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 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.
Teresa Clarke was the first African-American woman promoted to managing director in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs & Co. where she oversaw corporate finance and M&A transactions in the real estate and industrials sectors. For over a decade, she has served as Chair and CEO of Africa.com LLC, a holding company with digital media assets showcasing Africa-related business and arts & culture content, including the Africa.com Business Publishers Network which reaches nearly 20 million visitors per month. She serves on the board of two Fortune 500 companies: American Tower (NYSE:AMT) a global leader in wireless communications infrastructure, and Gallagher (NYSE:AJG), a worldwide insurance brokerage active in 56 countries.
Ms Clarke was one of 15 private sector leaders appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. She is Chair of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Chair of the Friends of the Legal Resources Centre of South Africa, and Chair of the Student Sponsorship Programme of South Africa. She is a member of the Africa Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
She earned an A.B. in economics, cum laude, from Harvard College, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
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, 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.