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Meet The Team

Suzan Rickett

Executive Director

Suzan Rickett was born and raised in Uganda under harsh conditions similar to those faced by the children GVU serves. A family from Canada sponsored Suzan, paid for her education, and gave her the opportunity that has propelled her to the success she enjoys today. 

 

Since then, giving that same gift of education and opportunity to less fortunate children has become her passion. She believes every child deserves a shot at a bright future and the empowerment to overcome the many roadblocks they face. 

 

Over the past 5 years, Suzan has had amazing opportunities to give directly to those in need on an individual basis, but she wanted to expand. So in 2020, she and her husband Joel founded Greater Vision International and its first endeavor, Greater Vision Uganda.

 

Today, Suzan’s daily life as a mother of three and a licensed nurse feeds her passion to provide education, nutrition, and healthcare to Ugandan children. Her life goal is to help those who need it and show others how they can help as well.

 

Suzan earned a BA in Environmental Management as well as a nursing degree, and works as a Registered Nurse.

 

Suzan lives in the East San Francisco Bay Area of California with her husband Joel, three boys and girl.

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Joel Rickett

Chief of Operations

Joel Rickett was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and has always had a passion and drive to serve those in need. 

 

As a young man, he served as a leader at a church in Sacramento that actively reached out to people who were facing homelessness and addiction. He also worked as a counselor at youth foster homes, where he learned how important it is for every child to have structure, opportunities, and people in their lives to guide them.

 

Joel met and married Suzan 10 years ago, and together they have three awesome boys and a girl. 

 

Joel has degrees in Business and Marketing and years of experience volunteering and working with people in need. Education and health are close to Joel’s heart, and he believes everyone deserves a chance to benefit from quality education and basic healthcare.

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Nkumbi Julius Ceasar

Acting Director in Uganda

Mr. Ceasar has an M.A. in Development Studies from Uganda Martyrs University and a B.A. in Education from Makerere University. Prior to GVU, Mr. Ceasar worked at The Daughters of Charity Foundation, St. Lawrence College and Victoria University. In 2022 he joined GVU. He has over 14 years of teaching experience and currently manages programs for GVU and Mutesa 1 Royal University.

 

His guidance regarding Ugandan academic regulations has been critical in GVU maintaining its accreditation. As Supervisor, his daily activities also include human resources, quality control, counseling and overseeing our general environment. He was instrumental in coordinating the construction of the new Sutton building and continues to manage the ongoing interior additions to the structure.

 

He lives in Kampala and is married and has three children – two boys and a girl. His wife, Dr. Doreen Nakagaayi is a cardiologist. His hobbies include travel, reading novels and playing table tennis and basketball. Mr. Ceasar’s knowledge, expertise and leadership is greatly appreciated by all. He has kept GVU running smoothly even during the destruction of our previous building

and the construction of our new building. We are sincerely grateful to have him be a part of GVU.

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Luberenga Hillary

Deputy Head Teacher of Greater Vision Academy

Luberenga Hillary is the Deputy Head Teacher of Greater Vision Academy. His vision is to equip children with academic abilities, practical skills, integrity, and values in order to raise a generation of community-transformers who are responsible and productive citizens of Uganda and the world at large. His experience with Watoto Child Care Ministries has prepared him to lead our team and help every child succeed. 

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Asiimwe Augustine

Teacher at Greater Vision Academy

Mr. Asiimwe Augustine is a recent addition to our teaching team.  Asiimwe has a passion for teaching and cares for children, especially those who are less privileged. His experience working with children in similar settings makes Asiimwe a valuable addition to our staff.

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Nakibuuka Swaiba

Nursery Teacher at Greater Vision Academy

​Nakibuuka Swaiba is a nursery teacher at Greater Vision Academy. Her love for teaching children is apparent in her daily interactions with our students. She is patient, calm, creative and playful. Mrs. Swaiba has recently joined our team of teachers. We are grateful to welcome her energetic youthful spirit, warm energy, and love of teaching young minds.

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Ronald Kayondo

Volunteer in Uganda

Ronald Kayondo lives in Uganda and has experience as a school principal, teacher, and builder. He has played an important role in helping Greater Vision Uganda build its first classroom structures, playground, and teachers’ quarters. Ronald has a passion for teaching young children and is dedicated to helping us accomplish our mission.

