African Student giving Thumbs up

How it all Began

The African Library Project was founded in 2005 by Chris Bradshaw and her family from Portola Valley, California. While visiting remote villages in Lesotho, a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa, Chris was inspired to work toward ending the cycle of poverty and illiteracy when she found out that there was only one public library in the country. She realized the simple act of establishing libraries within schools would have a profound effect on communities as a whole.

Our Partners

We are proud to partner with capable and hardworking organizations and individuals who are dedicated to promoting literacy and library development in Africa. In the United States, volunteers organize book drives and raise funds to ship the books overseas. Once those books are gathered and mailed, the African Library Project relies on a network of dedicated partners within Africa to get them to each community – no matter how far.  In addition to selecting and vetting each library recipient, our trusted partners provide training on how to set up and run a library in a rural community. They also follow up to evaluate the use of our libraries and encourage good library practices. The African Library Project’s goal is to make sure our libraries remain active and continue to enrich those who need them the most.
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Map Key

Country with ALP Libraries
Country with ALP libraries and where we are currently working
Chris Bradshaw ALP Founder holding books

Chris Bradshaw

Founder, Uganda Liaison
Chris Noel Bradshaw spent her junior year at Fourah Bay College, part of the University of Sierra Leone, studying African religion, law, and literature. She traveled alone through western and central Africa, acquainting herself with African traditions and seeing firsthand the conditions African people endured. She found herself deeply affected and frustrated by the pervasive poverty. Fast-forward to 2004, Chris took her family to Lesotho on a vacation that would change her life. On a pony trekking trip, she watched her son devouring a book and asked their guide if there were any libraries in the country. When he said there might be one in the capital, Chris’ life suddenly took a new direction. “At 21 I didn’t know what I could to do help,” Chris said. “At 54, I had the resources to be able to do something.” That something was the African Library Project.

Our Team

Anu Kulkarni

Board Chair

Anu came to ALP through an extremely rewarding book drive led by a group of 3rd grade girls at her daughter’s school. She is a political scientist at Stanford University, specializing in the study of post-conflict development, democratization, and human rights. She has conducted research in sub-Saharan Africa for the past 20 years and is familiar with the type of communities where ALP creates libraries.

Christina De Simone

Vice Chair

Christina graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and minors in Spanish and Chinese. She currently serves as the Director of Financial Planning & Analysis at UNITY Biotechnology. She has six years of experience volunteering with various nonprofits and spent a year abroad in South Africa where she developed a passion for African culture and education.

Karen Levesque

Board Member

Karen is an education researcher and leader who is passionate about improving education outcomes for children in Africa and across the globe. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in her 20s living in a remote village in Senegal. She currently serves as Senior Director for Measurement and Evaluation at Imagine Worldwide.

Craig Anderson

Board Member & South Africa Liaison

Craig’s African journey began as a Peace Corps teacher in Lesotho. He stayed, working on education projects. Later, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service. He spent 36 years in Africa. After retirement, a book drive fell in his lap. Knowing books expand horizons, he shipped a container load to his South African home. Serendipity struck! As he promoted literacy in the community, he met an ALP board member. She invited him to join ALP’s Book Summit in Lesotho. He’s hooked!

Harry Nachnani

Board Member

Harry is a high-tech professional at Google, with passion in bringing global teams together to improve user & advertiser experience. Growing up in India, he saw first hand how even a small increase in literacy rate can go a long way in reducing unemployment and poverty. He is very passionate about ALP’s mission of changing lives through literacy in Africa and wants to help them scale to more libraries in more countries.

Marla Williams

Board Member

Marla sees African Library Project as a meaningful way to merge a lifelong love of books with the opportunity to bring literary freedom to children who may not otherwise have access. Having launched a book drive program at her daughter’s K-8 school years ago, Marla witnessed firsthand the magic of bringing together youth and books. She’s a co-founder and former board member of ACE Kids Golf that focuses on at-risk Oakland youth.

