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Project Leadership

The following NIU faculty and staff have demonstrated leadership and support in ongoing engagement efforts in Africa. Scroll or use the links on the right to browse their activities, publications, and other online resources.

Abu BahAbu Bah

Associate Professor of Sociology, CLAS

Major Interests

Issues of democracy, nation building, ethnicity, and the peace-making and peace-building role of the international community.

Initiating a Center for Pace and Conflict Studies in Africa and Asia with Susan Russell

Recent publications

Bah, Abu Bakarr. “State Decay and Civil War: A Discourse on Power in Sierra Leone.” Critical Sociology 37, no. 2 (2011):199-216.

Bah, Abu Bakarr. (2010). "Democracy and Civil war: A Discourse on Citizenship and Peacemaking in Cote d'Ivoire." African Affairs. (109) 437:597-615.

Bah, Abu Bakarr. Breakdown and Reconstitution: Democracy, the Nation-State, and Ethnicity in Nigeria.  Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005.


African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review. The journal is housed at NIU. See http://www.jstor.org/page/journal/africonfpeacrevi/forAuthor.html.

Students from Rutgers-Newark interviewed Dr. Bah on the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. Watch the YouTube video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJQtS0jElW8

Editor and one of the cofounders of the international journal African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review: http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublication?journalCode=africonfpeacrevi 

Horn of Africa discussion: http://www.niutoday.info/2011/09/27/niu-faculty-to-discuss-horn-of-africa/

Monique BernoudyMonique Bernoudy

Associate Athletics Director for CHAMPS/Life Skills, Huskie Athletics


Travels to Mombasa, Kenya to volunteer for the Mombasa Relief Initiative (MRI). Has been volunteering for 10 years: http://www.niuhuskies.com/genrel/041310aac.html


Paul CrawfordPaul Crawford

Director of Community College Relations and PASCAL Initiatives, OEIT

Manages the North American node for PASCAL, an international organization focused on community development in regions and has participated in PASCAL and UNISA work in South Africa.

Joanne DempseyJoanne Dempsey

International Programs Consultant- Economic Education

Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development

Former President, Econ Illinois, an NIU-based not-for-profit educational organization working with K-12 teachers to provide economic and financial literacy education for all grades.


Worked on several school projects in South Africa on behalf of the National Council on Economic Education:


Travelled to South Africa in 2008, 2009, 2010, & 2011




Chief curriculum developer and co-leader of The Economics and Entrepreneurship Education Program (TEEEP) in South Africa, an after-school program for grades 5-7 that provides children with the knowledge and skills needed to open doors of opportunity in the working world.  Focus is on teaching foundational economic decision-making skills and introducing learners to the opportunities they can build for themselves through entrepreneurship.  Program is being delivered through a partnership with the South African YMCA.  Two sites delivered Unit 1 of the program in 2014; 7 sites are scheduled to deliver Unit 1 in 2015, and two sites are scheduled to deliver Unit 2.  The curriculum is sequential (Units 1-3), and integrates hands-on, engaged learning activities within a classroom economy in which children “earn” and learn about spending and saving.

Ryan DowdRyan Dowd

Instructor, Educational Leadership, Psychology, and Foundations, COE

Dowd works with churches, primarily in Africa, that are confronting governments that commit human rights abuses.


Served as an international election observer for the 2008 elections held in Ghana, West Africa: http://www.niu.edu/law/enotes/Enotes_March09.html

Maylan Dunn-KenneyMaylan Dunn-Kenney

Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, COE

Participated as a volunteer and with NIU students in community development in a rural Kenya organized by Moses Mtuku. Supports teachers and parents interested in developing better educational opportunities for children in the village.


Helped with the Kenya Literacy Project, founded by the late NIU professor Moses Mutuku.



Jon Furr

Director, Office of Education System Innovation; P-20; OEIT

Works with Link Community Development, an international NGO that seeks to improve the quality of education in African countries. Link collaborates with ministries of education and district offices in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, and Malawi.  Recently submitted grant proposal to MacArthur Foundation to implement a web-based school performance reporting system in a Uganda district.  Also working with various partners to coordinate Illinois STEM education strategies with partners in sub-Saharan Africa.



Courtney GallaherCourtney Gallaher

Assistant Professor of Geology

Major Interests

Research on urban agriculture in Kenya.

Laverne GyantLaverne Gyant

Director, Center for Black Studies; associate professor, Adult Higher Education, COE

Major Interests

African American women and the contributions and participation of African Americans in adult education, as well as Black Studies, African American Historiography, African Americans in Education, African American Women, Civil Rights Movement, Reparations.


Directed NIU study abroad program in Ghana in 2012:


Stephen HaberkornStephen Haberkorn

Assistant Coordinator of Clinical Experiences, COE

Researching a writer from Uganda

Spent four summers in Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa) mainly supporting schools for orphans

Pat InmanPatricia Inman

Research Associate, Center for Governmental Studies, OEIT

Major Interests

Sustainable agriculture, young women's leadership initiative

Mitch IrwinMitch Irwin

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, CLAS

Major Interests

Ecological strategy of a primate species, substantial shifts in diet, ranging and spatial ecology in an endangered species of lemur inhabiting forest fragments, examining changes in nutritional ecology, physiologic health and the prevalence of disease and parasitism.

Recent Publications

Crowley BE, Godfrey LR, Irwin MT (2011) A glance to the past: Subfossils, staple isotopes, seed dispersal and lemur species loss in southern Madagascar. American Journal of Primatology 73:25-37.


