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Board of Directors

board of directors

Elvira Felton Williams, MS, MBPA- Profile

Co-founder and Executive Director of AHEAD, Inc.

Elvira Felton Williams brings more than four decades of experience in health and education to her job. Her interest in health and education began early, playing badminton, field hockey, and swimming at Spingarn High School in Washington, DC. “Mama” Williams has a BS in Zoology and Physical Education from Howard University, an MS in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a Masters of Business and Public Administration in Health from Southeastern University.  In 1974, she carried that expertise to Tanzania, when her husband Dr. Irving C. Williams received a contract with the Ministry of Health. She taught at a primary school in Mwanza Region and served as curriculum development consultant for the regional education department. After returning to the United States, the couple remained determined to improve the health conditions they saw in Tanzania. In 1981, they established AHEAD, Inc.

Recognition and Awards:
• 1984 Distinguished Service, Maryland State Board of Education
• 1992 Outstanding International Service, Group Health Association
• 1992 2000 Notable American Women
• 1994 Outstanding International Service, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
• 1995 Women of Distinction, American Association of University Women
• 1997 Generous Contribution to Medicine & Infectious Diseases in the African Diaspora, College of Medicine, Howard University
• 2009 Windsor Freedom Award, Vermont
• 2009 Outstanding Contribution to Tanzania, African Diaspora Heritage Trail

Dr. Irving C. Williams- Profile

Co-founder of AHEAD, Medical Director.

Dr. Irving Williams is originally from Aberdeen, and now lives in Rockville, Maryland with his family. His degrees include: a BS from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.; an MS in Biochemistry and MD from Howard University; and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University. He has completed post-doctoral work in adolescent medicine at Harvard University. In 1974, Dr. Irving Williams took his wife, Elvira, and their four small children to live in Tanzania where he served as pediatric consultant to the Ministry of Health. For two years, he witnessed children suffering and dying from a host of preventable conditions. Among these, malnutrition due to a lack of nutritional and agricultural knowledge helped him realize the importance of the farming techniques he learned growing up. He returned to the United States with a mission: to provide comprehensive health services to children at home and in Africa. That commitment led Williams and his wife, Elvira Felton Williams, to establish Adventures in Health, Education and Agricultural Development (AHEAD) in 1981.

Recognition and Awards:
• 1974 The pediatric clinic of the Martha Eliot Health Center of Harvard University renamed the Irving C. Williams honor
• 2002 Ashden Trust Award winner for AHEAD water pasteurization project
• 2005 Cardinal Health Children’s Care Award for lifetime contributions to the health and well-being of children

Ruby Burgess, EdB

What Burgess does for AHEAD: Facilitator
As AHEAD board president, Ruby Burgess uses her organizational and facilitation skills to keep the nonprofit running efficiently and effectively. She has taught at several colleges and universities, most notably University of Central Arkansas. In 2008, she retired from Southern Arkansas University where she was the Dean of the College of Education. Burgess lives in Morrilton, Ark., where she is an educator and the senior consultant with the Burgess Group, Inc.
Why she works with AHEAD: “I am involved with AHEAD because of my commitment to working with African Ancestry people the world over to create healthy, self-sufficient and well-educated communities for generations to come.”

Donna R. Ngirwa, DDS, FIND

Public Relations

Donna Ngirwa helps the organization tells its story as a member of the public relations committee. She has witnessed the way AHEAD expands the perspectives of youth it touches, be they students in Tanzania or volunteers from the United States. Ngirwa lives in New York City, where she is a dentist.
Why she works with AHEAD: “I have seen the difference that AHEAD has made to the lives of people in Tanzania, and I would like to see that continue.”

Paul Hurlburt, Jr., MA


Paul R. Hurlburt ensures the organization’s coffers are full by promoting the organization in the Combined Federal Campaign, on the website and in social media. He took on that role after volunteering with AHEAD in 2008 and seeing the difference small amounts of money made in people’s lives, and became a Board member in 2014. Hurlburt lives in Bennington, Vermont, where he writes for the Bennington Museum. He received a BA in political science from Brown University and an MA in journalism from the University of Wisconsin- Madison.
Why he works with AHEAD: “In the next generation, better health care and educational opportunities are going to transform the world as we know it, making the world a safer and more livable place. But it can’t be done without the efforts of individuals and organizations like AHEAD.”

board member treasurer

Richard F. McManus, JD

AHEAD Treasury and Financial Manager, June 2015-present

Richard is a Managing Director at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Washington, DC with over thirty years’ experience in law, finance, and tax planning. He studied at Holy CrossCatholic University Law School, and George Washington University. In 2015, he studied development at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies. He previously worked for the US Navy JAG Corps and the IRS. He serves as Chair of the Missions Committee at North Bethesda United Methodist Church (NBUMC) and volunteers with Bread for the World. Born and raised in Worcester, MA, this Red Sox fan now resides in Potomac, Maryland. He first became involved with AHEAD in 2008, organizing fundraising events. In 2016, he visited Bukoba, Tanzania and met with local AHEAD members. He is an avid golfer and hiker, and a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Why he works with AHEAD: After years of working in the private sector and having achieved many professional and personal goals, Richard has a strong desire to help make our world a better place, and with his specialized knowledge he is already making a difference. Richard has been a committed supporter of AHEAD for many years, sponsoring golf tournaments to help raise money for AHEAD’s projects. He sponsored his daughter as an AHEAD volunteer in Tanzania in 2008.

