Who We Are

Alison McConnell, Founder and Executive Director

Ali is a Canadian with a background in Criminology, Political Science and Terrorism Studies. She traveled to Uganda in October 2010, in hopes of gaining field experience after completing her Masters Dissertation on the Reintegration of Child Soldiers. She found employment as a Social Worker with Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO), an indigenous non-profit that specializes in psychosocial support, family tracing and the reintegration of formerly abducted children. It was through this work, that she noticed a gap in support for children born into captivity with the Lord’s Resistance Army. After consulting with local colleagues, the idea became a reality and Empowering Kids in Uganda was born. Ali currently resides in Canada and returns to Uganda annually.

Ocitti James Kilara, In-Country Manager

James is a Ugandan National dedicated to supporting and empowering vulnerable children. He holds a Bachelors of Public Administration from Gulu University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Conflict Management and Peace Studies from the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies at Gulu University. In addition he has taken additional courses in Social Work, Child Protection and Participation, Psychosocial Support, and Monitoring and Evaluation. James began working with GUSCO in 2005 and quickly rose through the ranks from Caretaker to Field Officer to Social Worker and finally Center Administrator. He has also worked as a Mentor for primary and secondary school children with Unite for Children of Uganda.

Board of Directors

Acan Grace

Grace is an activist, writer and speaker for women affected by the war in northern Uganda. She was one of the thirty young girls abducted from a boarding school by the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at Aboke in 1996. Since her escape in 2004, Grace co-founded the Women’s Advocacy Network and works with more than 200 women survivors to tell their stories and seek justice. She recently graduated from Gulu University in October 2013.

Gratian Masendi

Gratian is a monitoring and evaluation consultant that has experience working with numerous NGOs in Uganda. He has experience working with children returning from captivity, first as a Social Worker with GUSCO and then as the Centre Coordinator at the GUSCO Reception Centre.

Donna Denham

Donnas’ career over the past thirty-five years has focused on building and strengthening NGOs working in the education, social service, women and childrens’ health, justice and potable water infrastructure sectors. The work has involved government and non-government organizations and communities in many areas of Canada (including with our Aboriginal people in the Arctic), SE Asia, Brazil, Kyrgystan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine and several countries in Africa.

She has co-authored a number of practical “how-to” training and participatory evaluation guides, particularly related to addressing gender based violence, that continue to be used in the field by practitioners.