skip to Main Content

We Empower Women After War

The African Women Rising staff, board, advisors, and directors are made up of individuals who are passionate about global women’s empowerment. Our board members and advisors are experts in various fields. Our staff in Uganda are from the communities where they work and their experience is critical to our success.

The Founders


Linda Eckerbom Cole | Executive Director
Linda is committed to gender-based analyses and programming of humanitarian and development initiatives in the African context. She has extensive fieldwork experience in community needs assessments, preventive health interventions, and small-scale farming in Guinea- Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, and Uganda. Linda has a Master’s degree in Humanitarian Assistance from the Friedman school of Nutrition, Tufts University. She is the co-author of “Women, Girls, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)” with Dyan Mazurana, published in “Women and Wars,” edited by Carol Cohn. Linda is the recipient of the 2014 Leah Horowitz Humanitarian Award.


Thomas Cole | Senior Technical Advisor
Thomas has spent more than 20 years in sustainable agriculture, livelihoods, community development and humanitarian response work with significant field experience across Sub-Saharan Africa. His focal areas are in urban agriculture, post-conflict recovery, organic horticulture, agricultural extension, permaculture, natural resource management, and livelihoods. Thomas currently works as an agroecology and drought management advisor for global USAID food security programs and provides technical support for numerous communities recovering from conflict. Previously he worked as the Africa Region Food Security and Livelihoods Advisor for Save the Children. He has a Master’s degree in Humanitarian Assistance from the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University and is a 5-time world Frisbee champion. He has recently released Aloes of Uganda: A Field Guide.

Uganda Staff


Kenneth Okwir Kakiiza


Beatrice Akeera

Olanya Simon
Anthony Akure
John Oryem
Nighty Lakaa
Gilbert Alimadi

Justine Okot
Patrick Olanya
Beatrice Akeera
Lily Labong

Board of Directors

Ton van der Leeden
Development Director, retired

Thomas Cole
Independent Consultant in Agriculture and Livelihood

Karla Mora
Founder and managing partner of Alante Capital

Joy Margolis, Esq.
Founder and owner of Joy for Creators, Strategic Business Advisor

Ashley Blevins
Activist and Marketing Consultant

Brook Eiler
Founder and owner of Harvest Santa Barbara

Advisory Board

Betty Ochan
Member of Parliament, Uganda

Tobias Stillman
USAID Spring Project

Jordan Tappero, MD
Director of Global Health Protection, Center for Disease Control

Hilal Elver, PhD
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, UN

John O. Niles
Lecturer in Global Carbon Science and Politics

Bonita Birungi
Early Childhood Care & Development Specialist, Save the Children

Dyan Mazurana, PhD
Research Director at Feinstein International Center, Tufts University

Kofi Taha
Associate Director, International Development Innovation Network, MIT

Sherry Villanueva
Marketing & Trend Consultant, Entrepreneur

Robin Deshayes
President, Miltonian Capital Management

Back To Top