Meet Our Family

We are an international group of photographers, artists, educators, business leaders, and nonprofit experts who are dedicated to a common goal: Helping children in various circumstances find their voice and gain skills that will spark positive change in their world.

The Team

Gaireyah Fredericks

South Africa Program Coordinator

Stephen Nzusa

Kenya Community Engagement Officer

Denise Barnhart

Communications Specialist

Thomas Scott Adams

Asset Management and Technology Systems Coordinator

Robert Evans

Technology Administrator

Abigail Lehman

Director

Gillian Njeri

Junior Class Teacher & Field Assistant

Jim Hourican

Finance and Accounting

Wilson Muya

Transport Manager

CJ Meyer

Director

David Lehman

Founder and Executive Director

Our Advisors

Katrin Eismann

Product Manager, Engagement – Adobe Systems

Brad Smith

Vice President, Photography – World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

Brian Smith

Pulitzer Price-winning Photographer

Sandra Stevenson

Associate Director of Photography - CNN

K.S. “Sonny” Kalsi

Founder and Partner, GreenOak Real Estate

Kevin Beiner

Senior Vice President, Regional Executive Director – Northwell Health

Caroline Gitau

Executive Director - Akili Dada

Margaret Roestorf

Grant Writer / Non-Profit Specialist

Vairam Alagappan

Director at Advantage Testing of Long Island

Daniel B. Knecht, MD, MBA

Vice President of Clinical Strategy & Policy – CVSHealth

Steffen Jahn

Award Winning Photographer

Mohammed Jogie

Principal – Mzansi Creative Foundation

Tracey Phillips

CEO – Gondwana Alive

Lisa Thompson-Smeddle

Grant Writer/Non-Profit Specialist

Tom Ashe

Chairman, Master’s Digital Photography – School of Visual Arts

Tom Constance

Partner, Firm Co-Chairman – Kramer Levin LLP

You Can Help

Lend your expertise to our work and help us amplify our voice. Contact us to create your customized Advisory Board role.

Jeri Muchura

Kenya Program Coordinator

Jeri Muchura is an internationally recognized award-winning photographer specializing in luxury portraiture and documentary photography. Her passion for storytelling has taken her across Kenya and Africa telling stories of resilience and triumph. She has held several exhibitions and received 1st place honours in the prestigious Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s MyAfrica photography contest in 2016. Because of her work, Jeri has won a couple of photography awards, been profiled by Kenyan and international media and her work has been published in various coffee-table photo-books.

Jeri’s love for children and sharing knowledge led her to join Photo Start in a supportive role in 2017 and finally taking the reins as the Country Program Coordinator [Kenya] in 2019. She brings on board 10 years of experience in Business Administration and Management as well as photography, coupled with a passion and love of impacting and changing lives.

Elizabeth Mwathi

Communications & Marketing Officer

Elizabeth Mwathi is a certified Online Business Manager with demonstrated interpersonal and people skills. Her background is quite wide having worked with a hotel chain for +10 years in Client Service, Administration, and Human Resources roles where she grew to become the Assistant Group Human Resources and Administration Manager.

Elizabeth is also a certified Microsoft Suite expert, holds a Diploma in Human Resource Management and Administration, and has trained in a variety of other areas including MailChimp email marketing, bullet-proof sales, and client service. She is also an expert transcriber, translator, writer, and social media manager.

Elizabeth has a passion for people, especially those whose position in life seems to be lowly and overlooked. You will find her offering a helping hand whenever she can to elevate others and make for a better community for all.

Silvia De Jager

Chief Operations Officer

Silvia is a passionate changemaker with over 24 years experience in the non-profit sector and former executive director of two Johannesburg based non-profit organizations.

She specialises in organizational strategy, personal leadership, governance, administration, operations, stakeholder and board management as well as organizational sustainability. Her focus areas over the years include health care, HIV/Aids, children, community development, food security, education and enterprise development. Dedicated to contributing to the impact made in the social development sector, Silvia is able to bring cross sector expertise and perspective to all work entrusted to her.

