FOUNDER & Executive Director
Anne Wells founded Unite the World with Africa Foundation, Inc. in November of 2014 to serve and empower some of the most impoverished people on our planet. She has been working in and out of Africa since she was 19 studying in Tanzania as a student of wildlife and human cultural management. Anne spent extensive time in Tanzania between 1991 and 1994 and returned in 2008 to start the social enterprise Unite the World with Africa LLC, under which she runs the Unite Tours service safari program, the Ashe Collection global marketplace for African artistry, and the Unite for Africa youth group program in the United States.
A global social entrepreneur, Anne has been recognized for her work by being named a “Local Defender” by the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. She also recently received an special recognition from Senator Richard Blumenthal for Unite's "extraordinary commitment to connecting Americans and Tanzanians in meaningful and impactful ways to alleviate human suffering." A seasoned marketing and communications professional, Wells has more than 24 years of experience working with corporations and not-for-profits. She is also a writer and editor, and she authored and published two non-fiction books that sold and distributed nearly 30,000 copies. Anne received her BA in Anthropology from Kenyon College in 1993 and attended the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Anne is married to David Wells and together they have three daughters — ages 13, 15 and 17. She lives in Westport, CT.
Serena brings to Unite more than 15 years experience in PR & Marketing working specifically in the fashion, social media, retail and tech industries in New York City. Serena is the founder and CEO of her own boutique event planning & design company Merriman Events. She graduated from Brown University with a BA in History and currently resides in the NYC area with her two young children.
For the last 10 years, John has served in operational and strategic advisory roles with early-stage companies in highly-regulated industries, such as energy and healthcare technology. These have included management roles with a European developer of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the southwestern United States, a developer of hydrocarbon storage and midstream infrastructure projects in Mexico and the developer of a mobile imaging and measurement platform for healthcare providers.Prior to his conversion, he was an international capital markets lawyer in New York and London for more than 20 years. Before that, John served as a decorated field artillery officer in the United States Army in West Germany and Oklahoma. John currently resides in Fairfield, Connecticut with his wife Tyler and their two amazing daughters.
Heidi Jon Jagoda is a senior executive with over 20 years in the media and entertainment industries. She is currently working as foreign in-house counsel in Singapore. Heidi is the former General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Business Affairs of CSS Studios, LLC, then a subsidiary of Discovery Communications, Inc. CSS Studios provided creative services to major motion picture studios, independent producers, broadcast networks, cable channel providers, advertising agencies and interactive producers with facilities located across Los Angeles, New York and London. She previously served as the Director of Legal Affairs for Ascent Media Group. Heidi holds a B.F.A. from New York University and a J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law. Heidi is also the Vice Chair for the Post New York Alliance and the former Vice President of the Board of the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. She currently resides in Singapore and is enjoying the opportunity to explore Southeast Asia with her family
Kim Merriman brings to Unite more than 17 years of experience in the fixed income markets working between Boston, London and New York. Most recently Kim was working with Morgan Stanley in New York City. Kim is a CFA holder and 1991 graduate of Colby College. Kim’s love of service and international travel (which has taken her all over the world) inspired her to join Unite's inaugural humanitarian outreach tour to Tanzania in 2009 as a lead team member. She has since co-led additional tours through 2016 and serves as one of Unite's lead photographers.
Steve Stafford is a Transaction Advisory Services partner with Ernst & Young LLP. Steve has 25 years of experience providing advisory and consulting services to private equity and corporate clients. Steve's experience includes complex, cross-border mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and recapitalizations. Prior to moving to New York in 2003, Steve lived in London and coordinated Ernst & Young’s European and Middle East Transaction Support practice for U.S. acquirers from 1999 through 2003. Steve is a magna cum laude graduate of St. Louis University, a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Steve has been active with a number of charitable and civic activities over the course of his career. He has three children who are all avid St. Louis Cardinals fans... like their father. In June 2017 Steve joined our Hike for Heaven team, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in support of our work with The Heaven School.
Most recently, Andy served as the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Discovery Networks where he was responsible for leading Discovery Communications’ global financial functions and strategies, including all accounting, treasury, budgeting and tax activities. Warren also oversaw global broadcast operations, information technology, and facilities as well as the company’s OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network joint venture. Warren joined Discovery in March 2012 from Liz Claiborne, Inc., where, since 2007, he served as Chief Financial Officer responsible for all accounting, audit, treasury, tax, investor relations and financial activities. In 2008, Warren was promoted to Executive Vice President and his responsibilities expanded to include business development, information technologies, logistics, and special sales. In 2010, Warren was named to the Treasury & Risk list of the “100 Most Influential People in Finance.” Prior to joining Liz Claiborne, Warren spent 18 years at General Electric, where he held a number of positions including Senior Operations Leader for the GE Audit Staff, and Executive Vice President and CFO of the NBC Universal Television Group. It that role he was responsible for all finance activities at the NBC Network, Studios, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, SciFi and Bravo. Warren holds a degree in Finance and Economics from James Madison University and began his career in the Financial Management Program at GE.
Steve Stafford is a Transaction Advisory Services partner with Ernst & Young LLP where he supports multi-national corporate and private equity clients on acquisitions and divestitures. David has more than 20 years of transaction experience in a variety of industries including industrial products, process outsourcing, business services, consumer products, aerospace, the construction industry and financial services. David is a certified public accountant licensed in the state of New York and a successful business professional. David received his BS in Economics from Trinity College in 1990 and his M.S. in accounting from NYU Stern School of Business in 1991. David has traveled throughout Africa, including time spent in Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. In June 2017, David led our Hike for Heaven team, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in support of our work with The Heaven School.
In addition to her work with Unite, Debbie currently serves as Chair of the The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Rhode Island chapter; Chair of The Wiley Foundation, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. which awards the annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences; and on the board of Island Press in Washington, DC, and Southern Vermont College in Bennington, VT. Debbie worked on site with Unite's programs in Tanzania in October 2016 and will return in June 2017 to help with strategic planning and development. Debbie lives between New York City and Little Compton, RI.