Our Team

We inspire new ways of thinking about African Culture.

Ingrid Askew

Executive Director

Ingrid Askew is an African American actress, stage director, educator, and cultural activist, Ms. Askew lived in Cape Town South Africa for ten years and knows South African culture and society well. She has run drama, storytelling, and writing programs for township youth and has hosted American artists to work with youth in the townships; she has also worked with youth in schools and community groups in the US. A founding member of New World Theater ensemble at the University of Massachusetts and a founding board member the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School, (the only charter school devoted to the performing arts in Western New England)

In 1998, after six years of planning and fund-raising, she co-founded and led the historic year long walk known as the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage; following the Transatlantic slave route in reverse from the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil to West Africa, and ending in South Africa 1999. Fifty walkers from the United States and other countries accompanied her on that historic journey. The Pilgrimage is featured in the PBS series This Far by Faith: African American Spiritual Journeys.

At the end of the pilgrimage, Ms. Askew settled in Cape Town where she continues to work with community artists and township youth. In 2003 Ms. Askew served as acting coach and coordinator for a theatre project ex-change (Middle Passage: The Homecoming) between acting students from the SYASANGA Theatre company in Langa township, Cape Town, South Africa and the University of Louisville. The play was written by noted South African playwright Fatima Dike, and the culmination of the project was a production featured at the 2003 Grahamstown Arts Festival in South Africa and at the University of Louisville, Directed by Nefertiti Burton.

In 2005, the Womanspirit Project founded by Ms. Askew collaborated on a writing project in Cape Town the University of Louisville Theater Department.

In 2007 Ms. Askew produced and directed Langston Hughes’ The Black Nativity

with students from TSiBA Education and LEAP high school in Cape Town.

In 2008-2009 Ms. Askew served as Project Coordinator for the South Africa Youth Arts Exchange Program, sponsored by the Institute for Training and Development and the US State Department.

She served as the on-site liaison in charge of project development and logistics with the South Africa partner organization Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town. Ms. Askew is continuing her exchange work through her most recently established, Crossing the Waters Institute For Cultural Exchange

Ms. Askew’s work in theatre and cultural activism has always been inspired by the goal of bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to build community and work for social change.

Dr. Cheryl Shain

Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Shain is a life-long learner in the field of education and a community activist. She has been actively involved in higher and adult education, secondary and college student development for over thirty years. In her capacity as a college administrator, she has designed, developed, implemented and managed college access (opportunity) programs for high school and college students. Fifteen years ago, Dr. Shain returned to her home town in Bridgeport, Connecticut and became enthusiastically involved in Early Childhood Programs and the Bridgeport Public Schools. Dr. Shain is a graduate of Columbia University Teachers College and has taught education classes to high school and community college students.

Denise Patmon

Board Member

Denise Patmon is an Associate Professor of Education in two departments at the University of Massachusetts at Boston: Curriculum & Instruction, and Leadership in Schools. She is the Faculty Advisor and former Co-director of the Boston Writing Project, a site that has been in existence since 1979. Her doctoral research is in Japanese Literature and the Teaching of Writing: Multiple Frames for Knowing. Author of two books for children and several articles and monographs and an associate past editor of two journals, Patmon is also a contributor to Jim Gray's seminal text Teachers at the Center. Her most recent research involves the investigation of curriculum and instructional leadership at the 18th century Abiel Smith School for African American children in Boston.

Dr. Patmon is on the boards of trustees for the Crite House Museum in Boston and the Benjamin Banneker Charter School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and on the advisory boards for her writing project site as well as the Center for the Improvement of Teaching at UMASS/Boston, where she has just been nominated as its incoming Director. Pedagogy is her passion, and she has been recognized and honored as a recipient of the Althea Lindsey Teacher of the Year Award as well as the Cynthia Longfellow Teacher of the Year Award from Wheelock College. She has lectured and presented papers at professional conferences and universities in diverse higher educational settings throughout the United States, South Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe. She is an avid reader, writer, pianist, violist, and kotoist, and is Luke's mom.

Donna Howard

Board Member

Donna Howard, CFRE, joined Morgan State University as Director of Development in 2011. Under her leadership, she and the Institutional Advancement team raise some $4 - 5M annually in private support for scholarships and student success initiatives, teaching and learning programs and activities, and community outreach. She began her career in development working for mission driven organizations such as, the WGBH Educational Foundation, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. In 1998 she began working in higher education and joined Morgan State University after serving as the National Director of Individual and Planned Giving at the United Negro College Fund, Director of Development at the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work, and most recently, Director of Annual Giving at Cheyney University. Howard holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and a CFRE. She serves on the Board of Directors of the House of Ruth, Maryland and is co-chair of the Development Committee.



