Village Project Africa Leadership Team

Margaret Lewis

Founder & President

As a child, Margaret dreamed about traveling to foreign lands. As an adult, those dreams came true —  her journeys have taken her to over 60 countries around the globe.

After traveling the world leading tour groups, volunteering at work camps and visiting mission fields, she eventually landed in Kenya. Beginning in 1996, she volunteered at Kima International School of Theology (KIST), and in 2006, started Village Project Africa. Margaret holds a master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky. Additionally, she was a pastor’s wife, Associate Director of Tri-S (international education) at Anderson University, and a graduate of Asbury College.

Davis Otieno Reuben

Program Director

Davis began his connection with Village Project Africa with the little that he had to give – a dream, a small house, a salary of less than $2 per day, and lots of hard work.

Davis leads CHERSCENT (Community Health Education and Resource Centre), the Kenyan organization that partners with VPA to provide services in Makutano.

Davis earned a theology degree from Kima International School of Theology (KIST). He worked as a telephone repairman in Nairobi and served on staff at KIST. Both places gave him the necessary training for directing the program in Makutano. In the last several years, Davis has witnessed exponential growth from his investment. He continues to be amazed by God’s gifts as the program moves forward! 


US Volunteer Staff

Manages US operations and works alongside Kenyan staff

Jamie Stone

Director of Operations

In spring 2012, Jamie took early retirement from her banking career where she worked solely with not-for-profit organizations. Jamie loves international travel, but she hadn’t specifically desired to travel to Kenya. In summer 2012, a friend took a mission trip to Kenya and urged Jamie to join her.  During that trip, Jamie instantly fell in love with the Kenyan people, the children and staff at Heritage Academy, and witnessed the undeniable evidence of God’s work there.  She knew she wanted to get involved with the work she saw happening and joined Margaret and the volunteer staff of Village Project Africa.  She helps coordinate all of the functions of VPA while she continues to focus on development.

Mary McDaniel

Director of Sponsorship Program

Mary’s involvement with Village Project Africa began in November of 2011 when she began sponsoring a child. Fulfilling her desire to meet her sponsored boy, she made her first trip to Makutano in the summer of 2012. During that visit she fell in love with the children and staff of Heritage Academy. Her involvement with VPA has grown in many ways over the years. Mary has traveled to Kenya many times, working and doing projects with the sponsored children, helping organize the sale of bags and beads made by the village women, and working closely with Heritage Academy staff to coordinate sponsors with children in need. She became director of the sponsorship program in 2016. Mary is a graduate of Anderson University.

Carolyn Caldwell

Director of Finance

Carolyn’s father, Glenn Falls, was one of the early visitors and supporters of the Village Project Africa program.  She and her husband have had many international experiences living in both England and Iraq.   When Carolyn retired from teaching accounting at Anderson University in 2011, she visited the village of Makutano and VPA with her father.  As a life-long educator, she was very impressed with the work of Heritage Academy on behalf of children who might not otherwise have an opportunity for a good education.  She returned in 2018 with her sister and their families to participate in a dedication of a girls’ dorm built in memory of their mother and was pleasantly surprised to see how the academy had grown.  In 2020, when Margaret asked Carolyn to join the volunteer staff, she was happy to use her skills to help manage VPA’s finances. 

Danita Brick

Director of Communications

Since graduating from Anderson University, Danita has held jobs that range from public relations to youth ministry. She has also volunteered over the years for her church and civic organizations. One consistent thread throughout the years has been writing. Through her writing, she loves telling stories about God’s heroic work in ages past and in the world today.

Her pastor often challenges congregants to look for the hand of God at work and join in.  Becoming part of the volunteer staff of VPA was an easy decision because she wanted to join in the work she saw God doing through VPA.

Danita recently visited Makutano for the first time. She’s already looking forward to her next trip to Kenya.

