BLI Governance

The ultimate goal is to have Bethany Land Institute be a Ugandan run organization. A USA Board of Directors, along with an Advisory Board of experts in their fields, has been set up in the US. The USA Board is responsible for funding and oversight of the project until the Institute becomes self-sustaining. In addition, a Uganda Board has been set up to oversee the building of the campus, curriculum development, programs, human resources, and operations. The Uganda Board is tasked with detailed reporting on how all funds sent from the USA are used. The Advisory Board assists both Boards within the areas of the member’s expertise. Lines of communication have been set up so that the Boards can work collaboratively.

BLI Founders

BLI Founders

Fr. Emmanuel Katongole

Fr. Emmanuel Katongole is a co-founder and the visionary behind BLI. He serves as President of Bethany Land Institute, and sits on both the US and Uganda Boards, serving as the US Chair. He is a Catholic priest ordained for the Archdiocese of Kampala. He serves as professor of Theology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Before joining Notre Dame in 2013, he served as associate professor of theology and world Christianity at Duke University, where he was the founding co-director of the Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation. Under his guidance the center went on to co-found the Africa Great Lakes Initiative. He is the author of several books, including most recently, Born From Lament: On the Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa (Eerdmans, 2017). His research focuses on the politics and violence in Africa and the theology of reconciliation, and he contributes to the Contending Modernities project, the Kroc Institute’s cross-cultural research and education initiative that examines religious and secular forces in their effects in the modern world.

Fr. Cornelius Ssempala

Fr. Cornelius Ssempala is co-founder of Bethany Land Institute. He is a Catholic priest, ordained for Kampala Archdiocese. He holds a Doctor (PhD) of Philosophy, and Masters (Licentiate) of Philosophy from Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium. He currently lectures at Makerere University Kampala, Uganda, School of Education, and at St Mbaaga’s Seminary Ggaba, Uganda. He is chair on the Board of Trinity College Nabbingo and St John the Baptist, Primary Teachers’ College, Ggaba in Uganda; Member, University Council, Uganda Martyrs’ University, Nkozi, Uganda and Board of Governors, St Peter’s Secondary School, Nsambya, Uganda. Fr. Cornelius serves on the Board of BLI Uganda and BLI USA.

Fr. Anthony (Tony) Rweza

Our beloved Fr. Tony passed from this earth on June 15th, 2021.

He was essential to the founding of Bethany Land Institute.

Click here to read more about Fr. Rweza.

BLI USA Board of Directors

Andrea Cate Crary

Andrea Crary is studying for her Master's of Public Health, with a concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz. She is a 2012 Wheaton College graduate, with an interdisciplinary degree focused on food security. Post college she has worked for Cargill and as a marketing and education manager for a non-profit urban farm on Chicago’s South side.

Lori Giovannini

Lori Giovannini is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Boston University and is a Christian Life Coach. Lori has worked as the Executive Director of Reachout Women Center, the largest Catholic Pro-Life Pregnancy Help Center in Tucson, Arizona serving over 6,000 vulnerable women a year. She has served on several Boards and is currently the Vice President of the Board of the South Bend Elkhart Chapter of the Legatus Organization.

Sara Hohnstein

Sara Hohnstein is the Director of Operations at the Issachar Fund. Sara has a wealth of experience in program development, management and evaluation. Prior to her position at the Issachar Fund, Sara worked for an international Christian ministry, Colorado State University, and as the Executive Director of the Heart Ministry Center. At the Issachar Fund, Sara oversees the operations of the fund, builds partnerships with organizations and scholars, and aids in developing Issachar Fund programs. Sara earned her Master in Social Work degree from Colorado State University.

Bob Johnson

Bob is a Structural Engineering Consultant who has been with BLI since 2016. He has served BLI as an Owners Representative for facilities. Bob guided BLI through the development of the Preliminary Facilities Plan. He coordinated BLI’s vision with EMI, who designed the Master Plan for the BLI campus.   Bob currently works closely with the facilities planning team in Uganda. Bob has 10 years of experience as the Technical Advisor for the 20 Liters, a water organization in Rwanda.

