Board of Directors
Founder and President
Sayydah was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She has a lifelong passion for helping others.
Sayydah Garrett was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Since childhood she has seen her parents (Ukrainian mother and African-American father) set the good example of helping less fortunate people in their community. This instilled the lifelong passion Sayydah has for helping others, whether it’s watching over elderly neighbors in her town, contributing to her favorite charities or doing community service. Her personal mission statement is, “Tell me what you want and I’ll help you get it.”
While on safari in Kenya in August, 2012 Sayydah visited Namayiana Village in Samburu County and learned about harmful centuries-old practices from a Samburu warrior (PCF’s Co-founder) who is fighting for girls’ rights to education. Sayydah promised to help and Pastoralist Child Foundation was founded on the very day of her visit to the village.
Sayydah is fluent in English, French and Russian, and speaks conversational Spanish. She enjoys learning languages and meeting people from all over the world, especially when they share food with her! She has traveled to 25+ countries.
Sayydah is a certified ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor and Adult Basic Education (ABE) instructor. She also teaches French at a local adult night school. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Russian Language & Literature from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Sayydah’s pastimes include spending time with family and friends, doing aqua fitness, and baking. She also enjoys doing community service and enjoys being on the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge, and as President-Elect for the Glen Ridge Kiwanis Club. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, GRAMMY Award winning saxophonist and composer, Kenny Garrett.
Samuel Siriria Leadismo
Samuel is a pastoralist from Samburu County, Kenya. His family is from the Black Cattle clan and he’s designated as a “Samburu Warrior.”
“I’m a pastoralist from the Samburu tribe, Black Cattle clan in Samburu, Kenya. The Samburu tribe is nomadic – moving from one place to another with their livestock searching for greener pastures.
When I was 25 years old my mother developed throat cancer. I cared for her during the last year of her life. During this period we shared many things. She told me about growing up poor, of herding goats as a child, and an early marriage. I knew her to be a deeply caring person and a strong, positive presence for not only her own children, but for all the children in the village, boys and girls. I learned from our conversations how much she wished she could have gone to school and to pursue a path of education so that she could have done more with her life and for others. During her last year, she shared her dream with me. She asked me to guide my younger sisters, to educate them, and to fight for the rights of all girls to enjoy the opportunities and life she didn’t have.
It is not easy for a warrior to learn this lesson and fight for the rights of girls. I am proud of myself, our community, and of the work we are able to do through The Pastoralist Child Foundation.
I’m a role model, advisor, and counselor in our villages, always encouraging my fellow youth to continue their education. I advocate against child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) by actively promoting childhood and adult education in my community. I attained a higher Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Zetech University. I’m the proud dad of 2 daughters who will not undergo FGM. My favorite thing about being a father is that I can work hard every day to leave this world a better place for my daughters and my community. Being a dad softens my heart, and makes me instantly more accountable and responsible to the world around me.
My dad is a polygamist and lived far from us, so it was my mother who influenced my life the most through kindness, compassion, integrity, calmness even in the face of extreme challenges, passion for life, humor, and unconditional love. During my mother’s last year, she asked me to guide and educate my younger sisters, and to fight for the rights of all girls to enjoy the opportunities she didn’t have. I’m honored to fulfill my mother’s wishes through the work I do at Pastoralist Child Foundation.
Halima Garrett has a caring heart for children and enjoys watching them thrive. Volunteering with PCF gives her the opportunity to help girls achieve their goals and become empowered to attain better life outcomes. Halima holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of Maryland (College Park). She holds a passion for nutrition and health education, resulting in greater awareness of the advantages of healthy eating. Halima worked previously as the Nutrition Data Specialist at Weight Watchers International in New York City. She currently owns Threads of Habit – selling vintage clothing and designing one-of-a kind garments from sustainable materials and vintage fabrics. Halima enjoys listening to music, sewing, thrift shop bargains, and creating recipes for delicious healthy food.
Board of Directors
Barbara Clarke-Ruiz is an honors graduate of Pratt Institute, where she received a BFA in Fashion Design. She is the CEO of BCSWIRL, Inc., an activewear design firm where she has over 25 years of experience in apparel with creative direction, design, marketing, and brand building. As a consultant, her creativity and success rate has positioned her as one of the most sought after apparel designers in the activewear industry. Barbara has built an international client roster that includes Nike, Adidas, Fila, New Balance, Speedo and other name brands. She also was the design director for “Eleven by Venus”, created by tennis icon Venus Williams. In addition, Barbara is a serial entrepreneur and currently the CEO/Founder of Lick You Silly pet products, a boutique of premium dog treats made in the USA from high quality, 100% raw, freeze-dried, grain-free ingredients. The products have been featured in Forbes, Black Enterprise, and Cosmopolitan.
Barbara was a Pratt Visiting Professor and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is married and has one daughter who is a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, and a model.
Board of Directors
Growing up in New York City, Tara Schmitt has been fortunate to have had many opportunities to explore her interests including: Science and Technology, in her studies at Brooklyn Tech and later at the University of Massachusetts where she earned a Bachelor Degree in Computer Information Systems, graduating Summa Cum Laude; Music, in her semi-professional pursuit as a guitarist opening up for international acts such as Bo Diddley; and Animal Welfare, homing and providing life-saving resources to numerous abandoned animals and volunteering to ban greyhound racing in Massachusetts (which was successful!). As a federal bank regulator for two decades, Tara ensures financial institutions work to safeguard personal financial information for the customers they serve. She is also an avid traveler, having visited over 36+ countries and territories around the world across four continents.
Tara currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, Mike Cronin, and their two cats, Chewie and Starsky.
Board of Directors
Patricia Conover began her publishing career as an intern in the editorial departments of G.P Putnam’s Sons and eventually worked as an editor at Random House. She cut her teeth editing biographies, memoirs, novels and travel books written by the best in the business.
Patricia is also a writer. Her recent writing has ranged from an overview of women in architecture to expat strategies for an international education. She’s written essays, features, profiles and criticism for publications including The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian, Kirkus Reviews, Montclair Local and Community Newspapers.
Patricia has been writing and editing guidebooks for Going Global, publisher of guides on international culture, careers, economies, education, health and travel, since 2010.
Nan Josephson, Ph.D.
Board of Directors
Nan Josephson, Ph.D., is a working artist, teacher, and writer. After working as a graphic designer for Rolls Royce and her own agency, she went back to college to get her degrees in teaching. She has taught K-12 art and language arts in New York City public schools, ceramics at the State University of New York and education through Harvard University’s World Teach program, and has published numerous articles on the arts in international magazines. She has twenty years experience as the CEO of mid-size nonprofits in Vermont, New Jersey, New York and Africa. Her current passions are polymer clay, jewelry and metals, ceramics, playing the piano and pipe organ, illustration, and crochet.