Maria Bwakira, Rwanda In-Country Director
Maria’s life story makes a compelling argument for girls' education. As a young teenager, being in school saved her from Rwanda's early ethnic massacres in the 60’s. Later, as destitute refugees in Burundi, her parents made great sacrifices to ensure she benefited from further education. She in turn committed her earliest pay checks - and considerable drive - to ensuring her 8 siblings and a number of nieces and cousins all went on to higher education. While traveling the world as the spouse of a high ranking politician and diplomat, Maria continued to advocate for girls' education and community development at an international level, developing a wide network of friends and supporters to successfully organize fundraisers and community outreach programs throughout Africa. A former staffer at United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and USAID/Burundi, Maria is well versed in the politics and policies, both international and domestic, of development initiatives, particularly in regards to women's empowerment. Maria, the mother of 5 grown children, lives between Kigali and Bujumbura, and adores her 7 grandchildren.
Peter Thorp, Head of School, Gashora Girls Academy
Peter is the founding head of school of Gashora Girls Academy. Prior to this appointment, Peter served as the Interim CEO of the California Charter Schools Association for 6 months and the Chief of Staff for CCSA for 3 years, during which time he led the Association’s strategic planning process. Prior to working at the Association, Peter was the Executive Director and founding principal of Gateway High School in San Francisco, an award-winning, college preparatory charter public school with a focus on supporting students with learning disabilities. During his time at Gateway, Peter developed the Gateway Charter Mentor Institute where Peter and other Gateway staff mentored 20 other charter school leaders, concentrating on board and site leadership training. Prior to starting Gateway High School in 1998, Peter was the headmaster of Cate School in Santa Barbara, and he taught history and coached soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse for eighteen years at Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs. Peter serves on a number of boards including Education Pioneers, charter and independent schools, the Advisory Board of the Harvard Principles Center, and CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell’s P-16 Task Force.
Peter graduated from Williams College with a degree in art history, has a Masters of Education from Boston State College and has done advanced study at the University of Colorado and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Following Williams, Peter was a Watson Fellow studying city planning in Europe, and he was a Fulbright Fellow in China in the summer of 1983.
Alaine Uwambaye, Accountant
Alaine joins RGI with a bachelor degree in law and a diploma in accounting.
She was born in the D.R.Congo, and moved to Rwanda after the genocide.
From her experience living in these war-torn countries, Alaine understands firsthand how vulnerable women and young girls are. As part of a new generation fortunate enough to go to school and earn a degree, she is a passionate advocate for education, and is devoted to the empowerment of women and girls. Being in RGI is not only a job but an opportunity to fulfill a moral duty. Alaine lives in Kigali with her husband and three adorable children.
Amy Hutchinson, Program Manager, Rwanda Girls Initiative
Amy joined the Rwanda Girls Initiative Team in 2011 as Program Manager. She is responsible for planning, marketing and donor relations for RGI and serves as the primary point of contact in the US for volunteers, partners, and donors. Prior to joining RGI, Amy was a Product Merchandiser for Nordstrom, where she worked with domestic and foreign suppliers, and managed product development from pre-concept through production. She is a Co-Founder of Innovators Network, a group of young professionals interested in saving lives faster by funding innovative early-stage research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Amy has a B.A. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, from the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and three children.