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Maria Nabbaale

Financial Administrator for Greater Vision Academy

Maria Nabbaale lives in Kampala, Uganda and is actively involved in Greater Vision Uganda. She is the mother of two beautiful daughters and dedicates her time to reaching out to the children of Sogolelo. She works closely with Margaret to serve the families and children by delivering care packages and arranging for transportation when needed for those in the village that need to see a medical professional. Her service to the village of Sogolelo is vital to the mission of Greater Vision Uganda!

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Nabatanzi Monica 

Teacher at Greater Vision Academy

Nabatanzi Monica is a proud teacher and has been teaching young students since 2000. She is an administrator and facilitator at Greater Vision Academy. The joy she brings to every student and every class session is contagious. Her passion for children has always drawn her to opportunities to serve and support them.

 

Monica has taught at a number of schools in Uganda, including Hillside School, Cream Site Primary School, and Pride Way Primary School. She served as a senior teacher there and was in full charge of her respective class. Her leadership and skills in management, planning, and communication are invaluable to our mission.

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Bridget Glidden

GVU Advisory Committee

Bridget Glidden met Suzan in 2010. Bridget helped Suzan write her resume and they have been friends ever since. Bridget was born in Texas and raised in Missouri. She has a BA in English from Rice University Houston, Texas, where she met her husband, Derald. They moved to California in1965 where she received a MA in Math from UC Berkeley. Beyond reading and arithmetic, Bridget has a passion for helping others. She was a CA state vocational counselor for people with disabilities and was one of the first community college disabled students counselors in CA. She has also volunteered at International Rescue Committee, Catholic Charities, Red Cross, Contra Costa County Tutoring Program, Habitat for Humanity, El Cerrito Senior Center and several other programs. She also has a Masters in Rehab Counseling from SF State.

 

When Suzan told Bridget about GVU, Bridget was anxious to help. She went to Uganda with Suzan in March 2022 and saw firsthand how much had been accomplished and how much more needed to be done. When she returned, Bridget graciously offered her house and garden for the GU Advisory Committee kick-off party one year ago on July 30th. Bridget's support had been instrumental in helping GU network with others to grow the organization and acquire the people needed

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Virginie Descamps

GVU Advisory Committee

Virginie Descamps is the newest member of our Advisory Committee. At 17 years old she came to the US by herself from Lille, France to study. Her experiences as an immigrant led her to her career. She is a multi-cultural leader who has conducted business in over 60 countries. She is passionate about education, social justice and diversity, and volunteers on various boards at

Vestianinc.org and at Downs UMC, helping foster youth and refugees.

 

GVU's mission is close to her heart and Suzan's story prompted her to join our Advisory Committee. We are very excited to have Virginie join our team. She is an inspiration to us all!

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Lorraine Gunther

GVU Advisory Committee

Lorraine Gunther ("Louie") was born in Brooklyn, NY, she received a BA in Sociology, with a Minor in Urban/Ethnic Studies and Afro Caribbean dance from SUNY Binghamton, NY.  In 1977, Louie moved with her husband's family to California. Most of her career she was an Office Manager for Environmental firms.

 

Louie's main activities since retiring in 2015 have been batik, listening to bluegrass music, camping, gardening, traveling, walking and water aerobics/swimming. Her and her husband's water aerobics instructor, Yassir organized a trip for his swim students to his homeland, Morocco. On that trip they met Bridget Glidden, a GVU Advisory Member. Bridget introduced Lorraine to Suzan and they all organized GVU's 1st Party at Bridget's house.  Louie feels that it is an honor and a privilege to be a member of GVU.  This organization truly has uplifted the Sogolelo community and seeing the results in real-time has been very gratifying for her.

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Angela Ahirwe

GVU Advisory Committee

Angela Ahirwe was born in Kampala, Uganda. She remembers visiting her relatives in villages similar to Sogolelo where GVU is, and she saw that people there lived a more rustic life and did not have the opportunity to get an education. In Uganda she attended boarding school. Her happiest memories were of her family cooking outdoors while she played with her extended family of cousins until dinnertime and the grownups told them stories while they waited for the food to cook.

