Faraja Fund Foundation

The Faraja Fund Foundation is an American foundation that accepts and administers charitable donations in support of Faraja Primary School in Tanzania. The foundation was created in 2006 to provide financial support for Faraja Primary School and for Faraja graduates pursuing further education in secondary school, vocational training, and college.

The Faraja Fund Foundation qualifies for tax exemption as a private foundation under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (Tax ID 20-5954310).


Board of Directors

David Tolmie | Chairman
Dave has been activity involved in Faraja since its founding. As Board Chairman, Dave travels to Tanzania frequently to participate in the school’s planning and monitor progress.

Dave’s professional career is in business management and private equity investing. Since 2001, he has been a partner with The Edgewater Funds, a private equity firm based in Chicago. Previously, Dave was CEO of Yesmail, a direct marketing company, and held executive positions with Bally Total Fitness, General Mills, and McKinsey & Co.  He serves on the boards of numerous Edgewater portfolio companies and is active on nonprofit boards including Opportunity International, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center.

Dave received his BA from the University of Virginia and his MBA from Harvard Business School. He and his wife, Tracy, live in Lake Forest, IL. They have three grown children.

David Vermylen  | Vice Chairman
Dave has visited the Faraja School several times and has a special interest in students’ medical care and long term physical independence. His own experience of living with a physical challenge led to his commitment to Faraja School.

David is co-founder and former President of TreeHouse Foods, one of the largest private label food manufacturers in the U.S., with $3 billion in revenue. Before co-founding TreeHouse, he was President of Keebler Brands for five years prior to its 2001 acquisition by Kellogg. After the acquisition, David became President and CEO of the Keebler Company. He currently serves on the boards of TreeHouse and Aéropostale. He is also on the Board of Advisors for the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

David earned a BA from Georgetown University and an MBA from New York University. He and his wife Stacy divide their time between Lake Forest, IL and Naples, FL and are the parents of three grown children. 

John Tolmie |  Vice President
John has worked with Faraja School and other health ministries in Tanzania since 2001. He has assisted Tanzanian organizations with animal projects, water projects, capacity building, HIV/AIDS treatment, healthcare dispensary support, famine relief, hospital support, scholarships, and the distribution of 65,000 free mosquito nets to 19 villages.

John is a seasoned healthcare executive with more than 30 years of experience, including 15 years as a hospital CEO. John serves as CEO of VEDU, an education technology company. John received a BS from Virginia Tech and an MBA and MHA from Georgia State University.

John and his wife Lynn live in Baltimore, MD and have three grown sons.

Paul  Tolmie | Secretary/Treasurer
Paul is a dentist specializing in periodontics and surgical implantology. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. Paul’s honors and distinctions also include Fellowship in both the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists, societies which recognize professional leadership and humanitarian service.  Paul is a graduate of the University of Richmond and Emory University School of Dentistry, and he completed his specialty residency training at Boston University.

In addition to his family’s commitment to Faraja, Paul’s interests include church ministry and civic service. He serves on the Board of the Directors for the Southminster Retirement Community. Paul and his wife Melissa live in Charlotte, NC and have two grown daughters.

Donald Tolmie | Co-Founder
Don and his wife Joann first visited Tanzania in 1999 and were inspired to provide educational opportunities for children with physical disabilities. In partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, and with help from family and friends, they funded the construction and operation of Faraja Primary School. Joann credits Don with providing the vision and discipline for the Faraja mission.

Don is an attorney specializing in transportation and regulation. He retired in 1989 as Vice President and General Counsel for Norfolk Southern Railroad. He is a graduated from Augustana College and then earned his law degree at the University of Illinois. Don and Joann live in Charlotte, NC. They have three sons and eight grandchildren.

Joann Tolmie  | Co-Founder
When Joann and her husband Don first visited Tanzania in 1999, they saw the great need for a residential primary school for physically disabled children. Joann’s mother taught physically disabled children in Illinois, so she already had a high level of interest in the issue of education for the physically disabled. Don credits Joann with being the heart and soul of the Faraja mission. She maintains a unique and close relationship with the Faraja students and staff.

