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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recording Secretary & Ghana Liaison
Margaret is a big fan of books, Africa, traveling, and learning about other cultures - making ALP a perfect match for her. Margaret’s career has ranged from research to biotech and pharmaceutical product commercialization strategy consulting.
Christina De Simone
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.
Amy Jo Carson
Board Member & 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.
Kathryn values the power of books to transport their readers to seemingly distant destinations. When her nose isn't buried in a book, Kathryn works in online video distribution, with an emphasis on family content and development in emerging contexts.
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!
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 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.
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.
Marketing and Knowledge Manager
Lauren is a digital native who has always been fascinated with how communications and digital media bring people together. She is a current graduate student at the University of Washington, earning her Master of Library and Information Science. She has spent seven years working in social media, communications, content development, and publishing.
Youth Program Manager
Tatiana has always been drawn to the power of creativity. She gravitates toward the arts because of its ability to connect people to themselves and one another. Tatiana’s artistic interests, natural curiosity, and thirst for knowledge led her to travel the world, major in Communication Studies, and begin a career working with youth. Her background also includes digital media and community outreach.
Data Science & Systems Intern
Saurav is a high school sophomore with an avid interest in computer science & engineering. He started off as a volunteer book drive organizer, and is now combining his passions for STEM and reading by taking on the role of a Data and Systems Support Intern where he hopes to leverage technology to make a positive impact on communities in Africa. In his spare time, he is the editor of STEMATIX, an international student-run STEM magazine, and enjoys playing the Tabla, Indian drums.
Operations Director & 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.
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.
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 & eSwatini 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 Assistant Director at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at UC Berkeley.
Erika Papakipos is a former elementary school teacher with a background in Evolutionary Biology and a lifelong interest in Africa. She loves ALP’s partnership model of respectful cooperation and the distributed, grassroots nature of the book drives, which means that American volunteers benefit as much from the process as the African recipients do.
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.
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.
Data & Tech Support Volunteer
Laura Hill has had a lifelong passion for libraries and readers. She was drawn to ALP's ecosystem of US book drives partnered with specific African communities hungry for books. She specifically sought out a volunteer opportunity that would allow her to connect real volunteers to real results. Laura supports ALP with bookkeeping and tech support. Laura has an M.S. in Physics from M.I.T. and an MLIS degree from SJSU.
Kiera was first introduced to African Library Project through leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. This group of 4th grade girls earned their Bronze Award through the tangible and meaningful project of conducting a book drive for two libraries in eSwatini. Kiera has traveled to Africa several times, both as a tourist and for her previous work around building scientific capacity.