Below is a team of dedicated Board of Directors and staff in Masaka who make amazing things happen.
Rev. Fr. John Mary Lugemwa, OSB, President
Fr. John Mary, born and raised in rural Uganda, holds S.T.B. (Theology) and M.A. (Monastic Studies) degrees with honors from Saint Vincent Seminary, Pennsylvania, where he also received the Honorable Judge Bernard Shrerer Award for academic excellence, integration of knowledge, faith and charity. He also obtained B.A. degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from St. John’s University, Minnesota. In 2013, he studied Leadership and Management at Sant’ Anselmo Pontifical University in Rome, a course offered in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen’s Business School in Switzerland. Besides studying Law at Makerere University in Uganda, Fr. John Mary has taken classes in Non-profit management at the University of Richmond’s Institute on Philanthropy. He also holds two diplomas in Bible Studies from the International Bible School in Norway.
As a monk of the Mary Mother of the Church, Benedictine Abbey, Virginia, Fr. John Mary serves as Director of Vocations and Formation, Webmaster, and previously as an assistant in the Business office. He is the Chaplain for Benedictine College Preparatory where he also teaches a computer class on Web Design and Web technologies, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees. He regularly takes on weekend missions in local parishes in the Richmond Diocese. Fr. John Mary also serves on the Mission Committee of the U.S. Conference of Major Superiors of Men.
Fr. John Mary founded Uganda Rural Fund (URF) in 2005 while a college student and currently serves as President. Through URF he has established the Hope Integrated Academy in 2008, a vocational high school for orphans and other underprivileged rural children. In 2013, he has added the Hope Junior School, a kindergarten that will evolve into an elementary school to provide a solid academic foundation to prepare kids to excel at higher levels of education. Under his leadership, various other programs have been initiated: a community library, computer center, women empowerment, village banking, water and sanitation, a leadership institute, a medical clinic, and youth empowerment.
Fr. John Mary founded the Grassroots Development Network (GDN) as a resource to empower other grassroots development practitioners with skills and resources they need to effectively manage sustainable projects in their local communities. Using his experience, he also provides free consultancy to individuals and groups who are starting up new nonprofit organizations.
During his college career, Fr. John Mary initiated the Africa Service Learning Program, a program that sends groups of college students to work with AIDS support organizations in East Africa. He also founded two student organizations: the Global AIDS Awareness Organization and the Africa Students Association at the St. Benedict’s College and St. John’s University, MN. Fr. John Mary was also active in other student clubs and student government. He sat on the Joint Academic Board and also served on various administration committees as a student representative: the Academic Assessment Committee, and the Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee.
In 2009 and 2010 Fr. John Mary has participated in the Clinton Global Initiative conferences at University of Miami and University of Texas at Austin, which bring together students from around the world who are committed to effecting social change. He also founded the Jolu Consult International (JCI – www.joluconsult.com), an IT and development consultancy firm which provides technology solutions to community-based organizations and schools in developing countries to harness the power of technology and multiply the impact of their social programs. JCI proceeds are allocated toward science and technology education programs for underprivileged children in rural communities.
Fr. John Mary has received various awards for his work in Africa and the United States. He was the recipient of the International Peace Award in Washington, DC in 2007, and the 2006 Excellence in Leadership Award and Inspiring a Shared Vision leadership Award from the College of St. Benedicts/St. John’s University. He was one of the recipients of the Peace and Justice Award from the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation, Minnesota in 2006. In 2010 John Mary received the Innovative Community Builders Award in Virginia.
In 2012, Fr. John Mary was ordained a Catholic Priest and hopes to go for doctoral studies in Canon Law to continue serving the Abbey and the universal church. Fr. John Mary’s experience of growing up in poverty in a rural village in Uganda drives his passion for helping children and those in need. His work brings him much joy and peace, knowing that these small deeds can make a difference in other people’s lives.
Jane Francis Nakiboneka, (Board Member)
Jane Francis (Jjajja) possess life time experience as a farmer and a respected member of the community. For the past five years she has hosted all URF volunteers who come throughout the year from Europe, Australia, and North America and some African countries.
Harriet Kezaabu, (Board Member) Vice president & Board Chairperson
Harriet, a human rights advocate and development practitioner, has over seven years experience in the nonprofit sector and holds a B.A. degree in Social Sciences from Makerere University and an M.A. degree in Development Studies from Uganda Martyrs University. Her research manuscript entitled “Livelihood Ventures in Child Headed Households in Uganda” was published by the Lambert Academic Publishers in Germany.