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen is a certified yoga and meditation teacher, working with private clients, students, inmates and religious sisters. She and her husband live on a farm in LaPorte, Indiana, and have a company in South Bend that manufactures solar panels, with the labor force consisting of formerly incarcerated people. Through her work she enjoys being part of transformational experiences that help people grow.


Maureen Newsom

Maureen Newsom is serving as the BLI treasurer. She graduated from Notre Dame with a BA in History and an accounting degree from Indiana University at South Bend. For the past 20 years she has worked as the business manager at Saint Pius X Catholic Church in South Bend, Indiana.


Rev. Kevin Sandberg

Rev. Kevin Sandberg, C.S.C., is an assistant teaching professor in the Center for University Advising at the University of Notre Dame. Previously he was executive director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns (2017-2020) and taught courses on the common good, including “Women, the Church, and the Ecology of the Common Good in Uganda,” which brought graduate and professional students to BLI. Fr. Kevin is a faculty fellow of Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives, a board member of Ave Maria Press, and past treasurer and board member of the Religious Education Association, the association of professors, practitioners, and researchers in religious education. Prior to pastoral ministry as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Fr. Kevin had been a financial economist with the U.S. Treasury Department, a trust officer with the Northern Trust Bank, and founding director of Young Adult Community at St. Clement Church in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

BLI Uganda Board of Directors

Geofrey Arinaitwe

Geofrey Arinaitwe is a multi-skilled Agricultural/Biotechnology Research Scientist at Makerere University’s Agricultural Research Institute. He holds a Master in Business Administration, Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Bioscience Engineering, Master of Science in Agriculture and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. He has received honors and awards in NARO-NARL Scientist of the Year NARO-NARL – 2009; Scientific Excellence- Gen. Engineering of Bananas – 2010; NARO- Council Scientific Excellence – 2011; and NARO-Council Scientific Excellence; Unsung Hero – 2012.

Catherine Barasa Asekenye

Catherine Barasa is a Senior Social Development Specialist – World Bank. Catherine is a Sociologist, Gender & Women Studies and International Public Health Specialist. She has a wealth of international work experience with UNAIDS, DANIDA, Ireland AID, USAID, ICRC, UN and UNHCR. She received two Awards from ICRC and UNHCR of Record Breaking Results through Australia for UNHCR. She received the 2017 World Bank VPU Award in recognition of outstanding team achievement for Development Response to Displacement Impacts (DRDIP). She has also worked with Government, private, and civil sectors.

Fr. James Kabonghe

Fr. James Kabonghe is a Catholic priest and Agriculturalist. Fr. James holds a BA Philosophy, Urban University Rome 1991, Bachelors of Theology, Urban University, Rome 1994; Diploma Educational Management, Nkozi University 2001; Diploma Sustainable Agriculture for Rural Development, Baraka College – Kenya 2009. Fr, James currently serves as a Priest of Jinja Diocese and works at Kagoma Catholic Parish, Caritas Jinja Diocese and is the in-charge of Agricultural Development Programs. He also serves as Board Member of SARD-NET Uganda.

Fr. Joseph Nnyanzi Kakooza

Fr. Joseph Kakooza is the Administrator of BLI, overseeing the campus construction and development. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in the Kampala Archdiocese and currently serves in the diocese of Kasana Luweero, where he is the coordinator of diocesan lands and investments, and previously served as the treasurer for twelve years.  Educated in Uganda, he also studied Pastoral Theology at the University of Notre Dame and served at Holy Family Parish in South Bend, Indiana.

Josephine Kizza

Josephine Kizza holds a Degree in Organic Agriculture, Reading University, United Kingdom; a Diploma in Food Processing, Branding and Marketing, Copenhagen; a Diploma in Education, Kyambogo University, a Certificate in Water shade Management and a Certificate in Education. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of St Jude Family Projects started with her late husband in 1993 to support rural small holder farmers with practical and sustainable organic farming practices so that they improve their incomes and livelihoods. Major activities are on a 3.7 acre demonstration farm with 17 integrated agricultural projects, offering simple and practical skills that have reached out to 6,000 families of small holder farmers and 12,000 youth who have become job creators. The project has attracted high profile visits from His Excellence President Museveni of Uganda, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, cultural and religious Leaders among others.

