Mountain-to-Mountain Team

Jesse Lutabingwa

Project Director


Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, Professor and Associate Vice Chancellor for International Education and Development at Appalachian State University, serves as Project Director. Lutabingwa has more than 30 years of work experience in international education and international development. In his professional career, Dr. Lutabingwa has managed the implementation of international education and international development projects involving faculty, staff, and students in various countries including South Africa. He is currently involved in the management and administration of the University Staff Doctoral Program (USDP) in collaboration with UFS, University of Venda, University of Montana, and Colorado State University. Dr. Lutabingwa also developed and implemented a two-year Legislative Fellows Program for 30 Young South Africans South Africa Legislative Fellows Program funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Previously, Dr. Lutabingwa served as Assistant Vice President for International Education and Development at Florida A&M University (FAMU) with responsibility for overseeing and supporting university-wide internationalization efforts.  During his time at FAMU and Jackson State University/Mississippi Consortium for International Development (MCID), he was Director of two Tertiary Education Linkages Project (TELP), funded by USAID, with the Mongosuthu University of Technology (then Mongosuthu Technikon) and the University of Zululand.

Kathleen Schroeder

Women's Academic Mentorship Coordinator At Appalachian State / MSC Mountain Studies / Project Coordinator


Dr. Kathleen Schroeder serves as Project Coordinator at Appalachian Sate University. She has her Ph.D in geography and is Chair of the Department of Geography and Planning. She has extensive experience working on issues of gender and development both domestically and abroad. She has held leadership positions on her campus and in her professional networks since the early days of her career, frequently serving as the first woman to hold a particular position in her unit. Dr. Schroeder first traveled to South Africa as part of a gender delegation for the International Geographic Union in 2002. She is currently co-supervising a doctoralstudent at UFS – Qwaqwa campus and traveled to South Africa in March 2019 to meet with her counterparts at UFS - Qwaqwa campus. Dr. Schroeder will provide leadership for the project's efforts with regard to issues of professional development for academic women.

Julie Shepherd-Powell

MSC Community Development

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Michelle Hair

Financial Manager at Appalachian State


Ms. Michelle Hair serves as the Project Financial Manager. Currently  Ms. Hair serves as Office Manager and Budget Officer in the Office of International Education and  Development at Appalachian State University. She is serving in this capacity on two U.S. Department of State-funded  projects implemented by the Office of International Education and Development: Mandela Washington  Fellowship and Teaching Excellence and Achievement Fulbright Program.

Grey Magaiza

Project Co-Director and MSC Community Development


Dr. Grey Magaiza serves as Project Co-Director at the UFS - Qwaqwa Campus. He has more than 15 years of experience in higher education. In the last eight years, Dr. Magaiza has acquired expansive administrative competencies, including being a Subject Head, an Acting Assistant Dean, and currently Program Director in the Faculty of Humanities. Currently, Dr. Magaiza is the inaugural Head of Department for the newly established Department of Community Development, the only one offering a four-year Community Development degree in South Africa at the moment. In all these roles, he has employed strategic thinking, relationship building, capacity building coupled with astute financial management skills to achieve program outcomes.

Aliza Le Roux

Women's Academic Mentorship Coordinator At The University of the Free State



Aliza le Roux is an associate professor in zoology at the University of the Free State's Qwaqwa campus. She is the assistant dean of the faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and is passionate about the upliftment of women, particularly in academic fields where they are underrepresented. Her scientific research focuses, broadly speaking, on animal responses to risks in the social and ecological environment. This has also led her to serve on the steering committee of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, housed within the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Geofrey Mukwada

Project Coordinator At The University of the Free State


Dr. Geofrey Mukwada serves as Project  Coordinator at UFS – Qwaqwa. He is an Associate Professor in Environmental Geography at UFS -  Qwaqwa Campus. He is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Department of Geography and W.A. Franke College  of Forestry & Conservation of the University of Montana. He is a National Research Foundation (South  Africa) rated researcher with over thirty years of experience, including university teaching, facilitation,  research and extension. He holds a Scopus Rating of H Index-7. He is currently involved in climate change  research projects in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa. Dr. Mukwada is the founding  coordinator of ARU and coordinator of the Living and Doing Business in Afromontane Environments  theme of the ARU. He has received several ARU awards and grants, and has considerable experience in  managing and coordinating international projects.

Lethiwe Sokhela

Financial Manager at The University of the Free State


Mary Scholes

External Evaluator


Professor Mary Scholes, a graduate from the University of Witwatersrand, is currently a professor for the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences teaching at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels. Scholes is also a holder for Research Chair in Global Change and Systems Analysis. Her research activities focus on systems analysis in a variety of disciplines including soil fertility, food security, and biogeochemistry in locations such as savannas, plantation forests, and croplands. Scholes is currently actively involved in monitoring water pollution, food security, forestry, climate change, and policy implementation in South Africa. She has been awarded the Vice-Chancellors Teaching Research and Academic Citizen Awards while also being the recipient of several national and international awards including being elected as a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, the South African Academy of Science, the World Academy of Sciences, and the African Academy of Sciences. Scholes has also served on Senate at Wits for over 25 years and has sat on Council for three terms.