Barry Hoffner ~ Founder and Executive Director of Caravan to Class
Barry Hoffner, a former investment banker in emerging markets, traveled to Timbuktu, Mali and attended the Festival au Desert in January, 2010. While there, he had a chance encounter with a village of Tuareg and returned home to California with the idea of rebuilding the village’s educational infrastructure. By the end of 2010, he had organized Caravan to Class as a 501c3, partnered with a local non-governmental organization (NGO) to administer the project, raised funds, and started construction on Caravan to Class’ first school in the village of Tedeini.
Aekta Desai ~ Associate, Caravan to Class
Aekta Desai received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia in 2010 and her Masters of Arts in International Policy Studies/International Development in 2012 from the Monterey Institute of International Policy Studies. As a graduate student, Aekta worked as a research assistance for the U.S. Partnership for Peace Training and Education. Upon graduation, Aekta was a project manager for Chemonics International, an international development implementation organization, providing management support for USAID funded agricultural and food security programs in Africa, principally Kenya and Senegal. Currently, Aekta works as project officer for Tetra Tech DPK where she manages non-technical project activities for USAID-funded rule of law programs in Myanmar, Macedonia and Kosovo. Aekta continues to volunteer with Caravan to Class since 2011, focusing on organization outreach and grant research.
Aekta was raised in Kenya, and speaks English, Swahili, Hindi, Gujarati, and French. Her work at Caravan to Class is focused on Social Media and School/Organization Outreach.
Brooke Ferguson ~ Associate, Caravan to Class
Brooke is based in San Francisco, California, and is passionate about education and women's rights.
Hamadou Toure ~ President of Nord et Development
Hamadou Toure is an engineer of applied sciences with a specialization in rural agriculture. Hamadou spent twenty years working for large western-affiliated NGOs before starting Nord et Developpment (Nor Dev) in 2009. Nor Dev is currently working with a number of Western NGOs providing technical assistance, including the African Development Bank.
Abdoulaye Bouba Toure ~ Head of Operations in Timbuktu, Mali
Abdoulaye Toure, a native of Timbuktu, holds a master's degree in French from the University Mohamed Khider Biskra in Algeria. He has worked on a number of social service projects including an emergency rehabilitation project funded by OXFAM. Abdoulaye has also worked in the area of micro-credit for women in Northern Mali. With Caravan to Class, he continues his work in social service as our supervisor of educational programs in Timbuktu.
El Hadj Djitteye ~ Adviser to Caravan to Class on Education and Media
El Hadj is an International consultant, analyst, historical heritage researcher, journalist, and blogger based in Timbuktu. He writes and reports on issues pertaining to Islamist conflict, politics, culture, education and ethnic conflict in Mali West Africa. He has done work for the BBC, Reuters and the Huffington Post among other news outlets.
El Hadj holds a Masters of Arts in English language and literature from the University of Bamako and is President of the Association of Timbuktu Land of Peace and Culture, working with youth in peace- building activities. You can read his blog HERE.