Watoto Read is run entirely by volunteers, a team that works together to advocate and fundraise for refugee children in Sub Sahara.
Rev. Claudine Leary, Executive Director, Co-Founder
Rev. Claudine Leary was born and raised in Rwanda, East Central Africa. She moved to Zimbabwe in 1997 to attend Africa University. After her graduation in 2001, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business studies, she moved to the United States in 2003 and enrolled at Fairmont State University in West Virginia. She earned her MBA from Fairmont in 2009. Claudine earned her Master of Divinity degree from Methodist Theological School in Ohio in 2014. She was ordained an Elder in the West Ohio Annual Conference in June 2016, and currently serves as the Director of Development at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
Claudine co-founded Watoto Read in 2016 in response to the growing refugee crisis and overwhelming need for improved access to education for refugee children. Watoto Read resources and advocates for elementary education of refugee children in refugee camps in Sub Sahara, Africa.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dr. Thomas Conrad, PhD, Co-Director Development
Dr. Conrad is a retired educator and professional fundraiser. Dr. Conrad served as professor of political science at the University of Mount Union as well as the Vice President of Advancement at Monmouth College and Muhlenberg College. In later years, he had his own consulting form advising clients about capital campaigns. He lives in Delaware, Ohio with his wife Pat.
Dr. Conrad joined Watoto Read because two prior visits to Africa instilled in him a heartfelt passion for African people as well as the desire to change the extent of white exploitation of Sub Saharan Africans.
Chet Cox, Accountant
Chet retired after 45 years in the accounting profession. The last 15 years he was a partner and owner of a small business consulting firm. Chet continues to work part-time performing accounting services and business management for a small number of auto dealerships. Chet also keeps busy volunteering for a number of charities including acting as Director of Accounting for Watoto Read.
Chet joined the Watoto Read organization after meeting with Claudine and learning of the deep lack of availability of education for refugee children as well as the critical importance of helping these children break the cycle they are unwillingly caught in as refugees.
Dr. Kerry Dixon, PhD
Kerry Dixon is the Executive Director of Civic and Global Engagement for the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) at the Ohio State University. Dr. Dixon’s work also involves building EHE’s strategic partnerships with a multitude of stakeholder groups across OSU’s 15 colleges and its many centers, and with the larger community. In this regard, she overseas diplomatic protocol and cultivates mutually beneficial relationships with local, state, and national leaders, and with nonprofit organizations, government organizations, and industry. She also oversees EHE’s international partnership agreements, its Fulbright scholars’ program, and its suite of study abroad programs.
Dr. Dixon joined Watoto Read because she is committed to advancing educational equity for all children as a part of her research as well as professional and personal activities.
Patrick Dunkley, Director of Media, Co-Founder
Patrick is the owner of 3D Enterprises, a technology-based business that caters to small and medium businesses, Patrick has been involved with IT and graphic design since 1999. When Watoto Read was founded, Patrick joined the board and designed their current website, logo and other marketing materials. Patrick is married and has two children. He attends the First United Methodist Church in Mount Sterling, Ohio where he is actively involved and even directs an annual theater program to help raise money for Watoto Read.
H. Dean Gibson
H. Dean Gibson is a retired Partner of Aon Hewitt, one of the world’s largest Human Resources, actuarial and risk management consulting firms. Dean feels truly blessed to have the opportunity to give back by working to ensure Sub-Saharan refugee children receive an education thereby increasing their opportunities for a better life. Dean serves Watoto Read in a number of ways but is particularly focused on building relationships with various organizations as a part of our Development and Institutional Partnership teams.
Rev. Dr. Thomas Hanover
Rev. Tom Hanover is the Lead Pastor at Lewis Center United Methodist Church where their tag line is “Real Life, Real Impact.” Watoto Read offers the church an opportunity to have real impact with real life issues for a special group of people on our planet. He believes “Where else can we make so much difference!”
Rev. Tom H. joined the Watoto Read Board because of the compelling vision of changing the lives of young refugees which could potentially change the course of an entire continent. And he says “Who can say to “No” to Claudine?”!
Eric Herr, Visual Communications
Eric Herr is a producer and director at WBNS-10TV. He lives in Delaware, Ohio with his wife, Marcia, and two boys, Caleb and Ethan.