Jennifer Watson

Assistant Director of Sponsorship

Jennifer first visited Makutano with Margaret Lewis in the summer of 2010. She fell in love with Kenya and its people.  In 2011, Jennifer moved to Nairobi (Kenya’s capital city) where she lived for 7 years, first teaching at Rosslyn Academy, then working for BlueSky Global Ministries.  While living in Nairobi, Jennifer made many visits to the village, usually taking friends and students from Rosslyn and BlueSky along with her. Many of those visitors became sponsors through VPA!  Jennifer returned to the U.S. in 2018, and currently lives in Louisville, KY, where she works as an elementary curriculum specialist for a Christian school system.  

Like her aunt (our founder!), Jennifer loves to travel.  Aspiring to Margaret’s 60+ countries visited, she’s made it to 24 so far!  Jennifer has degrees in education from Asbury University and Georgetown College.  She loves VPA and its people, and she’s happy to assist Mary McDaniel and Margaret in matters relating to sponsorship.  

Kenyan Staff

Leads students and staff in Makutano

Gibson Shisia Okutoyi

Head of School and Principal, Heritage Academy Primary and High School

Gibson graduated from a teaching college in 2010 and has been educating students ever since. Working with children has been a life-long desire.

The stories and the humble natures of the students at Heritage deeply touched Gibson when he joined the staff as a classroom teacher in May 2015. He decided to serve them unconditionally. Soon after arriving as a teacher, he accepted the position of Deputy Headmaster, and then became Headmaster in January 2016. The role of Principal was added in 2018. Gibson knows he is in the right place. 

He and his wife Rose have two children.


George Richard Kakai

Deputy Head of School, Upper Primary and Dorm Superintendent

George has been teaching since 2011 and at Heritage Academy since 2017.  He leads the teaching staff in classes 4 through 8.  

He is inspired by the motto “love changing lives,” and believes the administration is unmatched in its love for both teachers and students.  He believes Heritage impacts the entire community by providing education to the less privileged and supporting the less fortunate by creating employment opportunities.

George, his wife (also a teacher), and their three children live at Heritage Academy.

Noah Buchwa

Deputy Head of School, Lower Primary and Sponsorship Laison

Noah began teaching at Makutano Primary, a public school, in 2004, and quickly discovered many of the children came to school hungry and some were sent home because they could not pay their school fees. In 2014, he joined Heritage Academy’s teacher college so that he could earn a diploma.  Upon finishing, he was invited to join the primary teaching staff.  Now he leads the teaching staff in the Pre School and classes 1 through 3 and works with children who have a sponsor to make sure they stay in school.  He knows everyone in the community and is an advocate for our children.

He is married to Susan Wekesa and they have 5 children.

Chepkemoi Zeddy

Primary School Finance Officer

Zeddy has worked at Heritage Academy since 2013, her first experience and place to work. 

She serves as the school accountant, works with the administration and Davis to track income and expenses.  She works closely with Noah to help families and knows every child in the school by name. Zeddy knows that Heritage Academy has changed many lives in the community as well as other parts of Kenya, and she enjoys being a part of the team working to improve the lives of the less fortunate. 

She comes from Bomet County and helps her family pay for her brother’s school fees.


Shem Kuranya

Senior Teacher and Director of Studies, High School

Shem joined the Heritage Academy Staff in 2018.  As a mathematics teacher, he enjoys seeing his students’ commitment to learning and the good results they post on their national exams.  As the Director of Studies, he learns from his colleagues and students alike.

He is from a nearby village called Shivagala in Kakamega County.  He enjoys teaching in a peaceful environment and appreciates the wonderful facilities on the high school campus.  Shem is humbled by the partnership and love of the donors and sponsors for the children at Heritage.


Encourage and assist Kenyan Staff 

Linda Thompson, Ed.D.

Primary and Secondary Education Consultant

Linda’s life passion is educating  children! She earned a doctorate degree in educational administration from Ball State University specializing in curriculum and educational technology. For 20 years, Linda led development of K-12 curriculum and trained teachers and administrators in the most effective instructional practices.

Linda admired the faith, commitment, and work ethic she saw in the Heritage Academy staff and students. She eagerly joined God’s work there partnering with the Academy staff to provide the best possible education for students in  Makutano and surrounding communities. Linda continues to help Heritage use technology to support face-to-face professional development, foster teacher collaboration, and improve student learning. Linda is excited to see what God continues to do at Heritage! 

