Meet the Staff of Ubuntu Africa
Ubuntu Africa has skilled and experienced staff members dedicated to serving HIV-positive children and their community. Meet some of the core staff members below!
Founder and Executive Director of Ubuntu Africa
Whitney Johnson, Founder of Ubuntu Africa NFP, is an ardent activist, youth leader and world changer. Inspired by her experiences while studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa and volunteering in an orphanage in the nearby township of Khayelitsha, Whitney was drawn to the cause of supporting HIV+ children. She noticed a gap in services and sustained assistance for children and teens living with HIV. She wanted to ensure that HIV+ children received the support they needed to live long, healthy and happy lives. She graduated from Colorado College in 2006 with a degree in Psychology. At the age of 21, Whitney established Ubuntu Africa (UBA), a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing health and support services to HIV+ children in South Africa.
Through her diligence and determination, Whitney successfully secured funding to establish a children’s HIV care center in Khayelitsha. The center provides Healthcare & Nutrition, Psychosocial Support, Health Education & Life Skills, and Community Support to HIV+ children and their families. Whitney is committed to growing the organization in size and scope to reach more HIV+ children in need of support.
As Executive Director of Ubuntu Africa and public speaker on HIV/AIDS, Whitney engages young people and fosters an empowered attitude towards HIV/AIDS around the world. Whitney was named a World Economic Forum Global Shaper in 2012 and a winner of 2013 Young People in International Affairs Top 35 Under 35 young foreigners making an impact in Africa.
Jessica Annis joined Ubuntu Africa in July 2011 as a Princeton in Africa Fellow. Prior to joining UBA, Jessica worked in HIV prevention research on various clinical trials including the iPrEx and Partners PrEP studies. Jessica is a graduate of Emory University where she received a BA in International Studies and Global Health. While at Emory, Jessica developed a passion for the health issues most affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations. Jessica’s work with other non-profits includes volunteering for the Center’s Development office as well as at the Georgia State Capital with Planned Parenthood. After 1.5 years working in Khayelitsha, Jessica recently returned to the US taking on a new role as US Director.
US Development Director
Robyn Deutsch joined UBA as Director of Development in January 2013. She received her BA from Emory University in Political Science and was a Community Building and Social Change Fellow. During her undergraduate studies, she studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, where she lived for 2 years and worked for Ikamva Labantu, a community development organization in the Western Cape. When she returned to the States, she began working with international youth development organization MCW (Miracle Corners of the World) where she focused on fundraising, media and communications and coordinated the MCW Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner program. She completed her Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from The New School. Her love for South Africa and passion for growing organizations through fundraising makes this what Robyn calls “her dream job”.
Lisa Nozuko Godana
Accounts Officer/Office Administrator
Lisa joined the UBA family in September of 2011. She has received a Marketing Management Diploma, Diploma in Personal Computing and Public Relations Certificate obtained at Varsity College. Lisa is a community worker who generously devotes of her skills to all areas of services needed. Before joining UBA Lisa worked at iThemba Laboratories for 9 years as an Administrator, afterwards joining The Hope Centre / Way of Life Church for 5 years. Later Lisa moved to The Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture where she worked in Fundraising and Human Resouce Administration. She is currently involved in varied community structures involved in management and administration of HIV/AIDS. We just love Lisa’s bright spirit and get’er done attitude!
Lead Social Worker
Prudence, originally from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, joined UBA at the end of 2013 as our Lead Social Worker. Though she spent her childhood up until she matriculated in Zimbabwe, she has pursued all of her higher education in South Africa. She earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Social Work from the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape. She feels privileged to have the opportunity in life to chose what she really wanted to do, and describes social work as her ‘calling’.
After graduating with her masters, she decided to further studies, so moved to Cape Town, and just completed her one-year degree in Monitoring & Evaluation from the University of Stellenbosch. While there she was able to work for SANCA and Child Welfare, and learned that her true passion lay with helping children. After completing her degree she joined the UBA family because, “we are young, versatile, and we embrace change. I believe children’s’ rights and HIV are the real issues in Africa, and I really enjoy being a part of the movement for change.”
Nicholas joined UBA as the Education Manager at the beginning of 2014. A transplant to Cape Town, Nicholas was born in Eitenhage but moved to PE after matric, where he worked for 7 years at the Ubuntu Education Fund. During this time, not only did he advocate for vulnerable children, but he provided psyco-social support and life skills education during their after school program, as well as developed a numeracy and literacy curriculum for high school students. One of his last initiatives there was developing a very successful early child development program. His clear passion has always been to work with youth, and he has succeeded in changing the lives of many youth in PE, and now we are lucky enough to have his utilize that experience at UBA. He “is so excited to be working with a new community with different challenges that I am used to working with, to see how I can cater what I have learned to the youth here.”
