About Us

 

Mission: Empower the world’s most vulnerable communities through knowledge sharing. 

Amplio (formerly Literacy Bridge) is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to sharing knowledge with the world’s hardest-to-reach communities, so that people in developing countries have the power to transform their lives.

Our durable Talking Book audio device is designed for off-the-grid, low-literacy communities, where people speak local languages or dialects. We amplify the impact of our global partners, and the voices of the communities we serve, through our innovative technology, Talking Book programs, and a network of affiliates who provide in-country training and support.

Since 2007, Talking Books have reached nearly 500,000 people in rural and remote African communities – from farmers in Northern Ghana, to Burundian refuges in Rwanda, to mothers in Kenya. Together with our partners we strive to build a world where the knowledge required to end poverty and improve lives reaches those who need it, no matter where they live.

 

Team

Cliff Schmidt

Executive Director

Cliff started Literacy Bridge in 2007 to address global poverty and disease by making practical agriculture and health knowledge accessible to those who need it most. He led the development of an audio-based mobile device called the “Talking Book” for people with minimal literacy skills living in rural areas without electricity or Internet access.

Cliff received the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow Award by Bill and Melinda Gates and was awarded a Clinton Global Initiative membership by President Bill Clinton. He received the top prize at the Tech Awards in 2012 and Computerworld Honors in 2013 and was selected by the PBS Newshour as one of five Agents for Social Change in 2013.

Prior to starting Literacy Bridge, Cliff was a software developer for Microsoft and a nuclear engineering officer for the U.S. Navy Submarine Force. Cliff holds a B.S. in cognitive science from MIT and an M.S. in computer science and engineering from the University of Washington. Cliff loves music and playing tenor saxophone.

Leah Gray

Chief Financial Officer

Leah has over fifteen years of leadership and financial management experience. Leah served as CFO of a large manufacturing company. Prior to this experience, she was a senior manager and director with Price WaterhouseCoopers and Moss Adams. Leah has recently brought her financial expertise to the nonprofit sector. She has traveled to Kenya and Tanzania on specific Catholic-based missions.

Leah holds degrees in accounting and economics from the University of Washington. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time with her family and supporting their sporting activities.  She also serves on two not-for-profit boards.

Samara Andrade

Global Partnerships Director

Samara has over 12 years of experience in development, peacebuilding, and humanitarian assistance, including nearly a decade with the United Nations. She has led the design and implementation of projects in health, economic development, civic engagement, gender, and rule of law in Sudan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Libya, Indonesia, Zambia, and Croatia.

Earlier in her career, Samara was a trade analyst focused on US-Mexico-Canada commerce in biotech and information and communication technology. She is the co-founder of Feet on the Ground, a nonprofit dedicated to building resilience through the application of neuroscience and somatic research as an adjunct to trauma recovery.

Samara holds an M.A. in international policy studies and a certificate in development project management from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey and a B.A. in international business. Samara enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, yoga, and cycling.

Erin Inclán

Communications Director

Erin Inclán brings 20+ years of communications experience to our team and a passion for promoting local and global access to education. Early on she worked for the Office of Tibet in NYC, where she assisted immigrants and honed her powers of persuasion pitching press releases to A.M. Rosenthal. As marketing editor for Simmons College in Boston, she developed the brand voice, messaging, and content for numerous websites and publications. Prior to joining Amplio, Erin was a strategic consultant for mission-driven marketing, branding, and fundraising campaigns, mostly for colleges and nonprofits in New England.

Erin has a B.A. in multi/cultural studies and communication from The Evergreen State College. Locally she facilitates conversation, cultural exchange, and community placemaking projects. Internationally, she mentors women scholars in Nepal.

Don Morrison

Development Director

Don Morrison is a transformational sales, marketing and business leader with extensive experience in high tech.   He is known for his ability to help businesses adjust to changing markets and increased competition leading them to attain hard to reach goals and re-establishing competitive advantage.  He is an inspirational leader and believes that success comes through people and strong teams.  He has led successes at some of the high-tech industry’s biggest names including Microsoft, Sage Software, and Tektronix.  In his most recent role at Microsoft, he led a $1B business and attained a 5-year CAGR of 41% while successfully repositioning the business unit’s brand.  Although, high tech has been his focus he has also led a successful Real Estate Development portfolio and was responsible for increasing Net Asset Value by over 10x.

