our staff: has over 50 years of combined experience with youth in South Africa, the team of Building Bridges is dedicated to the nations most disenfranchised young people and their communities.
staff & board
Anthea Jansen, Director
Anthea Jansen holds a national diploma for Care of the Handicapped and is currently in the process of completing her B-Tech in Child & Youth Care at Durban University of Technology. She has served as a child and youth care social service practitioner in South Africa for over 15 years with a profound commitment to the most disenfranchised youth in her home nation; this includes years of experience working in both Imizamo Yethu and Delft. Before Building Bridges, Anthea worked as a Trainer & Assessor for the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) and was a Program Manager for the non-governmental organization, Afrika Tikkun, were she oversaw many of the social and youth services, including connecting young men with positive male role models through a mentor program called “Men Making A Difference.”
Mickayla Smith, Assistant Director
Mickayla Smith imagines a world where children of all backgrounds have equal opportunities and a life of their dreams. She has used her upbringing as a means to foster her love for working with children from deprived communities and ensure young people escape becoming a casualty of a society that expects them to fail. Upon matriculation from high school – and with raw but authentic skills – she worked for Kethempilo as a community worker in Delft Township (her home community) assisting uneducated individuals in accessing governmental grants, which were difficult to acquire. In 2012, Mickayla started working for Afrika Tikkun as a Family Support Worker for a period of four years. There she assisted families struggling with poverty, disease, and addiction.
During this time, she obtained a national certificate in Social Auxiliary and represented her organization in several other capacities, including educating American students studying abroad on social justice and the practice of social work in South Africa. With her sights set on attaining a degree in social work, this little maestro is currently active by facilitating leadership camps, both in South Africa and the United States, motivating youth to unlock their full potential.
Nate Whittaker, M.Ed., Volunteer Director of International Programs & Initiatives
Nate Whittaker is a social justice and reconciliation educator and activist with a two decade-long relationship with South Africa. He obtained a bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Education degree in Youth Development Leadership with an emphasis in Social Justice Education from the University of Minnesota, College of Education and Human Development. Nate has worked with democracy projects with young people in conflicted areas of Belfast, Northern Ireland and also lived in Cape Town, South Africa in the early 2000's. Besides working as an adviser for the TRIO program at the University of Minnesota, Nate is highly involved in national policy activism for college students who are low-income, first-generation, underrepresented, immigrant, and students with
disabilities. Nate is also a Community Adjunct Faculty member in the Social Justice minor, School of Social Work. Since 2010, he has led a yearly university course to Cape Town, South Africa focusing on social justice, healing, and reconciliation. Nate has also taught numerous courses on social justice, social change, community development, and self-authorship.
building bridges board
Mark Gamble, AspireYouth
Having dreamed of being a game ranger most of his childhood, Mark started off in the field of Nature Conservation in 1988. His first job was as an environmental educator – leading trails for children in the Umgeni Valley. Into the early 90’s Mark found himself increasingly working with children on issues related to trauma and abuse, which led to his work in the field of Child and Youth Care in South Africa and a higher-education qualification in child and youth development. In 1995 Mark piloted a program with Educo Africa called Siyavuka (we are awakening), working with the country’s most vulnerable youth. In 2000, Mark left Educo to be present with his new children. From 2000 to 2010, Mark ran serval youth development agencies in Cape Town, namely James House and Afrika Tikkun. Mark returned to Educo in 2010, helped the program re-invent itself, and left again in 2014. From 2014 to current, Mark is running his own social business AspireYouth, a micro and SMME business implementer for South African youth living in circumstances of poverty. AspireYouth will be the fiscal agent for Building Bridges in its first year.