A “family photo” of Business class attendees, all of whom are committed to fulfill their dreams of financial independence. I was struck by their attitude of wanting to help each other, rather than competition to be the best. —Leon

Friends of Senegal (Friends of Senegal) is an Oregon registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization founded in 2018 by Leon Pyle, Andy Katz, and Cathy DeForest. Andy and Leon have both spent time in Senegal learning about the microfinance needs of young men and women. Andy has also worked in microfinance in Bangladesh. Cathy is an activist working to reduce gun violence in the US, as well as being committed to improving lives in Senegal through entrepreneurial training and microfinance.

The Friends of Senegal board members consult regularly with each other and meet at least once per month with Maison de la Gare (MDG), our NGO partner in Senegal, in the management of their unique, zero-interest microfinance program.

While MDG does the on-the-ground work of selection, training and providing on-going assistance to borrowers, Friends of Senegal is hands-on involved with MDG in the overall management of the business. The two groups are in constant communication via Internet and as often as possible in person to insure the success of the program.

Board of Directors:

Leon Pyle, Ph.D. Leon’s first career was in the development of large scale housing communities in the US and Europe. After retiring at an early age, he returned to school and became a psychologist and psychoanalytic therapist. After 22 years of public and private practice, Leon retired in 2017. He then became involved in the current work in Senegal. Leon speaks intermediate level French and German and is learning Spanish.

Andrew Katz, MBA, CPA. After working at the Financial Accounting Standards Board and at Ernst & Young, Andy started his own accounting firm in 2003, Andrew Katz, CPA. He continues to manage the business today. In addition, Andy serves as treasurer of the nonprofit Los Angeles Youth Orchestra. Andy earned a BS in Accounting from UC Berkeley and a MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA.

Cathy DeForest, Ph.D. Cathy worked as an English teacher to both underserved and gifted youth and as the assistant principal of a large urban high school. After earning a doctorate in Organization Development and Systems Change, Cathy worked as a consultant to large companies, health care systems and nonprofits. Cathy is the founder and Managing Director of Vision Quilt (www.visionquilt.org), a nonprofit dedicated to the reduction of gun violence in the US.