Joann has always been committed to service and social activism. Through Christian mission leadership roles, local programs to help the disadvantaged, and quiet compassion for individuals in need, Joann has set an example for her family and community.

Joann graduated from Augustana College with a degree in speech therapy (a new field in 1952). She taught in Elgin, IL for one year, married Don in 1953, and then taught in Winnetka, IL. She and Don are proud of their family’s commitment to Faraja School.

Jeffrey Howard
Jeff recently retired after a long career as an executive at United Stationers, Inc., where he served as Senior Vice President of National Accounts & Channel Management, with responsibility for $1.5 billion in revenues and leadership of a team of 300 people. He began his career in the office products industry in 1973 and joined United Stationers Inc. in 1990.

Jeff has visited Faraja with his grown children, Lindsay and Tyler. He is active in non-profits and volunteer leadership, including the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County, IL, where he served as Board President in 2014. He has served as an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest; he was also co-chair of the church’s extensive Mission Committee. Jeff and his wife Sarah divide their time between Lake Forest, IL and Carlsbad, CA.

Patricia A. Bosse
Pat has three decades of leadership experience in higher education and healthcare fundraising, marketing and communications. In 2014, she co-founded a nonprofit consulting firm, MPK&D, with three partners. The firm has grown to 15 consultants serving clients in education, associations, and other nonprofits nationally. During her career, Pat served as chief advancement officer for campaigns collectively raising more than $100M.

Pat has been active with the Faraja Fund Foundation since her first visit to Tanzania in 2008, and she joined the board in 2014. She holds a BA in English from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Pat and her husband Frank live in Hydes, MD and have three adult children.

Debi Swanson
Debi is the niece of Don and Joann Tolmie and the granddaughter of Mabel Swanson. She is proud of her family and their commitment to improving the lives of children with disabilities. She has visited Faraja Primary School twice and is inspired by the education, care, and compassion that children receive there.

Debi has practiced as a RN for 29 years and currently works as a pediatric emergency room nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital. Debi is a Certified Level One Trauma Nurse and holds a certificate in Pediatric Emergency Nursing. She also serves as chairman of the hospital’s Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Debi lives in San Diego, CA and has one grown daughter.

Mitch Engel
Mitch is our newest director. He and his wife Kris have actively supported the school since their visit in 2012.

Mitch retired from business in 2007 to write books and has since published five.  He started his career in advertising at Chicago-based Foote Cone & Belding, which he ultimately ran for 8 years, before moving into the parent holding company as one of two operating presidents.  He moved to the corporate side for the final chapter of his business career as chief marketing and strategic officer for the holding company, ServiceMaster.  Along the way, he has served on numerous non-profit, industry association, and for-profit boards.

Mitch and Kris split time between Ocean Ridge, Florida, and Lake Forest, Illinois. They are blessed with three married kids and five grandsons (and counting).

Faraja Youth Board

The Faraja Youth Group was created to engage the next generation of Faraja Primary School supporters. Maddie Tolmie serves as the group’s President. She is responsible for leading a group of young professionals to share the Faraja story and support the work of the Faraja Fund Foundation.

Maddie is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she earned a BA in Global Development Studies. She is currently pursuing an MBA at the University of Michigan.

Maddie previously worked as a strategist for Social Capital, a nonprofit consulting firm that builds sustainable revenue for top national and global causes. She also volunteered with Teach for America, teaching 6th grade Special Education in a Title 1 school in Metro Atlanta.


Kristin Westermann is Program Director for the Faraja Fund Foundation. Her responsibilities include administration, donor engagement, and program oversight. Kristin has fifteen years of experience working with education initiatives in Tanzania, including eight years with the Faraja Fund Foundation.

Kristin holds a BA in Sociology from Wittenberg University. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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