Board & Staff

Executive Committee

Luanne Nyberg
Board President

Current BFA board president Luanne Nyberg began her term in January 2016. Luanne holds a BA with distinction from the University of Minnesota College of Education, and a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. Nyberg founded the Children's Defense Fund-MN and led it for 10 years. She has also taught and lectured at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health and Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and has served on numerous non-profit Boards of Directors.

Jote Taddese

BFA Board President-Elect Jote Taddese is an advocate for literacy with a deep passion for how innovation in technology enables access to quality education for students in under-served schools and communities worldwide. Born and raised in Oromia, Ethiopia, and educated in Nairobi, Kenya and the U.S., Jote has over 17 years of information technology experience in government and corporate sectors, and is currently a Distinguished IT Advisor within Medtronic Global IT organization for the Enterprise Information Architecture practice.

Tammie Follett, J.D., M.B.A.

BFA Board Treasurer Tammie Follett, J.D., MBA, has been with Thomson Reuters for 28 years and is the Senior Client Manager for Large Law Firms in Minnesota. She has a B.A. from Lawrence University, J.D. from Hamline University School of Law, and a M.B.A from the University of St. Thomas. Tammie brings over 25 years of experience to the non-profit world by serving on numerous volunteer boards.  As a Board Member for Books for Africa, Tammie has passionately served over 6 years including trips to visit book recipients in South Africa and Malawi.

Atare Agbamu

BFA Board Secretary Atare Agbamu has been involved in shipping more than 113,000 books to Africa, including more than 69,000 books to his native Nigeria, since 2011. Atare’s work in the reverse-mortgage industry has saved more than 12,000 widows and widowers across the US from foreclosure and displacement, and improved federal reverse-mortgage regulations for all consumers. Atare and his wife, Efe, are parents of three children; they live in Oakdale, Minnesota.

Tom Warth

In 1988, British expatriate Tom Warth visited a library in Jinja, Uganda, where books were nearly nonexistent; the few books that remained on the shelf were tattered and decades old. Coming from the publishing industry, Tom was aware of the great surplus of books in America and set about finding a way to put those books in the hands of African learners. Tom’s vision became Books For Africa, which has since grown to be the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent.

Patrick Plonski, PhD
Executive Director

Patrick Plonski has served since 2003 as Executive Director of Books For Africa. Plonski holds a PhD in International Education (2009), and previously served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council at the University of Minnesota (1998-2003), and Committee Administrator for the Minnesota House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture (1987-1998).

Board Members

Lamin "Lang" Dibba
Real Estate Investments
Tom Gitaa
Board Member Emiritus (Ex Officio), President and Publisher, Mshale
Dustin Holland
Vice President - Global Sales and Marketing, Better World Books
Emma Kasiga
Program Manager - Housing & Financial Education, African Development Center
Patrick Mandile
Former Chief Operating Officer, Robins Kaplan LLP, Retired
Paul Musherure, DDS
Pediatric Dentist, Healthpartners
Vuvu Manseka
Quality Assurance – Worldwide Licensing, The Coca-Cola Company
Fotemah Mba
VP of Artist and Repertoire, Konlive Distributions
John Rupp
Commonwealth Properties
Catherine Ryan
International Development Consultant
Dave Schafer
Technology Account Manager, The Hartford, Past-President, Woodbury Rotary Club
John Stacey
Director of Campus Operations and Cardinal Scholars, Course Hero, Inc.
Pam Pappas Stanoch
Owner, Athena Group International
Joanna Sussman
Publisher, Kar-Ben Publishing - Lerner Publishing Group
Gary Zelko
Publisher Emeritus, Merck and Company

Project Directors

Lane Ayres, J.D.
Director of the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative
Mike Essien
Country Director – Nigeria
Asratie Teferra
Director of Books for Africa, Washington D.C.
Kofi Annan
Co-Chair, Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative
Walter Mondale
Co-Chair, Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative
H.E. Robinson Njeru Githae
Summit Society Chair

Ambasadors Circle

Martin Akinseye
Simba Craftware
Frank Babka 
Friend of BFA
Sharon Sayles Belton
Thomson Reuters
Chris Bercaw
Dorsey Whitney Law Firm
Todd Bol
Little Free Library
Henry Bromelkamp
Bromelkamp Company
Mahamed Cali
Somali American Community
Charlie Cogan
Northfield Rotary Club
Genevieve Eba-Polley
Ghana Book Trust
Lali Galan
Christian Goergen
College of Dupage
Natalie Hahn
Malaika Foundation
Kim Harms
River's Edge Dental
Pat Harris
BMO Harris Bank
Bryan Haynes
Clean Earth Books
Michael Henley
Hansen Henley Yoder and Lamb
Juli Hubbard
Ambassador Howard Jeter
Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria
Col. Yonahan Kassahun
EKTTS - Ethiopia
Dr. Clark LaChapelle
Dr. LaChapelle Family Fund
Todd Lawton
Out of Print
Dick Leider
Friend of BFA
Lee Lynch
Friend of BFA
PJ Lynch
PJ Lynch LLC
Catherine Martignacco
BFA Kilimanjaro Society
Catherine Mayer
BFA Kilimanjaro Society
Fiona McCrae
Graywolf Press
Mike Miller
Better World Books
The Honorable Anna Mkapa
Equal Opportunities For All Trust Fund (EOTF)
Joseph Mrkonich
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
Jim Munson
Compass Relocation Group
Charles Nichols
The Nichols Foundation
Sir Emeka Offor
The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation
Rosemond Sarpong Owens
Former BFA Board President
Isaac Owens
Hennepin County Medical Center
Doris Pagelkopf
United Way of Minnesota
Dianne Patrick
Snowbound Books
Tom Pfeifer
Thomson Reuters Legal
David Robinson
Sweet Unity Coffee Farms
Barbara Rose
Aid For Africa
Margaret Sents
Friend of BFA
Dick Simpson
University of Illinois at Chicago
Val Stokes
Stokes Trucking
Jeffrey Sturchio
Corporate Council on Africa
Paul Thompson
The BetterWorld Trust
Chris Tolbert
City Council of St. Paul, MN

BFA Staff (Office)

Commarrah Bashar
Database and Gift Officer
Travis Ferguson
Administrative and Communications Specialist
Carole Patrikakos
Deputy Director
Erin Yates
Project Manager

BFA Staff (Warehouse)

Brad Mattson
Director of Atlanta Operations
April Gilbert
Minnesota Warehouse Manager
Jeremy Bostwick
Atlanta Warehouse
Norma Crumble
Minnesota Warehouse
Jasmine Gilles
Director of Development and Community Relations - Atlanta  
Jen Hale
Atlanta Community Liason
James Hall
Atlanta Warehouse
Bruce Travis
Atlanta Warehouse