Staff

Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive DirectorDiana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director

Diana Samarasan is the Founding Executive Director of the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She also serves on the boards of directors for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund as an ex-officio member.

Diana is the primary liaison to donors to the Fund and oversees grantmaking and strategic development. She is also responsible for promoting inclusion of people with disabilities in the human rights and development funding arenas. Diana has over two decades of experience in disability, international health, and human rights. Previously, Diana directed the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, a legal advocacy organization in Budapest, Hungary, which litigates abuses of rights of persons with disabilities in institutions. She also worked with the American Refugee Committee and Doctors of the World, addressing issues such as access of vulnerable populations to reproductive health services, tuberculosis control, and deinstitutionalization. A graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Diana has advanced degrees in Public Administration and Psychology. Diana is previous Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Human Rights Funder Network and a member of the Steering Committee of Opportunity Collaboration.

A graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Diana has advanced degrees in Public Administration and Psychology.

Dwi AriyaniDwi Ariyani, Program Officer for Indonesia

Dwi Ariyani is the Program Officer for Indonesia for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She works closely with the program team and serves as a liaison between the Funds and grantees in Indonesia.

Dwi has ten years of experience working in Indonesia on disability rights and movement building, especially around the areas of economic empowerment and disaster risk reduction. She has worked with grassroots and national disabled persons organizations to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as providing capacity development aid to DPOs. As the Inclusion Programme Advisor and Deputy Project Manager Disability Rights Project for Handicap International-Indonesia, Dwi gained on-the-ground experience in conducting field surveys, focus groups, and assessments to collect data for evidence-based research for the rights of persons with disabilities. This research was used to advocate for better laws and to produce and advocacy handbook for DPOs and community based organizations. She also coordinated awareness raising campaigns with DPO partners in ten provinces to advocate to local and provincial authorities and education service providers. With InterAksi, a DPO in Central Java, Dwi worked in an earthquake affected area to establish an inclusive children’s center to provide psychosocial support to children with disabilities and to promote access to relief services by humanitarian NGOs working in disaster relief. As a woman with a disability, Dwi has also advocated for the empowerment of women with disabilities.

With a diploma in computer technology, she wrote articles for an accessible news website for blind people.

Headshot of Jen Bokoff

Jen Bokoff, Director of Development

Jen Bokoff is the Director of Development for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She is on the Management Team and cultivates partnerships with donors.

Jen has dedicated her career to elevating unheard voices, supporting community-centered solutions, and driving equity and effectiveness. Through frequent writing, public speaking, and facilitation, she enjoys naming tensions and connecting people to resources, ideas, and one another. Jen worked at Candid for seven years, where she developed partnerships, communications, resources, and insights to power the work of the philanthropic sector. There, she led research on participatory grantmaking that featured DRF’s work. Previously, Jen was a client advocate for a community-based organization and later a grantmaker at a private foundation focused on supporting healthy food systems and the arts. She was also a paralegal for the Internal Revenue Service, which taught her the power of active listening and offered unique insight into people’s lived experiences. Jen was identified by Onalytica in 2019 as a top 10 charity industry influencer and by Submittable in 2020 as a top 15 grantmaking-shaper.

A graduate of Tufts University, Jen studied community health and sociology. She serves on the Alumni Council’s executive and strategic planning committees, and also serves on an advisory committee for The Moth’s education programs. In her spare time, she is an amateur comedic improviser and bridge player.

Roger Falcon headshotRoger Falcón, Deputy Director

Roger Falcón is the Deputy Director of the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. Roger leads the Management Team of the Fund and oversees internal operations.

Roger is a social justice activist with experience in the U.S. and internationally. In prior roles, he was chief of staff of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates for drug policy reform and works among others with the medical marijuana community to gain access to treatment. In that role, he was the senior advisor to the executive director and chief strategist, and managed operations. Before that, he was program director of ArtCorps, which sends volunteers to Central America to educate rural communities about health, human rights, and the environment. He is a member of the Oberlin Alumni Leadership Council and has worked in development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Roger also co-founded A3D, a non-profit focused on providing opportunities for African and other underserved culturally diverse populations and organizations in the Greater Boston Area.