Michelle “Maimuna” Coghill Chatman, PhD

Youth Advocate and AHEAD volunteer

Michelle Chatman saw to it AHEAD reached youth in Gambia and in Washington, DC by helping launch teen programs in both places. She also recruited volunteers and prepared them for their experiences in The Gambia and Tanzania. A former volunteer, she references her experiences in Tanzania in her lectures to college students, illustrated here in her TEDx talk: Chatman’s hometown is Washington D.C., where she is an assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at the University of the District of Columbia and a visiting instructor at Cornell University’s Cornell in Washington Program. She also is a vocalist with the Blacknotes music and literary ensemble.
Why she works with AHEAD: “I am involved with AHEAD because I firmly believe in its mission. I am inspired by the Williams’ devotion to our African family and I want to be part of the work they are doing.”

Malcolm Gee, MS

Malcolm Gee is a longtime AHEAD Board member hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. After attending Frederick Douglass High School, he went on to study Biochemistry at Howard University and pursue a career as a research biochemist. He has been instrumental as a Program Director for AHEAD’s work in The Gambia. In addition to AHEAD, he has been active with both the Irvine Nature Center near Baltimore and the Baltimore Algebra Project.

Cathleen Trigg-Jones

Board member Trigg-Jones is an Emmy-Award winning journalist, actress, producer, and marketing director for Lexington Plastic Surgeons. She is the creator and executive producer of the reality television show “We Are The Joneses”. As founder of Catscape Productions, Cathleen has produced a multitude of television and film projects as well as producing her own talk show “Chic Chat”. In addition, Cathleen is an actress co-starring in such television shows as Madam Secretary, Homeland, and House of Cards. She founded the nonprofit organization Trigg House, which focuses on aid for foster children, inspired by her own adoption story.

Robert Lewis Dean II

Fundraiser and AHEAD Ambassador

Robert Lewis Dean works to ensure AHEAD gets visibility and money necessary for its longevity and growth. Dean is proud that AHEAD spends its funds on programs, not on administration. But most of all, he’s impressed by the confidence and tenacity of the organization’s founders, Dr. Irving and Elvira Williams. Dean is a native of Honolulu and lives in New York City and Palm Beach, Fla.
Why he works with AHEAD: “Knowing that I am involved in an organization with such high goals and who achieves miracles daily gives me a great sense of accomplishment. On a very small operational budget, AHEAD has provided millions of dollars in aid to rural African families and individuals who otherwise may have gone without.”

Deborah Tuzo, DDS, MPH

Fundraiser and AHEAD Ambassador
Deborah Tuzo helps AHEAD raise money, and strengthens AHEAD’s volunteer efforts in Bermuda. She is a longtime volunteer, and traveled to Tanzania numerous times. Tuzo lives in Warwick, Bermuda where she is an orthodontist.
Why she works with AHEAD: “It fills me with gratitude, good will and a determination to improve the lives of others.”

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Maria Uriyo, PhD, PMP

Maria Uriyo is a Board member originally from Arusha, Tanzania who now lives with her family in Haymarket, Virginia. She attended high school at St. Leonards- Mayfield in East Sussex, England, and received her Bachelor’s from Fordham University (formerly Marymount College), She went on to receive an MS and PhD in food chemistry and food science from Virginia Tech, MS from Georgetown University in Health Systems Administration, and an MScIS from Strayer University, and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate. She attends Chapel Springs Church in Bristow, Virginia.

Claire Matsunaga

Claire Matsunaga first served as an AHEAD  volunteer in 2008 when she visited Kisarawe, Tanzania with her grandmother, Ellen Gutow, and Mama Williams. In 2008 and again in 2017 in Bukoba she visited and observed firsthand the vocational and health programs of AHEAD, and met many people who had their lives changed through its work. She attended Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland and received a Bachelor’s degree in International Politics and Spanish in 2010 from Penn State University. She is currently pursuing an MS in Development Management at American University.

Michael V. Williams, MA, MAT

AHEAD BOD member.

Irving C. Williams II, MD

AHEAD BOD member.

Lisa Turner Gordon, BA

AHEAD BOD member.

Apolinary “Yonga” Ngirwa, PhD

AHEAD BOD member.

Lamman Rucker, MA

AHEAD BOD member.

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Patricia Sherron Burks, MD

Dr. Burks

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Eddie Dyer, MS

Eddie Dyer

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Catherine Tardif-Douglin, MS

Catherine Tardif-Douglin