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Meet the 2023 Ford Philanthropy Fellows

                       “Maya Zaken, 2022 Ford Philanthropy Fellowship”

Generously sponsored by Ford Philanthropy

Nahja Clayton | United States

Smart Charge

Nahja Clayton is a well traveled Memphis, Tennessee native with a background in Finance, and a passion for the innovative sharing economy. She is the Co-founder of Smart Charge, a power bank rental service. Her mission is to aid in the reduction of E-waste by allowing individuals to rent portable chargers on the go.

Laura Rossi | Argentina

Brumana Editora

Laura Rossi is a fiction writer, editor, and teacher from Rosario, Argentina focused on violence against women. She has published three novels, two short-story books, and is now Co-director of her own publishing house, Brumana Editora. Laura’s mission is to build a feminist space which breaks through the walls of female prisons by providing prisoners with training and meaningful opportunities allowing them to participate in different parts of the bookmaking and book-production cycle.

María García | México

Negro Neón

María Rojas is from Coatepec, Mexico. She is a creative industrial designer who is motivated by sustainable and circular design. María is the Founder of Negro Neón an eco-friendly jewelry and accessory company she launched in 2019. Her mission is to promote plastic recycling through the correct transformation of waste into tangible and unique products and accessories.

Zhuo (Iris) Chen | China

Youth Action China

Zhuo Chen is from Beijing, China and the Founder of Youth Action China. She holds significant entrepreneurial experience in the Meta Universe, and Environmental and Social Governance fields, and is a member of the elite talent pool of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance. Zhuo’s mission is to empower Chinese youth and bring tangible benefits to China by 2035.

Tumi Moroeng | South Africa

Tumi Moroeng is a vibrant, charismatic creative social entrepreneur and change maker. He was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Tumi’s mission is to make accessible spaces, resources, information, networks, and opportunities for freelance creatives, skilled-makers, change makers, innovators, unemployed youths and marginalized people. Tumi has over 10 + years working experience in the arts, cultural, entertainment and community development sector.

Yasmar Cruz | United States


Yasmar Cruz is a Puerto Rican born artist and educator based in New York City. She is the recipient of the Community Impact Award, for her holistic wellness initiative dedicated to BIPOC women at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yasmar is also the Founder of Danzartes, and her mission is to equip women with the skills and techniques they need to better their emotional and physical health through a combinination of yoga, dance, meditation, and coaching.

Emily Wazlak | United States

Shine Registry

Emily Wazlak is from Queens, New York and the Founder and CEO of Shine Registry, a growing platform using best practices from crowdfunding and traditional wedding registry sites to support over 500 entrepreneurs. Her mission is to close the existing gender gap in access to resources for new business owners. Emily also acts as an advisor to the Roosevelt Institute’s Forge Fellowship and a Venture Partner at Wefunder, working with startups interested in launching equity and crowdfunding campaigns.

Jazmin Chi | México

CHI Educational Group

Jazmín Chi is from Altamira, Mexico. She is the Founder and CEO of the CHI Educational Group comprised of CHI International and Leadership School, CHI Language School, CHI Editorial and CHI Foundation. Her mission is to train international leaders to handle themselves with Love, Wisdom, Compassion, Consciousness and Excellence. Through her efforts Jazmín has provided access to quality education in more than 40 countries across 5 continent, impacting thousands of lives.

Mailén García | Argentina


Mailén García is a curious visionary based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her search for answers to difficult questions inspired her background in Sociology, and led her to Co-found DataGénero: a solutions-focused NGO based in Argentina. DataGenero seeks to build a sustainable and inclusive future with data from and for the surrounding region. Mailén’s mission focuses on how feminism data allows the development of technological solutions and more inclusive public policies for all people without distinction of gender, race, social class or religion.

Luka Perkovic | United States


Luka Perkovic is a Croatian-American education entrepreneur living in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the Founder of TopCourse, and his mission is to help support, equip, and develop instructors teaching tech topics like data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in pre-K through postgraduate space.


Dulra Amolegbe | South Africa


Dulra Amolegbe hails from Nigeria, but moved to Johannesburg, South Africa at the age of 18. His mission is to redefine the financial landscape on the African continent into one where students can have an easy and seamless banking experience. Dulra is the Co-founder of Dot, a banking experience for African students that allows students to connect directly with merchants without using payment cards, make peer-to-peer transactions and build healthy personal finance habits.

Michele Madison | United States

Michele Madison is from Tallahassee, Florida. She found her passion for science through her struggles growing up homeless and afflicted with chronic illness at a young age; her venture focuses on STEM and teacher professional development. Michele’s mission is to provide science education opportunities to children and solve major issues faced by the global society through comprehensive science education for all, sustainability and entrepreneurship, thereby fostering resilient communities

Ole Matlala | South Africa


Ole Matlala is a humble and hardworking South African leader based in Pretoria. He is a Co-founder of Reslocate, an interactive platform that connects students with credible property owners ensuring that students easily find safe and affordable student housing. Through Reslocate, his mission is to also help small property owners in rural and urban areas earn an additional income and create employment for students that come from underprivileged areas.

