Our Management Team
Founder and Board Chair of BBALP
Bisila Bokoko is the founder and chairperson of The Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project (BBALP), a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote literacy among the African people. Ms. Bokoko has focused her efforts on organizing people and resources to build modern libraries in Africa.
The former Executive Director of the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce in New York, a bi-lateral private U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to fostering trade, investment and institutional relations between Spain and the United States. Her ability to develop and cultivate relationships with foreign Heads of State, Ministries of Commerce / Economy and International business leaders has made her one of the ten most influential Spanish women in the American business.
In addition to running a nonprofit organization, Bisila is a consultant for private companies in Europe and Africa. She works as a Spokesperson/International Brand Ambassador and Business Developer for companies where she helps to create pathways and opportunities. She actively participates in Empretec Women Programs at the UNCTAD in Geneva where she helps to foster entrepreneurship capabilities among women in Latin America and Africa.
Bisila is the Global Ambassador and strategist for Pikolinos and has contribute to promote the Massai Project, a line of shoes and bags designed in Kenya by over 1000 women from the Maasai Tribe.
Bisila’s passion for human rights fueled her educational pursuits. She earned two Master’s degrees in International Relations and Business and a Law degree. Bokoko’s dream has always been to be a catalyst for change, working with global leaders to foster cooperation among countries focused on a unified goal of peace and mutual respect.
Specialties:Decisive-leader, strong negotiator, and pragmatic bridge-builder with more than 11 years’ experience structuring strategic partnerships among international trade organizations.
Dynamic International Business Strategists with expertise helping businesses successfully enter international markets in Europe, U.S. and Africa. Develop and cultivate relationships with foreign Heads of State, Ministries of Commerce / Economy and International business leaders.
Mrs. Bokoko-Echols received her Masters in International Relations from the City College of New York, her Masters in Business Administration and a Degree in Law (J.D. Equivalent) from the Universidad CEU of San Pablo.
Executive Director of BBALP
Director of Library Training Programs
Board of Directors
Eric Marson was born in Paris few months after the end of the 1968 social revolution. As far as he can remember, his universe has always been steeped in books and literature. He has founded his first publishing agency when he was 24 and since that moment, he has never stopped. Translator from English, Spanish and Italian to French, author for kids and adults, freelance editor, book packager for the most important European publishers, his professional life is entirely dedicated to that world.
It is thus quite natural that his encounter with Bisila Bokoko in Spain where he lived for almost 10 years, was so amazing. They share the same passion for books and literature and fascinated by her commitment to major causes. When Bisila asked him to become director general of the BBALP, it was with such a great honor that he accepted this wonderful mission.
Kike Sarasola comes from a multifaceted career as an athlete, businessman, and actor. Kike won three medals in all three Olympic Games he participated in: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, and Sydney 2000. He was champion of Spain on four occasions, and won the bronze medal at the European Championship 2001 (the first bronze medal won by a Spaniard in that event). Kike Sarasola has been involved in real estate companies for many years. In addition to real estate Kike has IT projects, and he is managing the Hippodrome de Madrid. Kike founded the successful and innovative Room-Mate Hotels chain, of which he is now President and recently the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce honored him the “Young Entrepreneur Award”.
Maite Loubet holds a Degree in Law (J.D) and a Masters Degree in International Aid and Development. At present she manages international contract negotiations at the Spanish company ISOLUX CORSAN a world leader in renewable energy generation.
Loubet also has an extensive history in the field of Children’s Rights. In July of 2004 she adopted a Ghanaian baby and became deeply involved with Orphan Aid Africa, a non-profit organization which aims to support orphans and vulnerable children in Ghana with programs in care reform, education, and development.
She researched intensively on the links between Children’s Institutional Care and Human Rights and participated with a new perspective of rights in the launching of the Ghanaian “Orphans and vulnerable children care reform initiative”. After avocating to put children’s rights at the core of the spanish international development agenda Loubet aims to promote cultural diversity and cultural rights in Africa as an integral part of the mainstreaming human rights perspective.
Michelle has a certification in Computer Systems Technology, and has extensive business expertise having worked for companies such as The Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Sony/BMG, Goldman Sachs, and Yahoo.
Michelle has worked as an officer in the Long Beach Branch NAACP back in 2003 and currently has active memberships in, The New York Urban League Young Professionals, National Council of Negro Women, and The Order of Eastern Star, The National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Black Data Processing Associates, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Michelle has also created an online support and empowerment group for the women of color called The Phenomenal Women Group in 2004 that translated into a movement and solidified itself in November of 2006.
