Meet the Team
Diego Cruz-Burbano, Programs Director
After graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in civil engineering, Diego traveled to Livingstone, Zambia in the summer of 2016 where he had the opportunity to build a classroom and teach Math and English at community schools. Diego felt a deep connection with the community and realized that he wanted to do more to improve the education in community schools. Diego vowed to help provide better quality of life to disadvantaged children in poor communities in Livingstone through education and community development. Upon his return to the United States, he co-founded Africa Strong in August 2016.
Emily Guidry, Operations Director
Emily graduated from Florida State University with a degree in biological sciences and then decided to pursue her studies at University of South Florida. She earned her Masters of Public Health degree in 2017. It was this program that brought her to Livingstone, Zambia in summer of 2016. She went as a medical volunteer, specializing in HIV education. She worked in the community school system and created a lasting bond with many of the children. Emily has 3 years of teaching experience. Her desires to return to Livingstone and help the children receive the education they deserve, brought upon her serving as a co-founder of Africa Strong.
Erin Bagniewski, Board Member
Erin has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of St. Thomas. Erin was a consultant for several years prior to joining UnitedHealth Group where she spent 12 years working on key strategic initiatives to help evolve the company’s mission to help people live healthier lives. In May of 2016 Erin took a leap of faith and resigned to explore other opportunities which lead her to Livingstone, Zambia where she participated in the Teaching and Community Development program. The children had a lasting impact and helped Erin find her true passion (educating youth in Africa). Upon her return to the US, Erin took her time to find a new opportunity more closely aligned to her passion and is currently working for Health Partners Uganda. Being a part of Africa Strong rounds out her passion by being a part of a team that cares deeply about ensuring the wonderful and inspiring children in Livingstone, Zambia have access to an education.
Haley LaMarche, Operations Team
Haley graduated from the University of Delaware in May of 2016, with a degree in Business Management. During her junior year at UD, she studied abroad in South Africa where she fell in love with the landscapes and local cultures. After living in southern Africa for a few weeks, Haley was determined to make her return to the continent, this time to Livingstone, Zambia. It was in Livingstone where she volunteered with African Impact, building a classroom at Libuyu’s community school and having the privilege to play games with the local school kids everyday. Haley is thrilled to be able to contribute to Africa Strong’s mission in providing a stable education to the children of Zambia.
Shivani Patel, Operations Team
Shivani graduated from the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and recently received her Masters in Public Health with an Epidemiology focus at the University of South Florida in 2017. Shivani has worked as a data analyst and clinical researcher, and has had many volunteer experiences regarding health education and the implementation of prevention programs. Not only is she thrilled to help with secretarial duties, but she is also excited to assist with the collection, preparation, and analysis of health-related data in the future.