Macfarlane Okonta is the Founder and President of the Victoria House Foundation (VHF). His belief and desire have always been to pursue a better life through the continual development and acquisition of information technology skills, and being able to bring aid to those who need it the most. Throughout his career, Macfarlane has worked across Information Technology and charity organizations as a Network Engineer. In 2007, he founded Razon Technologies to provide IT services to businesses and individuals in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Approximately a year after the inception of the company, Macfarlane volunteered his professional services for the church which he attended. His tasks included building a network for the administrative offices of the church and maintaining both the user and network environments. As time progressed, Macfarlane assessed and repaired various customers’ computers for minimal costs, and sometimes at no cost, depending on client circumstances. It was during this period that the idea of creating a charity was born.
In January of 2009, after the passing of his mother, Macfarlane decided to dissolve Razon Technologies and dedicate his efforts and time to a new professional endeavor; a technology-focused and charitable organization named in honor of his mother, Victoria. The idea of working with disadvantaged public school systems emerged in 2011, following a trip to Lagos, Nigeria in December of the same year. While in Lagos, Macfarlane had the opportunity to meet with a principal from a local public school. During the meeting, he was saddened to see, first-hand, the dire circumstances of the public school and the lack of adequate technological resources for learning. After this meeting, Macfarlane immediately knew that his calling would be to provide assistance to schools that were critically lacking fundamental resources. Most of the public schools in Lagos cannot boast of one single computer or internet access, and some schools have but only a couple to accommodate a large number of students. Macfarlane founded VHF to help develop education through technology.
Macfarlane received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Wesleyan College in Computer Science and Business, and his Masters in Cyber Security from the University of Maryland University College. He is also a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a Cisco Certified Network Associate. He lives with his wife Rashida, daughter Ariela, and son Remy, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Robert Moffitt is a Senior IT provider and Business Analyst, and holds certifications in Enterprise Architecture and Solutions Design.
Mr. Moffitt attended Lehigh University’s engineering school, the Wharton School and Johns Hopkins University. He has been employed in the IT services industry for over twenty years and is currently building a small IT consulting firm, SENSIBLE, Inc. He will be actively marketing business transformation in the US healthcare industry sector.
Theodore C. Howard is the former President and Chief Operating officer of Automated Business Systems and Services, Incorporated (ABSS); one of the early Information Technology Services providers to the federal, state and local governments, for over thirty-two years. During this period, ABSS employed over 3000 employees and most of the major U.S DoD civilians and agencies were clients of ABSS. ABSS was awarded numerous commendations for customer satisfaction and “Best in Breed” accomplishments for small business firms. ABSS was a national IT service provider and maintained offices from coast to coast. Trained as an accountant, Mr. Howard distinguished himself as a master marketer and business strategy consultant to business and political leaders in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Mr. Howard resides in Mitchellville, MD with his wife.
Ms. Smith graduated from high school at the age of 16 in Rochester, New York. Due to her affinity towards the fashion industry, she decided to pursue her Associates Degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from Bryant & Stratton College in Rochester, New York. She graduated with her Associates degree in 1985, but realized that her true passion was in the field of education.
Ms. Smith began her educational studies along a different path than most of her family members, who are teachers. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, from the State University of New York at Brockport. She then obtained her first graduate degree, a Master’s of Science in Education and Human Development – School Counselor’s program from the University of Rochester, New York. Next, she obtained her Master’s of Science in Education Administration from the State University of New York at Oswego.
Ms. Smith has worked in the education and human services field for the past 18 years. She views herself as a transformative leader who has a passion for educational reform and serving in urban school districts. She has held positions as a Case Manager, in the Department of Social Services in Rochester New York; School Counselor in the Rochester City School district in Rochester New York and in the Charles County Public Schools in Waldorf, Maryland; Director of High Roads High School in Washington DC; Supervisor of Student Services in the Reading School District; and Adjunct Professor at Kutztown University. She enjoys reading, shopping and studying human behavior and behavioral neurosciences.
Tanisha M. Smith, born and raised in Rochester, New York currently resides in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. In 2002, Ms. Smith graduated from the State University of New York College at Brockport with a Bachelor’s of Science in Health and a minor in African-American Studies. In 2009, Ms. Smith obtained a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She has a passion for public health, education and empowering people of African descent. Her dedication to education is a family value that has been the foundation behind her success as a health educator.
Sharon Bollers is a Portfolio Management Officer at Bank of America. She has more than eight years of experience working with nonprofit organizations throughout the DC Metro area, where she directs and participates in loan asset management, and provide credit services for portfolios of nonprofit clients. Her familiarity with market trends, ability to identify potential risks, and excellent underwriting allows for good judgement to make effective decisions.
For the past six years she has served on the board of Blossoms of Guyana, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives of children in Guyana, South America. Since 2011, she has also served on the Board of Mentors of Minorities in Education’s Total Learning Cis-Tem (MOMIE’s), a Washington, DC based nonprofit focused on improving educational outcomes for low income and minority students living in the District and Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is currently the Treasurer of the Board of MOMIE’s. Sharon is very excited to contribute her years of experience in nonprofit finance and management to the board of Victoria House Foundation.
Sharon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Banking and Finance from Lincoln University PA, a MBA from the University of Maryland R.H. Smith School of Business and a MPP from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.
Celena Parker brings a diverse range of professional and personal experiences to the mission and goals of the Victoria House Foundation. Celena is a Senior Program Manager with a nationally-recognized aging services organization. In her role, she brings over a decade of experience in program evaluation, dissemination and implementation for evidence-based health programs. She is responsible for ensuring that best practices, materials and other recommendations are made available to state agencies and local organizations which are implementing self-management health programs.
In addition, she provides program management and technical assistance to state grantees. Prior to her experiences with evidence-based programs, Celena worked in public policy at an area think-tank and also conducted research in endocrinology. Currently, in her spare time, Celena provides consultation to business start-ups and volunteers for various charitable organizations. She has given her time for such causes as Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative, provided computer tutoring for senior citizens and academic tutoring for school students. She has also delivered health presentations in the community.
Celena is honored to be able to offer her subject matter expertise and management services to the Victoria House Foundation.