Meet the Team

Akinyi Williams, MBA, Ed.M.

Akinyi Williams is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for the Child. Akinyi is also the Executive Director for The Healthstore Foundation, an organization that aims to provide access to essential drugs, basic healthcare and prevention services to children and families in the developing world, using business models that maintain quality standards, are geometrically scalable and achieve economies of scale. 

She is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Western Capital, a commercial real estate lending company based in Minneapolis Minnesota. 

She is 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. She is also co-founder of Destination Teach, an organization that works on teacher development opportunities in resource-poor settings. 

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.

Renee Thompson - Board Member, Finance & Accounting

Renee Thompson is the Treasurer for Hope For The Child.  She has been a board member since 2007. She brings wide-ranging financial expertise to the board.

Renee is an accomplished accounting professional with two decades of experience. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota She holds a Masters of Business Administration, and Bachelors of Science Business from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. In her free time, she loves spending with three daughters Samantha, Allison, and Madeline.

Leadership 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 executive banker 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 the flagship school, Arise N Shine Community Academy, Tom Mboya, Kisumu. 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.


School Manager - Noela Menya

Noela Menya has been the school manager for our schools since 2013.  She has a Diploma in Early Childhood Development Education. She started as an assistant teacher at the schools and was promoted to school manager after 3 years at the school.  

Noela has a passion for teaching children and seeing them succeed in their academics adn talents. She also loves the arts. 


Head Teacher - Judith Ogango

Judith is the Headteacher at the Arise N Shine Schools. She has served the school since 2011, first as a Pre-Primary 2 teacher and then promoted to the position of Headteacher in 2020. 

Judith has a Diploma in Early Childhood Development Education. She is in charge of the music program at the Tom Mboya location, preparing students for local regional competitions and helping them win awards. She also love teaching creative arts such as traditional dances.  

Smashing Support Team - USA

Sarah Menya, Business Development Specialist, Writer

Kari Sivula (Marketing Specialist)