Meet our New Executive Director!
Dear Friends of Dignitas,
When I first met with parents, teachers, and leaders in Nairobi ten years ago, I asked, “If you could change one thing in your community, what would it be?” The answer was consistently and overwhelmingly, “Education.” And so we founded Dignitas, committing to empowering educators to lead school transformation efforts in the informal settlements most neglected by the public system. A decade later, I am incredibly proud of the significant growth of each of the 500 school leaders and teachers we have worked with, as well as that of our dynamic team. It is from this place of strength that I leave Dignitas and welcome in a new leader who shares our belief in education as a form of justice and liberation.
I am so pleased to introduce you to Dignitas’ new Executive Director, Sarah Samuel. Sarah brings a true heart for education and community development to her new role. From our very first meeting, I was impressed by Sarah’s professionalism, understanding of international contexts, and passion to work on behalf of children.
Coming from a family of educators, Sarah spent several years working in classrooms while completing her undergraduate degree in Sociology fom Loyola University Maryland. She also completed her Master’s degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. After several positions supporting nonprofit organizations, Sarah spent four years providing grants to energy projects in Africa where she had the opportunity to travel to partner communities. It was on one such trip that she fell in love with Kenya and made a promise to one day return.
Dignitas’ program model, approach, and team are solid, ready for Sarah to help us prepare for expansion and new program streams. With skills in business development, strategic analysis, and systems-building, Sarah is eager to help Dignitas scale. She is dedicated to leadership development of both our school leaders and our staff, all who hold high expectations for their influence and their role.
As for my role, I am serving formally as an advisor to Dignitas during this quarter to ensure a smooth transition organizationally and programmatically. I will also continue to serve actively on the Board of Directors, supporting board development, strengthening governance, and advancing strategic planning and fundraising. More personally, I look forward to exploring new paths in my career in education and community development, as well as enjoying more time with my now 20-month-old son!
It has been a dream and a privilege to serve in this role as the Founding Executive Director of Dignitas and I sincerely thank each of you for your support. I am confident that with Sarah’s leadership, Dignitas will continue to build on the tremendous potential in school and teacher leaders in Kenya and influence work in education across the continent and beyond. Please join me in welcoming Sarah to the Dignitas family!
Tiffany Cheng Nyaggah
Letter from Our New Executive Director
Dear Friends of Dignitas,
I am thrilled to join Dignitas as the new Executive Director! I am deeply grateful to the talented staff at Dignitas who have been open and forthcoming while walking alongside me as I get up to speed on our programs and the educational landscape in Kenya. I am particularly indebted to our founding Executive Director Tiffany, who has been an invaluable support during this transition. She leaves a legacy that I am honored to follow.
Dignitas’ core values were evident from the moment I walked through its doors, and I am committed to them as living, breathing guideposts we use to make decisions – big and small. Dignitas is truly a unique, high-impact organization, as well as a family of individuals committed to transforming the quality of education for Nairobi’s children who are too often overlooked.
Thanks to Tiffany and the rest of the Dignitas team’s hard work these past nine years, we are well-poised to scale to reach even more schools and students. To date, we have worked with 47 schools. In 2017, we will be adding another 25 schools to our programs. In January, we held two community meetings attended by 85 schools – double the number of school recruitment efforts in past years. I am looking forward to getting to know these impressive school leaders and touring their schools.
“My position at Dignitas is the culmination of my experience working in classrooms, managing nonprofit programs, and passion for international development work in Africa. It is truly a dream come true.”
In August 2016, I arrived in Nairobi and immersed myself into the community by taking Kiswahili classes and teaching at a local orphanage. As I became familiar with the local education system, I saw firsthand the challenge of teaching in under-resourced classrooms. I was struck by the school leaders, who were relentless in their pursuit of more for their students. On a daily basis, they give their all to provide access to education for the children in their communities. Dignitas’ teachers constantly seek to improve their practice in order to provide students with transformational educational opportunities.
Finally, I look forward to getting to know you, the supporters that make Dignitas’ work possible. I welcome your questions and comments at any time. If you don’t already, please sign up for our newsletter on our website, follow us on social media (we’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). I also invite you to walk with me on my journey at Dignitas by following me on Twitter @EdPioneerSarah. Please continue to be partners in our mission to develop leaders who will transform opportunities for the next generation.
With all my appreciation,
+254 (0)738 244 670