His education has never been one sided. Though he has always held leadership positions, he has never stopped learning himself. He has certificates and diplomas in Early Childhood Development, Life Skills, Master Assessor, Financial Management, Health and Safety, Facilitator for Family Matter, and more. His latest pursuance for education is through a Finance Accounting diploma.
Hannah recently joined UBA as the Communications Fellow in September 2013. Hannah lived in Cape Town for a year in 2004, which is where she developed where her passion for public health, service, and working with people living with HIV developed.
Hannah graduated from Tulane University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Sociology, and studied abroad in Ghana for a semester her junior year, helping to start a small NGO there. After graduation she spent a year as a Global Health Corps Fellow, working for Single Stop USA, in New York City, as a Policy Assistant.
Lauren joined UBA as the Programs Coordinator in September 2013, and is responsible for Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E), curriculum design, and partnership development. Previously, she worked in Malawi as a Global Health Corps Fellow, working as the M&E and Project Coordinator for mothers2mothers. Her previous experience with HIV prevention prepared her to expand and develop Ubuntu Africa’s comprehensive care model for children who are already infected with the virus.
Originally from New York, Lauren graduated from The George Washington University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and a minor in Public Health.
Nkoliso is a teacher, mentor and friend to the children and teens who attend Ubuntu Africa’s program. Nkoliso is energetic and charismatic and helps to make even the most difficult conversations and topics manageable.
Nkoliso has received a variety of training, making him particularly qualified to work with Ubuntu Africa’s children including certifications in in Basic Curriculum Skills, Basic Care of Child Development Approach, and Fundamental Skills Development Assessment. Additionally, he has received training in HIV/AIDS, First Aid, and Early Childhood development. Nkoliso is currently continuing his education to better serve the children by participating in a training to become a Child and Youth Care Worker.
MT is from Smora Michelle, matriculating from Zikhanyo high school, where his passion for working with children began. In grade 10 he began working with the YMCA, participating in holiday programs mentoring young children, where he learned that “when I am working with kids I get to play, and then educate them by playing.”
After matric he began volunteering and working at various organizations focused on youth empowerment. He helped to start a small organization that introduces children to music, poetry, dance and art. He then became a facilitator for various youth organizations including the Masiphuhlisane Community Development Centre (CWD) and Wortegat camp, working with children on community dialogue, team building, life skills programs and conflict resolution. He moved from the camp to UBA because he realized that “working outside the camp with the children is where I found love, and that is what I get to do at UBA.”
Siphokazi has been with UBA since 2008, when she was the only person cooking for Ubuntu Africa’s children. She completed a course in 2010 focused on cooking and nutrition, and continues to provide UBA’s children with a nutritious and well balanced meal each day, often the only full meal UBA’s children receive. She loves children and loves cooking, which is what attracted her to UBA, and now that the center works with so many children, she manages caregiver/parent volunteers who assist with food preparation.
Siphokazi came to UBA as a volunteer Social Auxiliary Worker during her Social Work studies at Continuing Education for Africa (CEFA). Siphokazi was attracted to Social Work because she was always the person her friends came to for advice and she loves to help people. After completing her studies, Siphokazi joined the UBA team full-time.
In addition to her Certificate in Auxiliary Social Work, she has also attained a Matric Certificate, Code 8 Driver’s License, Basic office admin, basic computer skills, and a Sewing Certificate.
Community Engagement Manager
Thumeka came from the Eastern Cape to attend higher primary in Cape Town. In addition to her matriculation certificate, she received her Certificate in Auxiliary Social Work, Computer Certificate, Domestic Violence Certificate, Learner’s License Code 10, and is working towards her training for Early Development and Childhood.
She came to UBA as a student volunteer in 2013, and recently joined the team full-time as a youth facilitator because UBA “gives opportunities that people don’t have even from the government, because people get to be open with their status and parents learn and children get confidence that life must go on.” She says there are few organizations like UBA, and she loves lending a hand to the children she works with.
Sibulele (Lele) joined UBA at the beginning of 2014 as a facilitator. Her bubbly and outgoing personality brings an amazing energy to our expanding program. Lele moved around a lot as a child and in order to not be walked over she learned to be outspoken and friendly to everyone. These are qualities that we know she will impart on the kids. In high school she was a Peer Educator for Love Life, and after her matriculation from Hottetots Holland High School she worked for Life Choices as a youth facilitator.
Unlike other kids her age, she always knew what she wanted to be; a social worker. She has always believed that she is here for a reason and that you can always change someone else’s life, and living her dream means doing just that. She is at UBA because children living with HIV did not ask for it and people still stigmatize them, and it drives her crazy. “A tree when it is small is not strong- we can groom them into stars.”