Meet the Staff
President and CEO
Michael Deal has led VEGA’s operations since 2010. He has had a widely-varied professional background in international business and development, having served in a number of executive management positions over his career. He was USAID Mission Director in Colombia, culminating a 28-year Foreign Service career which included assignments as Acting Assistant Administrator and Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Latin American Bureau. His USAID career included assignments in six developing countries. He achieved the rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service and received the Administrator’s Outstanding Career Achievement Award. Following his years at USAID, Mr. Deal served as President and CEO of Crown Agents USA, Inc., where he directed the rapid ramp-up of U.S. operations for this global international development company. He led the firm in building a competitive position in the U.S. market, opening nine overseas offices in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and building program initiatives combating HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa, promoting good governance through customs, tax, and procurement reform, and anti-corruption training under programs funded by USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Director of Programs
Laura Alexander has more than 5 years of experience in international development and agriculture. Prior to joining VEGA, she was Program Manager for Organizational Transformation at iAGRI, a USAID-funded Feed the Future project in Tanzania. She was responsible for managing the implementation and ongoing development of iAGRI’s organizational capacity building activities at Sokoine University of Agriculture, including testing and adapting an innovative change model, interpreting the model for program staff, and supporting continuous learning and adaptation. She also worked directly with local partners to develop and implement several capacity-building projects.
Laura brings a strong background in volunteerism to VEGA. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, where she worked with community-based organizations to improve the economic and nutrition status of community members through agricultural development projects. In addition, she worked for ServeNext.org, an organization focused on grassroots advocacy for national service programs like AmeriCorps. Other previous experiences include serving as a Rosenthal Fellow at the Department of State and Membership and Development Manager at the American Horticultural Society. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and a M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. She also holds a B.S. from the University of Florida and is fluent in Kiswahili.
Director of Business Development
Veleka Burrell is a resourceful, solutions-driven professional with more than 10 years of experience in business development, program management, and communications within an international development context. During the course of her career she has assisted organizations secure and manage multi-million dollar contracts and assistance awards, led and managed corporate communications for a consulting firm, and worked as a newspaper reporter.
She got her start in development as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa, and is passionate about the work the industry does to address critical global inequities. Ms. Burrell has a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs, and a bachelor’s degree in professional writing. She is conversant in French. And during the winter months in DC, she can often be found outside at lunch time, braving the bitter cold to get her pho fix at the Pho Junkies food truck because it is just. that. good. Ms. Burrell lives in Virginia with her husband and son.
Managing Director of Communications and Advocacy
Angela Canterbury has extensive experience increasing the impact and sustainability of cause-driven organizations and initiatives with strategic partnerships, communications and advocacy.
Angela’s international experience includes nearly four years in Ukraine where she provided advocacy and communications support to USAID grantees, as well as to local NGOs and businesses. In Indonesia and the Czech Republic, she consulted with multi-stakeholders on participation in the Open Government Partnership. In the U.S., Angela has built relationships with diverse partners, policymakers and lawmakers to improve lives domestically and abroad with policies such as anti-corruption and human trafficking laws. Angela has testified before Congress several times and has been a widely-featured writer and speaker. She has spent much of her career adopting communication tools and tactics to better inspire, educate and engage.
Angela previously served as the Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World, its Candidate Fund, and its research organization, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. She led the organizations’ operations, including the successful campaign in support of a diplomatic agreement to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Prior experience includes serving as the Public Policy Director for the Project On Government Oversight, Advocacy Director for Public Citizen and Grassroots Lobbyist for the League of Women Voters. Angela has been an independent consultant; and earlier in her career, she worked for a political technology firm and as a campaign manager for a congressional campaign.
Angela is passionate about the power of volunteers to make a meaningful difference and has been a lifelong volunteer herself.
Payroll and Payables Manager
Jennifer Cong has over twenty-four years of experience managing payrolls and account payables for nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining VEGA, Ms. Cong worked for a $40 million international NGO with programs in 30 countries, managing accounts in multiple currencies. She was responsible for all phases of A/P, including verification of invoices, computer coding, reports and interfacing with the computerized general ledger. Ms. Cong has also facilitated successful internal and external audits through sound and thorough documentation, which she attributes to her strong analytical reasoning and ethical approach. She holds a B.S. in accounting from George Mason University and is fluent in Vietnamese.
Communications and Advocacy Associate
Kathryn Deaton comes to VEGA from Colgate University, where she earned her B.A. in Peace & Conflict Studies and Environmental Studies. Her background in communications and nonprofit work comes from her time interning at Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the Environmental Health Strategy Center (EHSC). At PSR, Kathryn promoted their disarmament message through social media, organized media waves, and published a report on the economic influence of nuclear weapons manufacturers. At EHSC in Maine, she advocated for removing arsenic from drinking water by organizing in-district meetings with state representatives and fostering a network of volunteer contacts. Kathryn’s international experience spans from South Africa, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina, to China, where she worked with environmental and human rights activists.
