Our Teams

The Board of Directors

“Raised in poverty in rural Benin, I was given opportunities by others to rise.”

Dr. Juste Codjo is a Co-Founder of Echelle-Benin and an assistant professor of International Security at the New Jersey City University. He previously taught at several institutions, including the American University’s School of International Service, the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, and the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. Prior to settling in the United States, he served as an army officer in the Benin Army for nearly 20 years. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and of the German Offizierschule des Heeres.

Dr. Codjo’s vision to empower impoverished students through coaching and mentoring is rooted in his personal experiences. Having been raised by an uneducated, poor great-grandmother in a small village in Benin, he experienced firsthand the poverty trap that many communities and families find themselves in. Having worked for the Benin government for nearly two decades, he has a profound understanding of the challenges that governments across Africa face in addressing the multitude of issues weakening their communities. Having lived in countries such as the United States and Germany, he has a deep appreciation of the role of personal responsibility and volunteerism in the development of individuals and societies. These experiences have shaped his vision of youth empowerment as a way to improve our collective wellbeing.

Juste Codjo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

New Jersey City University (USA)
Co-Founder & President, Echelle-Benin

Juste Codjo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

New Jersey City University (USA)
Co-Founder & Board President
“Raised in poverty in rural Benin, I was given opportunities by others to rise.”

Dr. Juste Codjo is a Co-Founder of Echelle-Benin and an assistant professor of International Security at the New Jersey City University. He previously taught at several institutions, including the American University’s School of International Service, the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, and the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. Prior to settling in the United States, he served as an army officer in the Benin Army for nearly 20 years. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and of the German Offizierschule des Heeres.

Dr. Codjo’s vision to empower impoverished students through coaching and mentoring is rooted in his personal experiences. Having been raised by an uneducated, poor great-grandmother in a small village in Benin, he experienced firsthand the poverty trap that many communities and families find themselves in. Having worked for the Benin government for nearly two decades, he has a profound understanding of the challenges that governments across Africa face in addressing the multitude of issues weakening their communities. Having lived in countries such as the United States and Germany, he has a deep appreciation of the role of personal responsibility and volunteerism in the development of individuals and societies. These experiences have shaped his vision of youth empowerment as a way to improve our collective wellbeing.

Mountala Ogbe, CPA

Financial Controller at GKN Aerospace St. Louis (USA)
Co-Founder & Treasurer, Echelle-Benin

Mountala Ogbe is a certified public accountant and graduate of Indiana University. He is the Financial Controller for GKN Aerospace in St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to joining GKN, he worked for many years as an auditor of diverse companies in both the profit and not-for-profit sector. Mountala lives in Lake St. Louis Missouri with his wife and two children.

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Léonce Gamaï is a journalist, media entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of Banouto, a leading digital media outlet in Benin. He is married and a father of one child. Léonce has a strong expertise in civic leadership, citizen empowerment and community development with over 12 years of experience in civic engagement. In 2017, he participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (MWF-YALI), a US State Department program, where he had the opportunity to hone his leadership skills and expertise during a six-week civic leadership institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. In Benin, besides his professional activities, Léonce is very active in many youth-led initiatives and organizations. A founding member of BBY, Léonce Gamaï has been involved in the planning of the organization’s activities as a member of the Benin Coordination Team and the Training Committee.

Léonce Gamaï

Journalist and CEO of Banouto (Cotonou, Benin)
Co-Founder & Secretary General, Echelle-Benin

Adiath Baguidi Lokoto

Doctoral Candidate, Université d’Abomey-Calavi (Benin)
Co-Founder & Secretary General, Echelle-Benin

Silvère Tovignan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Université de Parakou (Benin)
Co-Founder & Deputy Treasurer, Echelle-Benin

The Oversight Council

Sètondji Roland Adjovi

Assistant Professor, Arcadia University (USA)
Co-Founder & Oversight Council President, Echelle-Benin

Citizen of Benin, I studied both public law and political science. I love teaching: I started just after my Masters degrees and taught in various countries on visiting positions (France, South Africa, Kenya, Japan) or on a longterm basis (Côte d’Ivoire, France, Tanzania, United States, Mali). I have worked for the United Nations, as legal adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and as a consultant for the Office of Legal Affairs. I have worked at the International Criminal Court as a legal advisor to the victims. I am currently a human rights expert for the United Nations, sitting in the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In addition, I have developed a private practice with a focus on human rights, labour dispute in international organizations and sports arbitration.

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Oumarou Abdoulaye Balarabe is originally from the Republic of Benin. In terms of education, Oumarou is a blended product of two continents- Africa and America. He speaks and/or writes several languages, including French, English, and three African languages (Hausa, Zarma, and Dendi). A former graduate of the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin, with a Maîtrise in African Studies with a focus on Anglophone African Literatures and Civilizations, Oumarou was awarded a two-year Fulbright Scholarship in January 2016 to pursue his academic goals in the United State of America. He earned a Masters of Art (2018) in International Studies with a focus on Education and Development in Developing Countries from Ohio University, Athens.

Prior to coming to the United States, Oumarou worked with Bornefonden, a Danish international NGO, as a professional translator and interpreter from English to French and vice versa from 2014 to 2015. Also, he was a co-founder and first secretary general of the first ever and still reference reading club at the American Cultural Center in Cotonou, Benin. Currently, Oumarou is a PhD student at the Ohio University’s Higher Education and Counselling department. As a PhD student in Higher Education and Student Affairs, his areas of interest are higher education and economic development, higher education leadership, and student development.

Oumarou Abdoulaye Balarabe

PhD student at Ohio University (USA)
Co-Founder & Oversight Council Secretary, Echelle-Benin

Ichola Djivede Coovi

Snr. Regional Security Officer, African Development Bank Group
Co-Founder & Oversight Council Member, Echelle-Benin

Become A Volunteer

Let’s be a ladder of success to students and their communities.

The Executive Team

Fernand Somadjagbi

Executive Director (Cotonou, Benin)

Jeannine Dassi

Program Officer (Cotonou, Benin)

Romuald I. Sinzogan

Regional Coordinator (Mono, Benin)

Albert A. Kpokou

Program Coordinator (Cotonou, Benin)

Kisha Stevenson-Codjo

Volunteer, Excellence Awards Program, (USA)

Rachel Hansen

Volunteer, Public Relations (USA)

Alix Onmalela Adio

Volunteer, Mentorship Program (USA)

Sandeep Marla, Ph.D.

Volunteer, Mentorship Program (USA)

Blake Moss

Volunteer, Public Relations (USA)
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Welcome To Echelle-Benin Foundation

Become A Volunteer