In 2016, Mr. Morrison began his work to give back to the global community through social entrepreneurship.  He has developed high impact, scalable programs to improve the delivery of public health and increase digital literacy in underserved communities.  He has also worked on projects to enable sustainable eco-systems in marine environments. 

Mr. Morrison holds a BS in Marketing from Humboldt State University, an MBA in Finance from the University of Oregon and is completing a digital marketing certificate from the University of Washington.  He currently lives in the Seattle, Washington area.

Ryan Forbes Morris

Program Manager

Ryan is an international development professional with experience managing media, education, and workforce development projects. Ryan was previously with IREX where he supported a five-year, $10 million program in Mozambique and provided technical training to international and U.S. educators and youth leaders through several national and international teaching programs.

Ryan’s international experience includes serving as a teacher trainer at the Alto Molocue Teacher Training Institute in Zambézia, Mozambique and a Community and Youth Education Development Volunteer and English Language Instructor in Maradi, Niger.

Ryan holds a B.A. in French from Wabash College and an M.S.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University. Ryan speaks Portuguese, French, and Hausa. Ryan enjoys travel, languages, reading, and live music.

Line Nya-Ngatchou

Assistant Controller

Line has worked with women’s associations in rural areas of Burkina Faso, where she successfully formulated and implemented a strategic model to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of Shea butter trademark and product quality certification. Her research data are referenced in published articles on “Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP)” in Africa. Line received the 2016 Cross operational Excellence Award by InsideNGO recognizing her outstanding contributions as an operations professional.

Line holds an M.S. in sustainable development with a concentration in agricultural economics from Montpellier-France, a B.A. in tropical agronomy from the University of Florence-Italy, and an MBA in financial management.  Line is fluent in French, Italian, and English. Line enjoys watching movies, Zumba, traveling, and good food.

Bill Evans

Senior Software Design Engineer

Bill is a veteran of the software industry. He began supporting room-sized mainframe systems in the healthcare industry in 1978. At Microsoft, Bill was a founding member of the team that created the .NET development environment and he worked on the Kindle reader at Amazon. He has worked on computers ranging from the very largest mainframe computers to the smallest embedded processors. Bill has programmed professionally in more than a dozen computer languages and dabbled in more. Bill holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University. When not programming, or reading about programming, Bill enjoys hiking, visiting museums, and reading science fiction.

Jenny Smith

Executive Assistant

Jenny spent six years in Israel working in hospitality and learning the art of crafting ceramics. Before returning to the United States, she spent a year living on a kibbutz where she farmed and herded goats, learned sustainable, intentional, and cooperative living, art and agriculture.

Jenny has a B.S. in human environmental science from the University of Alabama. She volunteers and participates at a pottery and yoga studio and enjoys traveling, being outdoors and listening to live music.

Board

Arthur C.L. Tao

Vice President

Arthur C.L. Tao is an experienced program manager in the software industry. He co-founded Amplio (then Literacy Bridge) with Cliff Schmidt in 2007 to address global poverty by making knowledge accessible to people in the world who are without basic infrastructure and electricity.

In addition to his work with Amplio, he provided product development leadership in an early stage startup. Previously, he worked at Microsoft as a senior program manager in the development of MSN web applications. He has extensive experience in the management of large and complex software programs, and in working with global teams and partners in a multinational and multi-corporation environment.

Arthur received his B.S. from Swarthmore College (Graduation w/ Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa), and his M.S. in Computer Engineering from Cornell University.

Arthur holds a patent in the area of high performance and high volume database application.

Kevin Reed

Secretary and Legal Counsel

Judicial Commissioner Kevin Reed is a magistrate judge of the General Sessions Criminal Court in Shelby County, Tennessee. He began his legal career by practicing law for the Shelby County Public Defender. He then went into private practice for ten years developing an intellectual property and entertainment law practice. As a magistrate judge, he sets felony bonds and presides over preliminary hearings and petitions for orders of protection in domestic abuse cases.

