Rafael de Jesús Callejas Calderón has been Executive Director of the Millennium Water Alliance since June 2008. Prior to this position, Mr. Callejas was the Regional Director for the Latin America and Caribbean Region of CARE USA overseeing relief and development in 8 Latin American & Caribbean countries, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti for 7 years.
John D. Sparks joined MWA in 2010 as the organization’s first Director of Advocacy and Communications. Mr. Sparks has more than 25 years of experience in Washington and New York in lobbying, coalition building, policy development, media relations, and nonprofit executive leadership. Prior to MWA, he was Director of Campaign Finance Reform at the public interest group Common Cause, 2008-2009, and previously he worked for nine years at the American Symphony Orchestra League, where he was Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, including the period when the arts and humanities mounted a successful campaign to defend federal support for the arts and humanities and played a leading role on the defense of nonprofit advocacy rights. Previous assignments included senior leadership positions in two for-profit public affairs firms in Washington DC, and two national advocacy coalitions in the nonprofit sector. Mr. Sparks has provided policy development, lobbying, and strategic leadership for large and small organizations seeking to protect human rights and civil society, reform transportation, accelerate international development, and advocate for government reform. He also served as press secretary for two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and worked for several Congressional campaigns and Presidential campaigns.
Peter Gichuru joined Millennium Water Alliance as a Senior Accountant in December 2010.Prior to this position, Mr. Gichuru was the Corporate Financial Grants Manager for World Relief Corporation, an international nonprofit organization based in Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to joining World Relief, Mr. Gichuru worked for fifteen years in the United Nations World Food Program Kenya office as an accountant. Born and raised in Kenya, he holds an MBA in accounting from Washington International University.
Laura R. Brunson joined MWA in 2017 to serve as the Program Director. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Brunson’s research focused on fluoride and arsenic removal in emerging regions and was partially funded through graduate fellowships obtained at different times from the NSF and the EPA. She has a business degree, taught Social Entrepreneurship, examined business models for water implementation, and has worked in both the private and non-profit sectors. Prior to working for MWA, Dr. Brunson was a Director in the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma and served as a consultant for Emory University on water implementation in Rwanda.
Anna Pollock joined MWA in Washington DC in February 2014 as Program Officer for Latin America. She has more than five years’ experience in project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation, and has worked on public health initiatives in Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Guatemala. From 2011-2013, she worked in Guatemala with the Centre for Disease Control’s Central America Office on research about the effects of indoor air pollution on pregnant women and newborn babies. She earned an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2011.
Cynthia Nyaoro is a native of Kenya, where she grew up. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Africa Nazarene University, and spent more than six years working with various international nonprofit organizations in Kenya, including Practical Action, International Medical Corps, and the United Nations Development Program, where she was closely involved in financial management of USAID-funded projects. In 2011, she relocated to Washington DC to be a Project Accountant at the National Democratic Institute. In this position, she was closely involved in developing and monitoring budgets, as well managing financial reports and ledger reconciliation related to projects in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia.
Allan Elvir joined Millennium Water Alliance in April 2011. He has more than nine years of professional experience in the legal field working for the public and private sector in his home country, Honduras. Among his professional experience, he worked for the Embassy of Honduras in Washington D.C. as the Commercial Counselor and as an Associate for the Central American law firm Lexincorp. Mr. Elvir has a law degree from the National University of Honduras, a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Business from American University- Washington College of Law.
Chris Mzembe joined MWA in January 2016 to direct the operation and development of MWA consortium programs in Ethiopia, Kenya, and other countries in the region, He brings more than 15 years of experience in program development, program management and advocacy in East and Southern Africa.
Christine Banga has extensive experience in the design and implementation of WASH programs in Kenya. She has more than 15 years of experience coordinating implementation of WASH projects for both national and international non-governmental organizations. Prior to joining the Millennium Water Alliance, Christine was WASH/Nutrition Manager for the Kenya Integrated Water Sanitation and Hygiene Project in the western Kenya region. She previously worked for Catholic Relief Service – Kenya Program as WASH Manager. Christine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Nairobi and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Kenya Methodist University.
Melkamu Jaleta became the Coordinator of the Millennium Water Program Secretariat office in Ethiopia in January 2012. Mr. Jaleta has over 24 years of experience working in development, including the WASH sector. Prior to this position, he was Ethiopia Country Program Manager for a UK-based WASH program called Partners for Water and Sanitation (PAWS) for three years, and later he was an Urban WASH Program Management Consultant for WaterAid Ethiopia for 1½ years. Mr. Jaleta served in government offices for more than 20 years in different positions. He has a Master’s of Engineering Degree in Hydraulic Engineering, specializing in Land and Water Development, from IHE, Delft-The Netherlands in October 1997.
Mussie Tezazu joined MWA in March 2015 as a Continuous Quality Improvement and Monitoring & Evaluation Manager. He received his B.A. in Planning and Management and his M.A. in Social Work and Social Development from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He has more than fifteen years of experience in strategic planning, executing WASH, and sustainable development program management. From 2009 -2015, Mr. Tezazu worked at the Catholic Relief Service in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he served as the Program Officer for Monitoring and Evaluation, and Water, Sanitation, and Communication. In this position, he specialized in WASH communication, project design and management, proposal development, and community managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR).
Yisehak Leta Guttema was born in Nekemte, in western Ethiopia. As a child from farming family, he worked in many areas of agriculture, including growing coffee and raising cattle and other livestock. Mr. Guttema earned a degree in biology at Kotebee collage of teachers education in July 1990, and taught in public Secondary School. He also earned a BA in accounting at Addis Ababa University in July 1999. He has worked at Ethiopian Assurance Corporation as junior auditor, and at CARE Ethiopia for nearly 11 years in different positions, such as Project Accountant, Area Finance Head, Senior Internal Auditor, Audit Officer, and Grant, Contract and Budget Specialist. He came to MWA-EP as the Grant, Contract and Budget Manager in July 2014.
Doris Kaberia joined MWA in February 2013 as the Director of the Kenya programs. She has more than 10 years of experience in food security and livelihood program management and administration, sustainable community development, grant writing/fundraising, program monitoring and evaluation. Ms Kaberia is an expert in pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood programming in drought prone Horn of Africa. She has experience in programs funded by USAID, OFDA, ECHO, DANIDA, EC, AUSAID and DFID. She received her undergraduate degree from Egerton University in Kenya and a Master’s degree in Natural Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
Violet Moenga joined MWA in August 2005 as the finance manager for our first USAID-funded program in Kenya. She previously worked for World Vision Kenya, and is now grants and finance manager for the MWA Secretariat in Nairobi. She is a certified public accountant CPA(K) and received her undergraduate degree from Kenyatta University and her accounting degree from Strathmore University.
Before joining Millennium Water Alliance in June 2016, Mr. Owuocha was a Senior Economist with the Athi Water Services Board, where he directed utilities reforms, performance and change management, strategy formulation, development and implementation, monitoring and evaluation and project design, and management of development partner-financed projects. Development partners included the World Bank, African Development Bank, Agence Francaisse Development, European Union, KfW (formerly KfW Bankengruppe, Germany), and the Government of Kenya.
Mr. Owuocha is a Kenyan national with 15 years professional experience, and is a member of the Institute of Economic Affairs-Kenya and a graduate with Bachelors and Master’s Degrees in Economics and the University of Nairobi.