Board of Directors

The Harambee Cultural Society Board members welcome you! Our volunteer board represents parents, community and our youth. The board includes a founding family member, parents of children ranging from toddlers to young adults, an adult who has attended since being a toddler, professionals; in the field of youth support, banking, project management, IT, education and business. Our long term plans are to ensure our programming supports the needs of our families and hope to provide yearlong opportunities for the essence of Harambee. We truly believe we are empowering our children. 

Me-Kon Hayes
Me-Kon Hayes, Vice President, with her husband Issa are parents of five children. I started my family as a single mother through adopting our oldest son who is of African Heritage. Our second son is aboriginal. As foster parents for thirteen years, we enjoyed the busyness of a full household. I have been involved in guest speaking at British Columbia’s Ministry for Children and Family Development adoption orientation sessions. I am President of the B.C. Black History Awareness Society and on the board of the African Heritage Association of Vancouver Island. Through my company Binkadi Human Services I provide support to persons with developmental disabilities and youth with extra support needs. I love the problem solving involved with my work and developing residential resources unique to the individuals I support. Our family loves everything about Harambee, the support, the spirit, the love. The only times my kids are not talking about Harambee are when we are there. We are very grateful to be part of the Harambee family.

Mike Baker and his wife Kristina live in Salmon Arm and are the grateful parents to Genesis Baker, adopted from Florida. Mike works as the Chief Administrating Officer for the Village of Lytton and Kristina is a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in School District No. 83. We have been coming to Harambee Cultural Society since Genesis was 8 months old in 2016 and have been thankful for this community that has supported and educated us in ways that are too many to say. I am enjoying being able to give back to HCS by being a board member and spending time with old and new friends.

Julian Walmsley lives in Vancouver B.C and has been coming to Harambee since 2015. His sons Max and Lehlo were born in Namibia and Lesotho respectively and Harambee quickly became the highlight of everyone’s year. Julian served on National and BC boards for the CNIB in both marketing and fundraising capacities. He remains a Vision Mate for CNIB today and a volunteer whenever else he is able. Professionally, Julian is a relationships manager.

Sidney Vlieg and his wife Tammy live in Salmon Arm BC. Currently he is an Advisor with SASCU after spending nearly 20 years as an engineering recruiter and Tammy is an elementary school teacher. They have two teenaged children; one adopted domestically in Alberta and the other from Ethiopia. They started attending Harmabee Summer Camp in 2019 shortly after relocating to the Shuswap and have found an incredibly supportive community there. Serving on the board of directors is his way of giving back to this community that has given so much to his family. 

Nicole Bittante, Treasurer, is a single mom of a beautiful daughter adopted from Haiti. Nicole and her daughter first attended the Harambee Summer Festival in 2022 and had such an amazing experience, they couldn’t wait to return in 2023. They live in Penticton, where Nicole is the CFO/Secretary-Treasurer for School District No. 67 (Okanagan Skaha). Nicole hopes to support the Harambee Cultural Society so that it can continue to provide a safe, welcoming environment for trans-racial adoptive families from all over, for many years to come.