Gregory D.S. Bascomb, Esquire

Board Member

Attorney, Gregory Bascomb began practicing law in Northampton in 1985. For the next 30 years, his practice has taken him throughout Western Massachusetts where he has counseled individuals facing consumer and farm bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Greg has been in service to many communities by serving as vice chairperson of the North-Central Massachusetts Council for Children, a board member of the Fitchburg Area Advisory Council for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, official for USA Track and Field, a board member for Amherst Community Television, board member, past president and host parent for the Amherst Committee for A Better Chance, chair for the Town of Amherst Housing Review Board, and a sitting Commissioner for the Town of Amherst Human Rights Commission and Legal Advisor for Crossing the Waters Institute for Cultural Exchange.

Greg’s desire to continue to advocate for the needs of people in Western Massachusetts is fueled by three decades of experience working on education, economic and environmental health, and human rights issues.

John Higginson

Board Member

Professor of History

Professor John Higginson's most recent book, Collective Violence and the Agrarian Origins of South African Apartheid, 1900-1948,  was published by Cambridge University Press in November of 2014. Other publications include articles in African Economic History, International Journal of African Historical Studies, and the Revue canadienne des études africaines. A monograph entitled A Working Class in the Making: The Union Miniere du Haut-Katanga and the African Mineworkers, 1907-1949 was published by University of Wisconsin Press in 1989. His article "Liberating the Captives: Watchtower as an Avatar of Colonial Revolt in Southern Africa and Katanga Province, Belgian Congo, 1907-1941," was published in The Journal of Social History. His "Shaping the Mirror of Sovereignty: the Quest for a Democratic society in the American South and South Africa, 1844-1902" appeared in M.N. Matselela's South African and the United States: The Protracted Encounter (New York: Verso Press, 1997). Higginson's "Upending The Century of Wrong: Agrarian Elites, Collective Violence, and the Transformation of State Power in the American South and South Africa, 1865-1914," was published by Social Identities (Volume 4, Number 3) in 1998. His "Le Pari Congolais: Whose Congo? Whose Gamble" appeared in the Belgian Historical Journal, Brood En Rozen (1999/2). The Journal of Social History published his "Hell in Small Places: Agrarian Elites and Collective Violence in South Africa's Western Transvaal, 1900-1907" in 2001. In 1993-94, he was the recipient of the Research and Writing Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. At present he is working on a book entitled The Hidden Cost of Industrialization: State Violence and the Economic Transformation of Southern Africa, 1900-1980.

Research Areas

History of South Africa
Comparative labor history


The Hidden Cost of Industrialization: State Violence and the Economic Transformation of Southern Africa, 1900-1980 (forthcoming).

Collective Violence and the Agrarian Origins of South African Apartheid, 1900-1948. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Courses Recently Taught

Undergraduate Courses
Race and Atrocious Wars

Graduate Courses
Agriculture & Industry in South Africa and the U.S. South
Approaches to World History

Meg Maccini

Board Member
School Change Coach

Margaret Maccini is an education consultant focused on competency-based curriculum, instruction and assessment. She is also a doctoral student studying Education Anthropology. Meg served as a school change coach working in four of the schools in the i3 New England Network for Personalization and Performance. Her coaching focused on instruction, assessment and collaborative strategies using best practices from professional learning communities. She co-founded and facilitated the Performance Assessment Working Group (PAWG) comprised of teachers and administrators from each of the thirteen schools. PAWG guided the vision of the i3 New England Network and provided an opportunity for educators to develop and strengthen collaborative instruction and assessment practices.

As a public school educator, Meg is inspired and motivated by the Coalition of Essential Schools democratic and equitable schools movement.  Her work is driven by a belief that our public education system must offer a “personalized, equitable and academically challenging” education to all students. Under Meg’s leadership as Headmaster of the Boston Day and Evening Academy (1997-2008), BDEA developed an innovative, successful competency-based school, serving students in three shifts over a 12 hour school day who were overage for grade level and at risk of dropping out of high school.

For Meg, the most enduring impact of the i3 New England Network is that students were always considered essential partners in the work. She finds that teachers not only improved their practice, but also now recognize and engage students as partners in their work. Through her coaching role, Meg came to better understand the enormous pressure and challenges that traditional public schools face. As a coach, she was able to help schools problem solve some of these challenges, including by developing collaborative practices skills.

