Meet the Staff

President and CEO

Michael Deal.VEGAMichael Deal

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.

Managing Director of Programs and Compliance

David Simpson.VEGADavid Simpson

David Simpson has 20 years of experience developing and administering a diverse array of international development projects worldwide. Prior to joining VEGA, David served as the Director of the Graduate School USA’s International Institute and was responsible for strategic partnerships, proposal development, and oversight of a diverse array of exchange, governance, and capacity building programs. As a Program Manager with World Learning, David managed a portfolio of training and capacity building task orders under the USAID-funded Strategic Technical Assistance for Results with Training (START) Indefinite Quantity Contract (IQC). His experience as Deputy Director of Programs with Citizen Democracy Corps includes recruiting, supervising and facilitating more than 200 business volunteers in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Central Asia under several USAID-funded cooperative agreements designed to build the capacity of small and medium sized enterprises.

David has in-country experience as the Country Director for Project Harmony in Armenia, where he managed the State Department and Government of Armenia-funded Armenia School Connectivity Program, the Armenian Legal Socialization Program, and the USAID-funded Community Connections program. As a United States Peace Corps Volunteer and United Nations Development Program Volunteer in Uzbekistan, David taught English and assisted in establishing the first international school in Uzbekistan. David holds an MA in European History from American University, and a BA in Education and History from Springfield College.

Managing Director of Finance and Administration

Long Nguyen.VEGALong 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.

Managing Director of Communications and Advocacy

Council Head ShotAngela Canterbury

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.

Director of Corporate Partnerships

Wolf1 011216Daniel Wolf

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.

Director of Programs

Coy Isaacs

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.

Senior Program Manager

Alexander 010615Laura Alexander

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, 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.

Program Manager

Leia D’Amboise

Leia D’Amboise has five years of experience in International Development at both the local and international level. Previous to joining VEGA, Ms. D’Amboise served in the United States Peace Corps from 2012 to 2014 in Botswana as an HIV-health volunteer. During her service Ms. D’Amboise worked with community based non-profits and local government. Several of her initiatives were HIV focused with a strong economic growth component, recognizing the lack of economic growth is directly correlated to high HIV rates.

Ms. D’Amboise also interned with World Vision Europe Union Liaison Office in Brussels, supporting World Vision’s various field offices. She has a B.A. in Public Relations with an emphasis on International Studies from Rowan University and a M.A. in International Development from the University of Kent Brussels School of International Studies located in Belgium. She is proficient in French.

Business Development Associate

Derek Watkins.VEGADerek Watkins

Derek Watkins has over five years of experience in economic growth research and market analysis in both the public and private sectors. He currently contributes to the business development and refinement of VEGA’s vision and strategy while supporting the Managing Director of Business Development, and the Director of Corporate Partnerships on the coordination and development of a variety of special project research and outreach. Before joining VEGA, Mr. Watkins worked at a top Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, in their defense and energy practices. There he collaborated with a team of Senior Vice Presidents in the research and development of client strategies. Mr. Watkins graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. He is currently pursuing his MBA at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Senior Accountant

Elena Sheidu

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.

Staff Accountant

Huma Photo 2014Huma Khan

Huma Khan has over eight years of experience in accounting and education industries. She gained extensive accounting experience while working for Emirates Airlines, the largest and number one airline in the Middle East. At Emirates, she executed multiple accounting projects in aggressive deadlines while working with her staff and key stakeholders. Ms. Khan also worked for a reputable private Montessori School in GA where she maintained school’s budget by keeping track of revenues and expenses. She brings international expertise dealing with clients and with all levels of management. Ms. Khan holds a B.A. from Karachi University, Pakistan.

Payroll and Payables Manager

Jennifer Cong

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 Fellow

Leah Breevoort

Leah Breevoort has over three years of experience in marketing, communications and video productions. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism with a degree in broadcast news, Leah brings her marketing and video skills to VEGA after concluding a four-month volunteer assignment with a human rights organization in Cambodia. During her time volunteering, she helped the organization produce an annual report, develop curriculum for a human rights defenders workshop, and apply for international funding. Prior to her time overseas, Leah worked for Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency-aid organization, creating marketing materials and a cohesive communication and outreach strategy to grow the organization’s fundraising capacity. She also helped manage marketing deliverables and press outreach for the organization’s regional galas that together raised more than $20 million. After graduating in 2012, Leah also spent a year volunteering as an English teacher in Israel where she spent her free time developing a youth-focused social venture that uses film to address discrimination within Israeli society.

Executive Assistant

img_2834Cristina Pascale

Cristina has served as an executive assistant for 6+ years and has provided assistance for a number of executives, including C-level executives.  As part of her work supporting executives in the fashion industry, she has managed relationships with numerous foreign-based vendors.  She’s also experienced in managing calendars, booking travel, and project management. Cristina holds a B.S. in Microbial Biotechnology and a B.A. in English from Rutgers University.  She is studying for a Masters Degree now with plans to attend dental school in the future.