Started SADABE, an NGO with Karen Samonds:


Promoted the coexistence of humans and wildlife in Madagascar:


Discovered an elusive species of lemur:


Michelle LillyMichelle Lilly

Assistant professor of Psychology, CLAS

Recent publications

Lilly, M.M., & Graham-Bermann, S.A. (2009).  Ethnicity and risk for symptoms of posttraumatic stress following intimate partner violence:  Prevalence and predictors in European American and African American women.  Journal of Interpersonal Violence,  24(1), 3-19.

Ismael MontanaIsmael Montana

Assistant Professor of History, CLAS

Major Interests

African History, Colonial Empires, Global, Religion


Montana, Ismael, Paul Lovejoy and Behnaz Mirzai Asl, ed., Islam, Slavery and Diaspora, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2008.

“Ahmad Ibn al-Qadi al-Timbuktawi on the Bori Ceremonies of Sudan-Tunis,” in Paul E. Lovejoy (ed.), Slavery on the Frontiers of Islam (New Jersey: Marcus Weiner Publishers), 2003, 173-179.


Grant from the British Library to conserve historical documents in northern Ghana:


Discussion on women’s roles in the importing of African goods: http://www.niutoday.info/2011/02/24/women-on-the-move/

The final speaker at the World Damba Festival 2012:  



Jane Rose NjueJane Rose Njue

Assistant Professor of Family and Child Studies, CHHS

Hosted a ‘Peace Forum” for local Kenyans:


Keynote speaker at the Pan-African Family Strength International Conference in Mombasa, Kenya:


Andrew OntienoAndrew Otieno

Associate Professor of Technology, CEET

Major Interests

Machining analyses/experimental studies; Micro-machining; Automation; Finite element modeling, Structural health monitoring, Machine Vision applications.


Advisor of Engineers without Borders:


Connected with Tanzania Development Support (TDS) and Kurt Thurmaier:


Founded an all-girls school in Kenya with Teresa Wasonga:




Presentation: Jane Adeny Memorial School for Girls, Kenya

Lyndon PerkinsLyndon Perkins

Director of Graduate School Recruitment and Student Support Services

Has received several awards and prides himself for his work in Africa.

He has been traveling to Ghana every year since 1990, primarily working on building schools and daycare centers. Recently, he has been traveling to Africa as part of his job recruiting potential NIU graduate students. 

Deb PierceDeborah Pierce

Associate Provost for the Division of International Programs


Officer for NAFSA, the world’s largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education:


Paid for NIU’s institutional membership in the West African Research Association: http://www.warc-croa.org/wara.htm

Tracy RogersTracy Rogers

Executive Director of Illinois Geographic Information Systems Association, Center for Governmental Studies, OEIT


Lived/worked in Malawi for three years (for U.S. Dept. of State).

Currently co-leading new project in Western Cape, South Africa to develop a collaborative model for economic development through economic and entrepreneurship education.  Just returned from visit to target area to meet with South African partners; program implementation scheduled to start February 2013.

Susan RussellSusan Russell

Anthropology, CLAS

Major Interests 

Initiating a Center for Pace and Conflict Studies in Africa and Asia with Abu Bah.

Karen SamondsKaren Samonds

Assistant Professor of Biology, CLAS

Major Interests 

Comparative anatomy, systematics, and biogeography with field paleontology to address topics in vertebrate evolution

Recent Publications

Samonds KE, Parent SN, Muldoon KM, Crowley E, and Godfrey LR (2010). Rock matrix surrounding subfossil lemur skull yields diverse collection of mammalian subfossils: Implications for reconstructing Madagascar’s paleoenvironments. Malagasy Nature 4, 1-16.


Travel to Madagascar:


Study on prehistoric pygmy sea cows:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091212-pygmy-sea-cow/

Diversity of life in Madagascar:  


Scot SchraufnagelScot Schraufnagel

Director of Graduate Studies, Political Science Department, CLAS

Major Interests

U.S. Congress, political parties, elections, and state government, with an emphasis on promoting a civil, representative, and effective legislative process in the United States.

A former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Sierra Leone, West Africa

Published Work

DeFour, Henry, and Scot Schraufnagel. 1985. Sierra Leone Fisheries: An Extension Workers Manual.  Freetown, Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone Government Press.

Frederico SciammarellaFederico Sciammarella

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, CEET


Sabbatical work with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa: http://www.csir.co.za/

NSF grant to support a workshop on research and education in advanced manufacturing between Northern Illinois University and the CSIR in the Republic of South Africa: http://www.niutoday.info/2010/10/29/recent-grant-awards-to-niu-faculty-3/

Advancing Africa’s technology:


Diana SwansonDiana Swanson

Associate Professor of Women's Studies and English, CLAS

Major Interests

19th and 20th century British Fiction, Feminist Theory, Women’s Studies

Recent Publications

“British Imperialism in Africa: Leonard Woolf, M.W. Swanson, and the Role of Civil Bureaucracy.” Virginia Woolf Miscellany 72 (2007): 47-49. Special issue on Leonard Woolf, ed. AnnMarie Bantzinger.


Worked with Teresa Wasonga and Andrew Otieno on the Jane Adeny School for Girls:


Presentation: Jane Adeny Memorial School for Girls, Kenya

Kurt ThurmaierKurt Thurmaier

Professor and Director of Division of Public Administration

Major Interests

Public Budgeting and Finance, Intergovernmental Relations, Comparative Public Administration and Research Methods.


Planning a study abroad course for 2013:


Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro:


Cofounded Tanzania Development Support (TDS):




Teresa WasongaTeresa Wasonga

Associate Professor of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, COE

Major Interest

International education


Founded the Jane Adeny Memorial School in rural Kenya: http://www.niutoday.info/2011/11/29/school-launched-by-niu-professors-provides-hope-transforms-lives-of-girls-in-rural-kenya/

Presentation: Jane Adeny Memorial School for Girls, Kenya

Fund-raising for a science lab for the school: