While we technically work for different organizations, we operate under the motto “One Team One Fight.”

Nuru Kenya  Nuru Ethiopia  Nuru International

Nuru Kenya

Pauline Wambeti

Managing Director

Pauline Wambeti has a diverse and extensive background in international development. Before joining Nuru in September 2013, Pauline worked for the United Nations Environment Programme at the African regional office in Nairobi. Pauline was also a Programme Officer for the National Organization for Peer Educators; a Business Development Officer for K-Rep Bank Ltd; and a Program Facilitator for Doctors of the World. Pauline has a BA in Community Development and is currently pursuing an MBA at African Nazarene University. Pauline was also an Acumen Leadership Fellow in 2018.

Victor Charo Simon

Healthcare Assistant Program Manager

Victor has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science from Makerere University, Uganda, and certificates in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Washington/University of Nairobi, and in Project Planning and Management, Dynamic Leadership, Financial intelligence from World Vision. Prior to joining Nuru, he served as a Public Health officer with the Ministry of Health, where he led the Community health workers and natural leaders in implementing community health strategy. He has wide experience in water sanitation and Hygiene activities, home based care and support for people living with HIV in the community and maternal and child health.

Nuru Ethiopia


Abiy Meshesha

Country Director

Abiy has 14 years of management experience in local and international NGOs. Focusing on integrated community development, Abiy previously worked as Save the Children International Regional READTA Project Manager in Hawassa, SCI satellite office manager in Hadelaela, EKHC DC Medan ACTS Manager in Dilla, and South Adventist Academy Vice Principal in Hawassa. In addition, he worked on short term emergency projects with Medicins Sans Frontiers. Abiy holds an MA in Sociology and BA in Education. Nuru is excited to have Abiy leading the Ethiopia project and contributing to ending extreme poverty among farm families. .

Alemseged Lukas

Government and Public Relations Director

Alemseged is a graduate of Gondar University and completed a double major in Applied Geography and Environmental Science. Prior to joining Nuru Ethiopia, he worked for the Boreda Woreda agriculture office as an expert and head of office leading a crop production project, managing a watershed project, and advised farmers on animal husbandry. Alemseged decided to join Nuru because he has witnessed the impacts of hunger and extreme poverty and realizes the farmers have the capacity to address their food security problems.

Zerihun Woldesenbet

Zerihun Woldesenbet

Rural Livelihoods Program Manager

Zerihun graduated with a Master’s degree in Tropical Animal Health, specializing in Epidemiological Data Collection and Processing, from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Belgium. He also holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Addis Ababa University. Before coming to Nuru he worked as a Field Team Leader, Monitoring & Evaluation Team Leader, and head of the GIS & Data Management Department at the Southern Tsetse Eradication Project in Ethiopia. He developed experiences in agricultural project management during his long journey from district level expert to federal level senior expert. Zerihun joined Nuru Ethiopia in May 2017 as a Livestock Expert for the Livelihood Diversification pilot project.


Tatek Amataw

Monitoring & Evaluation Program Manager

Born and raised in the heart of Sheger, Tatek has 15 years of professional experience in program management and monitoring and evaluation. He has worked for humanitarian and development organizations such as ICRC, IFRC, British Red Cross, GOAL Ethiopia, Comic Relief and Cordaid. While in the Red Cross, Tatek had the fortune of travelling extensively throughout Ethiopia and working with the most vulnerable communities across the country. He also worked with Somali, Eritrean and South Sudanese refugees during which he witnessed the traumatic effects of armed conflicts on non-combatants. Tatek, who earned his BSc from Addis Ababa University in Applied Mathematics, enjoys watching and playing soccer and also reading about the intriguing mysteries of the universe of which we are a part.

Biruk Abayneh

Biruk Abayneh

Cooperative Development Program Manager

Biruk has extensive experience in organizing agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives, managing and coordinating the cooperative development process, and managing financial and non-financial resources to accomplish the establishment process of primary and secondary level cooperatives. He worked for ten years as an expert in government cooperative promotion office and Coordinator for Zonal cooperative development work process. Biruk received an MA in Public Management from Ethiopian Civil Service University and studied BA in Cooperative Business Management at Hawassa University. In addition, he earned a Diploma in Cooperative Marketing Management from Ardayta Cooperative College.

Strategic Leadership

Aerie Changala

Chief Program Officer

Having spent the majority of his adult life living throughout Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, Aerie has traveled extensively, speaks seven languages, and brings a global perspective to his work at Nuru. He earned his BA in International Affairs from John Cabot University (Rome, Italy) and his MA in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK). He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso and specialized in microfinance. Aerie joined Nuru in 2008 as Team Leader and CED Program Manager for Foundation Team Two. He then served as the Director of International Operations and now leads the operations team as Chief Program Officer.


