Palms for Life Fund’s mission is to advocate for and support the creation of infrastructure that provides access to education, food, water and sanitation for vulnerable communities throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia. We operate from a basic human rights perspective – because access to safe and sustainable food, water, sanitation and education is a right not just a humanitarian issue.
An important part of Palms for Life’s mission is also to raise awareness about hunger and poverty in the United States. In 2009, Palms for Life produced the Faces of Hunger in America film contest in which young filmmakers all across the country revealed the nature of hunger in their communities.
“Palms for Life’s mission is to bring the needs of the poor and hungry onto everyone’s radar screen because it’s everyone’s business if any child in this world goes to bed on a hungry stomach. We can make sure that no girl misses school when she has her period because of inadequate sanitation. We can bring water to schools so kids can drink during the day and wash their hands with soap and water. Together we have the power to give voice to the children about these issues.” – Palms for Life’s Founder, Hannah Laufer-Rottman
Palms for Life Fund (PFL) is a New York City-based nonprofit with an extensive track record of ongoing international projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia that promote access to education, food, water and sanitation (WASH).
Since its inception in 2006, Palms for Life has impacted the lives of thousands of people around the world. Today, Palms for Life is a thriving nonprofit with multi-million dollar grant-programs operating across the world.
Palms for Life was founded in 2006 by Hannah Laufer-Rottman who has spent her entire career helping poor people improve their livelihoods.
Palms for Life’s headquarters are based in New York City and in 2010 a satellite office in Swaziland was also established to manage a 3 year, $1.9 million dollar USAID-funded project impacting 40,000 school children in 120 schools across the country.
Palms for Life brings to the table more than 35 years of expertise in:
Establishing reliable local partnerships
Designing program interventions that are effective forces for change
Developing implementation strategies
Establishing Monitoring and Evaluation systems
Providing financial management, oversight and support
Mobilizing support for the most vulnerable in our global community.
Our Projects’ Selection Criteria:
All projects supported by Palms for Life must address the following:
Empowering (creates jobs)
Responsive to actual needs (proper baseline research & local engagement)
Cost-Efficient (easily maintained locally)
Replicable (potential to scale)
Environmentally Conscious (utilizes local resources & improves natural environment)
Gender Sensitive (systematically considering the needs of women and girls in program architecture to ensure implementation)
We build sustainable local capacity.
We ensure that our projects generate changes of attitudes and behaviors and long lasting results.
We raise awareness and understanding about hunger and poverty from a human rights perspective.
Giving to Palms for Life: a smart investment
Cost-efficient: ensuring minimum 90% of project costs are spent on the ground
Innovative: designs project models that are sustainable, replicable and responsive to local realities
Generates diversified impact: small and large scale change, from the individual to the community
Experienced and trusted: US-based NGO that oversees local partner activities
Boutique management structure: led by dynamic leadership and expertise of Hannah Laufer-Rottman
Let’s Join Palms
Hannah Laufer-Rottman held senior positions at the United Nations World Food Programme and founded Palms for Life Fund, a US-based 501(c)(3) in 2006. During her 30 year career with the UN, she saw the devastating effects of hunger, lack of clean water and facilities, and poverty in general. She lived and worked in disadvantaged communities in West-Africa and Latin America. When she left the UN Ms. Laufer-Rottman committed herself to continue the fight to end hunger and poverty, focusing primarily on the countries where she had first-hand experience.
Her vision for Palms for Life is that of an organization that fights for basic human rights, beyond charity or hand-outs, by fostering active participation and ownership by local populations, ensuring sustainable results.
Each local organization carrying out projects funded by Palms for Life is carefully chosen following the Founder’s strict guiding principles. These local implementing partners provide needed services in select communities that lack education, food, water and sanitation.
My Unconditional Support of Human Rights
I have always been an unconditional supporter of human rights and tolerance. Because of this passion, I worked for the UN World Food Programme for 30 years. When I retired from the UN in 2006, I took with me my never-ending commitment to ending poverty.
I have seen poverty throughout the world. I know what it means for poor people to live a life with no hope for the future, and I know with complete certainty that we can make a difference by joining hands and working together. The cycle of poverty can be broken; it takes vision, knowledge, persistence, understanding, commitment, and participation at the local level.