Roger received his A.B. in Government from Oberlin, his Master’s from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a certificate from the Institut d’études politiques in Paris. While in college, he co-founded Students Overcoming Barriers in Education.

JoAnn Garnier Headshot

Jo-Ann Garnier, Program Officer for Haiti

Jo-Ann Garnier is the Program Officer for Haiti for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She works closely with the program team and serves as a liaison between the Funds and grantees in Haiti.

Jo-Ann brings over a decade of experience supporting Haitian civil society to promote the rights of children, including children with disabilities, and to provide technical support to civil society and the government on rights and inclusion of marginalized groups. Prior to DRF, as Executive Director for enpaK, a Haitian NGO promoting the rights of children, she worked with multi-stakeholders on strategies realizing the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure all children are included in education and social development programs. She also worked with the Secretary of State’s office on a communication strategy to popularize the Law on the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, including a child friendly version in French and Creole. As Plan International’s Country Director, she built strong relationships with civil society, government, and donor agencies. She is on several national platforms for rights and development issues in Haiti and has travelled extensively throughout the country meeting with rural, grassroots community groups. She is fluent in French, Kreyol, English and Spanish.

Jo-Ann has a law degree from the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Melanie Kawano ChiuMelanie Kawano-Chiu, Evaluation & Learning Manager

Melanie Kawano-Chiu is the Evaluation & Learning Manager for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She is responsible for supporting and monitoring a multi-year partnership project.

Melanie’s 16-year career has included creating a global monitoring and evaluation consortium; building multi-stakeholder partnerships; teaching at international and domestic higher education institutions; and designing qualitative and quantitative research and evaluations. Prior to this position, she was the Director of Learning and Evaluation at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, where she led an international consortium to improve evaluation practices and policies. She also cultivated and managed relationships with over 300 private and institutional donors and led communication efforts to gain new audiences. Earlier in her career, she oversaw grants for Fortune 20 companies at the American Red Cross. She has authored publications on evaluation and impact of peacebuilding, as well as on post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan. Melanie developed curriculum for the first monitoring and evaluation online certificate course for New York University. She is currently an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University Department of Global Studies.

Melanie has a Master’s in Political Theory and Conflict Resolution and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology and International and Intercultural Studies.

Headshot of Esther KyoziraEsther Kyozira, Program Officer for Uganda

Esther Kyozira is the Program Officer for Uganda for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She works closely with the program team and serves as a liaison between the Funds and grantees in Uganda.

Esther is an experienced human rights advocate who has served in various leadership roles for the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), most recently as their Head of Programs. She previously worked as the coordinator of the Hi-tech Project under the Uganda National Association of the Blind, an initiative introduced to train visually impaired persons in accessible technology and to provide support with daily activities. Esther has led numerous projects to empower PWDs to prepare alternative reports for the CRPD Committee and Human Rights Council, including presenting the reports in Geneva. She has also worked to influence key national policies and legislation, such as the National Disability Bill in Uganda, and has been working closely with DPOs to monitor the implementation of the SDGs. She also serves as a representative of women with disabilities on the National Association of Women’s Organizations in Uganda and the Representative of PWDs on the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board, and has previously served on the National Council for Disability as its Chairperson and the Uganda Foundation for the Blind.

Esther has a Masters of Arts in Human Rights and a Bachelors of Arts in Education both from Makerere University Kampala and a Diploma in Law from the Law Development Center-Uganda.

Bridget Nadunga, Personal Assistant for Uganda

Bridget Nadunga is the Personal Assistant-Uganda of the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She works closely with the Program Officer-Uganda to ensure the provision of personal, logistical, administrative and operational assistance including other needed tasks here in Uganda.

