Co-Founder & CEO
Runo Okiomah, LEED AP, SEED is a Nigerian-American designer, social-entrepreneur and architectural educator. She is passionate about sustainable design and economic development. Originally from Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, she witnessed the intergenerational poverty of agro-based livelihoods stifled by over 50 years of oil pollution and is committed to designing sustainable community solutions. In her award-winning MIT thesis, “Maa-Bara: Catalyzing Change in Nigeria’s Niger Delta,” she collaborated with an oil-polluted fishing community and an oil company to create a mutually beneficial vision for a thriving agro-producing hub. An Assistant Professor at Hampton University Department of Architecture for 2 years, she enjoys helping students see that small-scale design interventions are capable of catalyzing social change. She is based in Houston, USA.
- Bachelor in Architecture (summa cum laude), The University of Texas at Arlington (2006)
- Master in Architecture, ‘Sustainable Design + Economic Development’, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT (2011)
- Leadership in Energy + Environmental Design, Accredited Professional (2008)
- Social Economic Environmental Designer (2012)
Co-Founder & CDO
Timo Bandele Lassak has a broad background in international development finance. His master thesis focused on commercial investment in microfinance institutions, with extensive working experience in both emerging markets and Germany. With a background in working for commercial banks, development organizations, and NGOs alike in the Middle East and North Africa, Timo is concurrently a credit loan officer for local startups and promotional loans. He is currenty based in Berlin, Germany.
- Bachelors in Business Administration, Howard University, Washington D.C. (2004)
- Master in International Business, Universität Paderborn (2005)
- Certified Public Funding Consultant; Verband Öffentlicher Banken Deutschland (2014)
Co-Founder & COO
Elisha Goodman comes from a culture of growing her own food to increase self-reliance. She has seven years of experience with tropical farming in Hawaii and spent a year teaching people how to grow food sustainably in low water conditions in the high desert of Arizona. Her certificate in Permaculture Design led her to research closed loop agricultural systems such as aquaponics. Elisha's Master thesis at MIT explored aquaponics as a means of community and economic development. She also was recently a Co-instructor for MIT’s D-Lab Waste and worked with the X PRIZE Foundation on social prizes and prize design for cleaner burning cook stoves in the developing world. She is currently based in New York, USA.
- Bachelor of Art in Sociology (Magna cum laude), Arizona State University (2001)
- Master in Urban Planning, ‘Community & Economic Development,’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT (2011)
- Permaculture Design Certification, ERDA Institute in New South Wales, Australia (2005)
Tony Dunn is a seasoned machinist and trainer, he facilitates with the hands-on teaching and on-going technical assistance at Maa-Bara. He is passionate about youth & workforce development, grassroots organizing and workshop facilitation and was the Program Director of the E-Team Machinist Training Program for almost 10 years. In 2010 Tony helped install and maintain the Lynn Community-MIT CoLab Aquaponics project with Maa-Bara’s Elisha Goodman and in 2012 he was part of the Maa-Bara team that sourced material, constructed the aquaponics system and provided training on the Lenya School Aquaponics Project in Kenya. He continues to readily provide technical assistance with Maa-Bara projects while he serves as the Community Services Liaison of The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. He is based in Boston, USA.
Alex Midima is a fish farmer based in Lenya, Kenya. After training with the Lake Basin Development Authority, he worked with public and private fish farms in Kisumu and Mbita for over 4 years. Since 2012, he has been the Project Supervisor for the Lenya School Aquaponics Project. He facilitates student trainings, and provides the technical assistance required on-ground. Alex is passionate about aquaponics’ potential to improve livelihoods in rural Kenya.
Sandy Huang is from Taiwan and Seattle and spent the last 4 years working at Amazon's Corporate Development team, where she worked with several start-up ventures to optimize revenue performance, develop advertising strategies, and implement short-term and long-term growth initiatives. Sandy is an MBA student from MIT's Sloan School of Management with a focus on social entrepreneurship and sustainability. She is currently a Global Merchant Services, Finance Manager at American Express, in New York.
Dr. Calestous Juma was raised on tilapia in Kenya before becoming Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and Founding Director of The African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi. Previously, he served as the Executive Secretary at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Dr. Juma is currently Professor of Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School. He directs the Agricultural Innovation in Africa Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and serves as faculty chair of Innovation for Economic Development executive program. Dr. Juma is the recent author of "The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa."
Mr. Julius Akinyemi is a Resident Entrepreneur at MIT’s Media Lab in the USA. He initiated The Unleashing the Wealth of Nations project, exploring the commercialization of technology innovation to empower people in developing nations, facilitating the invention of new opportunities for themselves and their societies in a networked “always-on/always connected” information economy, with an entrepreneurial spirit. He was Global Director of Emerging Technologies for PepsiCo Inc. and the Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo Bank's Emerging Technologies and Wireless Business Technologies in the USA. He holds US patents in "Method and Apparatus for a Broker Entity" -Virtual Private Message Broker for secure financial transactions and co-owns a patent with MIT in Interactive Vending Machine, currently commercialized by PepsiCo.