| United States Team
Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Marco Guzzardo came to the United States at the age of 18 to continue his education.
University at Old Dominion University was completed with a Business Degree in Marketing along with a Fashion education at Instituto di Moda a Roma.
Marco began his humanitarian work 14 years ago when he supported 4 children in different countries through the Children International Foundation.
12 years ago, Marco formed a 501C called Help a Life Foundation whose purpose is to house and educate adolescent orphan girls in Ethiopia. He has chosen to dedicate his time, talent, and resources to Help a Life Foundation, an endeavor envisioned after his first trip to Ethiopia in 2007. Traveling the country for eight days - going from village to village - Marco witnessed first hand the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS and malaria on the country leaving it with over 4.5 million orphans.
While in Ethiopia, Marco developed plans to initiate his own non-profit and partnered with the Anti-Malaria Association (AMA), an Ethiopian NGO. The team hired a local architect and engineer to draw up blueprints and a budget for the agreed upon endeavor named "Project Blue".
The plans were submitted to officials in Debre Markos (a semi-rural town in east-central Ethiopia) where the project was granted 25 acres of land to build schools and dormitories for girls orphaned mostly by HIV/AIDS and malaria.
The first Learning Center was completed in 2010. The first group of15 orphan girls were selected and began the 4 years of High school/4 years of University program. In 2011, Help a Life became an Ethiopian NGO which allowed Help a Life to fully operate their project independently in Ethiopia. A large building compound was leased and renovated in 2012. We have 16 bedrooms/6 bathrooms and are able to house 50 girls comfortably.
Marco oversees a staff of 8 volunteers in the United States whose skills and talents range from Grant Writing to Event planning plus a staff of 10 Ethiopians working on the project in Ethiopia. Events, private donations and charity art sales have become the staple for income for the Ethiopian orphan girl project. In 2013, Marco received the prestigious African Goodwill Ambassador from the African Focus Foundation in Los Angeles, California.
~Be the change you want to see~ (Ghandi)
Dr. Michael Barrington brings more than thirty years of experience working with Non Profit organizations to the BOD of HALF. He lived for ten years in West Africa and five in Latin America and for sixteen years was the president of a large, California, Non Profit Healthcare Corporation. He is an expert in monitoring and evaluating humanitarian works and has personally implemented such projects in 13 countries. He has a Ph.D. in Organizational Management and speaks six languages and is the founder and president of MJB Consultants.
Both professionally for major organizations as USAID, UNICEF, Oxfam and Save the Children, and as a volunteer for Rotary International, he travels all over the world reviewing international humanitarian projects. He has devoted most his adult life to helping the most marginalized and needy people and is passionately concerned with the emancipation and education of women, especially in Africa. He was drawn to Help A Life because of its simple mission, vision and values. He lives in the Bay Area with his French wife who is a painter and their bilingual Tibetan Terrier, Cezanne!
Board Member/Vice President
Menbere Aklilu is a philanthropist, and an advocate against domestic violence. She is a survivor of family violence as a young child in Ethiopia and later faced abuse from her former husband while living in Italy. After finding refuge at the Mother Teresa Shelter for Women in Rome where she gave birth to her son Menbe rebuilt her life for herself and her son in Contra Costa County. Today she makes significant impacts in our community through her inspiration and generosity to those in need. Menbere has become a sought-after speaker internationally on the topic of violence against women.
Board Member/Ethiopia project coordinator and Secretary
Selam was born and raised in Ethiopia where she completed her schooling and received a degree in accounting from Addis Ababa Business College.
After earning her degree, Ms. Alemu moved to Italy to further her education where she lived for two years and developed a passion for travel and interest in differing cultures. With great desire to become an entrepreneur in the travel and tourism business and introduce the world to her beloved Ethiopia, Ms. Alemu established her own travel agency, Selam Travel and Tour International.
Selam strongly believes in the power of education for young girls to achieve self-sufficiency as adults and as one of the most important investments that can be made in Ethiopia.
She currently lives in Los Angeles and was one of the first individuals help to make the Help a Life Foundation a reality. She presently is a Board member of Help a Life Foundation. Ms. Alemu also serves as a board member for the Agar Youth Foundation, whose mission is to develop Ethiopian-American youth with positive values, self-esteem, and civic participation. She also serves as secretary for the board of the African Travel and Tour Association.
In her spare time, Selam loves cooking, music, and travel.
Advisor Committee/Legal Attorney for Help a Life Foundation
Liliana has a background in estate planning, closely-held businesses and non-profit organizations. She is an attorney now practicing those bodies of law in addition to immigration, criminal and family law.
Prior experience includes a one-year internship at the City of Burbank City Attorney's Office where she conducted misdemeanor court trials and assisted Deputy City Attorneys in the prosecutorial process.
Thereafter, Ms. Gallelli completed a one-year internship with the international law firm, Noronha-Advogados, where she worked on international transactions. ??Ms. Gallelli earned a Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature from California State University Northridge and a Juris Doctor degree from University of La Verne Law School. While in law school, Ms. Gallelli distinguished herself as a Staff Writer of the university's Law Review and one of her unique articles has since been referenced by the Stanford Law & Policy Review.
Professional affiliations include the American Immigration Lawyers Association and California Women Lawyers. Ms. Gallelli is an active Director of the Help A Life Foundation, Inc. She previously served on the board of the San Luis Obispo Literacy Council and volunteered at the San Luis Obispo Women's Shelter as counsel to battered women.
US/Europe Project Manager of Help a Life Foundation USA
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Tigist migrated to the United States to further her education where she completed an undergraduate degree in International Business and Economics. Over time, she has discovered that her passion in life is to care for and assist vulnerable children in Africa to live dignified and fulfilled lives. She has been an advocate for human rights and equal opportunities in education and health care, specifically working to ensure that women and girls have a voice.
In 2008, Ms. Goshu joined the Help a Life Foundation team, believing strongly in its approach of educating girls in Ethiopia and for its inspiring message to "help create a better world. one village at a time".
Currently employed in a Los Angeles based NGO, Relief International, Tigist is living her dream of assisting children in Africa to enjoy better access to health care and education, regardless of socio-economic status. She believes that the education of girl children is one of the strongest investments that can be made in Africa, one that can transform the continent from the bottom up. She has volunteered with numerous organizations including the African Women's Coalition, Mercy Corps, relief efforts for the homeless in Washington, D.C.and has provided volunteer counseling for immigrant women in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, dancing, researching, and meeting people from all cultures.
Help a Life Ethiopia:
||Avinor Alemu Goshu
Director for Ethiopia Operations
Avinor was born in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. He graduated high school at 18 and earned a Degree in Pharmacy at 20. He did his residency in a very remote area of Ethiopia where he experienced poverty and the will to survive on the most basic level. This life changing experience has affected him to the point he now devotes a good percentage of his free time in different educational and developmental activities for the poverty stricken in Ethiopia.
He has taken different courses and training in management, sales and marketing on a collegiate level and has served as a Board Member of a local NGO's, Save your Generation. This NGO focuses on youth health and education.
Avinor Join Help a Life Foundation in 2008 as the Ethiopian Director of Operations. Currently employed with Bayer Pharmaceuticals as medicinal advisor and sales representative for Ethiopia.