We are very fortunate to have a talented group of business and community leaders to guide us in building our unique, grassroots business approach to sustainable development in the villages. Our board members bring years of technical expertise and specialize in expanding business ventures.
OVP Founder and Chair of Advisory Board
After graduating from Amherst College in 1987, I served for two years in the Peace Corps in Jokibu, Sierra Leone. During my time, the villagers became my best friends and family. Their perseverance through tremendous suffering and hardship, and their hard work and commitment to improve the future for their children inspires me each day. After the Peace Corps, I attended Harvard Business School and worked at General Mills, before becoming President of Real Estate Recycling, a brownfield real estate developer. I started OneVillage Partners because extreme poverty is unnecessary. Working with the villagers in partnership, we see that obstacles are easily overcome — that is why we know in the end, the villagers will be successful. We hear so many negative stories from Africa, but I want Americans to know my African friends, because they are a success story every day.
In my current role with General Mills, I am responsible for global market functions and lead the company’s strategic health and wellness initiatives. I was elected a General Mills’ vice president in 1991 and senior vice president in 1994. In addition to my work with OneVillage Partners, I serve on the board of directors for U.S. Bancorp and the Salvation Army. After growing up in West Hempstead, New York, I studied economics at Dartmouth College and then marketing and finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. I have a wonderful wife Alicia and two children. We live in Minneapolis.
My work with OneVillage Partners has been an amazing opportunity to engage with subsistence agriculture at a village level, in contrast to the global food market in which I work. I traveled to the villages in 2006 and was moved by the work One Village is doing because of the character, grace and spirit of the Sierra Leonean people. I contribute because I have seen firsthand the need and impact this ministry is having.
I moved to the Twin Cities in 1988 upon graduating from the Business School at the University of Wisconsin Madison. For the past 20+ years I have been working as a developer, investor and manager of commercial real estate and built and led both private and public regional and national real estate organizations.
In 1997, I met Jeff Hall and his partners at Real Estate Recycling. Shortly thereafter Jeff introduced my family to his work with the people in Sierra Leone. We were so impressed with the dramatic impact that Jeff and his team was making on so many lives that we have been ardent supporters ever since. The vision, mission and deeply rooted philosophy of partnering and engaging with people to help them move themselves out of poverty is a powerful model. In addition to working with One Village Partners, I also lend my time and experience to Hope For The City, Bridging and Catalyst.
I was born in Segbwema, Kailahun District, in the eastern part of Sierra Leone. I attended schools in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone and immigrated to the United States in September 1980 and since graduated from Hamline University. I am married to a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Thomas Johnson, and have three sons – Tamba, Jesse and Anthony.
For the last ten years, I have served as the Senior Office and Administrative Specialist — Community Relations for the State of Minnesota Council on Black Minnesotans. In addition to work, I am an active participant holding various positions at Tegloma Organization, West African Collaborative, and the Sierra Leone Community in Minnesota.
I have always been active in the African community. My love for my home country drew me closer to Jeff Hall and now OneVillage Partners. What OneVillage Partners is doing in Sierra Leone is incredible. Partnering with communities to rebuild their lives is something I have always dreamed of doing. What makes it even more special to me is that these people are my people, and to know that they are actively involved in rebuilding their lives after a brutal war that left my country paralyzed is wonderful. I am honored to serve as a board member of OneVillage Partners.
Fmr. Volunteer Exec. Director, OneVillage Partners
I came to Minnesota in 1984 for a job, and liked it so much that it became home. I worked in the food industry for 14 years at companies like Pillsbury and Land O’Lakes before starting the first of three healthcare companies. I became moved by the work that Jeff Hall had done in Sierra Leone, so after leaving healthcare in 2008, I fulfilled an long-standing interest in Africa and signed on to help with the management of OneVillage Partners. My current focus is on agriculture, organizational development and fund raising. I am also a board member of the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Stroke Association. My wife Nancy and I have two teenagers, Luke and Sian.
Fmr. Exec. Director, Pillsbury Foundation
I was trained as an economist and prior to my recent appointment as Executive VP of Strategic Development at the Pohlad Companies, I most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of PepsiAmericas, a $5 billion public bottler with operations in the central U.S., Central and Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. In addition, I have served in a variety of corporate strategic planning, M&A, and field financial roles within Pepsi. Prior to joining PepsiCo, I was a management consultant with Booz, Allen and Hamilton in the energy and environmental practice. With this experience, I am eager to identify ways to build income in our partner villages, exploring applications of income generation at a micro, village level. I am involved with several start-up, church and community organizations. My wife, Amy, and I have three daughters, who give me plenty of direction.