It’s Not About Charitable Handouts, It’s About Doing What’s Right
At Palms for Life Fund, we believe that access to food, clean water, sanitation, and education are basic human rights, and should not be dependent on charitable giving or handouts. Our efforts aren’t about feeling or being good. We believe that poverty eradication is everyone’s business; it has to happen now and for all; and has to be done right. I believe that everyone in this world has a basic human right to a good quality of life and it starts with access to the things you need for that to be possible. That’s my “religion!”
The Image of Palms for Life
The image of hands reaching out to each other is an act of unity, solidarity, and equality –it is not a top-down mentality. The image of palms represents my mission, my hope for a global alliance to fight poverty.
Active Participation by Local Populations
I have brought a rights-based approach, aided by objective analyses of problems, to bring creative and effective long-term solutions to the inequalities I see around the world. Palms for Life Fund’s projects don’t serve “beneficiaries;” we work with participants.
An international professional with extensive experience in successfully delivering poverty alleviation programs to countries and people in need. Joined the United Nations in 1976 and worked mainly with the World Food Programme. Has traveled extensively and lived in Africa and in Latin America with long term assignments in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Brazil.
Our projects foster engagement and ownership by local populations, which help ensure sustainable results and accountability. By investing them with responsibility in the project, Palms for Life Fund gives participants back ownership of their own lives, allowing them to be informed, empowered, and hopeful. I believe educating populations in this two-way exchange is the way to change the face of poverty worldwide.
Why Palms for Life
While I was at the World Food Programme, I brought all of these ideas to my work, informing my project design and community organization with my “religion”. Through Palms for Life Fund, I have developed a more intimate relationship to my work. I empower myself and I empower the people I work with.
FOUNDER, Executive Director
Ms. Laufer-Rottman is the founder of Palms for Life Fund. She is a former employee of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) where she worked for almost 30 years in several senior positions. She has traveled extensively in developing countries and has had first-hand experience dealing with impoverished communities. She knows what it means for people to live a life with no hope for or knowledge of a better future. She has managed anti-poverty projects, large feeding programs, and humanitarian operations in Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Her experience includes school feeding programs, vulnerable groups’ projects, advancement of women, rural development and assets creation. She launched one of the first WFP school feeding programs in the Latin American region in Ecuador, in 1986. On the humanitarian side, she secured and managed help for victims of earthquakes, floods, and social and political conflicts. In 1997, she held the position of Director for Ecuador for five years and successfully negotiated a $24 million donation from the US government which she leveraged to secure an additional $10 million in government counterpart funds, thus allowing the feeding of 1.5 million poor people in the country. In her final post with the United Nations in New York, she and her team established numerous new partnerships with large US corporations and foundations and secured over $6 million in grants. As Executive Director of Palms for Life Fund, she established a network of highly qualified professionals who currently reside or have resided in African, Asian, and Latin American developing countries and have worked for large organizations in the public and private sector. Fascinating fact: Hannah is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and also speaks Italian, Yiddish, Hebrew, German and Dutch. Hannah has an indefatigable commitment to helping the poor. She is an unconditional supporter of human rights and tolerance.Read Hannah's Blog on Huff Post
Co-FOUNDER, director of operations
Maayan Laufer is the founding partner of Palms for Life Fund. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Biology and Sociology. Thanks to her mother's work with the UN, she was able to travel to many developing countries throughout her life. She witnessed first-hand the impact of international aid in improving the livelihood of individuals and communities. She firmly stands by the belief of Palms for Life that "we are all connected to the poor." She most enjoys the "forlife" Projects because her dream is for the everyday consumer to feel empowered and to connect to the realities of the world in a guilt-free way. In her free time, she enjoys pilates, reading, cooking, and petting her cat Leesha.
Yashnoor (Noor) Kaur is a Global Business major at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University. She has been involved with local community
service projects and social justice work at her home in New Jersey. She plans to continue her service and social justice related work in her New York community. Noor joined the Palms for Life Fund to continue to make positive change and to get more involved with the global community.
Naama Laufer's international upbringing in "third-world countries," due to her mother's work with the UN's World Food Program, has provided her with a face-to-face expression of poverty and the efforts needed to uproot it. The work that Palms for Life Fund has developed over the past 10 years, under the banner, "we are all connected to the poor," is the way Naama has always approached the world, and she is happy to be part of this family too. Naama lives in New York with her husband and two kids who make her life just a little bit more interesting every day.