Eric is passionate about Watoto Read’s mission because of his love for children. Eric believes kids represent all the hope and potential for mankind and that they are also an awful lot of fun to be around and help to keep him from taking life too seriously. Eric love’s children’s boundless energy, curiosity, silliness, and honesty. In a world of sin, they are both innocent and blameless, and he believes it is our responsibility to do everything we can to both nurture and protect them.
Danielle Jones, Assistant Executive Director, Co-Director of Development
Danielle is a nurse practitioner in the area of emergency medicine in Columbus, Ohio and holds a master’s degree in nursing from Otterbein University. Danielle is married with 2 daughters.
Danielle is passionate about social justice and was inspired to join Watoto Read by the witness of Claudine and the transformative power education can provide not only to a single individual but to their families and community. Danielle enjoys serving Watoto Read as the Assistant Executive Director alongside Claudine and largely focuses on the work of development and marketing for the organization.
Allan Leary, President, Co-Founder
Allan Leary is a U.S. Navy veteran and native of Morgantown, West Virginia. Allan formerly served the General Board of Global Ministries as a missionary to Mutare, Zimbabwe for “Missioners of Hope for the Children of Africa”. Currently, he serves as a Senior Energy Engineer for The Ohio State University’s Office of Student Life with goal of “Creating the extraordinary student experience”.
Allan serves as the President of Watoto Read where we are “Creating Hope for the hopeless. When a person becomes a refugee, they generally have lost everything: their home, livelihood, and often their family. Allan believes that by providing education to these children, we not only provide them hope for a better future but also something that can never be taken away from them.
Michael Mattox, Director of IT, Co-Founder
Michael is a US Army veteran currently working in the healthcare IT field. He holds a master’s degree in network communication from DeVry University.
Michael met Claudine through their daughter’s friendship, and she approached him for help in starting Watoto Read. Michael believes education is the single greatest factor in shaping a young person’s future, which is why he supports the work of Watoto Read.
Carolyn Rothermel, CPA, Accountant
Carolyn, retired, has extensive accounting experience working for twelve years in non-profit accounting and also twelve years in for-profit accounting. Carolyn’s most fulfilling role has been in raising her three sons.
Carolyn joined Watoto Read as way to help ensure children receive a message of hope through provision of education.
Mike is a widower and a father of three college-aged children. Mike is a 1988 graduate of The Ohio State University. Mike spent his career in the Food/Beverage/Nutraceutical Industries in a variety of capacities including manufacturing, research and development, sales, as well as owning multiple businesses within these industries.
When Mike’s late wife passed away, he started a foundation to recognize charities and outreach programs that their family had an interest in supporting. Mike’s wife had done mission trips to Africa and was a teacher, so Watoto Read was an organization she would have loved to have supported. Mike feels it is an honor and privilege to be able to serve as a board member of Watoto Read.
Sharon Ryan, Director of Marketing and Communications, Co-Founder
Sharon is an experienced marketing professional who is excited to tell the story of Watoto Read and connect others with the opportunity to help. Sharon has an MBA from Wharton (UPenn) and is VP of Customer Success at a tech startup in Columbus. Sharon was introduced to Claudine through her husband, Rev. Casey Wilson, and was inspired from the beginning by Claudine’s first-hand refugee experience and her drive to speak for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
Rev. Tracey Sumner
Rev. Tracey Sumner has been living in Delaware, Ohio for 15 years and has been serving to help make a positive impact on the community at large through various initiatives. Tracey presently serves on the Martin Luther King Celebration Committee, Delaware African American Heritage Council, and is a member of the Delaware Historical Society.
Tracey believes in sharing love and uniting everyone to engage with and to accept one another as we all were created to be.
Rev. Casey Wilson, Vice-President, Co-founder
Rev. Casey Wilson is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church (UMC), currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Centenary UMC in Granville, OH. Casey has a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and French from Ohio Wesleyan University. Casey is married and has an adult biological son and foster children. Casey loves music, especially playing the French horn.
Casey initially connected to Watoto Read through his friendship with Claudine Leary but he remains connected because of his love for children and because he values the importance of education. Through Watoto Read he feels he is making a positive, life-changing impact on one of the most forgotten refugee populations on the planet and if he were ever in such a situation, he hopes someone would do the same for his children.