Joanna Ng

Program Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

Joanna has a passion for improving productivity through organizational and operational efficiencies. Her background includes developing best practices and process improvement efforts in program and project management, new business integrations, and other business functions. Joanna is based in California, an alumni of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) previously worked for several management consultancies before her current employment with The Walt Disney Company. Joanna’s focus at Photo Start is to bring together Volunteers and Photo Start opportunities to continue expanding Photo Start’s impact to communities in need.

Gaireyah Fredericks

South Africa Program Coordinator

Gaireyah Fredericks is a single mother of three sons, Yaghya, Muhammad Uzair and Diyaa-Udeen. A local of Paarl and a member of the Paarl Muslim community.

She started writing in 2012 at the Breytenbach Center in Wellington. Since 2015, she has self-published seven poetry anthologies. Mientjies, Kaaps is Hollands, 40 stories, 40 worode op ‘40’, Ramadaan Chronicles 2017, H2O Poetry Calendar, Hanne innie lig, voete oppie grond and Mettie maan gepla.

She won “Best Supporting Actress” award for her diverse roles in the play, “Ons Komvandaan”. She won “Best script” in the Department of Arts and Culture’s drama competition for her play, Hanne innie lig, voete oppie grond and won Nalibali story bosso competition Provincial with her children’s story Elkeen hetta krakie. Her debut play received two nominations, namely ‘Best script’ and ‘Best upcoming actress’. She was just seen on DSTV’s Alles Malan on Kyknet in the role of the nurse last year.

The Wellington Station Festival presents an honorary award for her contribution to the promotion of Kaaps. She is often invited to various literary festivals such as the McGregore Poetry festival – also there she won the Patricia Schonstein for Mcgregor Festival poetry Award for her poem, “Dronk verdriet”. She also regularly reads at the Woordfees, Prins Albertfees, Adam Smallfees and Tuin van digtersfees, to name a few. In August 2019 she won 2nd place in the Avbob poetry competition national with her poem “Dood” and currently she has successfully obtained her BA Honors in Afrikaans at the University of the Western Cape.

She formulates and designs the Mothertongue project workshop series to educate emerging writers about self-publishing, the relationship between the author and his environment, as well as his work. The workshops are currently offered online.




Stephen Nzusa

Kenya Community Engagement Officer

Stephen Nzusa, aka Baba Yao, is a young lawyer, life coach, mentor, reformist, peace champion and human rights activist. Born and raised in Kibera, one of the biggest slum settlements in Kenya, Stephen is a believer in arbitration, alternative dispute resolutions and more active non-violence means to advocate for matters in the society. He has worked with a number of community organizations, like KUBUKA Kenya and Teen Pregnancy Awareness Kenya.

Stephen is the co-founder of a number of organizations and institutions, including Drop the Gun Initiative, Young Empowered Youth Group, Kibera Kenya Tulee Mayatima, and St Mary’s Education Centre, which is a program partner with Photo Start. He is currently the Director of Programs for HP Dawda Foundation that advocates for sustainability of local organizations from the urban poor settlements through the practice of urban farming and imparting of viable skills to single mothers and youths.

In Kibera, Stephen is well known for his courageous intervention during the 3 previous elections in Kenya. He was at the forefront championing for peace and a departure from post-election violence. He has been deeply involved in youth reforms, working with gangs to help them turn from a life of crime to productive and respectable members of the society.

His nick name, Baba Yao, meaning “their father” is coined from his passion and rescue of street families, orphans, vulnerable children, and widows from different slums, and through his network getting home placement for them.

Denise Barnhart

Communications Specialist

Denise is a photo essayist who loves to tell musical stories of her settings in the San Francisco Bay Area and northern California. Armed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Shepherd University (Shepherdstown, WV), she zig zagged across the U.S. and occasionally around the world pursuing other passions including nonprofit marketing and operations, corporate event design and logistics, advertising, marketing, communications, and television production.

Denise has worked for and with leading companies in New York City, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, but her favorites are the nonprofits. Her personal and professional mission is to give more by giving back to those less fortunate.

