Meet Our Board
Stephen Ssemaala, President
Stephen is the founding member of Kamukamu Learning Foundation. He was born and raised in Uganda on the island of Bufumira in beautiful Lake Victoria. Stephen started his schooling at Bufumira primary school where he attended some of his early classes under a mango tree. After completing fifth grade he moved to Kampala to complete his schooling. After becoming a leading figure in Uganda’s efforts to deal with the spreading AIDS epidemic, in 1994 Stephen was elected to the Uganda Constituency Assembly, a body that debated and wrote a new constitution for Uganda that still guides the country today. In 1996 he moved to America with his wife Harriet and their four children—Simon, Diana, Brenda, and Stephaine. Shortly after arriving in America Stephen began taking advantage of its educational opportunities. He obtained an undergraduate degree in Global Studies and a law degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. Currently Stephen lives with his family in Olympia, Washington where he works for Washington Department of Social and Health Services as a contracts counsel. Stephen is also an adjunct instructor of Political Science at South Puget Sound Community College.
Harriet Ssaaka, First Lady
Harriet grew up in village of Ngombere in Uganda. Harriet joined the board in 2011 and instantly developed a strong sense of devotion for Kamukamu Learning Foundation because of her own early education experiences in Uganda. Throughout her early education at Ngombere Primary School, Harriet lacked the resources necessary to learn. This experience gave her a deep appreciation for how Kamukamu seeks to improve the quality of education on her village, one child and one community at a time. As mother of four children, Harriet believes that every child deserves a quality education because it is critical to the development of both individuals and societies, and it helps pave the way to a successful and productive future. When all children have access to a quality education, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come. Harriet believes the key to success in any working relationship is to find a way to become “great partners” and have mutual respect for each other’s talents, cultural background, wisdom, and respective roles. Our global community relationships require continued investment and should never be taken lightly. Harriet lives in Tumwater with her husband, Stephen Ssemaala.
Barb Walker, Vice President
Barb arrived in Washington State in 1984 to attend the University of Washington, pursuing her passion for early childhood intervention. 18 months later she returned to her home state of California with a Masters Degree in Special Education. A job offer as a Birth to Three Early Intervention Specialist with the Olympia School District brought her back to Washington State. She retired after working for 30 years with infants/toddlers and their families. Barb has a life long commitment to supporting children with disabilities and their families. Educating children is a fundamental value. She was introduced to the Kamukamu Learning Foundation at a fundraiser. Steven Ssemuala and his family’s commitment to increasing the educational opportunities for children in Uganda is impressive. The projects the Kamukamu Learning Foundation have supported are basic and essential, directed by the Ugandan communities being served. Barb was impressed with the direct connection between fundraising and channeling these funds into tangible projects. When invited to join the board there was no hesitation to join this dynamic foundation. Barb lives in Olympia with her husband, their daughter recently graduated from Western Washing University and continues to live in Bellingham.
Hank Henry, Treasurer
Hank grew up in southern Indiana and moved to Washington 40 years ago. He spent his career as a social worker and counselor in children’s services, hospitals, and schools. He believes that individuals, families, and communities have the knowledge and skills to create their own unique solutions to whatever their problems might be, if provided the time, space and, resources. Kamukamu’s approach to providing resources to a village to assist with projects the village identifies as a community need seems like a natural approach to creating more educational opportunities for the children of Uganda. Hank is retired and lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife, Helen. Their adult daughters live on the East Coast.
Helen Henry, Secretary
Helen grew up in northern Indiana but has lived in Washington State the past forty years. She is a retired pre school and elementary classroom teacher. In her recent travels to Uganda she visited primary schools and witnessed teachers working with 97 students in third grade and 150 students in a fifth grade classroom! They had limited supplies and few books. When Helen discovered Kamukamu she was excited to find a place where she could directly support the teachers and students of Uganda. She believes that ALL children deserve quality education and ALL teachers deserve quality working conditions. Helen lives in Olympia with her husband Hank. Their two grown daughters live on the East Coast.
Michele is a native Washingtonian. She is a retired, lifelong educator who served both as a teacher and a middle school principal. After retiring from Washington public schools, Michele worked for the Association of Washington School Principals and then overseas as the middle school principal at the American International School of Budapest (Hungary). She has always been intensely interested in helping to create conditions & culture in schools that encourage children to develop their own talents and aspirations as well as to contribute to the common good. Michele is delighted to serve as a member of the board of Kamukamu Learning Foundation, working with board colleagues to enhance learning opportunities for children in Uganda. Michele and her husband, Jerry, live in the Olympia area. She enjoys gardening, reading, traveling and time with friends.
Phyllis grew up with a dad in the Navy, which meant the family moved from coast to coast to islands and back, leaving her with a lifelong comfort with travel for fun and for work. Just out of college she joined the Peace Corps and spent 2 1/2 years in Kenya, and experience that shaped the rest of her life. Once back in the U.S., her work has included public service with federal and state government, as well as in the non-profit sector. She is delighted to have the opportunity to give back to East Africa through the Kamukamu Learning Foundation because it works at a school-by-school level to meet the educational needs of Ugandan communities.
Jessie Kyobe, Auction Co-Chair
Jessie grew up in Port Townsend, WA, where she was raised in a family that strongly believed in giving back whenever possible. As a result, Jessie has participated in and helped organize a number of fundraising events that have supported natural disaster relief, education programs, medical research, and local nonprofits. After graduating from high school, Jessie attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma where she earned her Bachelors in Business & Math, and her Masters in the Art of Teaching. After graduating from UPS, she traveled north to Seattle, to work for Seattle Public Schools. Jessie has been teaching middle school math in Seattle since 2012. Jessie was introduced to Kamukamu after visiting Uganda with her husband, Nasser Kyobe, whose family is from Uganda. The nonprofit combines her love of philanthropy and education, and she is excited to help make a difference in the lives of the children she met on her trip.
Nasser Kyobe, Auction Co-Chair
Nasser’s family immigrated to the USA from Uganda before he was born. Nasser was born in WA and grew up in Lynnwood, WA, but many of his family members still live in Uganda. Naturally, Nasser has an innate interest in giving back to the country that is home for the majority of his family. He is very excited to be a part of Kamukamu, and is thankful for the opportunity to help the schools his family has attended. Nasser attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma where he earned his Bachelors in Communications & Business. After college, Nasser moved to Seattle to pursue a career in broadcasting in professional sports. He has had an opportunity to work with 710 ESPN, the Seattle Mariners, and the Houston Astros. Nasser currently works in broadcasting for the Seattle Seahawks.
Brenda was born and raised in Uganda and is also the daughter of Founder, Stephen Ssemaala. Growing up, Brenda reminisces of how her father always emphasized the importance of education and what a privilege it was to get a quality education. With that rooted passion, Brenda received her MBA from Western Washington University and is currently working in the software industry in Bellevue, Washington. Her passion for business is coupled with her passion for people as a certified life coach. Growing up, going to school, and having many family members in Uganda are Brenda’s motivations for being involved with the Kamukamu Learning Foundation. In her words, “We are meant to live this life looking out and showing up for one another every chance we get. I am excited to do my part and show up for the children in Uganda any way I can through the Kamukamu Learning Foundation.”