The Team

in memory of krystina finn

A co-founder of the project, Krystina spent six months volunteering on various projects in Kenya in 2012. Krystina took full advantage of her time in Kenya and spent many of her weekends exploring East Africa including rafting and bungee jumping over the Nile River in Uganda, spotting the Big Five while on safari in Kenya, and trekking Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She loved getting to know the families that hosted her and taught herself Swahili so she could communicate with the children she was constantly surrounded by. Always looking for a new project to work on, one day Krystina ventured into Kipsongo Slum with her friend and fellow volunteer, Lindsey. After seeing the dire situation the community faced, Krystina decided she would put her talent, passion, and resources to use to do her best to affect change in Kipsongo. Hence, The Kipsongo Project was born. Soon after returning home from her time in Kenya, while studying for her Master's in Architecture at the University of Colorado Denver, Krystina was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Krystina battled the disease for over two years, the whole time working toward her goal to empower and bring hope to the women and children of Kipsongo. In December of 2014 after an extremely courageous and dignified fight, Krystina lost her battle with the disease. The Kipsongo Project lives on with her family and friends determined to see Krystina's visions and dreams come to fruition.   

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lindsey casagrande, co-founder and director

Lindsey is a graduate of the University of Manchester, UK where she received her Master's in International Economic Development. She developed her passion for international development work while studying abroad on Semester at Sea. Throughout her studies and work in East Africa, she has focused on empowering marginalized communities, particularly women and children. Passionate about her work, she has worked for various non-profit organizations in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and the U.S.  

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linet nyongesa, In-country Manager

Linet is currently studying community development at Mount Kenya University in Kitale. Prior to joining The Kipsongo Project's team, she worked for four years as an agriculture and micro-finance expert for local NGO The Common Ground Program, and has spent extensive time working with the Kipsongo community helping them to establish micro-enterprises and providing various trainings to residents.

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jane akiru, production manager

A lifelong resident of Kipsongo, Jane is a member of the Kipsongo Women's Jewelry Cooperative - a locally founded cooperative that makes and sells traditional Kenyan jewelry to support the community. She is one of the leaders of the Kipsongo community and has been of great assistance with past projects we have undertaken within the community. Also a talented artist, she is in charge of overseeing other jewelers and providing input for the design process. 

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laura katzman, creative director

Laura brings over 10 years of styling and designing experience to the team. A lifelong resident of NYC and a natural artist having studied art history at the University of Vermont, she acts as the project's creative director and provides design advice and assistance to our local design team in Kipsongo. She also organizes events and fundraisers for the Project. 

Board of Directors

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Molly Finn

Molly is one of Krystina's sisters and with the help of the Finn family & friends, organizes the Annual 5K Run/Walk fundraiser in Wisconsin. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, her past philanthropic activities include work with the Arthritis Foundation and Historic Milwaukee, Inc. Molly acts on behalf of the Finn family and is excited to continue Krystina's dream and mission to improve the lives of children and women living in the slum.

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gauri gandbhir

Gauri is a graduate of Dickinson College where she received her Bachelors in Economics, and Florida Atlantic University where she received a Masters in Economics. Throughout her studies she focused on economic development.  As a compliance officer at global bank, she has the ability to navigate the corporate landscape and regulatory obstacles. Gauri is eager to bring her work and education experience to help The Kipsongo Project achieve its mission.

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alyssa kitlas

Alyssa is excited to be on the board of The Kipsongo Project because she believes that investing in education and health care are critical for the well being of communities, and that it needs to be done in an empowering and sustainable way, with the community at the forefront of this work. She has previously interned on a community development project in Kakagema, Kenya, a few hours from Kipsongo. In her full time job, Alyssa is the Manager of Hepatitis at NASTAD, a non-profit association of health department HIV and hepatitis programs. She also fundraises for the Young Survival Coalition and First Descents, two organizations that support young adult cancer fighters. 

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jen rook

Jen lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. She has a background in sales and service and has previously worked as Director of Sales in a Fair Trade startup company. Jen has previously assisted The Kipsongo Project with shipping logistics and in numerous other capacities. She is looking forward to sharing her business and sales experience to help The Kipsongo Project expand its footprint, continue its mission, and surpass its program goals.