In the United States, HopeFirst Foundation provides cultural exchange opportunities and instruction in marimba, mbira, song, and dance rooted in Zimbabwean musical styles.

In Zimbabwe, the focus has been on programs that advance the health, education, and welfare of women and children.

Projects in The Gambia spanned 2008-2011, and included rain water harvesting, reverse-engineered milling machines, and educational programs. The underlying thread of our work focused on the education of girls and exploring ways to encourage that process.

In the work we do, we aim to enhance cultural competence and cross-cultural acceptance and understanding.


Zimbabwe is a country of rich musical traditions and extreme poverty. Over the past decade it has been ravaged by social turmoil, political unrest, disease, and economic ruin. Millions of children have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which at its height is estimated to have infected one in four adults. Village life panoramas reveal elderly grandparents tending to their dying adult children, while simultaneously looking after orphaned or soon-to-be-orphaned grandchildren.

HopeFirst Foundation came into existance out of a desire to create opportunities for hope where little exists. The belief is that one must first have hope in order to have the desire to accomplish anything, for, without hope, motivation does not exist.

HopeFirst Foundation began its nonprofit work in Zimbabwe, starting with The HopeFirst Backpack Project, which provided school supplies and nutritional supplements to students in a remote village school.

Rather than dwelling solely on the negative, the goal at HopeFirst Foundation is to celebrate the strengths of each country and to provide within each, opportunities that strengthen community. HopeFirst Foundation is a culmination of the desire to see the cultures of the United States and Zimbabwe come to a mutually sustainable sharing of the best each culture has to offer. For Zimbabwe, it is the joy of singing, dancing and celebrating a rich, vibrant musical heritage despite social and economic hardship - with the possibility that the power of music might transform even the most difficult of circumstances into opportunities for social change. For the United States, it is the indefatigable pioneering spirit and drive, as well as the abundance of resources that lend us the opportunity to make the most of our lives, regardless of the background into which we were born.


Kimberly A. Foley, President, Founding Member
Kim is a family medicine nurse practioner presently working in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to healthcare, she worked in educational technology for twenty years, winning awards from prestigious organizations such as Scientific American, New Scientist, National Academy Press, National Science Teachers Association, and USA Today. She has published original research on diverse topics such as media technolgy and tuberculosis. In addition to post-graduate work at Case Western Reserve University, she is board certified in Public Health, and has a Master of Science degree from the MIT Media Lab. Areas of interest include infectious disease (tuberculosis), mobile health, and providing services in the U.S. and Africa to those who cannot afford care.

Tammy Walker, Treasurer
Tammy serves as Program Administrator for the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  She provides leadership and oversight for all Federal and non Federal grants/awards in the Division of Hematology and Oncology. She is a Certified Public Accountant (Inactive) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Management from David N. Myers University. She has a background as a medical lab technician and has an Associate of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from Lakeland Community College. 

Barbara Kavanaugh, MPH, Secretary
Barbara has been working in the arenas of public health and medicine for many years. Currently, she resides with the School of Pharmacy at the University of Washington as Research Manager. Barbara has traveled extensively.

Past President/Founding Member: Diana Chamrad, PhD


Photos: Photos courtesy of Jan Christensen and other contributors. Many thanks.
Web design: Persistent VISION.


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