Avanse, Ah-Vahn-Ss

Haitian Creole word meaning to move forward, advance.


Avanse is a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the lives of street children in the world’s most neglected and violent slums through education in Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM). 

We accomplish our mission through four levers: Outreach, Rehabilitation, Education and Reintegration. We bring STEAM to the slums to ensure street children move forward and rise above their circumstances.


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
— Helen Keller

Jeannette Pawula

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Jeannette Pawula is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avanse since 2010. She brings her extensive international experience of working with street children & collaborating with international NGO’s, and leads overall strategic and operational responsibility for Avanse’s programs, growth and execution of its mission. Jeannette currently serves on the advisory board of StandUp for Kids, a non-profit working with street children in Chicago. She is also a member of the Consortium for Street Children Network and the Chicago Council for Global Affairs, and was a participant in the Nexus Global Youth summit at the United Nations.



Randee wheeler

Chief Operating Officer

Randee has been working with Buyers, Sellers, Investors and Developers in Real Estate for 13 years in the Chicago land area. Prior to her career in Real Estate she worked in the internet marketing industry during the tech boom opening and managing marketing departments. Randee joined the Avanse team in late 2016 and quickly became a huge asset to the organization. Randee has taken multiple trips to Haiti working in the field to manage the Avanse Home for Children and her experiences makes her forever devoted to the children in our programs.




Executive Director

Brenda is the Executive Director. She is responsible for the overall operations and financials of Avanse. Brenda has been traveling to Haiti since 2013 supporting a Canadian based technology company who employs over 100 people in Haiti. This experience created a deep connection with the country and its people, Brenda and her now husband were married in Artibonite, Haiti in 2017. They both became involved with Avanse when they used their wedding scholarship fund to send the first 7 boys at the Avanse home to school. She is a French speaking graduate of the Not For Profit Leadership Program from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, a former Life Coach, and has a professional history of over 15 years in account management and operations. Brenda brings her business acumen to Avanse to help us deliver on our mission of advancing the lives of street children in Haiti.




Director of Operations and Outreach

Steph serves as our Director of Operations & Outreach in Chicago. She first joined our team in 2015 helping with Social Media Marketing while living in Rwanda and fell in love with the mission and people of Avanse. Steph brings years of experience working in hardship countries among vulnerable and migratory populations, including young girls and children. She received degrees in Anthropology and International Relations and her Masters degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from DePaul University. 





Chairman of Board

Jason founded his first technology company while still attending high school. He has long track record of using his strong entrepreneurial spirit and technology expertise to grow businesses and create new opportunities. Before founding 360 in 2009, he was president and CEO with TMR, a marketing services company. Jason’s business philosophy is grounded in workplace happiness and having a strong commitment to community and making a difference in the world. To that end, he is also a founder and principal investor in City Flow Project, a localized Durham Region venture capital and tech incubator and has been involved in building of 17 wells, 6 homes around the world and a school in Kenya, before his focused involvement in Avanse.



Duquesne Fednard

Board Member

Duquesne is an Ashden award winner and is the founder of D&E Green Enterprises a social venture that has built and sold over 100,000 high-efficiency cooking stoves in Haiti to help fix the deforestation challenges in his home country. Duquesne brings a unique perspective to Avanse through his amazing view of the country where he spends 50% of his time. He is the youngest of eight children of a low-income family from a small village in Haiti. His father passed away when he was five and was raised by his mother, who despite having just third grade education, was a smart informal merchant. At 11 years old, when his mother passed away, Duquesne started working with his older brother who, with their mother’s savings, started a small machinery shop. In his youth, Duquesne took an active role in the youth organization at his church. One of his first ventures was the creation of a microfinance fund at his church when he was 13 years old, a fund that still exists today. He also started a small printing business when he was 15. With his savings and support from his siblings, Duquesne studied in the US and earned a Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems (CUNY) and a Master’s in Finance (Columbia University).