In addition, he is a board member of the Oak Spring Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization established to service the needs of the people of Northeast Shelby County. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and his JD from Howard University School of Law.

Michele Hasson

Co-President

Michele Hasson has more than 25 years of development experience in the non-profit sector. She is currently consulting (when not traveling) with the Northwest African American Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Her extensive experience in fundraising and board development, especially with major donors, has helped organizations grow both internal and external capacities.

Rao Remala

Co-President

Rao Remala devotes much of his time to philanthropy through his family foundation, the Satya and Rao Remala Foundation, since his retirement from Microsoft in 2004. He was recruited to Microsoft in 1981 from Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL), the developer of India’s first microcomputer, where he started the software division. Rao began his prolific tenure at Microsoft as a software developer and wrote original code for the precursor to Microsoft Windows. He retired 23 years later as Microsoft’s director in R&D.

He earned an engineering degree from the Regional Engineering College (REC) in Warangal, India, and later a master’s degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India. He also pursued doctoral studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.

Allen Wilcox

Allen is an experienced leader of positive change within complex systems across all three sectors – private, public, and social.  From 2008-2016, Allen was President of VillageReach, a global health innovator that develops, tests, implements, and scales new solutions to critical last mile health system challenges in low-resource environments.  At VillageReach, he created a new strategic model for scaling and sustaining proven system solutions through large public and private sector institutions.  Two VillageReach solutions have scaled multi-nationally and two scaled nationally, positively impacting tens of millions of low-income beneficiaries.  During Allen’s eight-year tenure, he sourced and managed 50% year-over-year average revenue growth transforming VillageReach from a six-employee, one country operation into a 120+ employee organization operating across sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan. From 1991-2002, Allen was an Associate General Counsel for Microsoft Corporation, where he supported the company’s international commercial activities and numerous product development groups.

Allen earned an LL.M. in international business legal studies from University of Exeter (England), a J.D. from Southern Methodist University and a B.A. from University of Texas. He received recognition as a Rotary Foundation Scholar, Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellow.

Christine Chew

Christine Chew is an experienced educator, community leader, and educational advocate. Christine’s belief in the power of education and the open sharing of information draws her to support Amplio in its pursuit to empower people and communities through relevant and shared learning.

As a School Board Director, Christine advocates for strong instruction and educational leadership to support all students. She also volunteers in support of various educational initiatives in our communities and serves on the Washington State School Board Directors’ Resolutions Committee. Christine served as the Executive Director for a Seattle nonprofit, College Access Now, that is dedicated to making college possible for underserved students; and she is a former high school science teacher and holds a doctoral degree in science education. Christine has worked with students, teachers, coaches, principals, and research partners to develop educational tools and support teacher learning; her research focused on the impacts of school leaders on implementing instructional change.

Christine’s early career and education provide a foundation that brings together leadership, science and technology, and public policy. As a program management lead at Microsoft, Christine coordinated product development of consumer-focused software products and services. In her early career, Christine worked as an environmental health/risk assessment toxicologist. Christine holds bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and political science and a master’s degree in toxicology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

David S. Vogel

David S. Vogel is a world renown data mining and predictive modeling expert. He has won over a dozen data science awards and earned international recognition for the accuracy of his predictive models, including being the 3-time winner of the prestigious KDD Cup and the Heritage Health Prize award, demonstrating the versatility of his predictive techniques. David is the Founder and CEO of an award-winning quantitative hedge fund and has been quoted on charitable and financial issues in a variety of news sources including Bloomberg, Barron’s, Think Tech and also continues to present his research at conferences and institutes worldwide.

As a Trustee of his family foundation, VoLo Foundation, David is responsible for setting the priorities of the organization as well as approving the Foundation’s strategies and allocation of resources. He is passionate about VoLo’s mission and uses data to drive decisions to maximize impact.

David graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in Scientific Computing from New York University.

Joyce Kim

Joyce is the Executive Director of Stellar.org, a nonprofit organization focused on open financial access. Stellar is a common payments platform that increases interoperability between diverse financial systems and currencies. Prior to Stellar, Joyce was a VC at Freestyle Capital as well as an entrepreneur. She worked as an attorney at Wilmer Hale and Sherman & Sterling, and pro bono at Sanctuary for Families and the Innocence Project. Joyce graduated from Cornell University at the age of 19, followed by graduate school at both Harvard and Columbia Law School. She serves as a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.

Paul Cotton

Paul Cotton has worked in the information technology industry for 45 years. He retired from Microsoft in Sep 2017 after 17 years of leading teams in USA and China who represented Microsoft in external standards organizations. Paul has extensive experience in consensus-driven standards organizations like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) where he has spent 20 years leading committees producing new Internet standards. Paul was co-chair of the W3C HTML Working Group which delivered the current HTML5 standard in 2015 and several media-related extensions to HTML in 2016-2017. In addition, Paul has represented Canada on several international standards committees working on database, document processing, and cloud computing technologies.

Earlier in his career, Paul worked for IBM for 5 years on IBM’s database products and prior to that, he worked for Fulcrum Technologies for 10 years on their text search software products. Paul has also worked in several IT startups and has been an angel investor in several others.

Paul has worked overseas for over 6 years in IT-related assignments for CUSO, CIDA and the United Nations in Tanzania, Chile, and Burma (Myanmar). Paul has traveled to over 90 countries.

Paul Cotton has B.Math and M.Math computer science degrees from the University of Waterloo.

Tony Cavalieri

Tony Cavalieri joined the Agricultural Development group at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2012. He is the lead for the crop improvement team in the Agricultural R&D group. He is focused on delivering improved seed varieties to smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Before joining the Gates Foundation, Tony consulted for USAID in Africa. He served as an advisor for The Nature Conservancy and worked to develop a sustainable agriculture strategy. Tony worked for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on issues related to science and technology policy in South Asia. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) from 2008-2012. He was also a board member for Chromatin Inc. He spent 22 years with Pioneer Hi-Bred International a DuPont Company. He joined the company as a plant physiologist and conducted research to improve drought tolerance in maize. He held a number of research leadership positions at Pioneer and DuPont. He was a Vice President of Pioneer for 10 years and led the company’s research platform.

Tony is a fellow of the Crop Science Society of America. He received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of South Carolina and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois.

Network Affiliates

Amplio’s network affiliates have experience implementing health, agriculture, and/or behavior change and communication programs to improve health, income, and quality of life. They provide in-country services and support for our Talking Book partners and programs, from culturally-relevant content development and production, to technology training and program management, to monitoring and evaluation.

Literacy Bridge Ghana

Amplio supports LBG throughout the Northern and Upper West regions in Ghana. LBG has been operating in Ghana since 2007 and is currently partnering with CARE International, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Winrock and UNICEF. The primary thematic areas for these programs are health, child protection, agriculture and market linkages, gender, and social cohesion.

Global Humanitarian and Development Foundation

Amplio, CBCC, UNICEF Rwanda and GHDF are working in Rwanda to promote optimal health, reduce morbidity and increase wellbeing for Burundian Refugee families in the Mahama Camp. The project aims to empower low-literate refugees with access to quality information, knowledge and skills to ensure improved health, well-being, and quality of life and to maximize the adoption of positive health behaviors. http://ghdf.org.rw

Centre for Behaviour Change and Communication

CBCC, in partnership with Amplio, Kenya Red Cross and Kenya Ministry of Health are working in 21 counties as part of ‘Anzilisha’, or ‘Right Start’, a national program to reduce anemia, low-birth weight and improve the nutrition of babies and mothers during the first two-years of life. CBCC is also working with USAID in the pastoral communities of Samburu and Turkana as part of the ‘Afya Timiza’ project to sustainably improve the health outcomes for mothers, children, and adolescents over a 5-year period. http://centreforbcc.com