About Us

Board of Directors



Kelly Hawke Baxter

Board Chair 
Tostan Canada
Kelly Hawke Baxter is a consultant and strategic advisor who has worked in the field of sustainable development and social change for over 20 years. She works with non-profit leaders and organizations to advise on social change strategy and governance. Kelly founded and led The Natural Step Canada, a Canadian non-profit organization, for 10 years, and now sits on their Board of Directors. Kelly is also a member of the Board of Tostan Canada, a sister organization that raises funds and awareness for Tostan International. Kelly is also a guest lecturer, student mentor, and member of the Global Strategy and Leadership Expert Panel of the Desautel School of Management at McGill University.



Fatimata Sy

Board Vice-Chair 
Director, Coordination Unit for Ouagadougou Partnership
Fatimata Sy is trained as a biologist, Nutritionist, and Public Health Specialist and has over 30 years of experience in international development and public health designing, managing, and evaluating programs in Africa, and building consensus among diverse stakeholders. Mrs. Sy served as is the Director of the Coordination Unit for the Ouagadougou Partnership, a collaboration between nine Francophone West African governments; private, government, and multilateral donors; and countless civil society organizations; the GFATM Liaison for the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and USAID West Africa, the Director of FHI360’s West African Regional HIV/AIDS Project, and the Country Director for FHI360 in Senegal, among other roles. Mrs. Sy has a Masters of Public Health from The Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and a University Technical Diploma from the Technology Institute of Nancy, France. Mrs. Sy is fluent in French, Wolof, Puular, and English.

Thiaba Camara Sy

Board Treasurer 
Independent Audit and Finance Leader
A graduate of the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP), Thiaba is a Chartered Accountant with more than 32 years of experience pning audit, due diligence and financial advisory for public institutions and blue-chip companies across sectors. She was the Managing partner of Deloitte Senegal, which she founded in 1990 before joining Afig Funds, a prominent African Private Equity company in 2017 and 2018. Thiaba is currently working independently on a range of projects, including sharing with Tostan her background in finance and management, as well as her deep-rooted knowledge of West Africa.

Gail Kaneb

Board Secretary 
President of Breakthrough Strategies
Co-founder and Chair, Tostan Canada
Gail Kaneb is a change catalyst, working with individuals, groups, and corporations across North America to identify what they want to achieve, what the obstacles are, and how to surmount them. Gail brings this innovative knowledge and expertise to Tostan where she promotes organizational and fiscal development. Gail is a Co-Founder of Tostan Canada and has served as Board Chair for both Tostan and Tostan Canada.

Molly Melching

Founder and Creative Director of Tostan
Since arriving in Senegal in 1974, Molly Melching has helped thousands of communities achieve transformative social change through her NGO, Tostan, and its groundbreaking educational programs. Her primary role on the Board of Directors is to represent the interests of Tostan’s participants and staff and to ensure the vision and philosophies of the organization. Aimee Molloy has written a best-selling biography of Molly, recounting Tostan’s origin story: However Long the Night: Molly Melching and the Sparking of a Grassroots Movement for Human Rights in Africa.

Jennifer Beaston

Executive Director, Crosscut Mountain Sports Center
Jen Hedrick graduated from the Thunderbird School of Management and has a proven competence in financial and operational management with a long track record in analyzing, developing and successfully implementing complex business systems. She also has significant experience in strategic planning and leading innovative and impactful program implementation. Jen spent six years as Chief Operating Officer of Tostan and continues to bring her extensive practical knowledge to Tostan.

Anne Charlotte Ringquist

Director of Tostan Sweden
Long interested in African culture and having a master’s degree in Social Anthropology, Anne Charlotte Ringquist has spent significant time studying and living in Africa. During a stay in Senegal, Anne Charlotte was introduced to Tostan and was immediately taken with the organization’s methods. She returned home to found Tostan Sweden and has since assisted the Board with public relations, fundraising, and advocacy work in Scandinavia and Europe.

Jan H Christiansen

Chair and Co-founder, Tostan Denmark
With an extensive background in business, Jan Christiansen, who holds both a Masters in Engineering and a Graduate Diploma in Business Finance, is a self-described “Danish globetrotting serial entrepreneur.” Jan brings to the Tostan Board a global outlook, hands-on management knowledge, a family business perspective, and his experience leading and working with enterprises large and small, in both well-developed and more challenging environments. He also has a “knack for the good laughs that any great task requires to be accomplished successfully.” Jan’s business interests are diversified mainly in the fields of automotive distribution, solar power, trading and real estate and as the next step in life he recently co-founded and chairs Tostan Denmark.

Diaka Sall

Financial Consultant
Diaka is a Financial consultant with a focus on impact investing solutions.  She was the West Africa Regional Manager for Root Capital, a social investment fund, supporting agribusinesses in access to finance and financial management training. Previously, she worked for Citibank and consulted for organizations such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. With her background in agricultural economics, banking and value chain finance in West Africa, she is supporting Tostan’s development towards community economic transformation.



Mary Ellen Cunningham

Organizational Consultant
Mary Ellen brings 25 years of diverse professional and personal experience to her organizational consulting and nonprofit executive search work. Her primary focus is to unleash the potential of individuals and organizations to create sustainable social change. Through her work in nonprofit management, community development, fundraising, and education, she has developed a keen understanding of how teams work, what it entails to achieve truly mission-driven work, and the importance of partnership as the foundation for almost anything worth doing. She has had the privilege of working with numerous nonprofits, both domestically and internationally, as a founder, executive director, program developer, board member, volunteer, donor and consultant. Her breadth and depth of perspective has honed her skills and sensibilities to support organizations to be strategic, inclusive, fueled by mission and highly effective. Mary Ellen holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Experiential Education from the University of New Hampshire. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and son.





Neil Ford headshot


Tostan would like to thank Neil Ford and Cheikh Mbacke for their many years of service on Tostan’s Board.


Neil Ford

(Completed Service with the Board, November 2019)                                                                                                                                                                                  Spokesperson and Director of Communications, Commonwealth Secretariat
Over a career spanning more than 30 years, Neil has been a broadcast journalist in Northern Canada and a grassroots activist in the developing world, where he designed partnership and governance strategies to give communities a voice in their own development. He has served as a media and communication specialist in the UN system with Unicef, UNFPA, and UNESCO. Currently, Neil is Director of Communication at the Commonwealth. He has provided strategic media and communications’ expertise to Tostan’s Board.

Cheikh Mbacke

Former Board Chair (Completed Service with the Board, November 2019)
Chairperson, Tostan Scientific Advisory Group – Launched December 2019
With a Ph.D in Statistics/Demography from the University of Pennsylvania, Cheikh Seydil Moctar Mbacke has worked for numerous organizations, including The Rockefeller Foundation. He is a leader in international development because of his expertise and experience in monitoring and evaluation, organizational development, and capacity-building. In addition to his role as board chair, Cheikh has made substantial contributions to Tostan’s monitoring and evaluation systems and program development.