A visionary and dynamic leader, innovative strategist, and pragmatic bridge builder with more than 15 years’ experience positioning non-profits to greater levels of financial solvency and operational efficiencies.
Career reflects vast experiences leading organizations during all phases of development including start-up, expansion and revitalization. Talent for motivating and inspiring employees, donors and board members in the United States, Europe and South America.
Highly effective at developing the framework, building the foundation and setting goals for fundraising. Proven ability to attract and secure investments of $1,000 to $1MM from individual donors. Possess 20 years’ experience cultivating relationships with international business leaders. Instructor for Columbia University’s Master’s level course ‘Global Philanthropy.’
Fran holds a Masters in Education, with specialization in second language literacy (Spanish and English). She has worked as a high school English language learning teacher for 16 years, and evaluator of all incoming new students from other countries at Franklin High School in New Jersey. Fran is the advisor to AIU, the Africa and Islands United Club, where the mission is to educate and nurture interest about the African students at her school. Fran co-founded “Books in the Park,” a mobile lending library that brings books and literacy activities to children and families in her school district. She enthusiastically works part-time as an assistant to the children’s librarian at the quaint local library of her hometown, Lambertville, NJ.
Trina is a New York City based director, producer, casting director, and co-founder of Latino Media Works, a production company dedicated to producing quality content for Latinos living in the U.S. She is executive producer and casting director of the “Habla Series” for HBO, and the director of the award winning documentaries “Making Habla” and “Habla Mas” in Chicago. While working for the network V-Me, Trina produced more than 150 episodes of “Viva Voz”, its signature prime-time show featuring Latino celebrities. Fran currently writes and produces “De Moda”, featuring the hottest fashion & beauty trends in television, film & music. De Moda is the first video program created especially for “Yahoo Mujer”, Yahoo’s new site for Hispanic women.
Bardusco’s documentary “El Turista Soy Yo” is distributed by Discmedi (Barcelona), a project she started as a Fulbright scholar titled “Flamenco’s Duende and Deep Song.” She is currently developing a new documentary series in Spain “In Search of Duende.”
June Haynes has been name by Harper’s Baazar as the best dressed and O the Oprah magazine calls her the “Glamour Girl” and publishes her style tips.June is known as much for her business acumen and her accomplishments as for her sense of chic a perfect balance for her position as Vicepresident of Retail & Brand Ambassador for Valentino. She has been extremly successful at building high-performance management and in-store sales teams while leading sophisticated apparel and merchandising organizations with P&L responsibility up to $50 million. A strategic visionary with a clear sense of purpose and urgency when faced with diverse situational challenges Highly skilled at inspiring staff to exceed business objectives and establishing sales and merchandising excellence within culturally diverse environments, translating conceptual models into specific growth strategies, and planning/executing multi-faceted global business development campaigns designed to improve market share, gross revenue and EBITDA.
June serves in several boards sharing her expertise as the Museum of Natural History and March to the Top Africa.
John Phillips is the former Deputy under Secretary of Defense (Logistics). He recently left Home Depot as Vice President of the Government Solutions Group, which he formed. The organization propelled Home Depot into the federal business, growing to over $100M in the first 12 months of operations. He is now president of Phillips Defense Consultants. His organization boasts of subject matter experts across the range of Defense operations from IT, supply chain management, and acquisition, to Network Centric Warfare.
John served for more than 27 years in the United States Air Force, retiring with the rank of Major General. His last assignment was Commander, McClellen AFB, California. The military depot was responsible for aircraft, satellites and microelectronic technology. John earned the highest Department of Defense certifications (level III) in Program Management, Acquisitions Logistics, and Computer Systems Development (DOD Black Belt equivalent). He is a fighter pilot with over 3,000 flying hours, 300 hours in combat. He earned wings as a navigator and pilot and was awarded German pilot wings. He has flown the F-15, F-111, T-38, KC-135 and T-37 aircraft.
