Shuraako Staff Bios
Lee C. Sorensen - Director
Lee Sorensen is an entrepreneur with 25-plus years’ executive business experience creating healthcare, mental health, and education companies. He combined his business background with peace building by completing a Master’s Degree in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego (USD) Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, with a focus on human security, poverty elevation, and structural inequality leading to conflict, particularly unequal distribution of resources. His development projects include child and maternal health, education, and peace building through many parts of Africa, including Tanzania, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. He is on the advisory board of several organizations including, RAND’s African First Ladies Initiative, which he helped found; the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies; the USD Center for Peace and Commerce; and the Institute for Peace and Justice Women Peacemakers Program. Prior to OEF, Lee was US Director of Outreach at the Institute for Economics and Peace. He is a passionate explorer of the relationship between peace, business, governance, and human wellbeing.
Michele Cesari - Field Manager, South Central Somalia
Born in Italy, September 1972. Bachelor and a Master of Laws from the Universita degli Studi di Urbino (1999), Italy. Currently finalizing a Master in Business Administration at Edinburgh Business School. A peacebuilding design and management professional with over 14 years of overseas experience across the Horn of Africa, Balkans and South Asia. He has published several articles on peace-building in books and journals as well as web-based resources. With a record of successful senior-level management of national and regional peace-building programs, he is a specialist on strategic planning, program development, evaluation, leadership, capacity building, facilitation and negotiation of critical relationships. Having spent the last 14 years designing and managing peacebuilding initiatives across different conflicts he has persistently met challenges with existing nonprofit models. He is now focusing on finding ways to harness the power of business to address social problems and transform conflict. He is creative, strongly energetic and capable to generate positivity. Fluent in English and Italian, working proficiency in French and starting to study Arabic.
Abdikarim Gole - Project Associate
Abdikarim Gole is a Somalia Project Associate at OEF. He received a Master of Science Degree in Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics from Ohio State University, where he wrote his thesis on agricultural development and management in Somalia. Abdikarim also has a Master of Science Degree from Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt, where his thesis examined international agricultural trade in Somalia. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Economics) degree from Alexandria University. Prior to joining OEF, Abdikarim taught Somali Language and Culture courses at Ohio State University. He also spent five years working for the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), a non-profit organization and Small Business Administration intermediary micro lender in Columbus, Ohio. At ECDI, Abdikarim served as a small business developer and provided technical assistance, performed in-depth credit analyses on borrower’s, and analyzed overall loan portfolio quality. He was awarded President Barack Obama’s Volunteer Service Award in June 2011 in recognition for his commitment to community service. He is fluent in Somali, Arabic and English.
Theresa Musumhi - Investments/Grants Management Officer
Theresa Musumhi is the Research Assistant/Project Coordinator for the Business Initiatives Program. Theresa has worked with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland. While at the ITC, she worked as Project Associate on an EU-funded project promoting the creative industries sector in the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries. At the WTO, she researched the implications of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions within the SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement for livestock and livestock products entering the EU. Theresa received an MA in International Law and Economics from the World Trade Institute in Berne, Switzerland, where she was also awarded best thesis for her work on the protection of traditional knowledge in plant genetic resources in Zimbabwe. Theresa also received an MA in International Policy Studies from the Monterrey Institute of International Studies and a BA in French and International Trade at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Alexandria Wise - Program Manager, Investments
Alexandria Wise has ten years work experience on four continents. She spent five years within the strategy consulting world working for Monitor Inclusive Markets (The Monitor Group) & Booz Allen Hamilton; and six years within international development working for CHF International, DAI, On the Frontier (OTF) Group, Tricali (an Italian tourism start-up company), and Mongolian Investment Capital Corporation (a Mongolian investment bank). She has worked or consulting in eight countries specializing in social enterprise development, small business consulting, and emerging market finance. She has a Master of International Business (MIB) concentrating on emerging market finance from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (Tufts University); and B.A. in History & Political Science from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, she won the Big East Championship in varsity field hockey. Alex sits on the board of the Afghan Scholars Initiative, which helps top Afghan students obtain a quality international high school and university education.
Victor Odundo Owuor - Research Associate
Victor Odundo Owuor's primary responsibility at OEF is to provide core knowledge support to the Shuraako project and other implementation programs. His research focuses on developing sustainable businesses in Somalia. Victor received his PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas in December 2012. The title of his dissertation was “Destabilizing Dark Networks: The Case of the Somali Piracy Saga and its Financial Implications for Kenya.” Victor’s previous accomplishments include a BSc degree in Applied Mathematics/Physics from Willamette University, Oregon and an MBA in International Business/Supply Chain Management from University of Texas at Dallas. Victor joined OEF from University of Texas at Dallas where he was amongst others, an instructor of record for an introductory course on Negotiations and Conflict Resolution. His prior work experience includes nearly two decades of project and operations management in his native Kenya. A significant part of this period comprised a long stint as the founder and chief executive of a progressive construction firm, as well as the principal of a last mile/milk run logistics company for beverage products primarily targeting the bottom of the pyramid sector.
Jean-Pierre Larroque - Social and Digital Media Specialist
Jean-Pierre Larroque organizes Shuraako's social media campaigns and is responsible for the website's digital content. Prior to working with Shuraako, Jean-Pierre developed online public relations initiatives for USAID/OFDA and Rotary International. His videos have been featured on MTV Networks, Public Broadcasting, and in the Wall Street Journal. Jean-Pierre has a Master's degree in International and Intercultural Communication from the University of Denver where he carried out field research in Kenya's informal sector. Jean-Pierre served for two years in Uganda with the Peace Corps and in the AmeriCorps with the American Red Cross.