Robert J. Benson is the founder of Arms of Love International and Love Forward, both §501(c)(3) public charities, and is a partner in the Intellectual Property Group at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a leading global law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 25 offices worldwide. Abused and abandoned as a child, Robert was adopted from an orphanage at a young age. Beginning in 1999, through Arms of Love, Robert helped establish and support family-based children’s homes and other programs to care for orphaned, abandoned, and abused children around the world. Robert served as the President of Arms of Love International from 1999 to 2014, when he transitioned out of its leadership to pursue new initiatives including Love Forward. Arms of Love continues to care for nearly a hundred children in Nicaragua and the Philippines. Robert has practiced law for nearly 30 years and currently oversees Orrick’s practice in Taiwan.
Simah Bargzie obtained a JD from Berkeley Law in 2010 and currently works as a Recruiting Manager at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Her interest in the law, education and helping people reach their potential originated from her background. Simah’s family immigrated from Afghanistan during the 1980’s when the country fell into war with the Soviet Union. She was raised in a family that was acutely aware of the cost of war and the invaluable opportunity that education provided people caught in the crossfire. One of six sisters, all of whom who took advantage of higher education opportunities, Simah feels a passionate calling to help others who are in the throes of hard circumstances to let them know there is hope and opportunity for a brighter tomorrow.
DR. JOYA CHATTERJEE
Dr. Joya Chatterjee has spent a lifetime dedicated to advancing education around the world. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Calcutta University in India, Joya obtained her doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco. Joya spent the first 20 years of her career in the U.S. education system, serving as a teacher, principal and Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Santa Clara County. Thereafter, she worked for more than 20 years in global management positions within Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Intel. During that time, Joya visited more than 120 countries, from Bangladesh to Macedonia, advancing technology in education and teaching students everyday life skills. Joya helped launch the Intel Education Service Corps, which works closely with NGOs in developing countries to deploy technology solutions in education. Now retired, Joya is passionate about empowering disadvantaged students in the Global South through higher education, and is especially committed to advancing global education for girls and coordinates our program in Kolkata, India.
Lovely Granada is a licensed social worker in the Philippines who has served on the staff of Arms of Love Philippines as the Program Officer since 2013 and also served as its interim director. Lovely grew up in the Philippines, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Psychology. Lovely wrote her Master’s thesis on “The Quality of Life of the Independent Living Program of Arms of Love Philippines,” the predecessor program to Love Forward, which is currently being directed by her husband Roger. Lovely is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Welfare. Prior to joining Arms of Love, Lovely worked with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the government agency that oversees custodial programs such as orphanages and children’s homes, and also directed community-based programs and volunteered in Indonesia. Lovely is passionately committed to caring for at-risk children and empowering them to realize their dreams in life. As a board member of Love Forward, Lovely is coordinating our scholarship and transition program in the Philippines, and her husband has directed the ILP program since 2013.
Juan Martinez grew up in the Arms of Love Children’s Home in Managua, Nicaragua. Abandoned at the age of two, Juan began living on the streets at the age of nine when his grandmother was no longer able to care for him. Completely illiterate, Juan survived on the streets by washing cars and delivering drugs. At the age of 11, Juan was one of the first five children received into the first Arms of Love home in March 2000. After a difficult period of adjusting to his new environment, Juan completed six years of elementary school in only two calendar years. Upon completing high school, Juan began attending Centro American University in Managua. While attending college, Juan used profits from a self-owned business to help support the children’s home. In October of 2015, Juan became the first graduate of Arms of Love to receive a college degree. Juan later married and moved to Colorado, where he is now employed with a medical device company. In his new position, Juan provides bilingual customer support services, performs medical coding for records, and handles billing functions.
Denise Mingrone is a partner in the Silicon Valley office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and recently served as chair of Orrick’s internationally recognized Intellectual Property Business Unit. Recognized by Law360 as one of the “20 Most Influential Women in IP Law,” Denise has championed diversity and the advancement of women in the legal industry, particularly in the field of intellectual property. Denise is the founder of Orrick’s Successful Women in Intellectual Property (SWiIP) initiative, a networking group for women IP attorneys and other tech professionals that advances mentoring and career development for women in IP. Denise is also dedicated to pro bono legal matters and has been recognized by the Justice & Diversity Center for her outstanding public service. Denise has handled complex litigation for such technology giants as Synopsys, Brocade, Applied Materials and Oracle, and has also been named “California Lawyer of the Year.”
Eddy Morales was born in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and has dedicated his career to improving the lives of his fellow Nicaraguans. The son of a fisherman and a homemaker, Eddy was the second son of seven boys and grew up in poverty, but he had a powerful vision for helping others and serving his country. Eddy received an undergraduate degree in Educational Science and then obtained a Master’s degree in Social Management. His vast experience includes serving for many years as a consultant to the UN World Food Programme and as a liaison between the WFP and Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education. Eddy is currently the National Director for ORPHANetwork in Nicaragua, a partner organization with Love Forward that supports six different orphanages in Nicaragua as well as operating community programs. Eddy believes that Nicaragua’s greatest challenge today is not poverty or the economy, but the lack of educational opportunities for children to develop their full potential and impact the nation.
Dr. Olara Otunnu has an extensive career as an international diplomat and is one of the world’s leading human rights advocates on behalf of children. Olara served as the UN Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict from 1997 to 2005. A native of Uganda, Olara was educated at Oxford and Harvard (where he was a Fulbright Scholar) and played a leading role in the resistance against Idi Amin. Olara later served as President of the UN Security Council, Chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and Vice President of the General Assembly. During his distinguished career, Olara was the architect of the first international legal regime and compliance mechanism for protecting children affected by war. For his international efforts on behalf of children, Olara has received numerous awards including the Sydney Peace Price, the German Africa Prize, the Priyadarshni Academy’s Global Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights, and the Harvard Law School Association Award.
Myla Salise grew up in the Philippines and had an exceptionally difficult childhood. Horrifically abused by her father, she and her siblings were abandoned by their mother when she was nine. After several unsuccessful attempts to run away, Myla became pregnant and had a baby at the age of 13 as a result of her abuse. After giving the baby up for adoption, Myla was placed in the care of the Bohol Crisis Intervention Center and later moved to the Arms of Love Children’s Home in the Philippines. With the support of the Arms of Love Independent Living Program, Myla obtained an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Bohol in 2011 and then obtained a second degree from a Bible college. Myla currently works for a company in Manila, where she is an executive secretary to the President. A compassionate and inspiring leader, Myla provides our Board with important perspectives on how we can best empower women who have experienced gender-based violence and exploitation.
David Shannon served on our inaugural board until his passing in 2019. David brought a wealth of legal and executive experience to the board of Love Forward. Most recently the Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary of NVIDIA Corporation, David also served as the Vice President of Legal for Intel Corporation. Throughout his career as a leader in the technology sector, David was committed to bringing justice into the lives of the disadvantaged. David interned while in law school with the Ventura County DA’s office focusing on child abuse and neglect cases. He also served as a board member and as a past President of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, which uses the law as a tool for addressing and changing programs linked to social injustices including poverty, discrimination, and child abuse and neglect. In his retirement, David continued to help abused and abandoned youth through his leadership on the board of Love Forward.