Meet Some of Our Team
Banks GwaxulaFounder & Senior Advisor
Founder & Senior Advisor
Malizole “Banks” Gwaxula co-founded Ubuntu Education Fund in 1999. Since our inception, Banks has been at the helm of Ubuntu, ensuring we grow responsibly and remain accountable to our stakeholders. Prior to Ubuntu, he was a science teacher for 20 years at Emfundweni Primary School. A well-known figure in Port Elizabeth, Banks was born and brought up in the townships, and has been a community leader his entire life. Banks is the face of Ubuntu, serving as a global ambassador for the organization. He lives and breathes community development—an expert who guides us in tailoring our programs appropriately and acts as liaison between Ubuntu and the surrounding community. Banks has won several awards for public service: Community Builder of the Year 2007, Wall of Fame 2008, and Herald/General Motors Citizen of the Year 2010. He has a Senior Teacher’s Diploma from Algoa College.
Beth HonigDirector, United Kingdom
Director, United Kingdom
Beth Honig provides strategic leadership to Ubuntu Education Fund’s office in London. Working closely with philanthropists, foundations, and corporate partners, Beth continues to strengthen Ubuntu’s support base in the UK. Her team drives our global data-driven strategy, generating over £1million per year through award-winning galas and outreach within the South African community. In April 2016, Beth won the prestigious NGO Promotion of Development Award at the UK’s South African Chamber of Commerce.
With strong personal and family ties to South Africa, Beth has a deep passion for the country’s development. She brings almost a decade of experience in community building and fundraising, including health and educational projects in Ghana. Beth holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and French from Trinity College, Dublin.
Jordan LevyChief External Relations Officer
Chief External Relations Officer
As one of the founding executives of Ubuntu Education Fund, Jordan Levy has spent the past 14 years molding the organization into a blueprint for global sustainable development. He has played a key role in professionalizing Ubuntu’s grassroots service delivery model that places orphaned and vulnerable children on a pathway out of poverty from cradle to career. In 2003, Jordan went to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to volunteer at the Ubuntu Centre for six months. Inspired by the strength, resilience, and hope of the community as well as the revolutionary Ubuntu Model, Jordan stayed for 11 years. Since returning to the United States, Jordan has directed the organization’s External Relations Department across its offices in New York, London, and Port Elizabeth.
Jordan has launched a number of platforms to challenge the status quo in the development sector and change the way we think about scale, impact, and sustainability. He is the creator and host of Failures from the Field, a podcast series that explores the unheard realities and challenges of the nonprofit sector. He has contributed to various publications, including The Guardian and the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and speaks regularly at major events, such as The Guardian Global Development Conference. Recently, Jordan was the keynote speaker at the Yale University Global Health and Innovation Conference.
Jacob LiefFounder & CEO
Founder & CEO
Jacob Lief is the Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Education Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive services to vulnerable children living in the townships of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from cradle to career.
After visiting South Africa to observe the country’s transition to democracy, he returned to the Eastern Cape to co-found Ubuntu in 1999. He has since developed the organization, which began in a broom closet, into a world-class institution that supports more than 2,000 children on its pathway out of poverty. Overseeing 70 employees across three continents, Jacob has grown Ubuntu into an internationally-recognized model for community development. He has authored a book, I Am Because You Are, focused on his journey in South Africa and the creation of Ubuntu Education Fund, published by Rodale Inc.
Recently, Jacob appeared in Fortune Magazine's ”40 Under 40" list of the most influential young people in business. Jacob was a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's (UPenn) School of Social Policy, and this fall, he will be a visiting fellow at the university's new global policy research center, Perry World House. In partnership with UPenn's Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Jacob was the host of the podcast series Philanthropy Unfiltered. He has served as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative Advisory Committee, was named one of the world’s 101 most innovative visionaries at the Decide Now Act Summit, has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, and was selected as an Aspen Institute Global Fellow.
Tarryn MthimkhuluChief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Tarryn Mthimkhulu joined Ubuntu Education Fund in 2005 as a bookkeeper, and is now Chief Financial Officer. Over the past six years she has built the foundation for our financial department and led the restructuring for both the financial and human resource departments at Ubuntu. Tarryn's management philosophy is rooted in the belief that the non-profit sector is constantly undermining itself, and must follow the same strict guidelines as for-profit entities. Tarryn's bottom line approach to management has set the tone for Ubuntu. Tarryn has spent the last two years building systems, policies, protocols and reporting metrics that have allowed Ubuntu to grow to where it is today, an effective and efficient model for taking children out of poverty. Tarryn has a National Diploma in Accounting from Natal Technikon and is working on her Bachelor of Accounting at the University of South Africa.
Fezeka MzalazalaSenior Programs Manager
Senior Programs Manager
Fezeka Mzalazala oversees all data collection and analysis that inform strategic planning in the organization. She manages Ubuntu’s complex tracking systems that include everything from client interactions to analysis of what is working, what is not, and why. She is in charge of the process by which we create qualitative and quantitative reports that keep us accountable to both our board and the community.
Before joining Ubuntu, Fezeka worked in a hair salon. Ubuntu invested in Fezeka by training her in health education and management. Fezeka has been a health educator, counselor, team leader, and now manager. Her work is crucial for Ubuntu to meet its goal of transparent, efficient, impactful interventions. Fezeka is working on her bachelor’s degree in Health Science and Social Services at the University of South Africa.