Managing Director of Programs and Compliance
Coy Isaacs is an international development operations expert with nearly 15 years of experience developing, implementing, and managing complex projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. He has spent over half of his life living and working in sub-Saharan Africa including a large portion of his childhood in Ethiopia during the 1980’s. He brings proven leadership abilities and practical experience designing and coordinating international programs at the local, district, and ministerial levels. He is a highly skilled team leader and project manager with extensive field based experience in multiple contexts, having served as Regional Director for the Horn and East Africa with responsibility for a $70 million USD portfolio of public health system strengthening programs in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, as Chief of Party and Deputy Chief of Party in Northern Uganda, Emergency Response Manager in South Sudan, and Field Director/Chief of Mission in the Darfur states of Sudan.
Coy is known for his ability to work effectively with host government counterparts, multiple donors, and for the ability to mobilize communities to create sustainable solutions to development challenges. As Chief of Party in Northern Uganda for VEGA Member Winrock International, Coy oversaw a USAID effort to deliver $30 million USD in infrastructure construction to support devolution efforts, reform public procurement systems, and empower local governments and communities through a labor-based approach in 6 districts. In the various projects he has led Coy has demonstrated a commitment to effective implementation, transparent procurement and contract management systems, cost control mechanisms, and fiscal accountability of USG funds.
Managing Director of Finance and Administration
Long Tien Nguyen
Long Tien Nguyen brings more than 20 years of experience in financial/accounting management to VEGA, with an emphasis on international development organizations with field offices around the world. He was Director of Finance and Administration for the Global Health Fellows Program with the Public Health Institute, Director of Operations for the Institute for Reproductive Health of Georgetown University. He also has held management positions with the Africa Rice Center in Ivory Coast, the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Search for Common Ground, and the International Food Policy Research Institute. Mr. Nguyen earned his MBA from Marymount University, and his BS in International Business and Finance from American University. He has traveled, worked, and lived in Asia, Latin American, Europe and Africa.
Elena has over twenty years of experience in the accounting field. She has a robust background in nonprofit and for-profit accounting. She has worked as an accounting manager for a government contractor, and has been a consultant with regional and international CPA firms for over seven years. As a consultant, Elena has serviced a variety of DC metropolitan clients. She hopes to be an asset to VEGA, and strives to streamline the accounting process.
Sheila Sullivan brings six years of experience as a Program Officer, Manager, and Reporting Consultant across a range of areas. Prior to joining VEGA she was a Program Officer for one of Australia’s leading international development organizations, the Fred Hollows Foundation, which focuses on building sustainable models for health system strengthening. She was responsible for providing operational support to country offices in East Asia, ensuring projects met compliance requirements for a variety of donors. Sheila has also managed adult education projects for a community development NGO in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, where she oversaw programs that provided services to over 3000 low-income immigrant students annually. In this role she also served as the volunteer manager, recruiting and providing intensive training to 80+ volunteer instructors per year.
Sheila has further experience working as a Reporting Consultant for the World Food Programme European Union Liaison Office in Brussels, Belgium, where she launched and wrote publications targeted to EU decision-makers and members of the European Parliament. These reports focused on humanitarian aid, international development, food security, nutrition and agriculture. Prior to joining WFP she received her M.A. in International Development from the University of Kent Brussels School of International Studies, where her studies focused on agriculture, including a dissertation on applying agroecology principles as a vehicle for long-term agricultural sustainability in international development projects. Sheila also holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy from Michigan State University and is proficient in Portuguese.
Director of Corporate Partnerships
Daniel Wolf is an international development expert with nearly 10 years of technical experience in market linkages, trade, and financial management. He has managed development projects, handled budgets as large as $1.2 million, recruited consultants, and fulfilled reporting requirements. He has conceptualized and implemented market-driven value chain efforts involving textiles, apparel, and high-value processed foods.
Previously, he served as the primary relationship manager with U.S. and African businesses for the Corporate Council on Africa, enhancing corporate members’ partnerships and investments in Africa. In this position, he increased membership by more than 10 percent, recruited nearly 50 African-headquartered businesses, and generated historic business engagement. He also developed MyCCA, an online platform that disseminates information and facilitates member engagement.
He also served as the market linkages and investment specialist for the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub. Daniel helped bring about systemic change in Southern Africa by identifying market opportunities for textile and garment manufacturers, matching these manufacturers with international buyers, and facilitating agricultural-related investments for U.S. businesses in that region.
Daniel designed and managed the South Africa International Business Linkage project’s accounting system. His success in this position allowed for easy monitoring of the project’s costs and financial progress of subcontractors as well as the receipt of $16.5 million for a phase II add-on project. He has led pre-bid and bid processes for USAID-funded cooperative agreements amounting to as much as $16.5 million.
He earned a master’s degree in history with a concentration in South Africa and U.S.-Africa relations from George Mason University and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan. Daniel is well-versed in USAID cost accounting guidelines and financial and cash management.
Daniel lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and son.