Elizabeth Atherton

Chief Financial Officer

Elizabeth is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Certified Global Management Accountant who earned her BS in Business Administration and her Masters of Accountancy with honors from The University of Montana. Prior to Nuru, she provided audit and advisory services to public companies, nonprofits, and governmental organizations at KPMG. In addition, she taught Auditing and pursued doctoral studies with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility reporting at The University of Arkansas before deciding to follow her true passion: ending extreme poverty. At Nuru, she leads the Finance Department, serves as a mentor and trainer for her finance counterparts in Kenya and Ethiopia, and in 2016 she received the InsideNGO Excellence in Finance Award. Beyond Nuru, she has served since 2013 as a Congressional District Leader for the ONE Campaign.


Jake Harriman

Founder & CEO

Jake graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and served seven and a half years as an Infantry and Special Operations Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps. He led four operational deployments and was awarded the Bronze Star for actions in combat. Jake’s experiences convinced him that the “War on Terror” can’t be won on the battlefield alone; the contributing causes of terrorism–specifically extreme poverty–must also be eradicated. Jake left the military and enrolled at Stanford Graduate School of Business to found Nuru International. Upon graduation, Jake led a team to launch Nuru’s first project in Kenya.

International Operations

Matt Lineal

Impact & Analytics Director

Matt is dedicated to working with smallholder agriculturalists and rural communities as they interface with their natural and socioeconomic environment. Before joining Nuru International in August 2011, Matt worked with The Nature Conservancy and Peace Corps in Honduras and throughout the US Interior West with the USDA Forest Service. He earned his BA in Government and Spanish from Lawrence University and his MS in Forest Sciences from Colorado State University. Matt has experience in small plot sustainable agriculture, agricultural extension, and project development. Having first joined Nuru as an Agriculture Fellow for Foundation Team 7 and then as the Agriculture Program Strategic Advisor, he is now thrilled to currently work as the Impact Programs Director.

Casey website

Casey Harrison

Livelihoods and Agribusiness Director

Casey was born and raised on a farm in rural Maryland, and he has spent the past ten years working at the nexus of smallholder farming in Africa and natural resource management. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Luapula Province, Zambia (2009-11), he worked as an agricultural extension agent with the Linking Income, Food, and the Environment program. After Peace Corps, Casey received a dual M.A. in Natural Resource Management and International Affairs from American University in Washington D.C and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. From 2013 to 2016, he began working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on mitigating the negative environmental and social impacts of agricultural production and value chains with a focus on East and Southern Africa. In his free time, Casey enjoys travelling, backpacking, biking, and live music of all kinds.


Brian von Kraus

Security Director

Brian graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and served in the Marine Corps for the past 15 years as an infantry officer. He had the opportunity to work for a variety of infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations units during multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the Marine Corps, Brian enrolled in UCLA’s Executive MBA program to be completed while working at Nuru. He is excited at the upcoming challenge of working for Nuru and helping achieve the team’s goal of ending extreme poverty in the next generation. Brian is an avid traveler and loves spending his free time outdoors.



Emily McLaughlin

HR Director

Since 2010, Emily has held every role in Nuru’s HR department. She loves supporting Nuru’s mission by creating effective HR solutions for Nuru’s talented staff, and for her efforts received the 2017 InsideNGO Excellence in Human Resources Award. Before Nuru, Emily taught high school English in the U.S. and abroad, and also spent several years at Northwestern Mutual, managing the recruitment process and internship/new-hire program. Emily earned her BA in English and Communications at Concordia University, Irvine. A Washington girl at heart, she loves spending time outdoors with her family and has been found to participate in the occasional triathlon despite an unwarranted fear of sharks.

Billy Williams

Strategic Partnerships Director

Billy has spearheaded our Grassroots Movement since Nuru’s inception and catalyzed its growth from a handful of volunteers to thousands of poverty fighters. As Nuru’s lead advocate and storyteller, Billy has been invited to share at events around the country. He is a consummate networker and has been instrumental in building relationships with movements like the ONE Campaign. Billy is as passionate about ending extreme poverty as he is about his home state of West Virginia. And if you are seated next to him on a plane, at an adjacent table at Starbucks, or trapped with him in an elevator, he’ll be sure to invite you to join our efforts, too.

Tacy Layne for Website

Tacy Layne

Development Associate

Tacy Layne graduated from Fairmont State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Following graduation, she worked as a marketing administrator for an advertising publication. In 2015, Tacy began work in the nonprofit sector as a writer/editor for World Orphans, an organization dedicated to addressing the orphan crisis. Tacy joined Nuru International in 2018 to support fundraising efforts and donor relations as a development associate. She hails from a tiny log cabin in rural West Virginia, where she lives with her husband and three feline friends.

Emily Plauche’

Accounting Manager

Emily Plauche’ is a CPA who is dedicated to utilizing her expertise to build infrastructure and support the financial needs of nonprofits. A native of Louisiana, Emily acquired a BSc (Honors) in Accounting from Louisiana State University before pursuing an MSc in International Security from the School of Public Policy at University College London where she focused specifically on reconciliation between ethnic groups after mass crime. Emily then relocated to Charlotte, NC to work as an auditor in the Banking and Capital Markets space for PwC before transitioning into the nonprofit sector where she worked first as the Director of Accounting and Subsidiary Controller for a national nonprofit before joining Nuru International. Emily’s passion is for underrepresented populations locally and globally and she is honored to be part of this team.

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