Active in civic and professional affairs, John is currently a member of the Army Science Board; International Society of Logistics Engineers, Board of Directors; Association for Enterprise Integration; Maintenance Repair & Overhaul Conference; Board of Visitors, Defense Acquisition University; Shades of Blue (Aviation Mentoring), Americorps National Civilian Community Corps, and is a former chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Tuskegee Airman, Inc and formerly served on the Board of Boys and Girls Club of America. His other accomplishments include authoring the book, “Navigating the Pentagon” and co-authoring the book, “Military Project Management,” as well as numerous articles and lectures on leadership and management. John is a current member of the Air Force Association, US Chamber of Commerce, US China Policy Foundation, The Corporate Council of Africa, The Navy League and the Association of U.S. Army. He is the 2010 recipient of the DOD Acquisition Excellence Acker Award. He and his wife Blanche have three daughters, one son and four grandchildren.
Executive Director of The Global Syndicate— a collection of professionals and friends who mobilize their resources for paradigm shifting activities. The current Global Syndicate campaign is entitled the Haiti Project— it will raise the substantial awareness and dollars for education, economic development, and health related issues in Haiti.
Busie’s name seems to come come up where is a co-relation between For Profit companies and non- For profit organizations. This drove her to seeking opportunities at top tier financial firms such as Smith Barney, Oppenheimer and Company, and Citibank where she was determined to leave a positive mark. While at these firms Busie, felt the itch to further impact communities, so her business experience, as well as her gregarious personality led her to launch Fashionably Independent in 2005 otherwise known as Fashion Indie. This was started as a platform for fashion designers to help them become business savvy. Fashion Indie evolved into a Fashion Media company, which was cutting edge and grew a readership of 1MLN a month beating Vogue Magazine. Fashion Indie was recognized by TimeOut New York and Business Week as being one of the top 3 fashion blogs in New York. It even expanded the horizons of fashion designers through the creation of challenges such as the Maurices Handbag Challenge where the winning handbag which was designed by a stay-at-home mother in Wisconsin was mass produced and carried in over 500 Maurices Stores throughout the United States respectively. Fashion Indie managed accounts such as Maurices, Louis Vuitton, and numerous Project Runway Alumni.
Our Ambassadors are people who truly understand the mission of BBALP and who have pledged to help spread awareness and understanding of the need to share the gift of ideas and literacy in Africa.
Starting with a career in fashion defined by collaboration with the world’s most renowned designers, photographers, and media, and evolving into socially conscious partnerships with former Vice President Al Gore and other icons of global change, Almudena Fernandez is working to capture humanity’s imagination in exciting and impactful ways. Almudena has worked in many other projects to promote eco-friendly and humanitarian messages. In September 2009, Almudena launched the Sweet Rock Eco shoe line, and recently joined forces with Lupo to fight hunger in Africa through the proceeds earned by a bag made from ecological and biodegradable materials.
Spanish Elle awarded Almudena with their ecology and environmental prize, and she collaborates annually with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United States on various projects related to fashion and ecology. In 2010, she was awarded the “Best Steward Prize” by the Sustainable Planet Film Festival for all her recent work.
In the end, all human beings are the same, and her work reminds us that we all deserve a healthy world in which to celebrate our lives.
Having begun his acting career in theater just nine years ago, Nigerian-American actor Gbenga Akinnagbe has since carved himself a well-respected niche on stage and screen.
Best known for his role as street assassin “Chris Partlow” on the critically acclaimed HBO series, THE WIRE, Gbenga has also proved himself to be a versatile performer with a multitude of varying roles. His recent film credits include THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, THE EDGE OF DARKNESS, starring Mel Gibson, and THE LOTTERY TICKET, starring Bow Wow, released by Warner Bros. On television, he is currently recurring on the Emmy award winning series, THE GOOD WIFE, and also starred on BARBERSHOP: THE SERIES, for Showtime. Gbenga has made guest appearances on Fringe, Dark Blue, Law and Order: Conviction, Cold Case and Law and Order: SVU to name a few. Most recently, he completed a World Premiere at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre; a one-man show, “The Thin Place”. An accomplished stage actor, Gbenga frequently works with The LAByrinth Theatre Company, founded by Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz. His performance with the group stemmed from his collaboration with Hoffman and Laura Linney in the Oscar-nominated independent feature, THE SAVAGES. Gbenga is also an avid world-traveler. In 2009, Akinnagbe became a freelance writer for the New York Times after they published his first article on his trip through the Himalayas. Yet some of Gbenga’s proudest accomplishments lie within his community outreach. He is a member of the executive boards of both “All for Africa” and “Shine on Sierra Leone”. He is also a spokesperson for other nonprofits such as, “Let’s get Ready”, and “Rewired for Change”.
