Warren Staley, Stephen Harris and Dr. Laurent Mbanda Join Opportunity International Global Board of Directors

Business, education and nonprofit leaders will help empower more people to work their way out of poverty in 28 developing nations

CHICAGO--()--Warren Staley, Stephen Harris and Dr. Laurent Mbanda have joined the Opportunity International Global Board of Directors to help guide the organization and enable it to achieve its goal of empowering clients to create 20 million jobs by 2020.

“Their vast experience in the business, education and nonprofit worlds will be key to helping us create and sustain 20 million jobs around the world by 2020.”

Staley and his wife, Mary Lynn, have been strong supporters of the organization for nearly 15 years. During that time they have helped fund nearly 121,000 loans for community entrepreneurs, impacting more than 140,000 families in 28 developing nations. He also serves on Opportunity International’s Agriculture Campaign Taskforce, which is committed to raising $48 million.

As an Ambassador of the organization, Staley also helped secured more than $12 million in funding—more than half of the total dollars needed—to launch an Opportunity International Bank in Colombia, which has expanded outreach to those living in poverty by more than 400 percent over the last 3 years.

Staley is the former CEO and Board Chair of Cargill Inc. Born in Illinois, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Kansas State University and his Master of Business Administration from Cornell University. Staley served for 2 years as a staff member at a development bank in Colombia before joining Cargill as a trainee in 1969. He served in a variety of senior leadership positions at Cargill, including President and Chief Operating Officer in 1998, CEO in 1999 and Board Chairman in 2000. Staley led Cargill, America's largest privately held company by revenue, through a strong period of renewed growth and prosperity. He retired from Cargill in 2007.

Stephen Harris has also joined the global board. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Harris has worked in education for 38 years and believes schools must embrace a new paradigm where learning is interdependent and collaborative, technology is adaptive, spaces are radically different to the traditional mindset, and a community built on positive relationships is at the core. He has served as principal of Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney for the past 16 years. Under his leadership, the school quadrupled in size to 1,300 students from preschool to grade 12 and developed a campus with an international reputation for designed innovation. In order to accelerate and capture the significant changes occurring within the school, Harris founded the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning in 2005 to embed research and innovation into everyday school practice. Harris received the Australian Secondary Principal of the Year (New South Wales) in 2011 from Australian Awards for Outstanding Teaching and School Leadership.

Since 2010, Harris has also led an education project in Rwanda to develop the capacity of school proprietors, and others, to lead local professional development programs to foster entrepreneurial mindsets among students to enable them to eventually become job creators.

Harris regularly speaks on education, innovation and entrepreneurship at a variety of international symposiums. He earned a Master of Letters in Australian Literature and is studying for a Ph.D. at the University of Technology in Sydney. His doctoral studies focus on creating a model for embedding pervasive innovation into schools. Stephen has done consulting work in the UK at different times and was made a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 2014.

Dr. Laurent Mbanda has also joined Opportunity International's Global Board of Directors. Dr. Mbanda is Bishop of Shyira Diocese in the Anglican Church Rwanda, which oversees nearly 329 local congregations. He was born in Rwanda and spent his childhood in Burundi. Dr. Mbanda joined Compassion International in 1993, where he held several different positions in the ministry, including Vice President of the Africa Region and Vice President of Program Development. Dr. Mbanda is also Vice Chairman of the Global Board of Directors for Compassion International and serves as Board Chair for Food for the Hungry. Previously, he served on the Board of International Justice Mission and Chaired the Board of Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda.

Dr. Mbanda is a graduate of Kenya Highlands Bible College and has completed coursework for a Master of Arts in Missiology from Fuller Seminary’s School of World Missions. He also earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Denver Seminary and a Ph.D. from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill. He and his wife live in Musanze, Rwanda.

“We are extremely grateful Warren, Stephen and Laurent have joined us as global board members to help fulfill our mission to serve clients and improve lives in the developing world,” said Vicki Escarra, Global CEO, Opportunity International. “Their vast experience in the business, education and nonprofit worlds will be key to helping us create and sustain 20 million jobs around the world by 2020.”


Opportunity International is a global non-profit organization that helps people in developing nations work their way out of poverty, transform their lives and strengthen their families and communities. Founded in 1971, the organization has provided more than $9 billion in loans to help clients launch and expand businesses, provide for their children and create jobs in their communities. Today, nearly 13 million people in 28 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, are using an Opportunity International loan, savings account or insurance policy to improve their lives. More than 94 percent of Opportunity’s loan clients are women who would otherwise never have access to financial services because of legal and cultural gender inequities in most developing nations. The global headquarters of Opportunity International are in Chicago, with other key offices in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The organization serves clients through a network of more than 17,500 people worldwide. Discover more at opportunity.org.


Opportunity International
Christina Koliopoulos, 312-487-5064