Bridget has 9 years’ experience working with Disabled People’s Organisations like National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda, Motivation Charitable Trust Africa and Community Based Rehabilitation Alliance as a Research Assistant, administrator among other needed fields. She is passionate working and serving persons with disabilities especially those at the grassroot.

Bridget has a Bachelors’ degree in Community Based Rehabilitation from Kyambogo University, Kampala-Uganda.

Faith Lemon HeadshotFaith Lemon, Program Director

Faith Lemon is the Program Director for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She is part of the Management Team, leads the global program team and is the main liaison to our Grantmaking Committee.

Faith is a dedicated human rights advocate with extensive experience supporting mission-driven organizations to realize disability rights, economic justice, gender equity and inclusive development. In her previous role as a social impact consultant, Faith helped foundations and nonprofits improve the efficacy and durability of their efforts by providing technical and strategic grantmaking support, integrating learning into policy and practice, building stronger teams, and developing catalytic partnerships. Through recent work with the Pazapa Center for Children with Disabilities in Haiti, prior accompaniment of ethnic minority communities in Myanmar, and her own personal experience, Faith has gained a deep appreciation for the imperative of “Nothing About Us Without Us.” In alignment with that mission, she also chairs the US board of ATD Fourth World Movement, an organization that fights poverty by lifting up the voices of people experiencing it, creating space for their knowledge and expertise to inform policy and practice.

Faith holds Masters degrees in Human Rights and Social Work from Columbia University.

Headshot of Theophilus Odaudu

Theophilus Odaudu, Program Officer for Nigeria

Theophilus Odaudu is the Program Officer for Nigeria for the Disability Rights Fund and Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. In this role, he is responsible for grantmaking, grants oversight, and technical support to disabled persons organizations in Nigeria.

Over the last ten years, Theophilus served the disability community in Nigeria in different capacities. He helped in establishing and stabilizing the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB) in Abuja (the Federal Capital Territory), serving as its Treasurer and Secretary on different occasions, and has served as the North-Central Youth Coordinator for NAB, advocating for the participation of children and youth in the affairs of the association, and inclusion of young persons with disabilities in the broader society. Theophilus has over five years’ experience working with the government of Kogi State as Legal Officer and volunteers for NGOs serving vulnerable groups, including Cedar Seed Foundation (CSF). As Legal Adviser for CSF, Theophilus edited the disability rights bill before the National Assembly, bringing its content in compliance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). He is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow where he studied public management at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, at Syracuse University in New York.

Theophilus holds a Master of Laws (LLM) Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the University of Pretoria, South Africa; and an LLM from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria with an academic focus in international law.

Chris Parasyn

Christina Parasyn, Technical Assistance Director 

Christina Parasyn is the Technical Assistance Director responsible for leading implementation of DRF/DRAF’s Technical Assistance Strategy. She works with the DRF team, grantees and partners to ensure grantees have access to technical skills and resources to achieve their rights advocacy goals.

Christina brings 20 years experience in international development and disability rights. She takes a principled approach to her work and partners with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, staying true to the disability movement’s motto “nothing about us without us”.  She has brokered important relationships between the disability movement and key government, donor, bilateral and multilateral agencies; international, local non-government and faith-based organisations; and the private sector. Her work has focused on: CRPD and SDGs implementation, training, research and story collection; disability policies, strategies and guidelines development; creation of inclusive, accessible organisational systems and processes; and donor strategy, fund and program evaluations.

Christina played a key role developing and implementing the Australian Government’s first ever disability strategy for the aid program ‘Development for All’, which set the agenda for Australia’s investment and leadership in disability inclusive development globally. She has a Masters of Social Science (International Development), Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) and field experience in the Pacific and Asia.

Alice Phinizy, Finance Director

Alice Phinizy is the Finance Director for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. In this role, she oversees the finances and operations of the organizations, working closely with the Founding Executive Director to ensure value for money.

