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About the U.S. Organization

SSP in South Africa and SSP in the United States operate in a seamless partnership to uplift young talent and transform lives through education. While the South African branch focuses on the on-the-ground implementation of the scholarship program, mentorship, and direct engagement with scholars, the U.S. counterpart concentrates on fundraising, strategic partnerships, and international advocacy. Together, they form an alliance committed to providing  educational opportunities for underserved students in South Africa. This transcontinental collaboration ensures that SSP’s mission is both financially sustainable and maximally impactful, broadening horizons for students while enriching their communities.

Teresa Clarke

Teresa H. Clarke, Co-Founder, U.S. Board Chair
and South Africa Board Director

Teresa Clarke co-founded the Student Sponsorship Programme of South Africa with Nyagaka Ongeri in 2000. Teresa was acutely aware of the inequities that plagued the South African education system. Even though the political landscape had changed, millions of talented young students from low-income backgrounds had limited access to quality education. Teresa, being deeply rooted in the worlds of both finance and philanthropy, knew that the key to breaking the cycle of poverty lay in education. She believed that potential should never be restricted by socio-economic barriers. This belief became the cornerstone of SSP, a program that aimed to identify academically talented students from underprivileged backgrounds and provide them with the opportunity for a high-quality education. The model was simple yet groundbreaking: match deserving students with sponsors willing to finance their education at some of the country’s top private and public schools.

She is an unparalleled force in both the global business arena and philanthropic sectors. A triple Harvard graduate, she became the first African American woman to serve as Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, where she led corporate finance and merger & acquisition deals for corporate clients in the industrials and real estate sectors for over a dozen years.

Teresa is the Chair and Executive Editor of, a digital media company she founded in 2010. The platform serves as an essential guide for understanding the complexities and opportunities within Africa, offering curated news and original content that reaches a global audience interested in the continent. A dedicated advocate for positive change, Teresa leverages as more than just a media outlet. It is a lens through which the world can understand the vibrancy, innovation, and potential that defines modern Africa. She wrote, produced and directed a documentary, “Africa Straight Up,” which explores Africa’s developments in the business and technology sectors. The film, originally produced for digital distribution, inspired a strong offline following and was screened on television in the US, the UK, and over 50 countries in Africa. It earned documentary of the month by AFTV in the Netherlands, was shown at the Council on Foreign Relations, and contracted as in flight entertainment by South African Airlines.

Ms. Clarke is a formidable presence in the global business landscape, currently holding seats on two Fortune 500 boards: American Tower, a front-runner in cellular infrastructure, and Gallagher, the world’s third-largest insurance brokerage firm. In these roles, she serves on the audit committees, showcasing her broad expertise in corporate governance.

One of the most distinguished roles in Teresa’s career was her service on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. In this role, she advised on strategies to strengthen economic ties and promote sustainable development across the continent. In addition, she has lectured on the topic of doing business in Africa at several major universities around the world including Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Princeton, Wellesley, Tufts, Oxford, Wits and Lagos Business School. She has also served on two public company boards in the financial services space, one in Australia and one in Mauritius.

Teresa Clarke’s dedication to African development and social justice isn’t confined to her business ventures or her educational initiatives; it’s deeply ingrained in her philanthropic activities as well. She serves on the boards of several significant non-profit organizations, each of which plays a crucial role in different facets of African society. As the Chair-Elect of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, she is at the forefront of shaping cultural narratives and fostering an appreciation for African art on a global scale. Her role ensures that the museum serves not only as a vault of artistic heritage but also as a platform for meaningful dialogue and education about African art and culture. Additionally, Teresa is a valued member of the Africa Advisory Committee for Human Rights Watch, where she serves to help steer policies and strategies aimed at protecting and promoting human rights across the continent. She also chairs the board of Friends of the Legal Resources Centre of South Africa, a role in which she focuses on supporting the Legal Resources Centre of South Africa, thereby actively participating in the fight for justice and equality in South Africa. These varied roles contribute to her passion for Africa.

Teresa has also been actively involved in social development in Nigeria where she has worked on various educational and entrepreneurial initiatives. She worked with the Ford Foundation to help develop a training program for Nigerian Bankers. She served as a strategic advisor to the Nigerian Leadership Initiative, worked with the Aspen Institute to help train Nigeria’s public and private sector senior managers in ethical leadership and influence. Ms. Clarke was a founding board member to the Tony Elumelu Foundation, supporting entrepreneurship in Nigeria and Africa. Teresa delivered the keynote address to the Lagos Business School Alumni. She was honored by the International Women’s Society of Nigeria as Humanitarian of the Year for her work in education throughout Africa. She serves on the board of advisors for the Rhodes Scholarship of West Africa, and quite importantly, she has been actively involved with the Nigerian Higher Education Foundation for many years. 

Teresa captured much of her perspective on being an African American who has spent her life working in Africa in a TedX talk, “Bridging the Diaspora Divide,” an inspirational piece on how members of the African diaspora are stronger when united. Her extensive roles underscore her multidimensional leadership, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to every initiative she champions.

Sthu Zungu-Noël

Sthu Zungu-Noël, Board Secretary

Sthu Zungu-Noël is a seasoned Global Market Development Leader and a tireless advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). She currently spearheads the national expansion program for UN Women's Unstereotype Alliance, a groundbreaking initiative that collaborates with the private sector and purpose-led brands to accelerate DEI initiatives and advance gender equality. Under her leadership, the Alliance has expanded its global footprint to 12 national chapters across five continents. The core mission of the Unstereotype Alliance resonates with Sthu's commitment to combat deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes. By harnessing the collective influence of the advertising industry, the Alliance strives for progressive representation, positive social norms, and equality for all. In this effort, Sthu taps into the power of advertising as a force for societal good. Guiding Sthu in her work is the principle of Ubuntu, a Southern African philosophy encapsulated by the phrase, "I am because you are." This principle emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity and serves as the bedrock of Sthu's approach to DEI, as well as her broader vision for social justice and equality. Her achievements are not just professional but also inspirational, embodying the transformative power of collaborative action and respect for the humanity of others.

Jill Zimmerman

Jill Zimmerman, Board Treasurer

Jill Zimmerman brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her role on the board. Currently serving as the Vice President of Development at the Greater Chicago Food Depository since June 2012, Jill leads a team responsible for securing crucial support from individual donors, corporations, and foundations. Her fundraising prowess is amplified by her experience across various sectors including human services, arts, education, and cultural organizations. Before her tenure at the Food Depository, Jill was the Vice President of The Alford Group, a national consulting group dedicated to serving nonprofits. Even prior to that, Jill held the position of Director of Resource Development at Alternatives, Inc., a youth development agency based in Chicago. Jill’s impact extends beyond the United States. She has served as a consultant to UNICEF Liberia and has been an educator in the professional development program at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Her advisory roles have spanned both for-profit boards and non-profit organizations, marking her as a versatile and committed leader. In terms of education, Jill holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master of Arts in Social Work from the University of Chicago.

Debra Winter, Administrative Director

Debra Winter serves as the U.S. Administrative Director for the Student Sponsorship Program of SA, where she plays a role in steering the organization towards its mission. Fueled by an unwavering passion and commitment, Debra works diligently to ensure that SSP’s initiatives are aligned with its core objective. In her role, Debra takes immense pleasure in supporting the U.S. Board of Directors, while also collaborating with SSP’s South African team. Her administrative acumen has been instrumental in bridging the gap between the two international branches, fostering a seamless partnership focused on achieving common goals. Debra sees her work as more than just a job; it’s an incredibly fulfilling journey.