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board members

Dr.Samuel Beh

Board Chair (2016 - present)

Dr. Samuel Nyeon Beh, Sr. is originally from Liberia. He came to the United States in 1987 to pursue graduate studies at Boston University School of Education. He holds a master degree (M.Ed.) in Social Studies education and a doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Policy, Planning and Administration, both from Boston University School of Education. In response to a plea for assistance from the administration of the University of Liberia, his alma mater, to rebuild the institution following Liberia's brutal civil war of the 1990's that destroyed the physical facilities of the University, Dr. Beh in 2008, co-founded the Massachusetts Alliance for the Restoration of the University of Liberia (MARUL), Inc. and served as president for two consecutive terms. MARUL, Inc. provides scholarships to undergraduate students at the University of Liberia. Dr. Beh is a member of the advisory board of the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia (TDEL), a Massachusetts charitable educational corporation incorporated in 1850 for the promotion and support of higher education in Liberia.

Currently, he teaches social studies at Lexington High School (AP Human Geography and World History) and has been a Lexington educator since 2002.

"With the closure of the African Assistance Center, the newly established African Community Center fills an important need for African refugees and immigrants in the Greater Lowell Area. The Center was established with the aim of promoting the educational, social, and cultural aspirations of its target population. My desire to serve on the board of the Center comes out of the conviction that my background and many years of experience as a public school educator can be useful in assisting the center in realizing its educational objectives. Developing partnerships between the home and school is crucial for academic success and as a result, I will encourage and support programs that foster parental involvement in the schools and education of their children. Additionally, I will work with the Center’s Executive Director and others in equipping our newly arrived parents with the skills that will help them better understand how to navigate the public school system."

Shannon Butler-Mokoro

Vice Chair (2019 - present)

Shannon Butler-Mokoro, MSW, Ph.D. is currently the Special Assistant to the Dean in the School of Education and Social Policy. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years as a student affairs professional and social work educator. Her areas of research and interest include helping to build culturally humble and proficient organizations, social welfare history, the history of higher education, faith-based social work. She is a social work educator and conducts workshops and trainings for various schools and nonprofits around the issues of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.

Jessica Sutherland-Ryan

Treasurer (2021 - present)

Jessica Sutherland-Ryan grew up outside Boston, MA. She graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Finance and Accounting. For over twenty years, she has worked in Finance, Accounting and Human Resources with a wide range of companies and clients. She hopes to share her skills and experiences as a member of the Board. She currently works as the Payroll and Human Resources Administrator at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell. Jessica enjoys music, history, art, learning about different cultures and doing these things with her family.

Elizabeth Wando

Secretary (2016 - present)

Born in Kenya, Elizabeth started her music / art career in the 80’s during her primary school days and through high school and college in Nairobi / Kenya. She was an active member of her school and church choirs. She also chaired both drama and journalism clubs throughout her high school and was often featured at the famous “Kenya national theatre” with her poetry.

A graduate of business studies, Elizabeth is multilingual and has excellent communication and administrative skills. She has served in leadership positions and volunteered in various faith based organizations in the worship, women and children’s ministries respectively.

Susanne Curry

Board Member (2020 - present)

Susanne Curry lives in Chelmsford with her husband and daughter. She graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Government/International Relations. She currently works as an office manager and administrative assistant at PointRight, which is a healthcare data analytics company in Cambridge. Previously she worked at The International Institute of New England in the Boston, Lowell, and Manchester Offices. For four years she was a case manager with refugees in NH, assisting them with all aspects of resettlement. Susanne loves theater, music, and dance and is working on The Lowell Dance Project to establish a dance collaborative here. She is a member of Congregation Shalom in Chelmsford and sings with them in a band called Shpiel. She is excited to work with The African Community Center of Lowell as a member of the Board. She hopes to bring her enthusiasm, administrative skills, and experience working with diverse groups to further the mission of the Center.

Setou Ouattara

Board Member (2021 - present)

Setou Ouattara is originally from Burkina Faso. She immigrated to the United States in 2008 to pursue graduate studies. For the past 10 years she has worked in the Human Services field. She is currently an Area Program Manager with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Her work focuses on empowering families and children as they navigate challenges in their lives and building partnerships with community providers. She is also an adjunct faculty at Salem State University.

Outside of her regular work, Setou is an advocate of women and girls’  rights and empowerment. She is actively involved with several women’s organizations.

Setou serves as co-chair of the Advancing Human Rights Committee for Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (US Section).

Setou is social justice activist, a licensed clinical social worker, and a mentor.

Setou holds a Bachelor In Law, a Master in Social Work, and pursuing a Certificate in Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy.

In her spare time, Setou enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and travelling.

Latifah Phillip

Board Member (2021 - present)

Latifah Phillips, Chief Equity and Engagement Officer in Lowell Public Schools, has held district and state-level education leadership positions in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Washington. She began her professional career working at the California Trade Office in Mexico City, Mexico, and later taught in public schools in Takasaki, Gunma, Japan for three years before returning to teach elementary and middle school in the US.

Most recently, Ms. Phillips served as the State Director of Native Education in Washington State, providing technical assistance and educational support to Tribal and public schools serving over 60,000 Native students and 29 federally recognized Tribes. She has also served as Assistant Secretary of Indian Education for the New Mexico Public Education Department, Chief of Staff for Santa Fe Public Schools and Executive Director of Non-instructional Professional Development and Performance Management in the School District of Philadelphia. Ms. Phillips holds a Master of Education degree in Secondary Education from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, and a Master of Arts degree in International Education Development with a focus on language and literacy from Columbia University, Teachers College.

As a first-generation college graduate, Ms. Phillips believes that education is one of the greatest equalizing factors in society. She speaks Spanish and Japanese and is driven by a personal mission of helping to create educational opportunities for all children which will enable them to successfully explore and pursue their life options. She is honored to serve the children and families of Lowell Public Schools

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