SFS is led by committee board of governance based in Minnesota USA, with an Executive Director, Institutes Directors and pool of technical experts in Garowe, Puntland and the Regional Support Office in Nairobi, Kenya. On programs/ projects implementation, additional board is comprised with representatives of SFS and development partner/s that reviews the substantive implementation of the programme and project or case by case activities agreed upon. The implementation board also provides advice and strategic guidance as appropriate on the expansion and reorientation of the partnership as need be.

Thomas O’Connell, Chair holds a Ph.D. from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a Professor of Social Science at Metropolitan State University, where he teaches courses in political science and sociology and coordinates the social science internship program. Thomas has had extensive experience in alternative education and with community-based organizations, and helped develop the proposal that led to the establishment of the Urban Teacher Program (UTP) at Metropolitan State University. He currently serves as Coordinator of the UTP Social Studies Licensure Program.

Jennie Kratzer, Treasurer currently holds the position of Operations Manager at Ameriprise Financial. She has worked at Ameriprise Financial for 11 years, and has extensive experience servicing mutual fund accounts and in managing call center operations. She holds a B.S. in Economics from Metropolitan State University, and has also served as a member of the fundraising and planning committee for Morris Park Players Community Theater Group. She has been involved with Somali Family Services for over four years, and has helped raise funds for the Puntland State University Scholarship Fund.

Lena Jones, Secretary is a full-time faculty member at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), where she has taught since 2002. She holds an M.A. in Political Science and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Political Science Department. At MCTC, Lena teaches courses on American politics, state and local government, world politics, and the civil rights movement. She also teaches a course on civic engagement and critical pedagogy for MCTC’s Urban Teacher Program. Lena is active in several civic engagement initiatives in the Twin Cities and is part of a core team that received a 2006 Minnesota Campus Compact/Minnesota Office of Higher Education grant to create a Center for Civic Engagement at MCTC. In 2004, Lena received a fellowship from the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Center to support a residency with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDSA), where she participated in IDSA’s efforts to institute civic engagement projects in the Gauteng province. In 2006, she was part of a delegation that went to Somalia to begin building a relationship between Puntland State University and Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Molly McCoy works with teachers and schools to promote their understanding of international issues through workshops, conferences and other events. She currently works as the Outreach Coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Global Studies, where she develops programs that bring the talents and resources of university faculty to K-12 teachers and administrators. She holds an M.A. in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota.  As a former Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa, she has a personal commitment to raising awareness about Africa, and more specifically, about Somali immigrant communities in Minnesota. She has been involved with Somali Family Services as a volunteer and board member since 2004.

Michal Moskow is a faculty member in the Communication, Writing and the Arts Department at Metropolitan State University. She holds an M.A. in Multicultural Education from the University of Akron and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University. She was educated and has taught in the U.S., Europe and Puerto Rico, including 17 years in Sweden at Göteborg University/University Väst where she remains as Docent. Her involvement with human rights and conflict negotiation includes work on domestic violence, foster care, and immigrant advocacy issues.  She teaches courses in sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, intercultural communication, ethnicity, gender studies, genocide, and human rights both in the classroom and online and recently facilitated training in human rights, leadership and team building at SFS Garowe.  She has helped connect classes in the U.S. and Europe through online discussions, and in 2007 she participated in a workshop on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Africa, held in Addis Ababa by the Africa Programme of the University for Peace.

Karlyn Eckman is an educator and researcher with over thirty years of experience in natural resources management in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and North America. Trained in the biophysical and social sciences, my focus is on researching complex environmental problems with interdisciplinary approaches and methods to find practical solutions. I have designed and managed programs for various international agencies (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Mekong River Commission Secretariat, International Cocoa Foundation, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, United Nations Development Program, World Food Program, International Labor Organization and others). Areas of expertise include international forestry; agroforestry; international food security and poverty reduction programs; human dimensions of natural resources management; program evaluation; teaching and training; and curriculum development.

