Maria Ngafa

Founder – board chairwoman emerita 

Maria Ngafa, a retired midwife in Cameroon, successfully raised eleven orphans along with her own children. These orphans had no place to call home, no food, and were out of school before she took them in. Nevertheless there are still thousands of orphans in the same situation in Cameroon. She founded this organization to get

more people involved in lending their skills and financial and material support so that more innocent orphans could satisfy their basic needs—the home, family, food, education, and protection that every child deserves. On her deathbed one of her biggest worries was the well-being of orphans and abandoned children.

Mike Adissa 

Board member – chief financial officer – treasurer

Mike Adissa has been CEO of A&R Tax for the past nine years. He attended Langston University in Oklahoma where he received his BS in accounting. He received his MSC in accounting and an MBA from Oklahoma City University. He worked with Harold Johnson as a CPA for four years.He worked as an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor. He worked as a D.C. Government staff auditor for seven years before becoming CEO of A&R Tax

Dr. Joseph F. Barakeh

Board member – partner

Dr. Joseph Barakeh received his D.O. from the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale where he received a Chancellor’s Award. He was also on the dean’s and chancellor’s list for all semesters. He received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Emory University. He was chief resident of the Department of Ophthalmology at George Washington University Medical Center, Washington D.C and is now an ophthalmological surgeon in Walnut Creek, California. He has a passion for helping people, particularly, disadvantaged children.

Hortensia Ruth E. Balla


Ms. Balla is the daughter of Maria Ngafa, co-founder of Action for Hope USA.“The creation of this organization was motivated by my direct involvement with orphans and abandoned children adopted by my mother. Most of my adopted brothers and sisters were homeless and dying from hunger when my mother took them in, but they quickly became happy children after they started receiving nurturing, protection, and the satisfaction of their basic needs.“Growing up with biological and adopted brothers and sisters was a revealing and enriching experience for us. We were a proud and happy family. We grew up in the spirit of compassion, kindheartedness, sacrifice and sharing.“Just before her death, our mother asked us to promise to reach out to humanity by assisting poor children. Following in her footsteps, I co-founded Action for Hope USA to create awareness of a reat need, raise funds and get more people to take action so we could all support orphans and underprivileged children in Cameroon, with vision to reach out children around the world.”A native of Cameroon, Ms. Balla holds a degree in law, business management and digital-film production.

She received training in nonprofit start-up and management at the Foundation Centers in Washington, D.C and San Francisco. She is trained in Oracle database administration, Cisco CNA, A+ computer repair, Networking administration MCP, MCSE, Web development, Mortgage loans, Construction management, Entrepreneurhip andTV production.

She has served as a board member for several NGOs. She is a producer and has donated hundreds of hours volunteering in field and studio shows throughout Washington, DC. She is a member of the National Press Club, Arlington County Independent Media, and Santa Cruz Community Television. And best of all, she loves playing tennis. She is a former junior tennis champion of Cameroon, 4.5

level and played for the USTA, the US tennis association. Georgetown at Rose park is her favorite place to play. She says that, it is like her second family, with some of the best tennis players in Washington DC area. 

Regina Davis 

Board member

Regina Davis is a classically-trained personal chef. A graduate of the Art Institute of Washington’s International Culinary School, she is passionate about providing healthy food choices and teaching others how to prepare nutritious meals.In addition, she is a Chefs Move to School (CMTS) volunteer, an initiative created by First Lady Michelle Obama and Sam Kass, White House senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives, as part of the Let’s Move campaign, in conjunction with coalition partners, American Culinary Federation (ACF) and the School Nutrition Association (SNA). The Chefs Move to Schools program provides a stage for chefs and schools to partner with teachers, parents and school nutrition professionals to collaboratively encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition education.Along with striving to make a difference in the community, Chef Davis has over thirty years working for Fortune 500 companies and in the labor movement. She brings a wealth of knowledge in culinary, event planning, organizing and management skills.

Rep.Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.)

Board member – senior adviser

Elijah Eugene Cummings is the U.S. representative for Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District, having served since 1996. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He is a past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.


        Committee assignments

  1. Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure  
  2. Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation 
  3. Subcommittee on Railroads,Pipelines and Hazardous Materials  ·        
  4. Committee on Oversight and Government
  5. Reform (Ranking Member)·        
  6. Subcommittee on Domestic Policy·        
  7. Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and District of Columbia·        
  8. Joint Economic Committee


Caucus memberships       

  1. Task Force on Health Care Reform·        
  2. Co-founder and Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Drug Policy 


Representative Cummings also serves on numerous Maryland boards and commissions including 


  1. Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy·        
  2. Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel·        
  3. Honorary member of the Baltimore Zoo Board of Trustees·        
  4. In addition to his many speaking engagements, he writes a biweekly column for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper.


