ZIMBABWE BASED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Zara's Center welcomed Mr. Gibson Connick as our new Executive Director in 2014. He comes to Zara’s after a successful career as an educational leader in traditional academic settings. Most recently, he served as Principal at one of the most respected private schools in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe - Petra Primary School.
Mr. Connick has four children of his own and enjoys gardening, jogging, fishing, reading and sight-seeing.
Siniko joined Zara's team in 2017 and has quickly become an integral member of our community.
Before coming to Zara's Center, he was a teacher for children with special needs, and later served as a Mentor at Africaid, helping to refer children with HIV/AIDS to state and local services . He holds diplomas in Agricultural Education and Special Needs Education.
COMPUTER COORDINATOR & INSTRUCTOR
Gayle was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and holds a diploma in executive secretarial and an ICDL certificate with Foundation College of Zimbabwe. In her free time she enjoys singing, dancing, reading, and teaching Sunday school.
ASSISTANT NUTRITIONIST & GROUP A INSTRUCTOR
Rebecca was born in Bulawayo and trained with the red cross in first aid. She helps to maintain hygiene standards at the center and monitor food service operations to ensure conformance to nutritional, safety, sanitation and quality standards.
She also works with our youngest children (Group A - Ages 5-10) on Psycho-Social Support lessons and our art program in conjunction with Lalela.
Angeline was born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. Angeline is our Beading Instructor and is very talented in craft and bead work.
Her hobbies include swimming, reading, and music.
PIANO & MUSIC SKILLS INSTRUCTOR
Cornelius has been teaching piano and related music skills part time at Zara's since 2014. He is a single parent of four children and has a degree in ethnomusicology from Indiana University in the USA. He has extensive experience teaching music to high school students and served in the Army for 14 years as a music tutor. When he isn’t teaching Zara’s kids, he teaches Music at a local primary school.
HOUSEKEEPING & HYGIENE
Tenia joined Zara's staff in November 2014 and is responsible for the housekeeping and general cleanliness of the Center. She is a single mother with two boys who are in secondary school. In her free time, she enjoys watching TV soaps and spending time with her children.
VUSANI C. VUMA
MARIMBA, MUSIC, & DANCE INSTRUCTOR
Vusani teaches marimba music and dance at Zara’s Center. He was a member of a band called “Liyana”, which was based at King George VI school for handicapped youth. The band performed nationally and toured Europe and the U.S.A. Vusani is half Deaf and holds a Certificate in E.C.D. (Early Childhood Development) and Fine Arts. In addition to teaching at Zara’s, he works as an E.C.D. teacher at King George VI and is the Dance and Drama coach for Deaf children. He also manages a soccer team for the Deaf.
DANCE & DRAMA INSTRUCTOR
Ennet teaches dance, drama, and art at Zara's Center. She is married and has two children. She holds degrees in secondary education, Information Processing, and psychology, as well as a certificate in systems software technology. She is passionate about instructing both hearing and Deaf children in music and art. She also teaches Sign Language to teachers of the deaf, parents, hospitals, and the community at large.
CHIEF FRIENDSHIP OFFICER
Zara Bella has been at the Center for four years and has become good friends with all of the children and staff. Everyone loves her.
DEBORAH PLUTZIK BRIGGS, ED.D
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PG FAMILY FOUNDATION
Deborah Briggs has provided leadership, as a staff member, professional mentor, and consultant, at various foundations and corporations, colleges and universities, public and private schools, and organizations providing direct services and advocacy. She has developed and delivered university-level coursework in cause-related marketing and public relations, nonprofit administration, program development and evaluation. In addition to serving as Executive Director of the PG Family Foundation in NYC, she is also Vice President for Marketing and Philanthropy at
The Betsy- South Beach.
Deborah holds a Doctorate and Masters in Education from Columbia University Teachers College, a Master of Science from the University of Illinois, a Bachelors Degree from the University of Rochester, and a certificate in Public Policy from the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, DC. In 2004, she was named one of Maryland's Top 100 Women for her work connecting business and nonprofit enterprise, as organizational leader, mentor, and community volunteer.
US PROGRAM DIRECTOR, PG FAMILY FOUNDATION
Jessica Briggs holds a Masters Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University (2015) and a Bachelors Degree in Religion from the University of Rochester (2010). Over the past five years, her role has grown from an internship during graduate school focused on managing Zara's Center's NYC Marathon Team to her current position. Jessica manages Zara's International Board of Directors, spearheads project fundraising, plans special events, and works directly with Zara's Center's Zimbabwe-based staff to assess program needs.
Jessica previously worked as a Development Assistant at the Apollo Theater and at the University of Rochester Medical School.