Margaret K. Sakwa

Margaret Sakwa serves as the Board Secretary of Bethany Land Institute. She is an Advocate of the High Court in Uganda. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, a Post Graduate Bar Course and Post graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Management. Since 2016, Margaret has practiced law with Sakwa Advocates, specializing in company secretarial services; corporate governance and compliance; legal advisory and consultancy; and land conveyancing. She serves as a Court Accredited Mediator in the Commercial Division of the High Court. She previously worked as in-house counsel for a top government parastatal and continues to serve as legal advisor and Board secretary to several private companies and NGO sector.


BLI Advisory Board

Kimberly Lord Arndt

Kimberly Lord Arndt is the Executive Director and Founder of One Heart Uganda (OHU), a nonprofit education scholarship program that invests in the futures of primary, secondary and post-secondary students in Central Uganda. OHU supports nearly 140 students and celebrates the success of helping scholars achieve university, college and trade school degrees. In addition to supporting OHU, Kimberly (KL Creates) works with several industries in the Chicago area to create innovative communications/multi-media, effective instructional design and strategic project management.

Godfrey Ddungu, LGPC

Godfrey Ddungu is a licensed mental health counselor, licensed addiction counselor, and licensed Individual and family therapist in state of Maryland. He graduated with a master of Education degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Cleveland State University. He has worked as an Assistant Clinical Manager at Waldensierra in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. He and his family are currently living in Japan, where his wife is serving as a child clinical psychologist with the US Naval hospital at Yokosuka, Japan.

Eric Sobocinski

Eric Sobocinski has practiced law since 1996 in the areas of business, estate planning, and tax. In 2011, Eric founded Amphora Wealth Management, LLC, which is a registered investment advisory firm based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Yvonne Ssempijja

Yvonne Ssempijja is the Co-Founder and Co-Owner of the Behavioral Health Practice known as Sabastian Family Psychology Practice LLC where she serves as the Director of Operations, a position she has held for over twenty years.   By profession Yvonne is an accountant. She is a Co-Founding member of Grandmothers Beyond Borders (GBB), working to improve the lives of grandmothers and their grandchildren who are struggling to survive due to the devastating impact of AIDS. She travels regularly to Uganda and throughout the United States to follow up with the activities of GBB.

Norman Wirzba

Norman Wirzba is a Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology, and Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Duke University, Divinity School; he is also a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Raised as a farmer, but trained as a philosopher and theologian, Wirzba is committed to bringing agrarian insights to bear on theology and the work of the church. He has written about sustainable agriculture, food systems, and the meaning of creation, and is a widely sought after speaker.

Laura Yoder

Laura S. Meitzner Yoder, Ph.D., Director and John Stott Chair, Program in Human Needs & Global Resources; and Professor of Environmental Studies at Wheaton College, Illinois. Laura is a political ecologist interested in human-environment interactions and land/forest access, rights, and ownership. Her work draws on years of experience living with smallholder farmers/forest-dwellers who live and make their livings in marginal conditions, especially in highland areas and post-disaster/conflict regions of Central and South America (Ecuador, Honduras) and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Bhutan).



Macky Johnson

 Assistant to Board President

Macky Johnson is serving as assistant to Fr. Emmanuel Katongole, and as recording secretary to the BLI board. Retired, she comes to BLI with years of experience in office management and bookkeeping. She served for 10 years as the program coordinator for 20 Liters, a water organization in Rwanda that she and her husband Bob were instrumental in founding.


Theresa Murray

Development Coordinator

Theresa is the Development Coordinator for BLI USA. She is a CPA (non-active) and holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Fundraising from the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis, MN. Theresa has spent 18 years on Non-Profit Boards, in both governance and functional roles from Treasurer to the chair of various committees to President. She has consulted with small businesses in finance and business development. Theresa has volunteered with Interfaith Organizations assisting at risk families, educational institutions and governmental entities.