He currently lives in the Madison Park community in

Baltimore, and is an active member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church. 


George D. Miller


George D. Miller is a nonprofit management specialist. He attended Wheaton College in Illinois. He worked for nineteen years in the hotel industry as a property turnaround specialist.

One day, he was deeply affected by the story of a hotel guest who was accompanied by a daughter he adopted from an orphanage in Africa. He told him about the hardship and the suffering most orphans go through after losing their parents. He was so proud and grateful that he had gotten his daughter out of her previous misery.


Since George also had a passion for helping children, the story made him engage in nonprofit work helping poor children faster than he had planned. He went ahead and trained in not-for- profit management and volunteered in many nonprofits before he found this great organization, Action for Hope, that helps orphans and abandoned children in Cameroon where he now serves as the executive director. He has had a great experience in seeing the impacts, benefits, and changes to orphans and impoverished children from their participation in our program

Mjiba Frehiwot

Chairwoman of the board

Mjiba Frehiwot, who holds a masters in social work and a Ph.D. is the director of economics education at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her responsibilities include

managing the national economic-education strategy including the Financial Freedom Campaign, comprised of thirty-two units; the NAACP economics division’s presence at state and regional onferences; and all curriculum creation, resource guides and tool kits and their implementation. Additionally, Dr. Frehiwot is the primary liaison between the NAACP’s economic division and its


She completed her Ph.D. in African studies at Howard University. Her dissertation was entitled “Education and Pan-Africanism, A Case Study of Ghana, 1957-1966.” She made her first trip to Ghana in 1996 as a participant in the W.E.B. Dubois scholarship program at San Jose State University and since then her professional and political work has been devoted to the African continent and African people around the world. She is committed to eradicating the oppression of all humanity, one step at a time.


She began her career as program manager of an AmeriCorps program in San Francisco. She worked for six years with Unity Health Care, Inc., where she established, managed and directed volunteer and community programs. There she managed a full-scale AmeriCorps program and an internship program and planned large- and small-scale community events geared to providing

resources for underserved communities in Washington, D.C. Most recently, Dr. Frehiwot was the national AmeriCorps program manager at Goodwill Industries International, Inc. 


Before her Ph.D., she graduated from California State University in Sacramento with a masters in social work and from San Jose State

University with a bachelor of arts in social work and African-American studies.

Jerry IceIce

Chief executive officer

Jerry Ice is the President of he USDA Graduate School. Prior to coming to that, Dr. Ice served as provost and vice-president for academic affairs at Thomas Edison State College, New Jersey, for eighteen years. He held executive-leadership positions at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Montclair State University, New Jersey.

He is the tenth president and CEO of the Graduate School since its inception in 1921. The Graduate School serves nearly two hundred thousand individuals in nearly one thousand courses and programs. Based in Washington, D.C., it delivers training and education programs throughout the United States and around the world. Additional Graduate School offices are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Honolulu and San Francisco.


Dr. Ice serves as chair of the board of trustees of Mountain State University in Beckley, West Virginia. He is a member of the President’s Council of Excelsior College, Albany, New York and is a member of the advisory council of Penn Foster College in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His educational memberships include the American Council on Education, the University of Professional and Continuing Education Association, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Culture-link, and the Institute for Advanced International Studies and Research.

In addition, Dr. Ice has served on voluntary-education review teams at military installations, on review teams of the Middle States Commission of Colleges and Universities, and consultant review teams of international-education programs in Japan, South Africa, England, Italy, and Germany. 

Jerry Ice received his doctor’s degree in educational administration from Fordham University. 

Dallas Jonese

Board member

Dallas Jones is a former national representative for the National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union. 

He was born in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University with a bachelor-of-science degree in education.

In his position at the postal union he advised on issues before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit System Protection Board, and the Employee Compensation Appeals Board. He has litigated cases before these boards. Additionally, he has assisted union representatives in pro se cases before the federal court of appeals. His entire life has been devoted to helping people in the labor movement, many of whom have no funds to afford competent legal counsel. 

He likewise is a board member of the LIUNA African American Caucus, a 501 (c)(3) organization working on a number of charitable causes in the African-American community including funding for sickle-cell anemia programs.

He has a passion for helping people and he will be a welcome addition to our board and a good representative from the labor movement.

