THE TAIA PEACE FOUNDATION PHILOSOPHY:
► The historic and current ways of providing “aid” to places like Sierra Leone can be improved upon and strengthened.
► The capacity to identify development encumbrances is strongest at the local level - a lack of access to capital is not synonymous with a lack of access to wisdom or self-awareness.
► Our role is to understand the factors inhibiting economic growth and social cohesion and support community-partnered projects to counter-act them.
► Strategies and initiatives built on shared responsibility and partnership, as opposed to patronage, serve rural African communities most effectively - true sustainability requires self-reliance.
► Job creation and sustainable support for education are more powerful than traditional aid.
► Our most valuable tool is our capacity to listen.
► Our most valuable resource is trust.
Jeffrey Wright is the co-founder and Chairman of Taia Peace Foundation. He first traveled to Sierra Leone in May 2001 toward the end of the country’s civil war. Despite being an acclaimed actor (winner of Tony, AFI, Emmy, and Golden Globe awards) Jeffrey has dedicated the majority of his professional time since 2003 to undertaking progressive economic development initiatives in Sierra Leone.
Jeffrey holds a B.A. in political science and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Amherst College. He is founder and Vice Chairman of Taia Lion Resources (TLR), Inc. and also currently serves on the board of directors of Resolve and the Tribeca Film Institute, on the Governing Board of St. Albans School for Boys, and on the advisory board to the United Nations Democracy Fund for 2012-2013. As well, in 2011, he was named honorary Paramount Chief of Penguia Chiefdom, Sierra Leone.
Major General (U.S. Army Ret.) Fredric Leigh
Fred Leigh is co-founder and Executive Director of Taia Peace Foundation. Fred retired after 31 years of commanding Infantry units and serving at high-level Army and Joint Staff positions. He has served as a senior executive at a public policy think-tank and as Executive VP for the International Trust Company in Monrovia, Liberia, where he lived for two years post-retirement from military service. He is a partner in KTA Global Partners, LLC, a management consulting firm based in the Washington D.C. area. His education includes a B.A. in history from Central State University, an M.S. in journalism from Syracuse University, and an MMS in Defense Public Affairs from Command and General Staff College. He has attended numerous executive development programs sponsored by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the University of Chicago, and the Center For Creative Leadership.
Brigadier General (U.S. Army Ret.) Lawrence Gillespie
Larry Gillespie is co-founder and board member of Taia Peace Foundation. Larry retired after 37 years in the U.S. Army. His last assignment was as Deputy Assitant Commanding General of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. He has 30+ years experience as a senior executive in the aerospace and security industry. He is a Director of SEN Group and has served as an advisor in areas of security, transportation, aviation, infrastructure rebuilding and resource procurement. His is an authority in many technical challenges and solutions associated with DHS and national defense. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany with a B.A. in general studies. He has a M.A. in public administration from Shippensburg University. He's a graduate of the US Army War College and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Kevin Jackson co-founder and Project Director of Taia Peace Foundation. He's been working in Sierra Leone for 9 years. As well, he is co-founder of the nonprofit “HearMe Hub.” The inspiration for that prject was his work on "The Imagine Project,” a film which won the Audience Award at the Elevate Film Festival from its 5,000 attendees. The film connects orphans in Iraq, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. through music. Kevin organized the donation of a music studio to each orphanage and asked the children to create their own song based on John Lennon’s “Imagine.” He has over 20 years experience as a professional actor. He has worked in such films as Brother to Brother (Berlin Film Festival and Sundance Special Jury Prize), Bogus, Hero, Rosewood, Conspiracy Theory, Walking Dead, Stanley’s Gig, Cadillac Records, and the soon-to-be-released Killing Ruth.
Kevin is a graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.