peace Award from the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism, and the 2015 Tourism Cares Legacy in Travel Philanthropy Award. She was also the Founder and President of Myths and Mountains, Inc., a cultural adventure travel company rated among the Top 10 “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.
Toni earned a Doctorate in Educational Administration, a Master’s in French Literature, and a BA in French and Economics.
To strengthen its efforts and better accomplish its goals in Ghana, EPI selected Eunice Adjoa Eghan to serve as the Organization’s Program Director. Eunice is responsible for providing EPI scholarship recipients with counseling, guidance, and support; coordinating EPI’s efforts with its partner universities, and interacting with government agencies and the local business community on EPI’s behalf.
Eunice is a people-oriented person with strong interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills. Prior to joining EPI, she served as the Coordinator of Educational Sponsorship Program for Childcare International Ghana, a German-based NGO, where she worked with partners, sponsors, clients, colleagues, and parents and provided mentorship and guidance to the Organization’s 281 resident students.
Eunice holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Studies and an MBA in General Management from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana