Advisory Committee

Nicci Young Wiese


With over 20 years experience in luxury and responsible eco-tourism, Nicci is currently President of Young Safaris, focusing on authentic travel to Africa. Nicci grew up in South Africa and France and obtained a BA from Tufts University and a Masters from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in Economic Development and International Environmental Policy. In 1992 she joined andBeyond (previously CCAfrica) to establish the Africa Foundation as its corporate social responsibility program and thereafter as an independent foundation which continues to serve as a model for conservation-based community development. As CCAfrica grew, Nicci joined the Corporate Development team managing new projects for conservation and lodge development. In 1998 Nicci established and managed the Getty Africa Trust working between South Africa and London. From 2002 through 2006, Nicci was Executive Director of The Explorers Club, a centennial international organization promoting scientific exploration and field research, headquartered in New York. Following years of informally advising on travel to Africa, Nicci formed Young Safaris in 2007. Nicci served for several years on the South Africa and UK boards for the Africa Foundation and more recently on the US advisory committee. She has worked with and/or visited most of the current projects that Empowers Africa is supporting. She is based in Connecticut with her husband Richard Wiese (producer and host of the TV series Born to Explore on ABC) and three children and remains passionate about the African continent, its people and the wilderness.

Nicole McLachlan

Social Media Advisor

Nicole’s background in psychology lead her to many roles in social services before settling on a career in finance. In her ten years of working with insurance and financial companies, she has consistently succeeded in sales and management, and has now recently become involved in the coaching of Investment Advisors.

Over the years, Nicole has volunteered with Kids Help Phone, the Humane Society, the Canadian Cancer Foundation, and many more.

Growing up in Canada, Nicole always knew she’d love Africa, and sure enough after volunteering for several months in South Africa and Namibia, she fell in love with it beyond even her imagination. Nicole is especially taken with Africa’s wildlife, and their plight against poaching, habitat encroachment, and unknowingly harmful Western tourist dollars.

Nicole has taken her passion for Africa’s wildlife home with her through the retelling of stories and sharing of photography, in an effort to raise funds for organizations that touched her heart. She hopes to become more involved in more fundraising, in an official capacity, in order to entrench herself more closely with conservation, hoping to one day reside in Africa.

Rachel Rebibo

Visuals and Photography

Rachel Rebibo was born and raised in the Washington DC area, picking up her first camera at 10 years old. She then attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, before moving to Paris. She loves working on location and utilizing the beauty of natural light, but can also be found shooting in the studio with a dedicated playlist to set the mood. In her personal time she is passionate about animals and wildlife conservation, and ​has traveled to Africa on numerous occasions to visit conservation projects and national parks.

Gabriella Gentil

Content Creator

Gabriella graduated from Georgetown University in 2012, where she studied English and History. After graduation, she spent 3 months at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center caring for orphaned animals including rhinos, cheetah, and honey badgers. Upon returning to New York, Gabriella spent a year in the NBC Universal Page Program, before choosing to pursue her passion- the African bushveld. Gabriella worked at Chitwa Chitwa and Simbambili Game Lodge in the Sabi Sands area of the Kruger National Park before moving to Tanzania to join &Beyond. After two amazing years in the bush, she decided to return home and join Empowers Africa as Communication Officer.

Gabriella has been with Empowers Africa since the beginning, assisting with administration duties when the organization first started. Upon moving to Africa, she continued her involvement by visiting and evaluating some of Empowers Africa’s grantees, predominantly the Inzalo Community Project, as well as fundraising for Wilderness Safaris’ Black Rhino Relocation Project.

Michele Wood

Corporate Consultant

Michele started her career in the wine industry in British Columbia where she quickly advanced to oversee the British Columbia market for E&J Gallo Winery. During the tech boom her career took her in another direction and she helped start an email marketing company. After much success with building their client base and educating the Vancouver market about this new media she decided to start her own marketing and PR company. She successfully ran her company focusing on marketing and leasing of new residential developments until she moved to New York. Since then she has been actively involved with new construction, design and decorating of homes which has lead her to her present career as a Real Estate Salesperson for Corcoran. Michele’s unique eye for real estate and design coupled with her skills in sales positions her as a valuable asset to any client seeking to purchase real estate in New York.

For the last nine years she has Co-Chaired the Bergh Ball for the ASPCA and has been actively involved with animal welfare. Michele was a former Trustee of Africa Foundation (USA) and has traveled several times to South Africa visiting communities and helping to empower the people of Africa. She has co-hosted The Huggy Bear Pro-Am Celebrity Charity Tennis tournament in Southampton and served on the Auction committee for Southampton Hospital Summer benefit. Her passion lies in helping animals and children; those without a voice.