Andrew J. Trager
Director of Finance
Andrew J. Trager is an 18 year veteran of the Employer Services Division of Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADP). With nearly $9 billion in revenues and over 585,000 clients, ADP is one of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing solutions. Mr. Trager works with a vast array of small to mid-size organizations across multiple industries including not-for-profit entities. Mr. Trager leverages his experience, advising his clients on HR, payroll, regulatory compliance, and benefits administration solutions. During his time with an eLearning company founded by Sylvan Learning Systems, Mr. Trager worked with multi-national organizations to implement executive education courses in partnership with leading business schools such as The Wharton School, and the University of Southern California. Mr. Trager is a graduate of the State University of New York College at Oswego, and received his Master of Arts from The University at Albany.
Eric Moskowitz is Vice President of Market Intelligence and Analytics at Korn Ferry, the world’s largest talent management firm. Eric also heads up the firm’s North America Research and Knowledge Management group, consisting of 100 off and on-shore staffers. The team focuses on general company research, name generation and Market Intelligence projects related to Compensation, Competitive Market-Making and Trend Analysis across all sectors and functional areas. He introduced the firm’s Market Intelligence Team business to provide pro-active information to clients on a real-time basis. He previously worked as an Executive Director and head of market intelligence at a well-known global executive search boutique with a special focus on Capital Markets and Investment Banking. Eric began his career as a business journalist at such publications as The New York Times, Bloomberg News, New York Post, TheStreet.com and SmartMoney magazine, writing and editing topical business stories about the financial markets. Eric graduated from New York University with a M.A. in Journalism and from University of Rochester with a B.A. in Political Science.
Donovan Rodriques concentrates his business and entertainment law practice in the area of film and television development, financing, production and distribution. He represents producers, talent, entertainment companies and entrepreneurs, including a number of start-ups and emerging companies in media, sports and entertainment technologies. He serves as production counsel to film, TV and media producers and production companies, and helps them raise capital for every stage of development, production and distribution. Being an entrepreneur and filmmaker, he has a keen interest in seeking independent film and television development and financing for features, scripted series and mini-series and creative distribution channels for up and coming artists, filmmakers or producers. He helps clients package talent and simultaneously, he's talking to financiers, funding bodies, distributors and sales agents, strategizing and course-correcting along the way. He has a keen understanding of the physical, technical, creative and fiscal processes that go into a production and possesses the industry and investment contacts that ensure a production gets finished on time. It is in this area, that his expertise with law and business merge, which makes him most effective to his clients. He counsels clients in adapting existing intellectual property like books, films, documentaries and video games into feature film and series ideas, including television and web series. He represents clients in the protection, negotiation, acquisition, and licensing of trademarks, copyrights and publicity rights. Donovan Rodriques is a member of the Business Law and the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Sections of the New York State Bar Association.
Cara Elizabeth Yar Khan
Ms. Yar Khan brings a unique personal and professional international background to her role as private sector specialist with UNICEF in Angola, where she has been posted since March 2007. Prior to UNICEF, Ms. Yar Khan was working freelance as a Fundraising and Communications consultant in Shanghai, China for local NGOs and large multinational companies for two years after serving as the Senior Manager for Corporate Communications and Government Relations for Dell Inc in Panama City, Panama from 2003 - 2005. Ms. Yar Khan began her career with the United Nations World Food Programme in Quito, Ecuador in 2001 as the Public Relations and Fundraising Officer after graduating from the University of Guelph in Canada with a degree in International Development. Born in Hyderabad, India, Ms. Yar Khan was raised in Canada and speaks English and Spanish fluently, Portuguese, and some French and Mandarin.
Daniel Ahmad, a Canadian-British national, resides in Montreal, where he is employed in finance in the aviation industry. Trained at McGill, Paris, Oxford and Yale, he served the United Nations in various humanitarian capacities in Kenya, Republic of Congo, Ecuador and New York. His experience also includes electoral observation missions in Bosnia and Colombia. Daniel's most important life experience was managing three UNHCR refugee camps in Congo during a civil war from 1997-1999. He is interested in livelihood-economics issues, and keenly remembers when a previous boss mused, "World peace begins with a decent breakfast".
