Our Staff

Kuol Awan

Kuol was born in a small village called Chiir in southern Sudan. When the war intensified in 1987, he fled his home and began a journey that spanned thousands of miles. He traveled to Ethiopia, Kenya and, finally in June 2001, to the United States. Kuol first served his community of Lost Boys and Girls as a community organizer and leader in Ethiopia when he was 9 years old. He also served as president of the Lost Boys Association in Salt Lake City and was elected to the National Lost Boys Association. Kuol holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Utah and a Master’s Degree in Social Justice and Human Rights from Arizona State University. Kuol joined the Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development as an Outreach Manager in 2008 and became Executive Director in 2009. He and his wife, Atoch live in Phoenix with their three children.

Jany Deng

● I am a former Lost Boy of Sudan, born March 15, 1975, in a small village called Jokau in South Sudan. ● I lost my home when I was ten and became an orphan because of the civil war. I ended up at a refugee camp in Kenya. ● At 16, I was among the first to go to America. I arrived in Phoenix, AZ, and enrolled in a local high school where I learned English. ● After high school, I went to a community college and then to ASU, where I received my Bachelor's in Social Work ● Currently, I am part-time Program Manager for the Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development (LBCLD). ● Schools and businesses invite me to give a presentation on my life's journey as a Lost Boy. ● In Juba, South Sudan, we recently completed building a 2-story training center. I am involved in creating classes for the Juba community. ● I am a public speaker, public figure, past Boston marathon runner, and co-founder and president of the board of Feed Our Nations. I live in Tempe, AZ, with my daughter, Nya.

Ashai Majak

Ashai was born in Khartoum, Sudan. Ashai left Sudan in 1998 after a civil war erupted leaving citizens to be displaced and found safety in Cairo, Egypt with her parents and 6 months old brother. After hearing their case the International Organization for Migration (IOM), migrated her family to Buffalo, New York in April 2000. Ashai and her family settled in Buffalo, NY welcoming four more siblings. In 2012, Ashai and her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona leaving the cold winters and seeking new opportunities. Ashai graduated from Arizona State University obtaining her Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Ashai is no stranger to community service and dedicated her time to the South Sudanese community where she later learned about the Lost Boys Center and met Jany Deng. She began to volunteer at the Lost Boys Center helping with hosting events, participating in summer camps, tutoring and mentorship. Currently, Ashai is the office manager overseeing the operation of the Lost Boys Center for Leadership and Development.

Board of Directors


William Paul Simmons, President

William is an associate professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Honors Interdisciplinary faculty at the University of Arizona. His research is highly interdisciplinary and uses theoretical, legal and empirical approaches to study social justice and human rights issues.

Rev. Dr. Thewodros [Ted] Asfaw

Ted Asfaw is an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister. He is a native of Ethiopia and a naturalized American Citizen. In 2017, Rev. Dr. Asfaw was recruited and started his role of being the Director of Chaplain Services and Spiritual Care Department with the mission and vision of starting a new CPE Center in Phoenix at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center Chaplain Services Department that serve the Dignity Health Arizona Service Area healthcare facilities.

Hakim Monykuer Awuok

Hakim Monykuer Awuok is a South Sudanese national and one of the former Lost Boys of Sudan. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Kampala International University, Uganda. Hakim is currently a Deputy Director of Cabinet Resolutions working with the government of the Republic of South Sudan's Ministry of Cabinet Affairs.

David Cohen

David is a partner in the law firm of Jones, Skelton & Hochuli in Phoenix, Arizona. He serves on the firm’s Management Committee, and is the head of the firm’s Health Care Trial Group as well as the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. David has always been devoted to social justice and human rights issues. He spends his free time volunteering with non-profit organizations, and enjoying life with his wife and three children.

Gatjeak Gew

Gatjeak immigrated to the U.S. as a young boy with his mother and siblings in the 1990s after being displaced due to the Sudanese civil war. The family settled in Nebraska and later moved to Minnesota, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology. Gatjeak also holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Rights Practice from the University of Arizona. He has worked on various social justice issues, including youth educational disparities, refugee and immigrant rights and health equity. Currently, Gatjeak is the Match Grant Program Manager at Arizona Immigrant and Refugee Services in Phoenix.

Chiengkuach Mabil Majok

Chiengkuach is one of the former Lost Boys who came to the U.S. in September 2003. He resettled in the state of Vermont, went to college there and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics in fall 2007. He earned his master's degree in International Economics and Finance in 2012. Soon after graduation, Chiengkuach took a position with the Deloitte Overseas Consulting, which eventually took him to South Sudan. He worked with them for nearly three years before the project ended at the conclusion of the Sudanese civil war.

Alier Reng

Alier is one of the former Lost Boys of Sudan. After migrating to the U.S., he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, a Master of Science in Professional Science, and an MBA in Information Systems Management. In 2018, Alier and six other Lost Boys and Lost Girls of Sudan established the Jonglei Institute of Technology, a nonprofit that aspires to train the next generation of South Sudanese data scientists and analysts, and to empower South Sudanese diaspora families by providing free financial literacy training, spiritual development and counseling.

Kuoth Wiel

Kuoth was born in Gambella Ethiopia to South Sudanese parents. As a child, her family traveled between Ethiopia and South Sudan due to her parents work as aid workers for the UN. The family settled in Ethiopia and later immigrated to the United States as refugees. Kuoth graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in Social Psychology. She is currently pursuing her career as an actress and model. She is using her voice for peace and empowerment in South Sudan through various initiatives. She co-founded the NyaEden Foundation and is the CEO of Janubi Naturals. She currently resides in Los Angeles.