Alice has many years of experience overseeing finance and operations for a variety of nonprofit and for-profit companies. She has worked in the affordable housing and social innovation fields, and most recently managed the business side of a world-renowned brewery in Boston. While at the nascent (at the time) Third Sector Capital Partners, Alice built financial and operational procedures from the ground up. She also became a resource for compliance administration, offering assistance to nonprofit and government organizations. At the Women’s Institute for Housing & Economic Development, Alice worked closely with funders, oversaw the audit process, and supported housing projects for low-income and disabled individuals and families. Alice is on the Board of Directors and the Treasurer for the International Funders of Indigenous Peoples (IFIP), the Treasurer for LFC Boston, serves as a Finance Committee member for Zumix, and is a member of the Human Rights Funders Network’s Human Rights Grantmaking Operations Steering Committee.

Alice holds a Masters of Business Administration in International Business and a Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Systems, both from Bentley University in Massachusetts.

Rebecca RittgersRebecca Rittgers, Senior Consultant

Rebecca Rittgers is Senior Consultant to the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. In 2019 she led the implementation of DRF/DRAF’s Commonwealth Leave No One Behind project, supporting disabled person’s organizations in a small group of Commonwealth countries to advocate for the implementation of their country’s Global Disability Summit 2018 commitments.  In 2020, Rebecca continues to advance this funding stream in several non-pooled fund Commonwealth countries and supports the management team and program staff in various grantmaking, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation projects.

Rebecca has dedicated her professional career to leveraging the tools of grant making and people-led advocacy to advance human rights and social justice. She brings to DRF/DRAF expertise in the design and implementation of social justice campaigns, strategic communications strategies, advocate coalitions and donor collaboratives, and learning/ evaluation initiatives. She has worked across a spectrum of human rights issues, supporting both foundations and non-profits in the US and in Europe to reach their advocacy and funding goals. Prior to DRF, Rebecca led The Themis Fund, a donor collaborative supporting the national campaign to end the death penalty in the United States. She worked to advance LGBTI rights, as program officer at The Arcus Foundation and as an evaluator, conducting for the Ford Foundation an assessment of the US campaign for marriage equality. From 2001 to 2010, Rebecca developed and stewarded The Atlantic Philanthropies’ US Reconciliation and Human Rights Program, supporting campaigns on immigrants and refugees, ending capital punishment, ex-felon disenfranchisement, and indigent defense reform. Since 2016, Rebecca has also served as a mentor to emerging European leaders in the migrant and refugee advocacy community for The Social Change Initiative in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Rebecca holds a Masters of Economics from Boston University and certification in Leadership Coaching from Rutgers University.

M SakalaMilika Sakala, Regional Head of Programs for Africa

Milika Sakala is the Regional Head of Programs – Africa for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund.  She works closely with the Program Director and oversees our grantmaking in Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.

Previously, Milika was responsible for the management of grants to organizations of persons with disabilities under the “Commonwealth Leaves No One Behind” project. Milika has ten years experience in the area of disability rights. She has built her expertise in the disability movement by working with grassroots and national organizations for persons with disabilities in Zambia. Milika headed the first ever Independent Monitoring Unit under the Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations (ZAFOD) on the implementation of disability rights and contributed to the publication of a report to the government with recommendations for law reform. She also worked as National Project Officer for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on a project that promoted employment access for persons with disabilities through vocational skills training and technical support towards law reform before moving on to the Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) where she worked as National Project Coordinator responsible for managing grants and providing technical support to DPOs to advance their advocacy initiatives.

Milika holds a Master of Laws Degree in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy from the National University of Ireland, Galway, a Bachelof Arts Degree in Development Studies, and a Diploma in Social Work.

Headshot of Jean Pierre SibomanaJean Pierre Sibomana, Program Officer for Rwanda

Jean Pierre Sibomana is the Program Officer for Rwanda for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. He works closely with other program team members and serves as a liaison between the Funds and grantees in Rwanda.