Thomas Scott Adams

Asset Management and Technology Systems Coordinator

Scott is a creative producer with a strong background in marketing technology. He has successfully led Fortune 100 companies to modernize technology and improve work efficiency. Scott is currently studying filmmaking at the London Film School. He has a passion for photography and video production and loves to see tomorrow’s youth learn skills that will change their future for the better.

Scott ensures Photo Start’s technology works smoothly for volunteers, staff, and students.

Robert Evans

Technology Administrator

Robert is a Salesforce professional with over six years of experience designing, implementing, and training on Salesforce products. During his previous career in public administration, Robert worked at various nonprofits in the arts and veterans affairs space. Currently he leads the Salesforce team at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, IN.

Abigail Lehman

Director
Abigail (Abby) Lehman has a deep passion for advancing opportunity through access to education and technology. After graduating from Princeton University (B.A., Sociology) Abby began her career at L2 Inc., a digital innovation think-tank turned business intelligence firm, founded at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Later at Publicis Media, Abby proposed and developed a learning program for the Data, Technology, Analytics and Insights team.

Abby also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Olami Professional Circles, which connects young professionals across five countries to mentorship and networking opportunities.

Abby is honored to bring her digital experience, as well as her commitment to community, education and technology to the Photo Start family.

Gillian Njeri

Junior Class Teacher & Field Assistant

Gillian Njeri is a double major student currently studying public relations & broadcasting at the Africa Nazarene University, graduating in 2020. Gillian has been providing crucial key-wording services as well as volunteering at the organization since 2016. Her love of social media has proven to be a valuable asset to the organization. She is a fun, compassionate and gentle-hearted person who loves working with kids. Her presence in the classes and centres brings joy to the children we work with and helps make learning fun.

Jim Hourican

Finance and Accounting

Jim Hourican currently provides accounting and bookkeeping services as principal of Somers Consultants LLC. He has been responsible for managing the accounting for a variety of entities, including nonprofits, real estate, property management, art production, retail, services, restaurant and venue operations. Jim has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Chicago. Having owned and operated his own businesses, he brings an entrepreneurial hands-on ownership mentality to all his endeavors. Jim has also consulted to small businesses in the areas of business plan development, operations, growth plans, capital investments, financing, and launch plans.

Wilson Muya

Transport Manager

Mr. Wilson, as he’s fondly referred to, has been a driver since 2001 and joined the Photo Start family as the team driver in early 2018. Wilson is a father to two beautiful girls and he has the same heart for the Photo Start kids as he has for his own. He plays a vital role in the day-to-day running of the Kenyan programs by making sure everyone is on time and the equipment is safe as the team visits the various centres. He has a ready smile for everyone and his willingness to help is always a big plus in boosting morale.

CJ Meyer

Director

CJ Meyer has a passion for building mission driven, self- sustaining teams and organizations. CJ graduated from the University of Delaware, where he majored in Information Systems with minors in Global Enterprise Technology and Entrepreneurship. He has created multiple successful ventures across several different industries from e-commerce stores to digital marketing agencies. CJ spent time as a Senior Management Consultant for KPMG, where he worked on data analytics and business intelligence projects. CJ has been a part of Photo Start since shortly after its inception in 2016.

David Lehman

Founder and Executive Director

David has a unique background in both photography (he is a professional photographer) and the law (he is an attorney with experience working with at-risk youth). David has degrees from Columbia University (BA, History; Political Science), the School of Visual Arts (Masters, Digital Photography), and Rutgers University School of Law (JD). After volunteering with an organization using photography in an after-school program, he founded Photo Start and developed the core program that has been adapted to each project and community. He has a strong and diverse network of supporters, funders and industry professionals.

Katrin Eismann

Product Manager, Engagement - Adobe Systems

Katrin Eismann specializes in interpretive travel, still life and portrait photography. She is an internationally respected artist, teacher, and author of Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, Photoshop Masking & Compositing, The Creative Digital Darkroom, and Real World Digital Photography – all of which have been translated into numerous languages. She received her BFA degree in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology, her MFA degree in Design at the School of Visual Arts and in 2005 was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. Katrin founded and chaired the Masters in Digital Photography department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City for twelve years and she is currently working at Adobe Systems to help educate photographers worldwide!