Foundation

Faraja Fund Foundation

The Faraja Fund Foundation is an American foundation that accepts and administers charitable donations in support of Faraja Primary School in Tanzania. The foundation was created in 2006 to provide financial support for Faraja Primary School and for Faraja graduates pursuing further education in secondary school, vocational training, and college.

The Faraja Fund Foundation qualifies for tax exemption as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (Tax ID 20-5954310).

Founders 

Donald Tolmie

Chairman Emeritus

1929-2020           

Joann Tolmie                                                                          

Board of Directors

David Tolmie | Chairman
Dave has been actively involved in Faraja since its founding. As Board Chairman, Dave travels to Tanzania frequently to participate in the school’s planning and monitor progress.

Dave’s professional career is in business management and private equity investing. Since 2001, he has been a partner with The Edgewater Funds, a private equity firm based in Chicago. Previously, Dave was CEO of Yesmail, a direct marketing company, and held executive positions with Bally Total Fitness, General Mills, and McKinsey & Co.  He serves on the boards of numerous Edgewater portfolio companies and is active on nonprofit boards including Opportunity International, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center.

Dave received his BA from the University of Virginia and his MBA from Harvard Business School. He and his wife, Tracy, live in Lake Forest, IL. They have three grown children.

David Vermylen  | Vice Chairman
Dave has visited the Faraja School several times and has a special interest in students’ medical care and long term physical independence. His own experience of living with a physical challenge led to his commitment to Faraja School.

David is co-founder and former President of TreeHouse Foods, one of the largest private label food manufacturers in the U.S., with $3 billion in revenue. Before co-founding TreeHouse, he was President of Keebler Brands for five years prior to its 2001 acquisition by Kellogg. After the acquisition, David became President and CEO of the Keebler Company. He currently serves on the boards of TreeHouse and Aéropostale. He is also on the Board of Advisors for the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

David earned a BA from Georgetown University and an MBA from New York University. He and his wife Stacy divide their time between Lake Forest, IL and Naples, FL and are the parents of three grown children. 

John Tolmie |  Vice President
John has worked with Faraja School and other health ministries in Tanzania since 2001. He has assisted Tanzanian organizations with animal projects, water projects, capacity building, HIV/AIDS treatment, healthcare dispensary support, famine relief, hospital support, scholarships, and the distribution of 65,000 free mosquito nets to 19 villages.

John is a seasoned healthcare executive with more than 30 years of experience, including 15 years as a hospital CEO. John serves as CEO of VEDU, an education technology company. John received a BS from Virginia Tech and an MBA and MHA from Georgia State University.

John and his wife Lynn live in Baltimore, MD and have three grown sons.

Paul Tolmie | Secretary/Treasurer
Paul is a dentist specializing in periodontics and surgical implantology. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. Paul’s honors and distinctions also include Fellowship in both the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists, societies which recognize professional leadership and humanitarian service.  Paul is a graduate of the University of Richmond and Emory University School of Dentistry, and he completed his specialty residency training at Boston University.

In addition to his family’s commitment to Faraja, Paul’s interests include church ministry and civic service. He serves on the Board of the Directors for the Southminster Retirement Community. Paul and his wife Melissa live in Charlotte, NC and have two grown daughters.

Joann Tolmie  | Co-Founder
When Joann and her husband Don first visited Tanzania in 1999, they saw the great need for a residential primary school for physically disabled children. Joann’s mother taught physically disabled children in Illinois, so she already had a high level of interest in the issue of education for the physically disabled. Don credits Joann with being the heart and soul of the Faraja mission. She maintains a unique and close relationship with the Faraja students and staff.

Joann has always been committed to service and social activism. Through Christian mission leadership roles, local programs to help the disadvantaged, and quiet compassion for individuals in need, Joann has set an example for her family and community.

Joann graduated from Augustana College with a degree in speech therapy (a new field in 1952). She taught in Elgin, IL for one year, married Don in 1953, and then taught in Winnetka, IL. She and Don are proud of their family’s commitment to Faraja School.

Patricia A. Bosse
Pat has three decades of leadership experience in higher education and healthcare fundraising, marketing and communications. In 2014, she co-founded a nonprofit consulting firm, MPK&D, with three partners. The firm has grown to 15 consultants serving clients in education, associations, and other nonprofits nationally. During her career, Pat served as chief advancement officer for campaigns collectively raising more than $100M.

Pat has been active with the Faraja Fund Foundation since her first visit to Tanzania in 2008, and she joined the board in 2014. She holds a BA in English from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Pat and her husband Frank live in Hydes, MD and have three adult children.

Debi Swanson
Debi is the niece of Don and Joann Tolmie and the granddaughter of Mabel Swanson. She is proud of her family and their commitment to improving the lives of children with disabilities. She has visited Faraja Primary School twice and is inspired by the education, care, and compassion that children receive there.

Debi has practiced as a RN for 29 years and currently works as a pediatric emergency room nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital. Debi is a Certified Level One Trauma Nurse and holds a certificate in Pediatric Emergency Nursing. She also serves as chairman of the hospital’s Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Debi lives in San Diego, CA and has one grown daughter.

Mitch Engel
Mitch and his wife Kris have actively supported the school since their visit in 2012.

Mitch retired from business in 2007 to write books and has since published five.  He started his career in advertising at Chicago-based Foote Cone & Belding, which he ultimately ran for 8 years, before moving into the parent holding company as one of two operating presidents.  He moved to the corporate side for the final chapter of his business career as chief marketing and strategic officer for the holding company, ServiceMaster.  Along the way, he has served on numerous non-profit, industry association, and for-profit boards.

Mitch and Kris split time between Ocean Ridge, Florida, and Lake Forest, Illinois. They are blessed with three married kids and five grandsons (and counting).

Curt Viebranz
Curt has over 40 years of experience in leadership roles in the for profit and nonprofit sectors. Curt was the CEO of HBO International and president of Time Life books, with experiences in the US and internationally. He then led a technology based advertising software business that was acquired by AOL. Curt later became CEO of the Mount Vernon Foundation, the historic home of President George Washington and the new Washington National Library. Among Curt’s nonprofit activities, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and past president of the Boys and Girls Club of Newark, New Jersey.

Curt holds an MBA from Harvard and a BA from Middlebury College. He and his wife Cissy have three grown children. They reside in Chester, New Jersey and on Cape Cod.

 

Staff

Kristin Westermann is Program Director for the Faraja Fund Foundation. Her responsibilities include administration, donor engagement, and program oversight. Kristin has sixteen years of experience working with education initiatives in Tanzania, including nine years with the Faraja Fund Foundation.

Kristin holds a BA in Sociology from Wittenberg University. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

Terri Berardini joined the Faraja Fund Foundation as Communications Consultant in 2021. She will provide digital and print communications support. Terri has fourteen years of communications and administrative experience working for a local church in Deerfield, IL.

Terri has a BA in Journalism from Bowling Green State University. She lives in Lake Forest, IL.

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