Harriet has conducted Training of Trainers (TOT) for different groups in business skills using the Competence based Economies and Formation of Enterprises module. As a Gender and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Specialist, Harriet is in charge of implementing a USAID Production for Improved Nutrition Project in Uganda as well as the development of the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy. She trains other project staff in gender sensitive programming while collaborating with the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development to ensure compliance and timely service delivery for vulnerable children.
As Women’s Protection and Empowerment (WPE) Manager at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Harriet empowered rural women and girls in post-conflict northern Uganda to access economic, social, and financial opportunities. She networked with the local government, partner organizations, and UN agencies on planning, implementation, and evaluation of Gender Based Violence programs.
Between 2006 and 2009, Harriet served as a Social Worker and Unit Manager at Francois Xavier Bagnold (FXB) International in Uganda. She earned valuable skills in project and financial management, reporting, networking, and community needs assessment. At the Center for Community Development as Youth Counselor she promoted behavioral change to fight HIV/AIDS, reducing stigma among youth. Harriet has presented at IRC GBV conferences in the U.S. and Uganda. Harriet is passionate about Orphans and Vulnerable Children, women and youth programming. She loves sports and travelling.
Adrian Ssemukasa, (Board Member) Director of Operations
Adrian brings to URF diverse experience as a successful entrepreneur and business manager. He has set up and managed a number of successful small private businesses. He received a Diploma in Agriculture and has attended a series of farming workshops. Adrian is a native of Kyetume village, the central area of service for URF where he is well respected in the community. He is responsible for overseeing the overall on-ground operation of URF in collaboration with other local staff staff members and the board.
Winifred Nalukenge, (Board Member), Board Vice Chairperson/Resource Mobilization
Winifred is a professional counselor involved in HIV research for the past decade with the Medical Research Council UK, a unit on AIDS research in Uganda under the Uganda Virus Research Institute. She holds a B.A. degree from the University of Manchester in Counseling Studies and a Higher Diploma from the school of Counseling Studies from Kenya Association of Professional Counselors in Nairobi, Kenya.
Much of her work has been in social science research on various HIV research projects including two phase III clinical trials; Microbicides Development Programme (MDP) and COSTOP. Other research has extensively been with HIV discordant couples in rural south western Uganda, Female sex workers in Kampala and older persons. In these research projects, Winifred has been involved in mobilizing research participants, research design, collecting and analyzing data and writing reports.
Winifred has had opportunities to present some of her research findings to both local audiences in Uganda, India and South Africa. She is trained in Sexual Reproductive Health, GBV and HIV Research Methods, Behavior Change and Communication in HIV/AIDS and Quality Improvement for Counseling and Health Care Services.
Besides her research work, Winifred is passionate about empowering children and youth to pursue education and higher goals in life. She brings this passion to URF with gratitude and dedication.
Violet Nakayenga, (Board Member), Resources Development
Born and raised in Masaka, Uganda, Violet holds a Bachelor’s degree in Democracy and Development studies with special interest in Peace and Conflict Management from Uganda Martyrs University. This special training enables her handle the most difficult and diverse situations with ease. Violet currently works with the Uganda Martyrs University as the Systems Administrator. She has previously worked as Assistant Population Officer for the Masaka district local government. In addition, Violet is gifted with people skills, which is one of the ingredients in the recipe of resource mobilization. She is well suited for handling both societal and community dynamics which is key for URF’s operation. Violet is very passionate about development and she has been an avid support of URF for a number of years.
Charles Waliggo, (Board Member) General Secretary
Charles holds a degree in Information Technology from Kampala International University. He has previously attended training in project planning and management at Makerere University. Charles assists with technology needs at URF and the URF Kampala Chapter for young professionals and university students.
Stephanie Namujjuzi, (Board Member and URF Nurse), Director for Health Care Outreach
Stephanie is a health care professional working a Nurse. She currently operates a privately owned clinic providing general basic care in a rural village in Luwero. Stephany is a native of Kyetume village having lived experience of the conditions in the communties where URF serves.
Esther Nyangoma, Legal Advisor
Esther holds an LL.B degree from Makerere University and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from Law Development Center. She currently works with the Uganda Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as a State Attorney under the Attorney General’s office.
Non-Board Project Managers and Staff
Assumpita Nabisaso, Project Manager
Habiiba Namiiro, Project Manager
Andrew Mutebi, Project Manager