David L. Rottman
David Rottman is a recent Past President of the Board of Directors of the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York, and a member of the Jung Foundation’s Continuing Education faculty. He is a member of the Faculty of the Archetypal Pattern Analyst Training Program of the Assisi Institute of Vermont. His seminars on psychology and human motivation have received wide acclaim in the United States and Canada. Mr. Rottman is the past President of the Career Counselors Consortium (CCC), an organization he founded in 1997 for the purpose of bringing the work of career counselors to the public. The CCC’s annual award for Distinguished Achievement in the field of Career Counseling has been named the “David Rottman Award.” Mr. Rottman served on the charter Board of Directors of the Association of Career Professionals International (formerly the International Association of Career Management Professionals), a 1500-member organization that he was also instrumental in founding. He currently serves on the International Advisory Board of the ACP. He has supervised and trained many of the leading career counselors and career coaches in the New York Metropolitan area. Mr. Rottman writes frequently on the subject of careers, and his articles have appeared in local and national publications. The National Business Employment Weekly, a Wall Street Journal publication, honored him twice for having written one of the year’s Ten Best Articles on Careers. Mr. Rottman has a Master’s in Applied Psychology from New York University.
Trevor Page worked for the United Nations for 31 years. Most of his work was with the World Food Programme in Africa and Asia but he was also seconded to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, and to the UN‘s Department of Political Affairs. He has served as Head of Mission in major countries, including India and China, and at the headquarters of the World Food Programme in Rome, Italy, as the Director of emergency humanitarian relief, worldwide.Some of his most challenging assignments were in Sudan, at the height of the civil war in the south, as the first head of the UN in Eritrea at the end of its 30-year civil war with Ethiopia, and he opened and managed the WFP office in North Korea when devastating floods on top of a collapsed economy caused it to appeal to the outside world for help. He has also served in Guyana, Suriname, Haiti, Jamaica, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Uganda and the countries of the Sahel. While posted in India, he had regional responsibility for Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.Prior to joining the UN, Mr. Page served in Algeria, Benin, Togo and India with the US PVO, Catholic Relief Services.Upon retirement from the UN, Mr. Page served in India as the CEO of an American social-marketing company dealing with women's reproductive health, family planning and HIV/AIDS protection.After settling in Canada in 2001, Trevor became involved in community work in his new hometown of Lethbridge, Alberta. He has served on the Board of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs, the Mayor’s China Committee, Lethbridge Symphony Association and USC-Canada, an Ottawa-based international development NGO. He also wrote a weekly newspaper column on international affairs.Currently, he is President of the Lethbridge International Film Festival, Communications Director for the environmental NGO, Kainai Lethbridge Earth Watch, official photographer for the Blackfoot Canadian Cultural Society and a guest lecturer at the University of Lethbridge. He still occasionally consults for UN agencies.
Kathy Hansen has over 12 years of experience in building partnerships with corporations, foundations, and governmental agencies. She is currently consulting for the Institute for OneWorld Health in San Francisco (iOWH), and formerly worked for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in New York. She holds a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Organizational Management from the University of Colorado at Denver, and has completed coursework toward a Masters in Global Public Health from New York University. She has traveled and worked on projects in East Africa, including Tanzania, and has prepared, monitored, and evaluated projects and proposals in public health in conjunction with Ministries of Health, community based organizations, and technical staff representing nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies. Her specific areas of interest and work in global public health include child survival from neglected diseases, environmental health (water and sanitation), HIV/AIDS (prevention, care, and treatment), safe motherhood, operations research, emergency healthcare in conflict settings for refugees/internally displaced populations, and building the capacity of community health workers through training and ongoing technical assistance.
Michael Fitzpatrick has some 40 years of professional experience in the planning, design, construction and operation of irrigation schemes and rural development projects, and the management of multi-national and multidisciplinary teams. This experience has been acquired with engineering consultants in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, and with Government agencies in Africa and South Asia. During the last 23 years of his career, he worked with the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Investment Centre in all regions of the world assisting national teams with the planning and design of agricultural and rural development projects for financing by multilateral funding agencies.
