Staff in the United States
Deborah Greebon ~ Executive Director
After more than a decade working in international development, I am delighted to join OneVillage Partners and contribute to its unique model of holistic empowerment and long-term partnership with rural communities in Sierra Leone. When I first moved to the Global South (Honduras) to teach elementary school in 1999, I experienced many conflicting emotions – sadness and anger about the glaring economic disparities I encountered, joy in living more simply and learning to see beyond my ethnocentrism, belonging as I developed close ties to new friends and the culture, and hope when I got involved with a nonprofit organization for street kids and saw the power of effective grassroots programs to transform lives. Since that time, these sentiments have continued to motivate me as I lived, worked, and traveled in over 30 developing countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
I’ve worked for various development organizations including CARE International, Management Systems International, WorldTeach, and the International Initiative to End Child Labor, with a focus on building the strategy and capacity of organizations through evidence-based program design, management, evaluation and training. I am a former Fulbright fellow and hold master’s degrees in international education policy (Harvard) and public and nonprofit management (Syracuse). I’m honored to lead OVP’s remarkable team!
Tanya Battista Crespo ~ Director of Finance and Operations
With years of experience in international development and running small businesses in the US and abroad, I am honored to be a part of OVP’s holistic development model and and encouraged to make a solid contribution to it’s mission.
Melissa Shelton-Davies ~ Director of Development
I come to OneVillage Partners with over twenty years of nonprofit management experience. I grew up in the Twin Cities, and graduated from the University of Minnesota, majoring in Journalism and Political Science. I have developed my skills in all areas of fund development and nonprofit management, serving arts, social service and educational organizations. Having worked with various refugee groups over the years, I am excited to join a truly grassroots organization with an international focus on development, as well as such a dedicated staff.
Our Leadership Team in Sierra Leone
Our team in Sierra Leone is comprised of skilled facilitators and community development professionals who develop leaders and lead teams in our partner villages. Some of our key staff in Sierra Leone are featured here.
Jennifer Artibello ~ Country Director
I grew up in a small town in central Ontario, Canada. It was only after teaching in South Korea that I discovered my passion for international development. After completing post-graduate work in international project management, I gained valuable experience in the accounting department of a Canadian community based organization before moving to rural Ghana to work as an education program manager. Since then, I have visited many communities across Africa and also lived and worked in Kenya. Through these experiences I came to understand the fundamental role that education and empowerment can play in bringing communities out of poverty and into prosperity. I’m particularly interested in methods for building local capacity and training trainers to increase impact. I was drawn to OVP’s inspiring, holistic approach. From my experience in developing nations, it just makes sense.
Chad McCordic ~ Community Projects Manager
I’ve been fascinated by the ongoing story of Sierra Leone for a long time, but I was drawn to OVP because of its unique model of truly community-led transformation and empowerment. I’ve spent a lot of my life working alongside communities in Africa, and I have seen how OVP’s approach can be very effective.
While still working with our three original villages, I’m also on the team that’s expanding OVP’s programming to new communities. We’re working inclusively every step of the way, not just for community-owned interventions, but to open a space for a larger dialogue on their own development. What is their vision of a prosperous community? This country is blessed with lively and thoughtful people, so this is always an excellent conversation.
Yusuf Johnny ~ Operations Coordinator
I was born in Jokibu village, but the war drove me and my family away from our home. I had to move around a lot during the war as the rebels and government soldiers fought, but I eventually was able to do some work as a cocoa trader in different cities. I began my work with OVP as a sales agent for cocoa programs. Later I received a loan for a bicycle business from OVP; I repaid the loan early, which allowed me to receive a bigger loan for a motorbike taxi business. What I like best about the program is the way our staff here work together. We operate as a team, with no struggles over power and leadership. I hope that we can continue these efforts to rebuild our villages from the war.
Josephine Sellu ~Women’s Trainer
My name is Josephine M. Sellu, and I am from the Mende tribe in Sierra Leone. I am married with four children. I was in primary school when the civil war began, and my father was killed by the rebels. We were displaced and only returned to Jokibu after the war was over. In 2006 I joined OVP as a community teacher, and with the help of OVP, I got my teachers’ certificate. In 2013 I became a local women’s trainer because I wanted to help women know they have the right to do anything they want to do. Many women here in Sierra Leone do not know this. I am excited to help them understand their rights!
Interns in the United States
Julia Ekeberg ~ Program Associate
My first experience in international development came while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal in West Africa. For two years I lived in a large city primarily teaching business, English, and computer classes and doing other work primarily with women and girls. Prior to Peace Corps I spent five years in the private sector working in Finance. Currently, I am a second year graduate student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. I am studying international community and economic development and hope to work in the international development field when I complete my studies. I was drawn to One Village Partners while looking for volunteer opportunities in the Minneapolis area and specifically their holistic approach to development. I am very excited to be a part of the organization and cannot wait to learn more!
Andrea Pesola ~ Fundraising and Development Associate
My passion for social justice, both domestically and abroad, was sparked the instant I began my Bachelor of Individualized studies, with concentrations in Global Studies and Social Justice, at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. I have done a lot of work with various social justice organizations in Minneapolis, and when I began looking for an organization whose focus is international I stumbled upon OneVillage Partners. I was immediately drawn to this organization for many reasons; their holistic model, the way in which they empower the villagers they work with to be self-sufficient and think for themselves, and the long-term relationships they keep with the villages they partner with. I am honored to be a part of the OneVillage Partner team!
Kelvin Williams ~ Administrative Assistant
I was born and raised in Minneapolis metro area. I graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 2013 with a BA in Political Science. I first developed a passion for international development while volunteering for a non-profit called Friends of the Orphans. I was looking for another opportunity to engage in international development work when I found OneVillage Partners’ website online. Their long-term approach towards uplifting the war-torn country of Sierra Leone truly appealed to me. I’m excited to contribute to the great efforts of OneVillage Partners!
Elizabeth Carlson~ Communications Associate
With little experience serving abroad, I was very excited to join OneVillage Partners to help on a more local level. I am currently studying Media Communications & Film at Bethel University in St. Paul. My love for serving stems from years of volunteer work through school, youth groups, and alongside my family. In fact, my sister previously interned at OVP and sparked my interest in the organization. I am especially touched by groups, like OVP, who take the time to teach skills that will serve the community longterm. I am thrilled to be able to offer my time and talents to help further the cause in Sierra Leone.