Building Pathways to Self-Sufficiency

About The Event

Witness, Celebrate, and Support African Women Agripreneurs for a Sustainable Future

Africa Development Promise is proud to announce our 2023 Gala and is extending our invite to outstanding philanthropists like yourself, to take part. On March 04, 2023, join some of the most philanthropic members of our community as we gather at the Arvada Center for Arts and Culture for a vibrant evening to “Witness, Celebrate, and Support African Women Agripreneurs for a Sustainable Future.”

Guests will enjoy dinner, live and silent auctions (appropriately themed — an “African Marketplace”) and a festive performance by the Kofi Togo dance group. Wanjira Maathai of the World Resources Institute and a leading voice for women and the environment in Africa will deliver the virtual keynote address, putting the extraordinary work of Africa Development Promise in global context.

ADP has been working in Rwanda and Uganda since 2014 using proven pathways for empowering rural women to achieve their livelihood goals. We partner with agricultural cooperatives to put the power of the collective behind every individual woman and the family she supports. We offer technical and governance support for the cooperatives themselves, as well as vocational training for women to branch out into new enterprises that expand their livelihoods and future resilience.

Event Speakers

A Virtual Keynote from

Wanjira Mathai

Wanjira Mathai is the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at World Resources Institute.

She formerly served as Co-chair of WRI’s Global Restoration Council and a Senior Advisor to the Global Restoration Initiative. She is the current Chair of the Wangari Maathai Foundation and the former Chair of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.

An inspiring leader, Wanjira has over 20 years of experience advocating for social and environmental change on both local and international platforms. Over the years, Wanjira has also served important strategic and advocacy roles raising the prominence and visibility of global issues such as climate change, youth leadership, sustainable energy, and landscape restoration, at Women Entrepreneurs in Renewables (wPOWER) and the Green Belt Movement the organization her mother (2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) founded in 1977.

Wanjira currently serves on the Board of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and as an advisory council member of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Wanjira is one of a few Six Seconds EQ Practitioners in Kenya and was one of the 100 Most Influential Africans in 2018. Wanjira has a master’s degree in Public Health and Business from Emory University.

In-Person Presentation from

Gladys Kusasiira Kayondo

Gladys Kayondo

Gladys Kusasiira Kayondo is an agripreneur, a leader, and a member of Epaphroditus Women Cooperative, growing mushrooms in Uganda supported by Africa Development Promise.

She formerly served as a Chairperson of Epaphroditus Women Cooperative and is now a Board member of the cooperative.

As a resilient farmer and businesswoman, Gladys’ livelihood has improved over the years with growth in her income from the cooperative mushroom production, her piggery projects, and other businesses. Having gone through various business and technical training with support from Africa Development Promise, she is now training fellow women and girls in mushroom production and small business skills.

Gladys currently serves as a Local Council representative for women in her village and was elected twice in a row because of her good leadership.

Event Co-Chairs

Benny Samuels

Benilda Samuels

Benny Samuels is a seasoned multicultural, multi-lingual leader in health, human service, and non-profit. 

In her 30-year career, she has led transformational programs that have resulted in increased access, equity, voice, and power (in the form of self-sufficiency) for children, families, and communities, with an intentional emphasis on supporting communities of color and those living in poverty and furthest from opportunity across Colorado and nationally.


Accomplishments in her career include the Statewide Colorado Family Planning Project, which reduced unintended pregnancies in Colorado by 40% in 4 years. Benny also implemented the W.K. Kellogg Foundation multi-million-dollar grant investment and flagship national demonstration project, Community Voices, enrolling thousands of children in the Child Health Plan Plus and uninsured adults into Medicaid and the Colorado Indigent Care Program.Most recently, Benny served as the chief marketing officer and chief operating officer for Nurse-Family Partnership, where she led the operations of a $56M investment to scale the model by making it accessible to thousands of first-time mothers living in poverty through a national culturally and age-responsive marketing campaign and business development strategy.

Benny has worked in and with philanthropy (as a funding partner and grantee). Her work also includes creating opportunities for Black men of color, families in the child welfare system, and American Indian children. Benny received her undergraduate degree in Art from Denver University and a Master’s degree in journalism from CU Boulder. 

Although she was born and raised in Panama, Benny has been in Colorado for over 20 years. She remains connected to her native. She lives with her husband John, a retired Parademic/Firefighter in Denver. They have one son, Sergio, a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. 

Mowa Haile

Mowa Haile

Mowa Haile is President of Sky Blue Builders, which he founded in 2007 after a tenured career in the technology sector. As of 2020 was the Denver Business Journal’s 4th largest minority owned business.  Mowa is also Managing Member of Sky Blue Properties, Lucina Eatery & Bar and Member of Sky Blue Concessions. 

Mowa grew up in Fort Collins after emigrating from Eritrea in 1981 with his family at the age of nine. He was a State High School track champion and went to CSU on a track scholarship earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and later getting his MBA from University of Phoenix.  

Mowa serves on several boards including Board Member of the DMCC and Pinnacol Assurance.  Mowa also Co-Chaired the City of Denver’s Economic Relief and Recovery Council from March of 2020 to August of 2021 and Chair of 2021 GO Bond Executive Committee.  

Our 2022 Sponsors

Bar Sponsor – DBH Realty 

Bronze Sponsor – William Savage Brackett, Robert Adamski, Robert and Virginia Bayless Family Fund, Sky Blue Builders, 

Table Sponsor – Denver Delta, Inc., Africa Development Promise Board, Stantec, Webb Family, Mary Griesedieck