Sindy Braun

Board Member

Sindy grew up in South Africa and immigrated to the USA in 1991. Her local US library, so much better, was both her “safe space” and a key resource for settling in her new home. Recognizing the ability for books and libraries to change lives, Sindy hopes to bring her 30+ years business experience and love of reading to scale ALP’s mission and create more libraries across Africa.

Doug Verbosky

Treasurer

Louis Lallia

Board Member

Joash Aminga

Board Member

Nontuthuzelo Nikiwe

Kamala

Lauren Small

Interim Executive Director

Lauren has worked with organizations for 10+ years and her primary expertise lies in organizational governance, and marketing and communications. She graduated with a bachelor’s in business, specializing in marketing from Hofstra University. As an avid reader, Lauren understands the power and importance of reading a good book and loves that African Library Project is bridging a gap for too many in Africa without the proper library resources.

Lisa Colangelo

Program Manager

Lisa's passion for literacy and experience working with nonprofits make her a great fit for ALP. A graduate of Rutgers University, Lisa’s combines her interpersonal and communication skills with extensive experience in leadership, marketing, corporate training and adult education. Prior to her work with nonprofits, Lisa served as Director of Advancement with a private school. Her love for education and literacy arose early in her career, employed for twenty plus years as a Kindergarten teacher.

Julie Freeman

Operations Director

Julie is a lifelong book lover and reader with an interest in Africa. Julie has extensive experience as a communicator and a non-profit executive, including her last full-time role as staff President of the International Association of Business Communicators. Now Julie works on occasional consulting assignments, which gives her time for volunteering and reading with her grandchildren.

Cathy Lampman

Container Manager

Cathy is a former elementary school teacher. On multiple visits to Africa, she saw rural schools with few or no books and is proud to be part of a team that gives the gift of reading by putting books into the hands of African children. In addition to volunteer work, her church and family (which includes five grandchildren) keep Cathy very busy.

Alice Valentine

Container Manager & Botswana Liaison

Alice is a former elementary school teacher who loves children, books, education, Africa, and recycling - so volunteering for ALP is a perfect match! She has had the privilege of traveling to many countries and through various organizations has helped to provide teachers with training and materials, and children with books and school resources.

Carolyn Gannon

Malawi & Sierra Leone Liaison

Following 30+ years in the high-tech world, where she held engineering vice-president and director positions at technology companies such as Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Join Systems, and others, Carolyn retired to become a volunteer in education and mentoring. Carolyn has held board and trustee positions at numerous organizations across the Bay Area and U.S.

Deborah Freedman Lustig

Kenya Liaison

Deborah Freedman Lustig is a cultural anthropologist whose research has focused on gender and education in the United States and Kenya, where she was a high school teacher in the late 80s and a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2004-5. She is currently an Associate Director at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at UC Berkeley.

Claire Hubel

Container Manager

After experiencing the magic that happens when children and books meet, Claire was thrilled to be introduced to the African Library Project by her daughter Mae and her high school Leo Club. Before earning a MS Teaching Credential at Notre Dame de Namur University, Claire graduated with a BA Hons from Oxford University.

Amy Jo Carson

Lesotho Liaison

Amy Jo has been working in humanitarian aid, global health, and community development work both domestically and abroad for approximately 30 years. Her connection to the African Library Project began when she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho from 2010-2012, where she partnered with the Ministry of Education and helped to establish 65 community school libraries.

Pamela Bostelmann

Container Manager and Ghana Liaison

Pamela’s passion for Africa led to two English Language Fellow assignments: teaching at the Ministry of Justice (Asmara, Eritrea) and the University of Burundi and its Institute of Applied Pedagogy (Bujumbura). She attended Bennington College, graduated from Columbia University, and earned an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from San Francisco State University.

Tracy Gaestel

Container Manager

Tracy, a teacher, reading specialist and librarian came to love Africa after being asked to work with teachers there. ALP was a great match when she was looking for ways to help schools in Africa get books for their students. She is thrilled to work with an organization that works to improve literacy by putting books into the hands of students.