In 2008, Shukuru’s founder JoAnne (Jo) Longanilla volunteered at an informal school teaching English to orphaned and vulnerable children in Tanzania. Over the course of three years, she deepened her understanding of the cultural discrimination girls face in successfully transitioning from primary to secondary school.
In a culture where boys are more valued, if there is any family money it rarely goes to a girl’s education. A boy’s worth is based on his earn-ability; whereas a girl’s is based on her marriage-ability.
Acknowledging the reality that it’s impossible for foreign sponsors to pay for education of all needy girls, JoAnne was determined to find another way for them to afford to stay in school.
JoAnne’s hope is that by saving for their own education, girls learn there is no greater investment than in themselves.
Born out of her experience teaching in Tanzania, JoAnne was inspired to search for a way to make a lasting difference for those struggling to break free of dependency. JoAnne has developed strong partnerships with the local government, communities and organizations on the ground in Tanzania to define an innovative, sustainable model that not only enables girls to complete their education, but also empowers them to spark change.
JoAnne brings a unique vision, uncompromising dedication, and a rich professional background in both the for- and non-profit arena. Prior to founding Shukuru, she was a Senior Director for the YMCA, driving growth and profitability through the design and development of community programs and leading annual fundraising campaigns.
She holds a BA in Communications from California State University Long Beach.
Hännah Marciniak is thrilled to be a part of Shukuru, with its innovative approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. She brings extensive experience in growing and managing cross-cultural organizations, complemented by her rich professional background and education.
Over the past 7 years, Hännah has been a core member of the H5 team, an innovative San Francisco electronic discovery company. As a senior consultant, Hännah drove the development of their Asia-Pacific subsidiary, grew and managed agile international teams, and led complex projects for large multi-national clients. Throughout her professional life, Hännah has also woven in education and training, teaching everything from English and linguistics to yoga and music. She has been active in promoting women’s careers in linguistics, organizing workshops and participating on panels across the country. And whether working on the ground in India, conducting linguistic research in rural Mexico, or travelling to remote areas of the globe, Hännah has an insatiable drive to work for the benefit of others.
Hännah graduated magna cum laude from Western Washington University with a B.A. in English, and she holds an M.A. in Linguistics from San Francisco State University, where she was honored with the Distinguished Graduate Student award.
Mat Falkowski is a biotech scientist with 12 years of entrepreneurial experience in the San Francisco Bay Area as a company founder and lead scientist. He co-founded Locus Development in 2009, a genetics start-up that gives physicians effective, actionable insights into the genetic markers of their patients. Under his leadership, the company grew from four to 18 employees in less than a year.
He previously managed operations for Navigenics, True Materials (where he was the second employee) and Affymetrix where his focus was on developing lean, nimble, high growth organizations
Mat first visited Tanzania in 2005 and has actively contributed to causes since then. He was raised in rural Wisconsin where his family operates three dairy farms. In addition to his organizational management and operations expertise, Mat also brings first hand experience of building a sustainable agribusiness.
Mat received his BS in Chemical Engineering/Biochemistry from University of Wisconsin-Madison.