 

She came to America in 1998 at the tender age of 10 years old. Her mother, who is a nurse, had come to the US ahead of her to care for Angela’s uncle and start a new life. Once settled, her mother sent for Angela. American life was very different for Angela. Although she spoke English, Americans spoke fast and she had difficulty understanding it. She focused and worked hard to be able to communicate better. One day while watching TV she realized that she could comprehend it all! Another difference in the US was that she could have as much bread here as she wanted! In Uganda bread is a treat and not a necessity. Angela is an only child so she misses her cousins but she has embraced the Ugandan community in the Bay Area and is happy to be a part of it.

 

In Uganda, Angela was encouraged to become a doctor or a nurse but she longed to be in the fashion industry and had been drawing since she was a child. In the US she received a Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Fashion Design. Afterwards, she decided to find a more flexible career so she could travel. Currently she is an HR Generalist but is looking into other more portable careers.

Angela is married to another Advisory Committee Member, George Ahirwe. Prior to meeting George in the US, she met Suzan Rickett and has been involved with GVU since its inception. She wants to help make a difference. Angela has a bright smile and is always ready to put herself out there to help in any way possible. Her positivity is contagious and she has been a driving force as we move forward!

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George Ahirwe

GVU Advisory Committee

George Ahirwe was born in the Western District of Uganda called Isingiro which is over 200 miles from GVU. His father is a retired Parish Chief and his mother is a retired nurse. They had seven children. George studied Real Estate Management at the University and learned electrical engineering while working. He was always aware of the disparity between the haves and the have nots and how the government did not help its people. He has bittersweet memories of his family and their day-to-day struggles and how controlling the government was. One could not speak about the issues. He became a human rights activist.

 

In 2017 he came to the US for a better life – a country where people have freedom of speech. He is currently a General Maintenance Technician for Commercial and Residential properties and he is studying for his General Contractor’s License. Growing up in Uganda, the extended family always helped each other. Here in the US, he continues to give back to the family whatever he can – not only to his extended family but to those in need. Through his cousin here in the US, he met his wife Angela and they married in 2020. Angela was friends with our founder, Suzan Rickett, so he joined GVU. At GVU, George has provided support with the recycling program, garage sales and other GVU events. Talking to George it is evident that he is passionate about helping people and about their human rights. He truly tries to make a difference every day and his efforts are much appreciated.

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Gideon Ukpai

GVU Advisory Committee

Gideon Ukpai was born in the southeastern part of Nigeria in Oron, Gideon was the second oldest of four children. He started school early to be with his older brother and excelled. Subsequently, he went to boarding school. He has fond memories of playing soccer in boarding school – sometimes with a soccer ball and sometimes with a soccer ball made out of paper and rubberbands! Like his

father, he studied Mechanical Engineering at a University in Nigeria. When the University went on strike, he then came to the USA to study at Louisiana Tech. He recalls that he arrived in the USA in March when daylight savings was happening – changing the clock forward was not practiced in Nigeria. It certainly seemed odd to him! After working in New Orleans for a couple of years, Gideon moved to California and received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley. He currently works for FormFactor. In his spare time, he enjoys watching soccer and

car racing.

During the height of the pandemic, Gideon met Grace Mukakigyeri, Suzan Rickett’s sister and joined our GVU group. His parents in Nigeria also do volunteer work in their community. Gideon wanted to give back to others like his parents do. Gideon and Grace will be married next year! Gideon always has a smiling attitude, a can-do approach and a very responsible outlook. He is a large part of the heartbeat of GVU. He is a joy to work with and we really appreciate all

his effort!

