Mountaintop Announces Founding Board of Directors
Mountaintop is proud to announce the five founding members of its Board of Directors.
Benya Kraus, Board Chair
Benya Kraus is currently Co-Founder and Director of the American Connection Corps at Lead For America, a national nonprofit that recruits, trains, and places young and diverse recent college graduates into two-year local government fellowships in communities across the country — particularly in their hometowns and places struggling to attract and retain talent.
Benya has served as a Board Member of Amnesty International USA, currently attends the University of Chicago as a Civic Scholar at the Booth School, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University in 2018 with a B.A. in International Relations and minors in Urban Studies and Colonialism Studies. She served as President of the Tufts Community Union Senate, realizing a platform to tackle spatial inequity on campus. She spoke on these themes as a TEDxTufts speaker, drawing parallels to her directed research on urban design as a peace-building tool in conflicted cities. As an Oslo Scholar with the Human Rights Foundation, Benya conducted research and wrote speeches on the intersection of gender, health, and security presented before the UN General Assembly and White House for Dr. Alaa Murabit, a UN High Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth.
Richard Swarttz, Board Treasurer
Richard Swarttz serves as Chief Financial Officer at Lead For America (LFA). Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Richard attended Philadelphia University and received both his bachelor's degree in accounting and master's in business administration with a concentration in management. In addition he is a certified public accountant.
Richard brings over 35 years of experience as a Chief Financial Officer in various industries such as manufacturing, information technology and various non-profit agencies such as Volunteer Florida and the United Way. Prior to joining LFA he was appointed by the White House to serve as the CFO of the Peace Corps, where he spent almost three years overseeing almost 100 employees in the Office of the CFO as well as direct involvement in strategic planning and policy making within the Agency. In addition, he has held positions as an adjunct professor for Tallahassee Community College and tax instructor for H&R Block, Inc.
Richard is also currently a Board member of Americas Service Commission (ASC) where he was also previously elected Treasurer for a two year period. He currently resides in Estero, Florida with his wife Harriett and four dogs.
Rumbidzai Chisenga, Board Member
Rumbidzai is the Director of Programs at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development. She leads the Amujae Initiative, the EJS Center’s flagship program that prepares African women to unapologetically take up roles in the highest echelons of public leadership. Rumbidzai is one of twelve globally identified civic innovators who were part of the inaugural class of Obama Foundation Scholars (2018 -2019) at Columbia University in New York City.
Prior to that, Rumbidzai was a Program Manager at the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS), a pan-African think tank that advocates for the adoption of Afrocentric approaches in addressing the continent’s socioeconomic development challenges. Rumbidzai was instrumental in establishing the MINDS Scholarship Program for Leadership Development, setting up the program’s operational processes at inception. She was also in charge of the MINDS Youth Program on Elections and Governance, a civic education initiative that equips African youth for meaningful participation in governance. Under this program, Rumbidzai coordinated an alumni network spread across 53 African countries.
Rumbidzai received a bachelor’s degree of commerce (Economics and Accounting) from Rhodes University in South Africa and a master’s degree of management (Entrepreneurship) from Wits Business School in South Africa. She has extensive experience working as a cross-sectoral management consultant and has previously founded a social enterprise. Rumbidzai is an alum of the Emerging Leaders programs of the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance (University of Cape Town) and the Policy Center for the New South (Atlantic Dialogues).
Dr. Emmanuel Fuhbang, Board Member
Rev. Dr. Fuhbang Emmanuel Tanifum is a theologian, interculturalist, jurist and an ordained pastor in the Mission of Evangelical Church in Cameroon. He holds a PhD in Theology and Intercultural Studies from the Cameroon Faculty of Evangelical Theology, Yaoundé. Emmanuel is the director of the Institute of Evangelical Theology in Bamenda, Cameroon, and also lectures in seminaries within Cameroon.
He is the founder of, and chief executive officer at, Rohi Foundation Cameroon, a non-profit, grassroots and non-governmental organization founded in 2008 with the aim of promoting peace, human rights, humanitarian actions and interreligious and intercultural friendships. He is also the current Chapter President for Cameroon of a non-profit organization based in the United States called the Euphrates Institute.
He is currently running a youth peacebuilding training programme in Cameroon which brings youths together from different religious and cultural backgrounds and he also enjoys teaching and researching in the area of Muslim-Christian relations. His motto is ‘faith, hope and love.’
Reed Shafer-Ray, CEO and Board Member
Reed became interested in leadership after two formative events when he was 17 1. His father passed away after a years-long battle with leukemia; 2. A tornado ripped through the neighboring town and killed seven elementary school children when their school collapsed on them. Whether related to funding for cancer screening or building storm shelters in schools, Reed learned from these events that good leadership is literally a life or death matter.
In college at Harvard, Reed co-founded a lobby day that took 50+ volunteers to the State House each semester to push for legislation supported by young people. After a family friend committed suicide, Reed talked with the mother and drafted two bills to protect mentally ill individuals from accessing firearms, helping one of those bills get signed into law. However, his senior year he saw many of his classmates who had come to college wanting to make the world a better place take jobs at the biggest companies in the biggest cities in the world. Reed wrote an op-ed describing the brain drain that, in a world with so many important challenges, was pushing many of the world's best and brightest to leave behind the communities and cause areas where they could do the most good.
After this op-ed, a student at UNC whom Reed had never met asked him to join his founding team with Lead For America (LFA). LFA’s flagship program is a selective, one year, full-time fellowship program for high-potential young professionals to address critical challenges in their hometowns before advancing to state and national leadership.
As Lead For America grew past the startup stage and hired several world class staff to handle many of the responsibilities Reed previously held, Reed began thinking about the numerous friends and colleagues over the years that had shared how deeply needed a similar initiative was needed in their home countries. Reed wanted to learn more, so starting in June 2022 he spent six months learning from international development experts, executives from peer nonprofits, and leaders of all ages from 60+ countries about Global Brain Drain. It is with the inspiration and lessons learned from these conversations that Reed founded Mountaintop.