Jean Pierre brings to DRF/DRAF a strong background in grassroots organizing to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. His work as the Co-Founder and Project Director of the Rwandan organization, Self-Advocacy Initiatives for People with Disabilities, has empowered hundreds of the most marginalized children and women with disabilities to raise awareness and decrease stigma, promote inclusion in policies and programs, and realize equal rights in areas including legal capacity, decent work and access to basic services. His efforts were recognized with a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship, which provided an opportunity to work with Access 2 Independence among other organizations.

Jean Pierre holds a Bachelor’s degree of Honor in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Mount Kenya University in Rwanda. He also studied at the University of Iowa in the School of Business and Entrepreneurship.

Headshot of Stephanie Thermora

Stephanie Thermora, Operations & Logistics Coordinator

Stephanie Thermora is the Operations and Logistics Coordinator for Disability Rights Fund and Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She manages complex logistical details and provides operational support to the organization in its Boston office.

Stephanie’s continued research and interest in international development with a focus in governance, grassroots movements, and international political economies shines through her work and dedication. Stephanie has worked nonprofits for many years and brings an array of executive administrative experience to the organization. In 2015, Stephanie was recognized as a Ronald E. McNair scholar, where she conducted formal research on refugee assimilation in the United States, studying Iraqi and Somali refugees. In her previous years, Stephanie has worked for the Deans of Students and the Disability Student Services office at Boston College. She worked for ReadBoston, an educational nonprofit organization, as a Teacher’s Assistant working with recently immigrated children as they resettled in Boston. Stephanie most recently worked as the Executive Administrative Assistant at Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation, a local nonprofit in the city of Boston that focuses on urban development, housing and economic development for underserved residents in the city.

Stephanie, a Boston native, holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Studies with a minor in theology from Boston College. She completed her graduate studies at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies with a Masters of Arts in Global Development Policy and a certificate in African Studies.

Kerry Thompson

Kerry Thompson, Senior Officer for Communications, Inclusion, & Analytics

Kerry Thompson is the Senior Officer for Communications, Inclusion, & Analytics for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. In this role, she manages day-to-day activities for the operation, provides analytics and program, inclusion, and communications support, and maintains DRF and DRAF’s websites and social media presence.

Kerry brings more than ten years of combined experiences in business, finance, and grants management in both academic and healthcare settings, including working for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Institute of Health. She is an active advocate for the disability community with an emphasis on making medical care more accessible. Her academic experience included human rights courses at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School. She is a 2014 Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund for the United States and a 2016 – 2017 White House Fellowship National Finalist.  She serves as the Executive Director for Silent Rhythms Inc., a non-profit that promotes access to the arts and in society for people with disabilities.  She was named a 2020 Visiting Artist to Harvard University’s Dance Center.  Kerry also serves as Vice-Chair on  the Massachusetts Statewide Advisory Council and on the New England Foundations for the Arts (NEFA) Advisory Council.  She previously served on the board of directors for DEAF, Inc.

Kerry holds a Master’s in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education with an academic focus on disability rights in the broader context of international human rights.

Faaolo Utumapu-UtailesoloFaaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo, Program Officer for Pacific Island Countries

Faaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo is the Program Officer for the Pacific Island Countries for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She works closely with the program team and serves as a liaison between the funds and grantees in the Pacific Island Countries.

Faaolo is an experienced disability rights advocate in the Pacific region and in her home country of Samoa. She is one of the founders of the Disability Rights Movement in Samoa, having co-founded the National Disabled People’s Organization, Nuanua o le Alofa (NOLA), in 2001. She served on various leadership roles on the Board of NOLA,  has provided volunteer capacity building support to other DPOs on a voluntary basis, and was the former president of the Samoa Blind Persons Association. Faaolo also volunteered and provided communications support for the then-emerging Deaf Association of Samoa. She also coordinated promotion and awareness campaigns for SENESE Inclusive Support Service, a provider of inclusive education services, to ensure that the message of disability-inclusive is acknowledged by the communities where children with disabilities reside. Her dedication to the disability rights movement has continued to grow as she has served on the disability sub-sector committee of the Samoan government, as well as serving as a member of the Samoa Media Council. Faaolo has taken on various leadership roles for the Pacific Disability Forum, the Regional DPO in the Pacific, including a 4-year Board term from 2013-2017.