Meg holds a B.A. from UMASS Amherst, a M.Ed. from Harvard University, a CAGS in Education Leadership from Simmons University, and is a proud graduate of the class of 2007 Lead Boston! As a doctoral student at UMASS Amherst, Meg’s research interests include race, class and culture in education; critical and anti-racist pedagogies; resilience/persistence in students; as well as educational ethnography and urban schooling. Meg lives in Western Massachusetts where the coffee is strong, and the traffic is not as bad as in the Boston area.

Mzamo Mangaliso

Board Member

Mzamo Mangaliso
President and CEO of the National Research Foundation of South Africa

When Mzamo Mangaliso, MBA '84, was a boy, a group of hired thugs came to his home one day to kill his father. The South African textile firm where the elder Mangaliso worked had just given him a promotion. Another man wanted that job, and he was willing to murder to get it.

But when the intended victim came to the door and the men realized who he was, they cried, "Oh, it's you, Brother Tom! Oh my goodness!" and offered to turn their knives on their client instead. He declined the offer.

Holding the title of clerk (the most he could aspire to under apartheid), but doing all the work of a personnel manager, Mangaliso's father knew everyone, sat down to chat with everyone, and routinely helped people get jobs. People liked and respected him, his son says, because he lived by the belief that every person – from the least to the most powerful – merits the same respect.

Today, as president and CEO of the National Research Foundation of South Africa, Mzamo Mangaliso points to his father as an example of leadership.

"He was a very wise, visionary person who believed that you've got to have role models, you've got to have champions around you, you've got to identify people who will help you get to the next level," Mangaliso says. "But at the same time, you've got to pull your own weight."

Pulling one's weight, and striving for excellence in the process, lies at the core of Mangaliso's mission as head of the NRF, a South African government organization that supports research in the natural sciences, engineering, and technology, as well as in the social sciences and the humanities. In addition to awarding grants, the NRF runs several important national research facilities, such as the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory, the South African Astronomical Observatory, the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory, the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, and the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences.

"Africa must be moved from being the basket case of the world, or the laughingstock of the world, to something people can be proud of, can look to."

In keeping with the NRF's stated goals, Mangaliso hopes to use his position to help make South Africa, and Africa as a whole, an eminent player on the world stage. "Africa must be moved from being the basket case of the world, or the laughingstock of the world, to something people can be proud of, can look to," he says. Achieving that goal means not only supporting cutting-edge research in South Africa's universities and research facilities, but also promoting the rigorous study of math and science among the country's historically disadvantaged black citizens.

"This is on the tip of his tongue all the time, whenever he addresses any audience – the importance of educating oneself, of reading deeply and cogitating," says R. A. Mogotlane, professor and vice principal of the University of Pretoria and Mangaliso's longtime friend.

Mangaliso accepted his position at the NRF in 2006, returning home after nearly 25 years in the United States, including more than 20 years teaching at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he was an associate professor of management. In addition to his MBA in finance and marketing from the Johnson School, Mangaliso earned a PhD in strategic management from the Isenberg School.

Mangaliso brings his expertise in both strategic management and the physical sciences to his position as head of the NRF. He holds a BS in chemistry and physics from the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, which he attended under the sponsorship of the Barlow Rand Company (now Barloworld). In return for his scholarship, Mangaliso was obliged to work for the manufacturing and mining firm for several years. But despite flying him to interviews around the country, Barlow could not find a job that fit his talents in a unit that would take a black candidate.

The company released Mangaliso from his obligation, and eventually he took at job at Unilever, which, in the mid-1970s, was starting to push back the boundaries of apartheid. "I was brought in as one of the first cohorts of blacks to be tapped for management positions in the future, but I started in the lab, because that's where my skill was," he said.

Promoted to management, Mangaliso soon realized he lacked the skills in finance and accounting necessary to excel in that capacity. In those years, South Africa did not offer MBA degrees to black citizens, so Mangaliso came to the Johnson School under the South African Education Program, administered in New York by the Institute of International Education and in South Africa by the Educational Opportunities Council (EOC), founded by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

At the same time, his wife, Nomanzengele " Zengie" Mangaliso, ILR '84, came to work on her master's at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Currently on leave from her position as professor and chair of sociology at Westfield State College in Massachusetts, Zengie Mangaliso has joined her husband in South Africa, and now heads the Institute for Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Pretoria.

Throughout his years in the United States, Mangaliso continued to work on South African development. From 1985 to 1990, he co-directed an orientation program that helped students in the South African Education Program adjust to life and study in America. After the fall of apartheid in the mid-1990s, he returned home often as a consultant, helping to impart management skills to black South Africans so they could become administrators in government and the private sector.

