Executive Director & Co-founder
Kate Clopeck is the Executive Director for Community Water Solutions. Over the past 8 years, Kate has worked extensively on water improvement projects around the globe including Nicaragua, Cameroon and Ghana. She earned a Master's of Science in Technology and Policy from MIT in 2009 where her research was focused on the sustained use of water treatment technologies in Northern Region Ghana. She holds Bachelor's in Science from the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science. Prior to working at CWS, Kate was an associate engineer at Aerojet, an aerospace firm located in Virginia. Kate loves running marathons, traveling, and the island of Nantucket. She currently splits her time between Ghana and her hometown of Boston, MA.
Director of Operations
Sam graduated from Clemson University in 2008 with a degree in Health Sciences, with a concentration in Promotion and Education and a minor in Psychology. Upon graduation Sam went to South Africa to work for a non-profit in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital where she found her passion, international development. In December 2010 Sam was a part of the Winter Fellowship Program and implemented a water business in Channayili, Ghana. In April 2011, Sam joined the CWS Team full-time! Living in Boston, Sam frequents Ghana several times a year to lead the Fellowship Programs. Sam loves to journal, jam out to some tunes, explore new food and is always up for a new adventure.
West Africa Regional Director
Brianan first joined the CWS team as Ghana Country Director at the beginning of June 2012, shortly after participating in the CWS Winter 2012 fellowship program. She graduated from Boston College in May 2012, earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a focus in Economics and a minor in French. Brianan grew up right outside of Boston in Milton, Massachusetts. She enjoys running, playing soccer and is a big fan of mangoes!
Peter Biyam is Community Water Solutions' Project Manager and was our first full-time field staff member. He has worked with CWS since 2008, when we implemented our second water business in the village of Nymaliga. Peter was born and raised in Tamale, Ghana. He loves leading groups of CWS Fellows, reggae and the Lion King.
Asst. Project Manager
Shakun Ibrahim (better known as "Shak") is the assistant Project Manager for Community Water Solutions. Shak joined our staff in 2009 and is THE man to know around Tamale, making him an invaluable asset to our team! Prior to working at CWS, Shak was a salesman at Pure Home Water, a social enterprise that distributes ceramic water filters in Northern Region Ghana. In his spare time, Shak is a busy entrepreneur - he runs a local car washing business, raises poultry, and farms.
Wahab Lawal joined the CWS Field Staff in 2010. He was born in Northern Region, Ghana, and studied in Kumasi before returning back to Tamale. He can fix anything and is an expert back-country moto rider. Wahab loves chatting with former fellows on Facebook, listening to hip-life and singing along with his favorite Rihanna tune.
Amin Mohammed joined Community Water Solutions' full-time field staff in 2011 although, he has been involved with our organization since our very first water business in the village of Kasaligu in 2008! During the last week of our pilot implementation, we needed a new translator at the last minute and Amin came to our rescue. He then worked for a local water filter business, Pure Home Water, for a couple of years before re-joining our team, first in 2010 as a Fellowship Program translator and then as a full-time field staffer. Amin is a trained chef and often cooks up delicious meals for his lucky Fellowship Teams. When he's not out in the field or in the kitchen, he loves rapping and playing with his pet monkey.
Board of Directors
Our inter-disciplinary Board of Directors brings a range of specialized skills and experience to the Community Water Solutions organization. The team is led by former management consulting professionals, holding graduate degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology specializing in Household Water Treatment and Safe Water Storage (HWTS) in the developing world, as well as engineering and business degrees from MIT, Dartmouth, Harvard, and the University of Virginia. Over half of the team has previous field experience implementing water health projects in other Sub-Saharan countries of Africa as well as Latin America. In addition to the Directors listed below, Excutive Director, Kate Clopeck, also serves as a member of the Board.
CEO of FINsix
Vanessa co-founded CWS in 2008 following her MIT graduate work on the appropriateness of a household water treatment products for use in northern Ghana. Her thesis work left her with the conviction that effective, affordable water treatment technologies existed and that sustainable implementation models offered the key to universal clean water access. This belief was shared across the CWS founding team and the organization was born. Today, Vanessa is co-founder / CEO of FINsix, an advanced power electronics company that enables the further miniaturization of consumer devices. Prior to FINsix, Vanessa gained professional experience as a strategy consultant with the Monitor Group and a business development manager for TECOM Investments' Enpark project, a 1.4M sq. ft. sustainable real estate project and investment vehicle in Dubai UAE. In 2011, Vanessa won MIT's Patrick E. McGovern Entrepreneurship Award, and was selected as a Boston Business Journal Innovation All-Stars Rising Star and Forbes 30-under-30 in Energy. Vanessa holds a M.Eng. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT, a MBA from MIT Sloan and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.
Executive Director of PRIME
Sarah Kearney is Founder and Executive Director of PRIME, a nonprofit organization that identifies gaps in science and engineering RD&D that are not covered by existing public or private sources of capital, but whose innovators hold promise for scalable solutions to global social problems. PRIME works with industry experts to design financial structures that will lower transaction costs and house sector-specific investment expertise so that philanthropists may more easily and more effectively fill these gaps with grants or program-related investments (PRIs). PRIME’s first vehicle is the Energy Breakthrough Fund, which focuses on the invention-to-impact gap in early-stage energy innovation. Previously, Sarah served as Executive Director and Trustee of the Chesonis Family Foundation, which made grants to universities for transformational energy research. Prior to leading the Chesonis Foundation, she served on the program staff for the Blue Moon Fund, a private foundation also focused on energy, environment, and sustainability. In addition to her role with Community Water Solutions, Sarah also sits on the board for Refuel, a network of women working in clean tech. Sarah holds a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia and an M.S. from MIT’s Engineering Systems Division.
Founder & Principle of ScienceDriven and Build From Scratch to Last
Ryn Miake-Lye is the founder and principal of two independent practices, ScienceDriven (founded 2004) and Build from Scratch to Last (founded 2011). For over 20 years, she has grown expert innovation. ScienceDriven serves clinical and scientific innovators who need to preserve their unique strengths and translate their vision into reality. Build from Scratch to Last applies principles of biologically inspired systems to help founders/pioneers carve their own paths, create repeat-championship leadership teams, and get their services into broad use. Ryn holds a BSc with honors from Caltech in biology. After a Thomas J. Watson fellowship on Ischia, she earned a PhD in biochemistry and cell biology from the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. The breadth of her curiosity about experimental discovery, combined with American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowships at Caltech, served her well as Reviews/Senior Editor at Cell. From 1993 to 1998, she helped found Harvard Medical School's Dept. of Cell Biology as Director for Research and Administration. At Millennium Pharmaceuticals, she learned the passionate discipline of delivering on target, on time and on budget--ranging from concurrent strategic alliances to enterprise discovery pipeline reports to drug development infrastructure initiatives. Ryn loves her adult family, helping through Rotary's "Service above Self", and noodles of any ethnicity.
Through our work on the ground in Ghana, we have built relationships with Ghanaian partners that have helped us engage with communities, bridge the language gap and establish a local network. This established network has been crucial in facilitating each step of the project implementation process and provides continuity throughout the year. Such local partners are essential to project sustainability in the developing world and represent an equally valuable component of our Community Water Solutions team.
In Ghana, we have received guidance and support from several organizations who share our motivation to address the problem of water health in developing countries. We think of these people and these organizations as an extension of our team: Public Service Center at MIT, Pure Home Water, UNICEF, the Carter Center, PATH, International Aid, the Center for Disease Control, The Central Gonja, Sevelagu, and Tolon District Assemblies.