Julie Walters, M.A. Ed.

Primary Education Consultant

Julie is an instructional coach and a passionate educator. She is known for listening to, talking and laughing with students and teachers as they learn together. A graduate of Anderson University,  she earned a masters degree in elementary education (emphasis in reading) from Ball State University.  Julie combines her love for children and learning at Crosspoint Church as their Director of Children’s Environments.  Julie  enjoys time with her four children and Curt, her husband and lead pastor of Crosspoint. 

Julie joined the work of Village Project Africa in 2018.  Being a part of God’s work is an important focus of Julie’s life, and in VPA, she sees a place where  children are encouraged to grow spiritually and intellectually. She feels honored to work alongside teachers to develop instructional practices to bring out every child’s greatness.

Sandra Chappell, M.S. Ed.

Early Childhood Education Consultant

After working as a preschool and elementary teacher for several years, Sandra Chappell enjoyed a 22-year career in higher education, retiring in 2012 from Saint Mary -of-the-Woods College with emeritus distinction.

Her dedication to children and families continued with her work at Heritage Academy and in advisory roles to childcare centers in Indiana.  As a former president of the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC), Sandra’s background in establishing and maintaining educational quality standards through the IAEYC influences her work to this day.

In her spare time, Sandra enjoys gardening and spending time with her two sons, two grandsons, and their families.

Nancy Hoffman, Ed. D.

Early Childhood Education Consultant

Education has been a devotion of Nancy’s from her early years. Earning an undergraduate teaching degree and a doctorate in early childhood and adult education, Nancy taught the spectrum of preschool, kindergarten, high school, university and adult education.  

Nancy’s love of travel led her to Kenya where she saw a welcoming atmosphere, the children’s curiosity and their love for adults and each other. She now regularly visits  to see friends she’s made and to help the early childhood teachers, but believes she learns more than she teaches. 

Nancy finds Heritage is truly a community, each giving to the other while exploring the needs of young children and the cultural differences that color our worlds.

Bev Gerig, M. Div.

Women’s Care Ministry

The seed of a love for Kenya, began in Bev’s childhood, as she heard stories of a couple who sojourned with the Masai people.  Sixty years later, Bev arrived in Makutano, after several years participating in the backpack ministry and sponsoring a child at Heritage Academy.  She was surprised to discover the village women — widows, mothers and grandmothers. Listening to their stories, the word ‘belonging’ seemed to reflect their feeling of community when Heritage offered them a place to gather.  “If you have a desire to come alongside, hear and strengthen women, come; you will be blessed,” she encourages.  Bev was a hospice volunteer and is a retired ordained hospital chaplain with a masters of divinity.

Board of Directors

Makes strategic decisions to advance our principles and mission

Steve Meyer, M.B.A.

Board President (Retired COO, Wheeler Mission)

Steven Meyer has served on the Village Project Africa board of directors since its formation.  He is a former banker, electric utility and railroad executive. He recently retired as chief operating officer for Wheeler Mission Ministries in Indianapolis.  Steven also manages several energy investment partnerships and serves on the board of a healthcare trust fund.  Steven has a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from Indiana University and a masters degree in business administration from Butler University.  

Karen Wilson

Secretary (retired teacher)

With a masters degree from Butler University and post masters hours in Purdue’s Reading Recovery certification program, Karen served as a reading intervention teacher for Indianapolis public and Perry Township schools for 21 years.

As a close friend, Karen watched Margaret fall in love with the school and the people of Makutano. She provided the teacher’s salary when Heritage had no sponsored or paying students in the first class of 50 preschoolers, and she has served on the board since its formation. Karen has visited Makutano four times conducting teacher training workshops.

Charles Wanner, M.Min., M. Div., Ph. D.

Treasurer (retired pastor)
Charles G. Wanner (Chuck) is a retired pastor and part-time adjunct faculty with two universities. He is also a certified and appointed chaplain with the Indiana State Police and the Civil Air Patrol.
Chuck and his wife Janet have traveled to more than 40 countries on church and mission-related trips. He was a founding member of Village Project Africa’s board of directors.

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