Founder and Board Member
Dr. Ingrid Schulze immigrated to the United States as a baby with her German parents, who arrived with virtually nothing except her father’s PhD in chemistry and his job offer. The power of education made a lifelong impression on her and influenced her decision to start Congo Education Partners. She grew up in a house full of books and has a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Texas. Ingrid first met Albert Lokasola, founder of Djolu Technical College (DTC), in 2005 and started the Kokolopori-Falls Church Sister City Partnership soon thereafter, which she led until 2011. The Kokolopori Partnership played a crucial role in the DR Congo government’s accreditation of DTC and its official recognition of the Kokolopori Bonobo Nature Reserve. In 2013, Ingrid founded Congo Education Partners expressly to fund the College. CEP and Albert Lokasola’s NGO, Vie Sauvage, have worked together on developing DTC ever since. Ingrid loves her family and the great outdoors, especially biking and lake swimming, and is writing a science fiction novel.
Jessica Leas (she/her) is currently the Senior Director for Large Grant Capacity at Conservation International, where she works directly with field staff to develop large project proposals. Over her 25-year career, Jessica has raised and stewarded more than US$1 billion for efforts at various environmental organizations such as ClimateWorks Foundation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife. Jessica has done program work in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Sri Lanka and India and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan. Jessica has a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from Johns Hopkins University. She comes to CEP with a great appreciation for the Congo rainforest and is helping to grow CEP’s donor base and engage new institutional donors. When Jessica is not fundraising for CI and CEP, she can be found wandering Washington DC with her dog, biking to and from errands (she lives car-free!), growing weeds at her community garden plot or just reading a good book.