Patience NganwaHead Doctor and Clinical Advisor
Head Doctor and Clinical Advisor
Dr. Patience Nganwa is the head doctor and clinical advisor at the Ubuntu Centre in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She leads Ubuntu’s efforts to improve public health conditions in the townships through high-quality health programs, clinical capacity-building, and community engagement. Under Dr. Nganwa’s supervision, Ubuntu’s pediatric clinic provides primary and preventative health services, comprehensive HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) care, sexual and reproductive healthcare, and nutritional wellness programs for 2,000 children and their families.
Previously, Dr. Nganwa worked at the Eastern Cape Regional Training Centre, where she led multidisciplinary teams to manage patients living with HIV/AIDS and TB, and facilitated training courses for healthcare workers. Prior to that, Dr. Nganwa provided quality assurance, clinical skills development, and HIV counseling and testing outreach at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital. In addition to her role at Ubuntu, Dr. Nganwa serves as a clinical manager at Beyond Zero, a South African NGO dedicated to strengthening health service delivery systems and building local capacity. Dr. Nganwa holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a Master of Science in Biotechnology from Rhodes University; and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) from the University of KwaZulu Natal.
Nozibele QamnganaExternal Relations Manager
External Relations Manager
Nozibele Qamngana (Nozi) joined Ubuntu as our External Relations Manager in 2014. Formerly, Nozi served as events coordinator and market researcher manager at Continental Tyres, one of South Africa’s most prominent corporations. During her time there, she was selected to participate in the company’s highly competitive management training program in Germany. After returning to South Africa, she worked to organise multiple key business conferences and to analyse economic trends in the industry.
Although she had been identified as a rising corporate star, Nozi decided to channel her passion and knowledge into helping to transform her community. Nozi is from Port Elizabeth and understands firsthand the profound impact of Ubuntu Education Fund. She benefited from Ubuntu comprehensive programming while growing up. As an Ubuntu Scholar, she is a testament to the power of the Ubuntu Model. Nozibele holds a Btech Degree in Marketing from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and is currently completing her Masters in Economics and Marketing at the University of South Africa.
Travis RandallDirector, United States
Director, United States
Travis Randall leads our fast-growing US team, which drives Ubuntu Education Fund’s global fundraising efforts. Under Travis’ direction, the New York office cultivates a vast donor base through campaigns, storytelling, and world-class events. Whether its talking to an audience about Ubuntu or executing the organization’s strategic plans, Travis plays an instrumental role in developing and engaging networks around our work.
Prior to Ubuntu, Travis worked in nonprofit consulting, print media, and policy research. His experience with USAID, the United Nations, British Parliament, and numerous charity start-ups took him to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Travis has a Bachelor and Master of Arts in International Development Administration from the Joseph Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
Nomawethu SiswanaEarly Childhood Development Educator and Coordinator
Early Childhood Development Educator and CoordinatorNomawethu is one of our trained Early Childhood Development educators, and she helps run our ECD classroom. She also conducts home visits, counsels Ubuntu students, advocates for clients to get medical treatment, and teaches creative thinking and academic enrichment classes in the after-school program.When Ubuntu met Nomawethu she was unemployed. She volunteered at a local clinic but lacked the foundation she needed to have the impact that she wanted. Through intense training and hard work, she learned specific skills that have empowered her to give back more effectively. Nomawethu now works full-time at Ubuntu as a trained teacher and counselor, and her growth and influence within the community continue to increase. Nomawethu passed her matric at Thembalethu High School, and has since then completed courses in home-based care for HIV/AIDS and First Aid. She is certified in early childhood education.
Jana ZindellChief Program Officer
Chief Program Officer
As Ubuntu Education Fund’s Chief Program Officer, Jana Zindell oversees the strategic development and implementation of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the creation of the Ubuntu Model, a strategy rooted in four tenets: individualized cradle to career care, focus on the depth rather than the breadth of impact, sustained institutional investments, and commitment to community partnerships. Jana has since established her unique voice within the nonprofit sector’s global poverty debate as one of increasing significance.
In addition to her programmatic work, Jana created BUILD, an innovative staff empowerment initiative, in 2010; the initiative promotes sustainable leadership, organizational accountability, and increased efficiency. She also served as the Ubuntu Centre Project Manager, coordinating the design of the nonprofit’s 25,000 square foot headquarters in Port Elizabeth’s townships. The Centre has won awards from New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Architecture Magazine. Jana received her Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her Master of Arts in international development and public policy from Georgetown University.
Gcobani ZonkeDeputy President
Gcobani Zonke has been with Ubuntu since its inception in 1999. Gcobani exudes ubuntu – his truly selfless nature sets the tone for the organization. His wisdom and patience in mentoring staff are essential to Ubuntu. He is involved in every executive strategic and planning decision. He is a leader in fundraising and partnerships. He brings his proven ability to create and sustain new organizations. He is a key liaison between Ubuntu and the community in which we work.
Gcobani participates in community meetings as well as strategic meetings, ensuring that Ubuntu’s programming is culturally appropriate, sensitive and strategic. Over the years, he has played various roles at Ubuntu, including teaching, building science and maths projects, designing life skills and health education curricula and participating in community networks. He cofounded the Leaderwise Schools Project, Young Ambassadors, and the Family Maths Program. Before joining Ubuntu, he was a teacher and Deputy Principal at Sivuyiseni Intermediate School. He has an MS in Development Studies from NMMU, a B.Ed degree from the University of Port Elizabeth, a BA from Vista University in PE, a DES from Leeds University in the UK, and an SPTC from the Cape College of Education. Gcobani currently serves as Treasurer of A Change to Play, Southern Africa.