Board of Directors

A women-led organization

Our team of directors is collaborating across three countries to build Bright Star Girls' Academy from the ground up.

Harriet Dumba

School Director

Harriet Dumba is a lifelong women's advocate who has lobbied for women's issues internationally. She has presented at the United Nations, African Union, and various international forums giving voice to the experience of South Sudanese women on the global stage. As the founder and director of Bright Star Girl's Academy, Harriet utilizes her extensive experience in nonprofit work to further her mission of bringing safe education to the girls of South Sudan. She has served in many roles that promote and uplift women's wellness in her community:

Agnes Oswaha is the Director of Human Rights and East African Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Juba, Republic of South Sudan. She is a member of the South Sudan Border Committee, focusing on all the international boundaries of South Sudan with exclusion of Sudan.

Agnes served as the Government of South Sudan First Acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and also worked at the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States in Washington, DC as the Director of Culture, Community and Consular Affairs. She was very instrumental in the transformation of the Southern Sudan Mission into the Government of South Sudan Embassy in Washington. She has done a lot of work with South Sudanese US-diaspora, especially during the Sudan 2010 Elections and the Southern Sudan Referendum 2011.

She holds a Masters in Social Work and Social Justice; two Bachelors of Arts in Law, Society and Justice and in Political Science from the University of Washington, Seattle. She also attended Al-Nileen University, Faculty of Law in Khartoum and Ahlia University in Omdurman, Department of Translation in Omdurman. 

Agnes  has a long experience in advocacy and community organizing. She has co-founded several non-profit organizations in the United States. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network and in the Secretariat of the South Sudan Women for Peace Initiative.

Agnes Oswaha

School Director

Laura Corkern

Foundation Director

Laura Corkern is a veteran public school teacher who has devoted most of her career to teaching English and World History.  As a mother to children from several nations, Laura has a personal interest in and passion for the education of underserved children.  Having earned a certificate of non-profit management from the University of Washington, the inception (creation) of Bright Star Girls’ Academy Foundation brings together Laura’s primary passions.

Jan Nutting's life was changed forever when she visited East Africa in 2006. With representatives of Rotary International and the Gates Foundation, she walked miles and miles in the beautiful sunshine to bring the polio vaccine to kids in remote areas of Ethiopia and Uganda. That was the first of many trips and her love for the children there grew stronger with each journey. Every year she returned with the group to vaccinate in hard-to-reach areas and to share in the labor needed to carry out water projects, build libraries, and support other rural community initiatives.

Acutely aware of the need for education and opportunities for young women in East Africa, Jan is grateful to be part of this organization, honored to work with Agnes and Harriet, and excited about the Bright Star Girls' Academy and the promise it holds for the future of South Sudan.

When she is not working with the wonderful women on the Bright Star Girls' Academy Foundation Board, Jan serves as Public Records Officer for the Washington State Courts and treasures time with her family.

Jan Nutting

Foundation Co-Director

Judy Mannard


Bio coming soon!

Jessica Ward has been involved in multiple community service projects, and has been involved in service projects in Ethiopia and South Sudan before, and she is excited to be joining for the Bright Star Girls Academy Foundation journey.  Jessica lives in Washington State with her husband Robert and together they have three daughters. Jessica works in real estate.  

Jessica Ward


Tracy McPhillips


Tracy has made her career supporting people from newborn through grandparenting in many aspects of transition. She is a business owner, mentor and serves on various non-profit local and international boards and committees. She is dedicated to making change towards inclusivity and anti-racism. Tracy is humbled to be in space with folks that are working to make change globally as the secretary of Bright Star Girls’ Academy.

Emma Weeks is a young educator with a commitment toward equitable and social justice-oriented education. She currently works as an elementary teacher in Seattle, Washington where she supports students in being empowered learners and confident change-makers. She holds a Master's in Teaching from the University of Washington. Emma has served in several leadership roles and is enthused to serve as the Social Media Coordinator for Bright Star Girl's Academy.

Emma Weeks

Social Media

Suzy Carroll

Marketing / Communication

Suzy Carroll is a former brick-and-mortar business owner, turned artist, and ICF Certified Jungian Life Coach. She brings 40 years of business leadership and non-profit board participation.  She's a past founding member of the Port Townsend Education Foundation, The Mainstreet Project, the Chamber of Commerce, and, Working Image. Suzy is a lifelong resident of Washington State who grew up climbing trees with Foundation Director Laura Corkren. Suzy loves connecting people and is excited to introduce the world to the Brightstar Girls Academy Foundation.

Amy Verner has served her community for 30 years through education and philanthropic work with a focus on equity and inclusion for all students. Amy has served as an administrative intern, a classroom teacher, a virtual and distance education teacher, and as an alternative school teacher. She holds a master's degree in secondary education, National Board Certification, and a certificate in school administration. Amy served 4 years as secretary on the executive board of directors of Harmony House Adult Family Homes. Amy co-wrote grants for Western Washington University's then International Student office, and created and implemented one of the first educational technology certification programs in the lab. She is currently a mentor teacher. She is thrilled to be involved with Bright Star as a grant writer.  

Amy Verner


Angelica Afande

Angelica Afande was born and raised in Kenya. She have been teaching at an elementary school for the past five years. However, she has worked in different positions within the school district for several years. She enjoys working with the African community within my county and special needs population. She has a Master's degree in Special Education. 

Julia Hehn grew up in the United States, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. She has a love of children that can be seen through her many personal adoptions as well as her profession as an educator. She holds a Master’s in Education, Special Education, from California State University, Sacramento. She continued on to City University of Seattle to obtain her certificate in School Counseling. She is a life-long learner who continues to further her education to this day. She has worked as a special education teacher, a general education teacher, as well as a school counselor. She established two schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for elementary students in general education and special education. Over a five-year period she was Director of both schools with a large role in fundraising. She currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where she continues to work on projects supporting children including working as an elementary school counselor. 

Julia Hehn