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Grace Mukakigyeri

GVU Advisory Committee

Grace Mukakigyeri was born in Uganda and raised in Kampala, Grace dreamed of studying on an America campus like she saw on TV. In 2016, she joined her sister, our founder, Suzan Rickett in Concord, CA. Her first impressions of the USA truly provide some insight and perspective on Ugandan life. Prior to coming to America, Grace thought the USA was all skyscrapers and fancy buildings. Her inner child was excited to see it for herself. She came and discovered that America was Candyland – a place where you could eat candy all the time – a luxury in Uganda. In the USA there were lots of KFCs – eating chicken was a rare occurrence in Uganda. Everywhere she looked there were pizza and burger places! She was also impressed by the beauty and splendor of our National Parks. Most of all, she was eager to get an education. Following in the footsteps of her sister, Grace will finish her nursing degree at Chamberlain University College in April 2024. She credits Suzan and their mother for her inspiration and motivation. As a single Mom, their mother worked tirelessly to provide for their immediate family as well as their cousins. She was raised to have a good work ethic and to always give to others. In 2019 she received her driver’s license and in 2020 she met her fiancé, Gideon Ukpai, who is also a GVU Advisory Committee Member. They plan to marry in June 2024. Grace says it is all a miracle and she does not take it for granted.

 

She misses her family and friends in Uganda but is thankful that she can find Ugandan food at Concord Produce and she can cook up a taste of home whenever she needs to. Someday she would like to visit Uganda again. For now, Grace is focused on giving back by becoming a nurse and volunteering at GVU. Her effervescent personality, positive attitude and can-do approach are a large part of our team spirit. We are all sure that her mother would be very proud of her

and are grateful to have her on our committee!

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Connie Sutton

GVU Advisory Committee

Connie Sutton was born and raised in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area to live in a cooler environment. Her mother was a teacher. Connie is also a teacher. She received her teaching credential from UC Berkeley and has a degree in Political Science from UCLA. She met her husband when they were both serving in the Peace Corps in El Salvador. They have two children and three grandchildren.

 

While working in El Salvador, she realized the extent of poverty in the developing world. She later befriended her Mom’s Spanish teacher who had started Circulo de Amigas Foundation, an NGO that provides scholarships for girls in Jinotega, Nicaragua. For more info, please see their website at camigasfoundation.org. Connie has since been working with the foundation for over 20 years. Connie also teaches Spanish at the El Cerrito Senior Center where she met Bridget Glidden, another GVU Advisory Committee Member. Bridget asked Connie to join GVU. Connie had been on a safari in Africa previously and was very interested in working with GVU.

 

Connie has been an essential player on our team. Her experience, leadership, knowledge and skills are a large part of our core support. Her enthusiasm to help others shines through in all of her endeavors. She summed up her philosophy on giving in an Ignatius Loyola quote: “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Connie truly gives of herself and we are grateful for her participation.

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Ann Squires

GVU Advisory Committee

Ann Squires was born of minister parents in Pennsylvania, Ann was raised to serve others from an early age. Ann has made a career of helping people in development and fundraising. Prior to graduating from the Pacific School of Religion in 1976, Ann was introduced to fundraising by the Gray Panthers of the East Bay, where she wrote the original proposal for the Over 60’s Health Center. Subsequently, as Director of Alameda County Citizens for Better Nursing Home Care she wrote grants to start the Nursing Home Ombudsman Program of Alameda County at the Marcus Foster Institute, a forerunner for raising private funds for public schools, Ann developed programs for recognizing teaching excellence and introducing students to corporate human resource specialists. In the 1980’s at the Asian Art Museum, Ann established the Development Program prior to its relocation/separation from Golden Gate Park/De Young Museum. At St.Paul’s Episcopal School, Oakland, she raised $1.5M for a building/endowment fund. As a Capital Consultant, Ann’s client roster included: Asian Health Services, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, Bessie Coleman Court, Center for the Education of the Infant Deaf, Berkeley Montessori School, Kokoro Assisted Living among others.

 

In 2004 Ann was approached by Gil and Karen Gleason (Karen is an Advisory Committee Member) to raise $35,000 for a fledgling HIV/AIDs Education Program in Uganda - Friends of Ruwenzori (FOR). In 2007, Ann visited Uganda with Karen and was inspired to support their cause. Now, 20 years later, FOR has an economic development program, a home visit program, a micro finance program and a hospital.

 

Currently, Ann chairs the Strawberry Creek Lodge Foundation Board in Berkeley where she resides. Ann is also active with her family – her daughter, son-in-law, grandson and granddaughter. Besides being employed helping others and volunteering, Ann swims at the West Campus Pool, Berkeley. There Bridget Glidden asked Ann’s advice about GVU and the Advisory Committee was formed. We value Ann’s participation on our Advisory Committee and look forward to her continuing guidance!

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