Mangaliso's pursuit of excellence, despite the obstacles apartheid threw in his way, illustrates the strength of his character, says Mogotlane. "For him to grow up under those circumstances and end up where he is shows incredible tenacity and huge patience, and also an ability to overcome bitterness."

In fact, Mangaliso uses his past disadvantages to inspire others, Mogotlane adds. "He is in a position of leadership, and he can actually turn around and say, 'Look at me. I started off in a little place in the East Rand, in a black township called Daveyton. And look at me. So you can do it also.'"

The keystone of Mangaliso's leadership philosophy is the principle of ubuntu, a southern African word that translates loosely as "humanness."

"Ubuntu responds to issues such as empathy, solidarity, togetherness, family, respect, and humility," Mangaliso says. It recognizes that people bring feeling as well as intellect to the workplace, and that people should experience emotions together–"the whole notion that pain shared is pain diminished, and joy shared is joy multiplied," he explains. "I'm trying to bring that spirit to the NRF."

"He really does personify ubuntu. You can see it in his face, his expressions," says Bradford Knipes, professor of economics at Westfield State College. Knipes first met Mangaliso as a fellow PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts and has seen him take leadership roles with the Eastern Academy of Management, a professional association. "He has humor combined with affection, sincere concern and identification with people, with a clear sense of purpose about what the organization or the team is trying to accomplish at the time."

His belief in shared joy makes Mangaliso an effective motivator. "When somebody else accomplishes something, he's as happy about that as if it were something he were getting credit for," Knipes says. "The result is that people really want to do their best for him."

Mangaliso inspires the people who work with him, but he also knows when to stand back, says D. Anthony Butterfield, interim dean of the Isenberg school, who was director of the school's PhD program when Mangaliso was a student. "Mzamo is quite good at getting a team together and setting some goals and expectations, and then being a helper, not a constant watcher and reporter."

Mangaliso says he motivates by giving people challenges, but also by maintaining a respectful tone when he speaks his mind. "Somebody said you've got to have the talent to tell someone to go to hell such that they look forward to the trip," he observes with a laugh. "I never really tell people to go to hell," he adds. But he's not afraid to criticize at length when necessary, all the while remembering to focus on the business issue and not attack the human being. "So that in the next breath, you shake hands and talk about other things as well."

These days, Mangaliso is applying the principle of ubuntu to the NRF's current challenge, NRF Vision 2015, formulating the organization's strategic plan for the next several years. He has asked the head of human resources to visit the business units to talk about values such as trustworthiness, empathy and solidarity, and to ask employees what values they think should nourish the NRF's vision. "I'm trying to use a bottom-up approach, having stated my own approach, but telling them in as humble a way as I can," he says. "I'd be very wrong to impose my views. They know them, but I'd like to hear theirs."

He's also asking the NRF's executives, and personnel at its research facilities, how they think they can help make South Africa a proud contributor to humanity. He points, for example, to the NRF's efforts to attract some of the world's best radio astronomers to South Africa, to position the country as a leader in the field.

Mangaliso's brainstorming doesn't stop with the executives and scientists. "If you take it down to the operational level, even the sweeper can be part of the game if they are allowed to contribute their ideas about how they can make the organization a special place to work in," Mangaliso says.

His father would be proud.

Nancy Abdalla

HR manager

Nancy Abdalla has spent her life in education and community development.  She worked in filmmaking with Sageworks in NYC, and taught film and video for several years at UMass Amherst.  She developed and directed programs for at-risk youth through the Amherst Public Schools (CAPACIDAD), Hampshire Educational Collaborative (21st Century Community Learning Centers, Northampton, MA), The Community Music School of Springfield, MA, and Roots UP (Nuestras Raices, Holyoke, MA).  For the past ten years, she and her husband have lived in Southern and Eastern Africa, operating an import-export business in African arts and textiles and other entrepreneurial ventures.


Awards and community work:

  • Sustainable Energy Summit 2009 – Co-Presenter: “Asset-Based Community Development”, New Orleans, LA
  • Communities That Care Coalition, 2003 – 2005, Hampshire County Community Action Plan
  • Safe Schools Healthy Students, 2003 - 2005
  • Superintendent’s Special Award for Leadership, Amherst Public Schools, 2004
  • Sonia Wexler Award for Excellence in Multi-Cultural Education, 1990
  • Co-Developer, MOSAIC (Multiple Options for Special Integrated Care) Program, 1990 (integrating children with a wide range of special needs into local recreational programs)