Our Team

We consider the Akaa community, our volunteers, teachers, students, and all those with an interest in our work as part of our team.  We believe success depends on the commitment and motivation of all involved.

Board of Directors

Lauren Grimanis

Lauren Grimanis, Founder & President

Lauren founded the Akaa Project after traveling to Ghana in 2007. Growing up outside of Boston, in Wayland, MA, she continued on to the College of Wooster in Ohio,  graduating in 2012 with a major in Global Development and Management. After several years working for non-profits, she dedicated two years, 2014-2016,  to growing the Akaa Project’s potential and creating on-ground, local capacity in Ghana.  Lauren enjoys yoga, groundnut soup and rice balls, and surprising people by hearing (basic) Dangme (our local language!).

Contact Information: lgrimanis@theakaaproject.org

Elizabeth Plumley Headshot

Elizabeth Plumley

Elizabeth Plumley, RN currently lives in Atlanta, GA and received her B.A. in Neuroscience in 2013 from the College of Wooster where she first became involved with The Akaa Project. She took her first trip to Ghana in 2011 and has been a committed volunteer, leader and fundraiser since then, joining the Board of Directors in 2013. After her trips to Ghana her interests in global health grew and she wanted to develop a skill set to have a bigger contribution when working internationally. So, Elizabeth decided to return to school and received her BS in Nursing from Emory University in 2015 and is currently pursuing a dual MSN in Midwifery and Women’s Health at Emory, set to graduate in 2017. She is passionate about health initiatives and excited to find solutions to address lack of health care in the village and surrounding areas.

Hans Boateng headshot

Dr. Hans Nyantakyi Boateng

Dr. Hans Nyantakyi Boateng has extensive experience in the healthcare sector. He has held roles in project management, business management consulting, and retail and corporate pharmacy management. He is passionate about philanthropy, business growth and development, business strategy and entrepreneurial projects. He is the co-founder of two technology start-up companies. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Buffalo. He holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Wegmans School of Pharmacy and a Healthcare Distinction MBA from the College of William and Mary. Growing up in Accra, Ghana, Hans now resides in Virginia with his wife, Tiffany.

Joseph Stein Headshot

Joseph Stein

Joe Stein has lived and worked in Ghana for four years, with extensive experience in rural communities and the agricultural sector. After graduating from UConn with a degree in history, Joe joined the Peace Corps and spent two years living in a small village, Bormase (located 45 minutes from the Akaa Project!). Joe signed on for a third year with Peace Corps, where he started working with MoringaConnect, a social enterprise dedicated to creating opportunity for smallholding farming families across the country through the incredible benefits of the moringa tree. Now, Joe works for MoringaConnect as their Business Development Manager. He resides in Accra, Ghana but  tries to get back to his village and other rural parts of the country whenever possible. He enjoys all Ghanaian food and loves playing “connector,” which is easy here in Ghana as essentially everyone knows each other.

rita-anyankusiRita Anyang Kusi

Rita is originally from the Ashanti Region in Ghana. Her family moved to the US where she schooled and earned her law degree before moving back to Ghana in 2013.  She is the founder of Abroad Impact Educational Travel, an exchange program that provides internship, volunteer and workshop opportunities for foreigners to travel to Ghana, explore its culture, and learn from its people.  In 2014 she started her newest venture working  with local artisans to create quality clothing, accessories and unique gifts items which are exported and sold worldwide. She views her greatest accomplishment to date to be her ability to employ Ghanaians and expose the gifts Ghana has to offer to the world. When Rita first visited the Akaa Project in 2014, she instantly fell in love with the community and admired the Akaa’s project commitment to engage the community in their own development, starting with educating their children.  She feels extremely privileged to be part of the Akaa Board and aims to spread the mission of Akaa, and provide tangible ways for local and foreign interested parties to contribute.

sophia-collas-headshotSophia Collas

Sophia Collas is a current Master’s student at Columbia University’s Teachers College, pursuing a degree in International Educational Development with a concentration in language, literacy, and culture. She is passionate about improving literacy, second language acquisition, and teacher training. Sophia has worked with international non-profits such as Pencils of Promise and Sesame Workshop and recently received her certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). In 2015, Sophia spent six months in Ghana with the Akaa Project , working to improve English literacy through reading programs and teacher training. Sophia is excited to be on the board to continue working with and for the passionate and inspiring individuals who are involved with the Akaa Project! Particularly, Sophia is excited to further the impact of existing educational programs and to create more opportunities for professional development for our teachers and community educators. Sophia’s favorite Ghanaian food is banku.

Founding Members

michael grimanisMichael Grimanis, Ad Hoc Member/Treasurer

Michael is currently General Manager of the Engineering Polymer Solutions Group at the A.W. Chesterton Company where he has been employed over 20 years. Michael received his Masters Degree in engineering from Tufts University and has had various technical managerial roles.  Michael brings a business and operational experience to our team.

Mary GrimanisMary Grimanis, Healthcare Advisor

Mary is a Registered Nurse Practitioner working at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Her focus has been on improving the health of all families in the Akaa community through education, awareness and services. Mary also has an interest in animal rights, and the treatment and welfare of animals in Akaa.

Ghana Team

jonJonathan Odonkor, Project Manager

After completing his secondary education, Jonathan returned to his community and joined the Asiafo Amanfro Community School as a teacher in September 2011. Growing up in the community he now has the power to change, he has been pivotal to the Akaa Project’s development. He has helped strengthen community relations, is an expert on navigating rural logistics, and oversees all volunteers. Jonathan loves playing football and dancing to hiplife music.


User comments

Wisdom Nartey, Teacher and Assistant

Wisdom joined our team in 2014 as a teacher. He has been greatly involved in our literacy, e-reader programs and is also the sports coordinator. He assists in organizational issues and is currently enrolled at Jackson College of Education, where he is pursuing his teacher certification.




Veronica Awukubea

Vero joined our team in 2013 and specializes in early childhood development. She plays an active role in the overall well-being of students and school health and hygiene. She also has led our distribution of Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits. Vero has 3 children, all who attend Asiafo Amanfro Community School.




Mr. Samuel Soda Batsa

Fondly called, Mr.Oko, by colleagues and volunteers, he is the grandfather of the Asiafo Amanfro Community School. He was a primary force in helping start the school in 2008 and continue and grow it throughout the years. Mr. Oko retired in September 2016 but will still be involved in school and project activities. He believes in the importance of smiling – and shows his off everyday!



Jonathan Dautey, School Committee Chair and Bus Driver

Mr. Dautey is responsible for holding executive committee and PTA meetings. He sets agendas, identifies problems, develops strategies and presents to the community. Mr. Dautey also supports the Akaa Project’s other initiatives and connects them with the Asiafo Amanfro Community School. Most recently he has taken on the role of bus driver. Mr. Dautey has a son named Clinton, named after Bill Clinton!