About COFA

COFA was incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in November 2021, classified as a tax-exempt public charity according to the US tax code. The idea for COFA grew out of several years of funding modest projects in education, agriculture, clean water, and microfinance in the west African country of Sierra Leone, with funding from COFA’s founder, Hellen Gelband, her friends and family, and Gofundme campaigns.

COFA’s Origin Story

The initial proposals came from Karim Kamara, a remarkable young social entrepreneur in the town of Lunsar, Sierra Leone, who also organized and oversaw those projects. Nourishing Young Minds and Bodies, the flagship project, is a month-long school program during the “hungry” months of July and August. In 2023—the fourth year with pre-COFA and COFA support–11 schools taught and fed 2400 primary and secondary school students. 

All the projects funded to date have been conducted successfully, achieving their aims in places with poor infrastructure and few internal resources. It is this record of success that encouraged us to found COFA.

A hallmark of both pre-COFA and current COFA projects is that local people, to date only in Sierra Leone, identify opportunities and propose ideas and strategies, which are then strengthened by collaboration with COFA advisors and funded when fully formed.

We foresee continued modest steady growth for COFA, using the past projects as templates to expand the good that COFA can do. Our aim is to help educate and provide sustainable livelihoods for people who otherwise would not have such opportunities.

Meet Our Board

Hellen Gelband, COFA President
Hellen Gelband (President) continues to work on global health projects in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in retirement. She worked in health policy at the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the National Academies, and non-profit research organizations, and was a founding board member and former board Secretary of Bikes for the World. She is a committed environmentalist, living in Takoma Park, MD.
Myra Gelband, COFA Secretary
Myra Gelband (Secretary) is a retired journalist who spent more than 30 years as a writer and editor for Sports Illustrated magazine. She is a longtime resident of Norwalk, CT, where she has served on the board of community non-profits and is a life trustee of the University of Rochester. 
Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi - COFA Board Member

Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi is Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Davis, and an adjunct faculty member at University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. Her clinical and research expertise is in epilepsy and sleep in children and young adults. She is on the Advisory Board of Jhpiego, a global health non-profit, and on the boards of Spectrum, focused on autism, and the Epilepsy Foundation.

George R. Tyler - COFA Treasurer
George R. Tyler (Treasurer), an economist, worked for two decades for Senators Hubert Humphrey and Lloyd Bentsen, was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, and later Counselor at the World Bank. He has written extensively on American economics and politics, including the books What Went Wrong and Billionaire Democracy, from his home in Arlington, VA. He was a founding board member and previously Treasurer of Bikes for the World.
Judith Wagner - COFA Board Member
Judith Wagner is a retired health policy analyst with a specialty in the adoption and diffusion of new medical technologies, having worked for Congressional agencies and the Mayo Clinic. In recent years she has volunteered with non-profit organizations to promote species conservation and the use of renewable energy.  She lives in Odenton, MD.

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