Faaolo has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Auckland University of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, and a Masters of Arts Degree in Media and Communications from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Salainaoloa Tuimavave, Personal Assistant for Pacific Island Countries

Makerita Salainaoloa Tuimavave is the Personal Assistant-Pacific Island Countries (PA-PICs) and is a teacher by profession. She has over 20 years of experience in the Education field with almost 10 of those years advocating for Inclusion of children with disabilities into the mainstream system of Education. Her journey in the Education field has given her the opportunity to be a teacher and a School Administrator. She has taught in Samoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, Daly City, CA, Sacramento, CA and the Philippines.

Salainaoloa has worked as an Inclusive Education Advisor for Senese Inclusive Education Support Services where she assisted the team in securing ongoing resources for the development of the program. She also assisted in facilitating of onsite training, professional development courses, capacity building and updates for teacher aides assisting students with disabilities in mainstream schools. She was involved in negotiation of the design of yearly work plans for inclusive education programs for Senese in consultation with respective partners and had successfully advocated for ‘inclusive’ approaches in schools.

Her most recent work before joining the DRF/DRAF team was with Samoa’s Recognized Advocacy Organization, NOLA (Nuanua o le Alofa) as the Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness Inclusive Coordinator. Through this role she became a member of the Disaster Advisory Committee, advocating for Inclusive and Accessible messaging and communication. She also became a member of the Community Disaster and Climate Risks Management Program, advocating for Inclusive approach in recognizing the risks of exposure to hazards and responses to natural disasters. She also served on the Spotlight Initiative Selection Committee, UN-Samoa which was an initiative that set focus on preventing violence through evidence-based programs and had successfully advocated for PWD representation on the steering committee.

Salainaoloa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Maryhill School of Theology, Manila Philippines (Cross credited to the University of the Immaculate Conception, Mindanao Philippines), a Certificate in Administration and Associate of Science in Administration of Justice.

Arlene Wilson Grant Headshot

Arlene Wilson-Grant, Director of Grants Management

Arlene Wilson-Grant is the Director of Grants Management for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She is responsible for ensuring that grantmaking operations, practices, and data support the mission and strategic goals of the Funds.

Arlene has nearly 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in a variety of grantmaking, programmatic, and operations roles. Before joining the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund in 2012, she worked at the Skoll Foundation where she served as the key liaison between grantees, program, and finance staff for three grantmaking entities and managed grantmaking and program-related investment portfolios. Her previous experiences include work with the Public Health Institute, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, and the Tides Foundation. Arlene serves on the Human Rights Funders Network’s Human Rights Grantmaking Operations Steering Committee, and from 2018-2019 served on the PEAK Grantmaking Board of Directors. Arlene received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Davis.

Headshot of Chrissy ZimbaChrissy Dumaduma Zimba, Program Officer for Malawi

Chrissy Dumaduma Zimba is the Program Officer for Malawi for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. She works closely with other program team members and serves as a liaison between the Funds and grantees in Malawi.

Chrissy is an advocate for equal employment opportunities for young people with disabilities in Africa, and brings with her 6 years of experience researching and promoting disability-inclusive, rights-based development. Prior to DRF, she worked as a Disability Inclusion Associate for the African Union Commission in Ethiopia where she was responsible for mainstreaming disability throughout the Commission’s work.  She also worked as a Youth Researcher for the African Union Commission, where she contributed to the drafting of the 2018 Status of Africa Youth Report. In addition, she worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation in Malawi, where she was responsible for monitoring all donor-funded WASH projects.

Chrissy holds a Masters in Public Policy and Governance from Africa University in Zimbabwe, a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology from Mzuzu University in Malawi, and a Certificate in Financial Accounting. In 2019, Chrissy was honored as a Mandela Washington Fellow and spent fellowship time with the American Association of People with Disabilities in Washington, D.C.