Suzanne Cross

Suzanne’s interest in Africa developed while on safari in 2002. She wanted to see the rural Zulu community and was introduced to the Mnqobokazi villages and Nkomo Primary School near the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa. A bond was quickly and easily formed with Mrs. Nomusa Zikhali, the Principal, that has bridged the distance between South Africa and San Francisco. Ms. Cross has since been an advocate of the school children and the educators in this community engaging the interest and resources of the Bay Area and beyond to support the needs of these 35,000 Zulu children in 42 schools by providing classrooms, technical training specialists, educational supplies, playground equipment, uniforms, solar study lights, educational field trips, and university bursaries to allow the Zulu children to reach their potential. She had returned to this community eight times, as well as traveling to Tanzania, Zambia, and Botswana. Suzanne has facilitated fiscal partnerships with Empowers Africa and One World Children’s Fund and remains committed to stay current with the Mnqobokazi community needs through regular communication with school principals and NGOs in this region. She is Producer/Co-Director in post-production on a feature documentary titled Under Four Trees to share the success story of the Nkomo Primary School with children and PBS audiences worldwide.

Ms. Cross is a consultant to the University of California, Office of the President, providing technical advisory to UCOP Chief Investment Officer, Endowment & Investment Accounting, Office of the General Counsel, and Institutional Advancement, relating to the planned giving programs for The Regents and the ten University campus locations. She formerly held several management positions at State Street Global Advisors including Vice President, Charitable Asset Management and Senior Tax Officer, Fiduciary and Charitable Tax Department, with over 25 years expertise in planned giving. She is currently on the nonprofit boards of Unite to Light, Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California, and Coro Center for Civic Leadership. She is on the Advisory Board of BNY Mellon client planned giving services.

She volunteers weekly at Argonne Elementary School in San Francisco, engaging over 150 4th and 5th grade students in an annual Read-a-Thon to share the Zulu culture and support the needs of the Zulu school children. Ms. Cross holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of Connecticut; lives in San Francisco and enjoys triathlon, snowboarding, and theater.

Simon Gluckman

Simon founded Intrepid Expeditions in 2011 and has been organizing custom safaris for nearly 20 years. Born in South Africa and raised in the States, he developed a passion for Africa as a child and was inspired to build a career enabling others to experience all the continent has to offer. Simon has traveled to nearly every country in East and Southern Africa, as well as Egypt and Ethipopia. His travels have afforded him incredible opportunities. Among them are: countless game drives throughout Africa; visits to villages from Cairo to Cape Town; tracking rhinos in Zimbabwe; fly-fishing for Tiger fish on the Zambezi; climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya; diving with Great White sharks; and trekking gorillas and chimpanzees. These experiences have given him great insight into the African ecotourism industry, in particular when and where to go. Recognizing that wildlife viewing can change dramatically throughout the course of a year, Simon works hard to select the right experience for an individual based on the season, as well as a host of other factors.

Dana Macy

Dana Macy resides in New Jersey and Wyoming and was raised in Mendham, NJ and Northern Wisconsin. Dana’s husband, Eric and her three children share her passion for Africa. Over the past two years they have traveled to Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia, Egypt, South Africa and Climbed Kilimanjaro. Dana recently visited Mozambique with Empowers Africa in addition to her heartfelt involvement with an orphanage in Uganda.

Dana is a graduate from Denison University where she continues on the Denison Alumni Recruit Team. After college, Dana worked for Senator Timothy Wirth (D-Colorado) in Washington, D.C., then F. Eberstadt Investment Banking NYC for 2 years in Institutional Equity Sales, then joining Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Investment Banking Firm as VP Institutional Equity Sales where she worked for 15 years.

Her athletic interests include being an avid hiker, heli-skiing, ice hockey, running the NY City Marathon, trekking in Bhutan, Photography and most recently, twelve months traveling around the world with her husband and three children.

Charlotte Mourlot

Charlotte is a creative teacher with over 15 years’ experience in international elementary school education and a mediator with the New York Peace Institute and on CTAUN – the committee for teaching and learning about the UN. She has been invited to speak at conferences about Promoting Peace through Education, and has a blog devoted to the cause – Charlotte currently teaches fourth grade at the United Nations International School and has previously taught first grade at Colegio Anglo Colombiano in Bogota, Colombia and at Lauriston Primary School, London UK. Charlotte received her BA from University of Leeds, Yorkshire, UK and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. Charlotte lives in New York City with her two sons and has traveled to Africa with the Africa Foundation.

Lyn Pedersen

Lyn received a B.A. in Sociology and Education from the University of Vermont and is currently working on her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University. Lyn’s professional background includes advertising sales, publishing and social work. She is a competitive equestrian and has won multiple championships at a national level. Pedersen has supported Africa Foundation for several years and was actively involved in helping raise awareness and funds for AF, particularly through the New York events and has taken her own groups to travel to the communities. Lyn is involved in several other philanthropic causes, including, Just World International which focuses on empowering children in 3rd world countries, such as, Honduras, Guatemala and Cambodia. She has traveled to Africa four times and is passionate about wildlife protection, human empowerment and land conservation.

Anne Wells

Anne Wells has been working in and out of Africa since she was 19 studying in Tanzania as a student of wildlife and human cultural management. 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. A seasoned marketing and communications professional, Wells has more than 20 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 was awarded the Margaret Mead Award, and she attended the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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.