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Meet Our Board of Directors
Rahel Mwitula Williams
Co-founder of ILAVA

Rahel is a social entrepreneur and a founder of ILAVA: IT Can Be Done. She was born and raised in Tanzania, East Africa. She migrated to the United States with her family when she was 12 years old. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Loyola University and her Master of Science degree in International Public Service from DePaul University in Chicago. While at DePaul, Rahel wrote a thesis on “Grassroots Initiatives: Women entrepreneurs as key in enhancing women’s development - A case study of the Kibera Paper Project.”

As a Tanzanian-American, she loves her culture and everything that it has to offer. She incorporates her culture into her everyday living.

While popular culture may see African influence as a trend, for Rahel it is a lifestyle.

Joan Mashalla
Board Member

Joan has a love and passion for serving others. She is of Tanzanian ethnicity but has lived the majority of her life in the United States. In her late teens, she spent 3 pivotal years in Tanzania in the Arusha and Dar es Salaam regions. That experience changed her life forever. 


She is excited to help ILAVA “Give Back” and make a difference back home.


She holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Business, a Graduate Certificate in Public Service Administration and Project Management Strategy, and an MBA.

Sarah Kuenyefu-Searcy
Board Member

Sarah was born to Ghanaian parents and raised in Ghana. Her mother was a dressmaker and her father was the marketing director of Ghana Textile and Printing. She was destined to become a designer. She took an interest in fashion and learned to sew from her mother. She obtained her degree in Economics.


She is the founder and Creative Director of the Sarah Kuenyefu Collection in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. Sarah is focused on expanding the brand nationally and internationally.


She is a member of the Apparel Industry Board of Chicago (AIBI), which actively seeks to establish Chicago as a primary fashion-forward city.

Nitoya Brown
Board Member

Nitoya has a passion of working with youth and undeserved populations. She  currently Director of ACCES center with Chicago Colleges of Chicago working with students with disabilities. She was born and raised in Chicago. 


Nitoya holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and an MSW from Chicago State.

Saundra Bethley
Board Member

Saundra was born to serve and is eager to lend her non-for-profit and creative expertise to ILAVA gives back. She has been in a management role in the not-for-profit arena and an active member of the United States Air Force Reserve for over 15 years. 


In addition, she is a part-time Psychology Instructor and regular volunteer throughout the city of Chicago.


Saundra holds a Bachelors's degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing her MBA in Marketing and Project Management.

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