Gbenga Akinnagbe currently resides in New York.
María Jurado -also known as Suniti- has worked as an actress in Spain, France, Italy and USA under the direction of directors such as Gabriele Salvatores (Oscar for Mediterraneo), Michel Gondry, Abel Ferrara (The Funeral) in 22 films.
She has worked as a Reiki Master in Usui and Reiki Unitario (Shamballa, Karuna), giving sesions and Iniciating people in Reiki I and Reiki II all around Europe (Spain, France, Bulgaria, etc) as well as guiding Active Osho Meditations.
Nowadays, she is directing a shortfilm and developing a Documentary called “A seeker” -the relationship of a disciple with an enlighted Master-. As a director she is sharing the spiritual path and new ways of healing though the cinema.
“As a writer, I consider books are an amazing tool to learn, to grow , to find the knowledge necesary to do what you want to do in your life, to find freedom . On my spiritual path, books are a huge door to grow in councioussnes, in Acceptance. That’s why I totaly belive it’s necesary to bring books to this kids to find their own freedom.”
Tai founded the BluePrint Group, LLC, a communications and marketing firm that specializes in bridging the gap between the world of fashion and philanthropy–something Tai is passionate about demonstrating daily. Founded in 2006, clients and partners of the BluePrint Group have included Avon, Malaria No More, Spelman College, The Sundance Channel, Tractenberg & Co, and Universal Motown Records. The firm helps organizations build strategic marketing plans that teach consumers that giving, volunteering, advocating, and empowering one another is “stylish.”
Today, Tai is the Style Ambassador for InStyle magazine, serving as a face and voice of the brand through brand partnerships and in media. She is also the spokesperson for P&G’s My Black is Beautiful Campaign. Most recently, Tai served as a member of the first Grammy Glam Squad, a host and correspondent for The 54th Annual Grammys Awards GrammyLive coverage, and a host for E!
Network’s 84th Annual Academy Awards Red Carpet coverage. Ms. Beauchamp is frequently retained by major brands including The Limited, Marriott and AT&T to host events, develop unique consumer engagement programs, and deliver spirited messages about “stylish” living.
She has appeared as a style expert on ABC, BET, CNN, NBC Today, TV One, and Soapnet and frequently contributes to the Wendy Williams Show, blackenterprise.com, the STYLE Network, Inside Edition, E! and other networks. Recognized as a trailblazer in the fashion, beauty and non- profit industries, she received the 2009 Thurgood Marshall College Fund Prestige Award and was featured in Essence’s 2009 Annual “Power Women” issue and 2011 September Fashion issue.
Tai Beauchamp earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English Literature from Atlanta’s Spelman College and
attended New York University’s Television Production program.
Marita Stavrou’s journey began on Chicago’s West Side. She is one of 7 children born into a family struggling to survive on the welfare system. At the ripe old age of 11, Marita got a job. She worked as a towel girl at an exclusive Chicago restaurant to help support her family. Serving Chicago’s wealthy elite was not labor intensive work. The most difficult part of the job, for young Marita, was holding on to her dignity. Her time as a towel girl did not lead to feelings of envy or result in a dogged determination to become a millionaire. For Marita, it simply reaffirmed something her mother had taught her, “money can’t make you happy. Diamonds and pearls can’t make you beautiful.
Love, compassion, honesty and having the courage to reach for your dreams can set you free.” With her core values firmly intact Marita auditioned and won the Toby Herr Scholarship. That scholarship allowed her to attended a local Magnet School G & T. She immersed herself in the fine arts program and upon graduation continued her education at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (Michelle Obama’s Alma Mater.) Marita soon found herself at Loyola University where engaging personality and unique beauty caught the attention of a scout for the Ford Modeling Agency.
Today, Marita is easily one of the world’s most gifted designers. With the modeling world still calling Marita transitioned into the design world with startling dexterity. Media Mogul Russell Simmon’s called upon her talents for his homes in Miami and New York. She traveled to Ibiza Spain to oversee the Greek inspired compound for Claudia Barila+Guy Laliberte’ (Cirque du Soleil) From the Setai Hotel’s Private Estate Club co-designed with Lenny Kravitz to her own French Chateau inspired LA home designed for her ex-husband, Reggie Miller, Marita ‘s ability to transform brick and mortar into living breathing welcoming spaces is unprecedented. Her remarkable story, infectious energy and warm personality are simply inspiring.