Keeping the Tradition of Faraja Alive

The Faraja Fund Foundation was founded in 2006 to help administer charitable donations and financial support to Faraja Primary School and its graduates. Donations collected by the foundation have helped build new classroom facilities, purchase life-changing healthcare equipment, and support dozens of alumni as they move on to secondary school, vocational training, and college. Their goal is to ensure that no Faraja student is left behind, even after they graduate.

of total school funding provided
raised each year

Our Team

The Faraja Fund’s founders, Board of Directors, and staff have worked tirelessly to make a lifetime of opportunity available to the students of Faraja Primary School.

David Tolmie
David TolmieChairman
Dave has been actively 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.

David Vermylen
David VermylenVice 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.

John Tolmie
John TolmieVice 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.

Paul Tolmie
Paul TolmieSecretary/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.

Clint Roberts
Clint Roberts
Clint received his divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1985 and for the next 38 years he pastored Presbyterian congregations in Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. He has embraced particular ministries including partnering with historic African-American Presbyterian congregations in inner-city Chicago, Native American Sioux congregations on the Plains of South Dakota and Montana, the Great Banquet Cursillo communities, leading mission trips to Ghana, across the Midwest and more than a dozen to New Orleans in the decade following Hurricane Katrina, mentoring future Presbyterian ministers, and joyfully leading bicycling trips across the Midwest while staying in churches along the way.

Clint, along with his wife Deb (who is also a pastor) are passionate about connecting with people from different cultures, backgrounds and economic means with the message of God’s never-ending love and grace. He believes the Faraja Foundation is a powerful and beautiful means of doing this.

Patricia A. Bosse
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.

Debi Swanson
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.

Mitch Engel
Mitch Engel
Mitch 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.

Jeryl Levin
Jeryl LevinExecutive Director
Jeryl Levin has a long career in not-for-profit management in the fields of health and human services, global violence prevention, education and civic affairs. She takes great joy in finding the resources for organizations to advance their good work and to build relationships with the donors who make the work possible. She is thrilled to join Faraja Fund Foundation and build on the legacy of the Tolmie family and all those who ensure that children with physical disabilities in Tanzania have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Jean Ellis
Jean Ellis
For over four decades, Jean has combined a career in healthcare with an enthusiastic commitment to community service. Most recently, Jean has led clinical operation and transformation initiatives for a large multi-specialty provider group and integrated delivery system in the Boston area. In the non-profit sector, she was a founding partner of a small, women-led consulting group which provided leadership development and fund-raising support to several Massachusetts organizations, including the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Girl Scouts.

Prior to pivoting to volunteer activities associated with community youth sports and school
organizations, she served as Board President for both the American Cancer Society (Boston Chapter) and the Junior League of Boston. She was a Board member of the Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts, as well as Senior Warden at her local Episcopal church. In each role, Jean strives to enhance team effectiveness and facilitate the collaboration of volunteers and staff to support organizational success.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Carleton College, Jean was awarded a Master of Public Health degree from Yale University and completed a program in Administration and Management at Harvard University. She and her husband Tom split their time between Westford, Massachusetts and Grantham, New Hampshire.

Our Recognition

Candid GuideStar

Faraja earned the highest level of recognition offered by Candid GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information

Points of Light Badge
Point of Light

Awarded to individuals making a difference by demonstrating how “a neighbor can help a neighbor.” In 2018, Faraja Founders Joann and Don Tolmie were honored with a Points of Light Award.

Support the Faraja Fund

Your donation will help provide the students and graduates of Faraja Primary School with a lifetime of opportunity.