Maicie Jones

Board member

Maicie Jones is a Program Manager at AARP Foundation. She oversees initiatives providing housing counseling to struggling older adults and has assisted with program-related investments in age-friendly housing. Earlier, Maicie worked in AARP Foundation’s Strategic Planning Department, contributing to the organization’s three-year plan and risk mitigation strategy. Maicie has management experience in both the private and non-profit sectors. She came to AARP Foundation from the Advisory Board Company where she worked as a Strategic Research Consultant, leading studies and creating presentations to help hospital administrators nationwide prepare for coming healthcare reforms.


Maicie began her career with the Fund for Public Interest Research where she led fundraising efforts throughout Southeastern Michigan on behalf of organizations like the Sierra Club and the Human Rights Campaign. Afterwards, she served as a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Cameroon, conducting health education and supporting programs that aid orphans and vulnerable children.


Hailing from Michigan, Maicie earned her MBA at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She also received her BA in Economics, Political Science and Chinese Studies from the University of Michigan earlier in her career. Maicie has lived abroad for five years and speaks Mandarin Chinese.

Joseph Viyof Ntangsi

President – Executive director

Joseph V. Ntangsi is an economist. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and is a senior fellow at Harvard University. 


His work experience includes twelve years as an economist at the World Bank and four years as the representative and director of the KfW German Developing Bank in Cameroon. 


Since August 2008, he has been an Eminent Scholar and professor of economics at Troy University in Alabama.

Gen. John Phillips

Board member – senior adviser

John Phillips is a former deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics. He recently left Home Depot as vice-president of the Government Solutions Group, which he formed. The organization propelled Home Depot into the federal business, growing to over $100 million in the first twelve months of operations.


He is now president of Phillips Defense Consultants. His organization offers subject-matter experts across the range of defense operations from IT, supply-chain management, and acquisitions to Network-centric Warfare. 

Recently, John joined Baistar as senior advisor to support a wide range of management services including legal, technical, marketing and resources. John’s management experience and leadership augment Baistar’s twenty-two years of credibility in the construction industry.


John brings more than thirty years of comprehensive acquisition, aviation, IT, logistics and leadership experience. He served as vice-president of government services for Honeywell, where he held several positions of increasing importance since 1997. Prior to joining Honeywell, John served as the deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics, overseeing an organization of 850,000 military and civilian personnel with a budget of $114 billion where he established an outsourcing and privatization program for the federal government. He led the 1994 Quadrennial Defense Review. The recipient of over 250 awards and decorations, John was honored with Vice-President Al Gore’s Hammer Award in 1999.

John served for more than twenty-seven years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of major general. His last assignment was commander of McClellan Air Force Base, California. This military depot was responsible for aircraft, satellites and microelectronic technology.

John earned the highest Department of Defense certifications (Level III) in program management, acquisitions logistics, and computer-system development (DOD Black Belt equivalent). He is a fighter pilot with over three thousand flying hours, including three hundred hours in combat. He earned wings as a navigator and pilot and was awarded German pilot wings. He has flown the F-15, F-111, T- 38, KC-135 and T-37 aircraft.

John has a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry from Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas, and a master of science in logistics management from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He was awarded the degree of honorary doctor of laws by Jarvis Christian College. In addition, he is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; the National War College; Defense Systems Management College; Industrial College of the Armed Forces; and the University of Southern California’s School for Safety Engineering. He is an internationally-known speaker and consultant on national defense.

Active in civic and professional affairs, John is currently a member of the Army Science Board; the board of directors of the International Society of Logistics Engineers; the Association for Enterprise Integration; theMaintenance, Repair & Overhaul Conference; the board of visitors, Defense Acquisition University; Shades of Blue (aviation mentoring), and Americorps National Civilian Community Corps. He is a former chairman of the board of advisors of the Tuskegee Airmen and formerly served on the board of the Boys’ and Girls’ clubs.


His other accomplishments include authoring the book “Navigating the Pentagon” and co-authoring the book, “Military Project Management,” as well as numerous articles and lectures on leadership and management. John is a current member of the Air Force Association, the Navy League and the Association of the U.S. Army. He and his wife Blanche have three daughters, one son and four grandchildren. 

Will Shimé

Director of development and strategic planning

Will Shimé has held several Business Development positions specializing in Finance and Information Technology for Fortune 500 companies in the DC Metro region. Will is a native of Cameroon and moved to the U.S at young age to play basketball and football. He earned a full athletic scholarship as a defensive lineman for of the University of Maryland.


After a recent visit to Cameroon, Shimé witnessed the deplorable conditions children and youth were living in. “I knew I had to do something to make a difference and improve the living conditions of orphans after seeing impoverished, orphaned and vulnerable children without food, homes and access to education in my own neighborhood,” he says. At Action for Hope, Shimé works personally with leaders in corporations and government to cultivate long-term, strategic partnerships to change lives. Will has a degree in International Business from the University of Maryland at College Park.


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