Meet the Team

Akinyi Williams, MBA, M.Ed

Akinyi Williams is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for the Child. She is also co-founder of Destination Teach, an organization that works on teacher development opportunities in resource-poor settings.  Akinyi also serves as a pro bono country consultant for HealthStore Foundation, an organization that works to improve access to essential drugs and basic healthcare to children in developing countries. She is currently an Independent management consultant, a certified project manager with over 15 years of consulting experience in the Healthcare (public health, health systems) Education, Technology and Finance industries. She is an expert in driving program objectives in business and non-profit organizations by leading the facilitation of strategy development and implementation. Prior to this, she consulted in different capacities at UnitedHealth Group, RedBrick Health, Optum Rx, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Target. She began her education at The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), Nairobi Kenya, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business at Metropolitan State University and an MBA the University of Minnesota. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education in International Policy from Harvard University.

Akinyi lives in Minnesota with her husband, her 17year-old step-son and their 2 year old daughter.

Doug Bethune - Board Chair

Renee Thompson - Board Member, Finance & Accounting

Advisory - Scott Hillstrom. 

Mr. Hillstrom is a semi-retired attorney practicing with a small number of longstanding clients. After practicing law as Managing Partner of Hillstrom & Bale, Ltd., in the 1980s, he became co-founder and Managing Director of Rehab One, Inc., a multi-state network of hospital-based medical clinics in the 1990s. Since then, he has served on various boards, advised and invested in businesses involved with AV products, computers, software, entertainment, intellectual property and other fields in the U.S., Europe, Africa and New Zealand.

Mr. Hillstrom is also a Co-founder and Chairman of The Healthstore Foundation, which develops and operates franchise networks of medical clinics serving Africa's poor. Prior to that for ten years, he was the volunteer president of Steiger International, a Christian evangelism organization serving teenagers and young adults globally. He is married with three adult daughters and two very cool grandchildren.

In 2013, Scott Hillstrom was named the IFA Entrepreneur of the Year by International Franchise Association.

Team Kenya

Jashon and Mary Menya - Program Executive Directors

The project would not be possible without the leadership and generosity of  Mary and Jashon Menya. 

Mary, a retired senior bank manager from Barclay's Bank Kenya Limited, brings over 40 years of banking expertise to the general management of all program affairs. Jashon brings decades of engineering and management experience having worked at Kenya Petroleum Refinery and the East African Railways. 

Their home is the site of Arise N Shine Community Academy. They provide strategic direction and thought leadership over all the projects at the school. They are highly respected in the community and work closely with local leaders to coordinate all activities. They work hard to ensure community engagement at the school and compliance with the Ministry of Education. With the help of local volunteers, teachers and staff, the Menyas are ensuring that this project reaches its goals. Jashon and Mary are the parents of Akinyi, the founder, and eight other adult children living in Kenya, USA and Canada.


Noela Menya, School Adminstrator

Smashing Support Team - USA

Lauren Fischer Beek - Communications Specialist

Sarah Menya, Business Development Specialist, Writer

Sandy Atek (Project Manager)
Isabelle Menya (Project Manager)
Doug Smith (Administration)
Rusty Nereng (Accountant)
Kari Sivula (Marketing Specialist)
Chandell Stone (Program Director- Destination Teach, www.destinationteach.com)