Mirella Mokbel Genequand
Mirella Mokbel is native of Lebanon where she graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1976 with a masters degree in Nutrition. After a few years of work as a senior research assistant in the Food Technology and Nutrition department of AUB, she obtained a UNU fellowship which allowed her to join the University of Massachusetts in Amherst from which she graduated in 1985 with a PhD. Her international work experience started soon after her graduation in the Nutrition Assessment Service of the Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome followed by a consultancy with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) as a Monitoring and Evaluation adviser in the Project Design Service. She joined the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1988, where she worked for nearly 18 years. As chief of the Food Aid for Development Unit, she was responsible for coordinating WHO technical assistance to WFP: advising on policy and programmatic issues and leading/participating on behalf of WHO in the situation analysis, design and evaluation of WFP country programmes and projects in many countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Currently a free-lance consultant, she continues to participate in the design and evaluation of technical assistance programs in the area of nutrition and food security.
Tatiana has ten years of fashion industry experience ranging from product development to sourcing and licensing for companies such as Bottega Veneta, Tod's and Kenneth Cole. She eventually came to realize how unsustainable many industry processes can be and has since committed to utilizing her skills and knowledge to assist fashion companies in building sustainable business practices while maintaining their brand and stylistic identity. Tatiana received a BS in Business Management from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro, and went on to graduate cum laude from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in fashion merchandising management. She also holds a Master's in Fashion and Design Brand Management from the prestigious SDA Bocconi in Milan. In addition, Palms for Life Fund receives inspiring and motivating support from family, friends and colleagues in the form of encouragement, marketing, financial support and networking. Our list of friends grows every day.
Raphael Smith - Food Anthropologist
A Swiss-American, residing in Central New Jersey, he is currently pursuing a career as a food writer and private chef with a focus on sustainable and seasonal cuisine. Previously, he studied cultural anthropology at Rutgers University and University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. In these two institutions he focused primarily on studying the
effects of globalization on local cultures. In the past year Raphael completed an in-depth ethnographic study on the Slow Food movement in Switzerland. Inspired by the leaders of Slow Food in Switzerland and Italy, Raphael aims to apply the Slow Food philosophy of “clean, good, and fair” to both his social and entrepreneurial endeavors.
David currently is a Product Marketing Manager at Castlight Health, a startup in San Francisco providing game-changing health care transparency tools on cost and quality.
Throughout his career, David has been helping socially driven organizations. He has worked for the UN World Food Programme, non-profits, startups and marketing/communication firms – advising big brands on consumer strategy and product evolution. He also has designed and raised millions of dollars for hunger, water and education projects around the world. Most recently, he founded YogiBreak: a platform bringing wellness/yoga into the workplace. David received his BA from Lehigh University and his Masters in International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Ruthana Seng advises Palms for Life on all aspects of marketing, branding and communications. She is concurrently a Senior Marketing Manager at AOL and an Engagement Director with Brand Value Advisors. Ruthana brings over eight years of experience helping brands with overall brand and go-to-market strategy, positioning and messaging frameworks, naming and identity creation and creative and communication strategy. She has advised brands such as AOL, Coca-Cola, P&G, Cannondale, Deloitte and Visa. Ruthana has previously served on the Junior Board of Step Up Women's Network in New York where she helped lead various teen programs, membership campaigns and fundraising efforts. With a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Ruthana believes marketing and branding are powerful assets that organizations can use to change the way people interact with each other and the world around them. She is honored and excited to be a part of the Palms for Life journey.
David has been conceiving and managing digital programs in the B2B, B2C and B2G spaces for 14 years. His focus at Ogilvy is on IBM’s social media programs across all business units. His clients have included Intel, Right Management, JPMorgan Chase, The Department of Veterans Affairs, Sun-Maid, Quest Diagnostics, Phoenix Wealth Management, Applica Consumer Products, Kraft Foods, Nabisco, Dun & Bradstreet, and many others. His work has included web sites, social media monitoring, social media channel development and strategy, mobile sites, email marketing, product development, online applications and more. Prior to Ogilvy, David worked at The Yankee Group (market research), Qwest (telecommunications), and Burson-Marsteller (digital marketing/ social media / public relations). David holds a BA in English Literature from Boston University and an MBA from Stanford University. David is interested in applying his knowledge of marketing and social media to motivate people to buy socially conscious goods and services. He believes this is not only a trend, but increasingly a mandate if companies are to thrive in the coming years.