Paul Porter’s research focuses on cropping systems involving crop rotations, rye as a cover crop, and alternative crops.  Paul teaches several courses annually (World Food Problems, Evaluating Starvation, Agroecosystems Analysis Field Course, Agroecosystems of the World, and Environment, Global Food Production, and the Citizen) and is currently coordinator of the Agricultural Industries and Marketing (AIM) undergraduate degree as well as the International Agriculture minor.  He has served on the board of directors for MISA and the Northwest Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.

In Spring 2009 and Spring 2010 Paul rode a bicycle 12,000 km across 10 African countries. Using satellite phone technologies, Paul co-taught courses while in Africa (Food and Agriculture from Cairo to Cape Town at 10 mph).  Visit his blog site to hear his stories and see amazing photographs of the people, food and agroecosystems he encountered.  In Fall 2011 he co-taught the course ‘Food and Agriculture from Buenos Aires to Lima at 10 mph’ while riding a bicycle 6,000 km through four South American countries.  Visit for stories related to those agroecosystems. A visit to EARTH University in Fall 2012 to learn about their pedagogical philosophy was followed by a short return to Somalia in early 2013.

Ali Warsame holds a Series 7 license and two bachelor’s degrees from Metropolitan State University: one in Global Studies and Political Science, and the other in Accounting and Business Management. He has extensive experience in a range of finance-related areas, including equity securities, securities markets and regulations, and taxation. Ali has worked in both the private and non-profit sectors for over 15 years, and has directed programs at various NGOs. Currently, Ali is the Director of East African Economic Development, and sits on the boards of various private and non-profit organizations.

Maslah Jama currently serves as a Financial Analyst at Best Buy, where he worked for over three years on the supplier finance business relations team. Before joining Best Buy, Maslah worked for Merrill Corporation as a Purchasing Coordinator, at Target Corporation as a Receipt and Control Specialist and at APD Global Services in automatic data processing. He currently serves as board member for East African Development and Economics Center, and has sat on the board of Somali Family Services since 2005.

Awo Ahmed, is Literacy Coordinator for the Metropolitan State University Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship. She is responsible for coordinating the operations for Project SHINE and Literacy Corps, two ongoing community-based programs involving university students as literacy and academic tutors in Twin Cities schools, libraries, and learning centers.  She develops materials and makes classroom presentations to recruit Metropolitan State students to participate in these programs, organizes their training and orientation, helps match students to appropriate community sites, and act as a liaison between students, community partner staff, university faculty and ICES staff. Ahmed has been an AmeriCorps member at College Possible and a college coach at Augsburg College and St. Catherine University. Previously she worked at Metro State as library-community outreach coordinator. She holds a B. A in biology from Metropolitan State University, Saint Paul.

Jamal Elmi, Advantage Program Assistant, CommonBand Communities

Jamal Osman, Business owner


SFS Advisory Board

Patrick Plonski, Executive Director, Books For Africa
Travis Burke, Field Program Officer, USAID
Adam Diehl, Consultant in Development Infrastructure, World Bank
Eric Robinson, Program Officer for East & Horn of Africa, National Endowment for Democracy
Mohamud Said, Program Coordinator, Diakonia
Khalif Farah, Program Specialist in Governance UNDP Somalia
Rang Hee Kim, Transportation Manager, Counterpart International
Phillip Cooper, Deputy Governance Manager, UNDP Somalia
Mohamud Hamud, Executive Director, Puntland State University
Zamzam Billow, Emergency Monitoring and Capacity Building Officer, Oxfam Novib

Our Strategic Partners

*** Diakonia Sweden.
*** National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
*** United Nation High Commission for Refugees.
***Save the Children.
*** Relief International.
*** CARE International.
*** ADRA.
*** United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).
*** International Labor Organization (ILO).
*** United Nation for Somalia (UNSOM).
*** UNFPA.
*** Books for Africa.
*** Education Development Center (EDC).
*** Counterpart Internationa.l
*** Puntland Library and Resource Center
*** Radio



June 2024