Maasai Program Director, 39-year-old local Assistant Chief Nickson Parmisa, owns a small house and several acres of land in Kitengela. Nickson was chosen as Chief at the age of 32 because of his qualities as a leader, not because of any inherited status, and he has shown himself more than capable of the task as he steers his community towards a more sustainable future. While fulfilling his duties as a traditional Chief, that position makes Nickson a government official and he spends time in his office in Athi River where he mediates conflicts such as land ownership and family issues. His direct contact to the government enables him to create a smooth path through red-tape hurdles and legal issues. Nickson has an Undergraduate Degree in Criminology and Security Management from KAG East University.
Nickson speaks Maa, Suaheli and English and has traveled to the United States, where he spoke to enthralled audiences at Colorado State University, New York University and the Ross School in East Hampton, focusing on human/wildlife conflict issues and solutions, and Maasai life in general. Nickson is also on the Board of The Wildlife Foundation, whose compound is just a mile away and constitutes our second Kitengela campus.
Nickson will identify the community’s most pressing needs and work with community members to develop solutions that are timely and relevant in 2018 and onwards.
PHOTO: Daniel Quat Photography
Director of Organizational Development, Judy Herzl is a change strategist and thinking partner in service to humanity and optimism, as well as an artist and writer. She remembers as a child first seeing the book, The Family of Man, and the profound stirrings it evoked in her: a deep desire to know, serve and connect with the world family. She develops a cradle for businesses and organizations through fostering of infrastructure, development and strategic planning. Her passion has brought her into projects and initiatives addressing rural hunger, farm and food capacity building, women's and girls' leadership in the Democratic Republic of Congo, peace-building in post-civil war Liberia, animal rights in South Africa, mentorship for teenagers and girls' education in Santa Fe and now with Acacia Moyo to advance economic and ecological sustainability within the Kitengela Maasai community in Kenya.
Founder Kenny Mann was born and raised in Kenya, just a few miles away from the Acacia Moyo campus. She attended local schools and Nairobi University, obtaining a B. Sc. In Zoology, Botany and Chemistry in 1968. Further studies led her to Bristol University, UK, for studies in Film and Theatre Technology, and in 1992, she obtained her Master’s Degree in Education at Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan. Whether teaching African history or Documentary Film Production, Kenny is a born educator with a wide variety of experience teaching students of all ages in institutions ranging from Pre-school to Post-doctorate assignments in Kenya, India and the US.
Her professional experience, not only as a teacher but also as a journalist, author and documentary filmmaker, enables her to weave easily from teaching to story-telling, from subject development to production, from science to the arts, from music to biology and from poetry to academic treatise. She is also trained in holistic curriculum development.
Kenny’s parents, Dr. Igor Mann and his wife Erica, were well known in Kenya as the founders of many organizations, such as the Animal Health and Industry Training Institute (AHITI) in Kabete and the Council for Human Ecology (CHECK). As Jewish refugees who had escaped from Bucharest in 1949, they devoted themselves to the betterment of African lives in Kenya. Acacia Moyo is in many ways an extension of their work and legacy.
Founder Anthony Carlson is a photographer, filmmaker, entrepreneur, and educator. As a young man he lived in Kenya from 1977 through 1981 working as a “stringer” for CameraPix, (then the United Press International affiliate) receiving direct training from legendary photographer, Mohammed ‘MO’ Amin. He worked frequently on assignments throughout East Africa for several publications and NGO’s based in Nairobi and New York.
In 1980 Anthony co-developed an innovative safari outfit named Sengo Safaris which offered photographic tours focused mainly on the twice-yearly migrations into and out of the Maasai Mara and Serengeti. This led to the development of local, community-based tourism and conservation efforts long before they were buzzwords in travel and environmental stewardship. Anthony has an extensive background in the for-profit and non-profit arenas, having founded successful commercial photography, video, and animation production studios in San Francisco and Manila. He has developed youth organizations focusing on teen empowerment and skills training in the Philippines and New Mexico where he continues to bridge cultures using creative media integration in rural public schools.
Anthony has found over the years as an entrepreneur and visionary with heart, that working with local people and helping to build communities brings new ways to overcome age-old challenges, increase capacities and strengthen individuals. This is at the core of Acacia Moyo’s philosophy.
Dr. Merle Lefkoff, Founder and Co-Chair of the The Center for Emergent Diplomacy, is a mediator, facilitator, social change entrepreneur and leadership trainer in conflict zones around the world.
Dr. Naresh Singh is an international development practitioner and a specialist in sustainable livelihood program design and evaluation.