Glenda Giselle Ortega García | Mexico

La Doñita de las Plantas

Glenda Giselle is from Mexico City, Mexico. Her appreciation for nature and desire to understand how society can live in a more sustainable way led to her background as a lawyer and in International Affairs. She is the Founder of La Doñita de las Plantas, an organic orchard that works with vulnerable women. Glenda’s mission is to maximize her positive impact in the world given the urgent need to change the way that society produces and consumes, in order to assure our subsistence.

Jose Eduardo Noriega Utrilla | Mexico

Basketball Soles

Jose Eduardo is from Chiapas, Mexico and has a passion for human development. His background in the Management of Micro and Small to Medium Companies, fueled his mission focused on understanding the importance of scientific method and its use in making a significant impact in modern society. In 2018 Jose and his friends launched a social project called Basketball Soles which aims at helping children improve their life skills. Basketball Soles has grown from supporting five children across age groups to serving a total of 80 children.

Jing Xu | China

Jing Xu is a changemaker from Hangzhou, China. She has been working in the early childhood sector for 6 years as an EFL teacher, a curriculum designer and teacher trainer. Since 2020, Jing has been doing research and creating content in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field. Driven by the critical and postmodern paradigm, she aims to bring more diverse and alternative discourses to Chinese parents, practitioners and anyone who cares about the development of the future generations.

Alejandro Bisi | Argentina


Alejandro Bisi is an innovative entrepreneur from Oro Verde, Argentina. He is the Founder of GiveMove, a company he launched after graduating as a Biomedical Engineer. GiveMove is a device that provides independent mobility to children with motor disabilities. Alejandro’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people living with motor disabilities, from a very early age and all over the world, through autonomy and independence.

Mercedes Julia Moralejo | Argentina


Mercedes Julia is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As an intrapreneur, she works with Multipolar, a nonprofit with a mission to support and train homeless people to enter the labor market or create their own work through a well designed process of accompaniment. In her role Mercedes is a bridge between the Foundation’s departments ensuring that the team’s areas of focus are articulated well so that support is provided to those who need resources the most.

Matias Acosta | Argentina

Shaping Horizons

Matias Acosta is a Latin American social entrepreneur and thought leader from Mar del Plata, Argentina. He is the Founder of Shaping Horizons, a social edtech venture that upskills young people and corporate talent using research-based e-learning materials and team projects with impact. Matias has published 50+ articles and been cited 3,000+ times during his appointments at the University of Cambridge and UNDP.

Maya Zaken | South Africa


Maya Zaken is an innovative entrepreneur from Knysna, South Africa. She holds an Honors degree in Economic Science with a background in philosophy and politics, that led her to engage in the human and sustainable development space. Maya is currently setting up a Black Soldier Fly farm called Philafeed, which aims to use profit for the purpose of driving circular economic activities, promote organic waste recycling processes, and create a sustainable agri-feed market.

Kristin Calabria | United States

The BRIDGE Lab Foundation

Kristin Calabria is a San Diego, California based Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, ERYT, and founder of The BRIDGE Lab Foundation. Her mission, and the mission of the BRIDGE, is to end systemic oppression in education through the lens of mental health by providing k-12 schools with preventive systems-oriented solutions.

Catherine Wu | China

Wan Feng

Catherine Wu is from Shanghai, China and she is passionate about cultural communication. Catherine is the Founder of Wan Feng, a cultural and creative enterprise focusing on the research, development, production and sale of ancient Chinese architectural building blocks and products. Her mission is to share Chinese traditional culture in a fun and interesting way by bridging and connecting the history and future of China with the world.

Sienna Xu | China

Flourish life design academy

Sienna is from Guangzhou, China. She is a passionate, mission-oriented life design trainer, social entrepreneur and coach. She is also a master trainer at UNSCO, and the founder of Flourish life design academy in China. Sienna’s mission is to empower one million young people to design their ideal lives and get access to educational resources with the life design academy.

Salvador Romero | Mexico

Salvador Romero a young entrepreneur and problem solver from Mexico City, Mexico. He is passionate about the intersection of technology and social impact. Salvador’s mission lies in making technology accessible in rural and low income communities by importing and selling technology products, training, certifying, and consulting young entrepreneurs on their technical abilities.

Jess Huang | United States

Jess Huang (also known as Celeste Pewter) is from Irvine, California. She is a journalist, writer and activist who has worked in electoral politics and government for her entire career. Jess has built a dedicated following on social media through her work helping her followers increase their civic engagement. Her mission is to expand her work through a more longterm and sustainable model, to help improve civic engagement and access for all.

The Ford Philanthropy Fellowship is a program designed to equip 40 rising entrepreneurs with the skills, resources, and experience to scale the impactful ventures they are building. Ford Fund Fellows will learn advanced skills in entrepreneurship and leadership, have the opportunity to earn seed funding, garner experience, and build a global network, as they lay the foundation to empower many more individuals and transform their communities.