Magda Ponce Castro grew up in the mountains of Puerto Rico where she took advantage of the educational opportunities available. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Organizational Behavior. In 1989, Magda who did not speak English at the time, came to the United States and received a Master of Science in Organizational Industrial Psychology from Springfield College located in Springfield, Massachusetts. She would become the first Puerto Rican women to lead a Girl Scout troop in Holyoke, Ma. Magda went to Malawi, Africa the summer of 2014 to participate in the selection of the three newest Daughters of Toleza Scholarship grantees. Magda is a fund raiser for the Greenfield YMCA, The Relay for Life, The Daughters of Toleza and is a passionate gardener, horse-back rider, down-hill skier, dog lover and ‘Titi’ to her many nephews and nieces.
Lauren joined the Board following her international study trip to Balaka, Malawi and Toleza Farm in summer 2011. She was particularly interested in the struggles of the women she met while in Malawi, and impressed by their strength, compassion, and warmth. One of Lauren’s favorite memories during her trip to Malawi was speaking with women who belonged to a local micro-lending group. As a board member, she helps in organizational tasks behind the scenes and spearheads the quarterly newsletter. Lauren spends her days working as an environmental consultant in New Jersey. In her free time, you’ll find her at the beach (in the summer), watching HGTV, spending time with friends/family, or daydreaming about a future travel destination.
Brianna joined the Scholarship Fund in January 2014 with experience in business, event planning and grant research accompanied with her passion for international humanitarianism to be a part of the focused and important role that Daughters of Toleza has on the lives of many Malawian girls. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2007 with a BS in Hospitality and Tourism which took her up and down the eastern seaboard gaining knowledge in running small businesses and travel which eventually led her into the nonprofit world. Since 2012 she has brought her ability to network and build community and awareness to many organizations. Currently she is also a Board Member for Greenworks LLC, sub-committee member for Northampton Survival Center and on a steering committee of North Quabbin 2030 Club and also works for a local business owner who is also invested in creating community locally and internationally. She was able to go to Malawi in July 2014 to meet the girls and visit Toleza Farm. Her dream is to bring viable awareness and be contributing vehicle for change by providing a voice to those who need help with getting their message heard.
Leah Kaira was born and raised in Malawi. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College. She taught Biology and Physical Science in secondary schools in Malawi from 1996 to 2003. She earned her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Education specializing in Psychometrics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. Leah currently works as a psychometrician with the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson. Leah is very passionate about providing education opportunities to girls in Malawi and enjoys her work with Daughters of Toleza. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Sophie joined the Board following her international study trip to Balaka, Malawi and Toleza Farm in spring 2012. After spending the day with our scholarship girls in Malawi in June and hearing their inspiring stories, she knew her work with the scholarship would not be over when she returned to the states. She is a current student in Marlboro College’s MBA in Managing for Sustainability, and the co-President of Marlboro’s Net Impact Chapter. Sophie lives on Martha’s Vineyard where she works for a design/build company doing renewable energy work, and plans to one day return to Malawi with a solar panel for her Safari guide, Angel. She is currently balancing work and school, and does limited fundraising, organizational tasks, and supports the advisory board in all of the current scholarship endeavors, but she is excited to have more time and energy to devote to the scholarship once she completes her studies.
Don is one of the founding members of the Scholarship Fund and a traveler on the first international study trip to Balaka, Malawi and Toleza Farm in summer of 2010. He graduated from Marlboro College’s MBA in Managing for Sustainability in August 2011. His master's thesis was entitled 'Feasibility Study for Emerging Organic or Specialty Markets for the Sustained Economic Vitality of the Toleza Agricultural Enterprise'. It enabled the Toleza Farm management to positively address critical business practices. Don combines his education and his 25 years in the residential and commercial building industry in running Cole & Simms Design Biulds located in Western, MA. He is focused toward giving back and serving the greater good by being a very active fundraiser for the scholarship, the Facebook page manager, and a primary contact with the Malawian team and the Bakhita School.
Beverly is one of the founding members of the Scholarship Fund and the Marlboro MBA faculty leader of all three international study trips to Balaka, Malawi and Toleza Farm in summers of 2010, spring 2011, and spring 2012. She is the Founding Partner of the Center for Nature and Leadership, which provides social entrepreneurs nature-based leadership development through dialogue, educational resources and peer-to-peer mentoring. Beverly cares deeply about creating new responses to stewardship of self, organization and place resulting in shifts of awareness and action, which is why the Daughters of Toleza Scholarship is so important to her. When she’s not striving to evoke fearless and authentic leadership in the clients and students she works with, you’ll find her in the Colorado backcountry in all seasons or sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. She splits her time between Annapolis, MD and Telluride, Colorado.
Jean is a native of Malawi and received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Malawi - Chancellor College in Zomba. She worked for several years in education in Malawi before completing her Masters and Doctorate degrees in the US at Clark University and University of Saskatchewan, respectively. She is currently a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University in Keene, NH. Jean's research interests include notions of sustainability, youth education, and indigenous knowledge. Jean has already been crucial in helping us communicate with the Malawian field team and we are confident that Jean's unique experience and education will help us further the DTS mission in a culturally sensitive manner.