Alissa Cooper Sande

Alissa Cooper Sande, the founder and executive director of Heart for Uganda, is a foreign missionary to Uganda, Africa. She has a Master’s Degree in Reading from Clarion University and was formerly an elementary teacher at Clarion Limestone School District in Strattanville, Pennsylvania. After seeing the desperate children of Uganda in 2007, Alissa resigned from her teaching job and decided to pursue the African dream that had God placed on her heart at the age of seven.  Alissa moved to Kyenjojo, Uganda in February of 2009 and is now currently ministering there with her husband, Pastor Victor Sande.  Her primary ministry aspiration is to help children find hope, life and love through the physical demonstration of the Gospel.  She is fully convinced that God has restored her life so that she can restore the lives of others. She has willingly chosen to surrender her life to God and sacrifice it for others.


Vicki Cooper

Vicki Cooper is the mother of Alissa Cooper and is retired from working at the District Court in Clarion, PA. Vicki has been involved with Alissa’s mission endeavors since she was a child, watching as Alissa has grown in her dedication to God, seeing the call that was on her life even as a child, and seeing her continue to grow as the dream God placed in her heart materialized. Vicki is a member of the Heart For Uganda Board and is the Chairperson for its Donor Development Committee. She also has been involved with speaking at local churches to help raise awareness of the plight of the Ugandan people, especially the children. She has been to Uganda in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

John Port

John Port is a Clarion County livestock and crop farmer who has been involved with Heart for Uganda since 2010. John visited Kyenjojo in 2011 and toured local farms, gaining insights from the Ugandan farmers about their needs. John is the chair of the Agriculture committee whose members support the endeavors of the Ugandan farmers in developing crop production, livestock improvement, farming techniques, and marketing opportunities.

LaVieta Lerch

LaVieta Lerch is an attorney in private practice who has been involved with Heart for Uganda since 2009. She is the Board Secretary and member of the Mission Committee and the Child Sponsorship Committee. LaVieta visited Kyenjojo, Uganda in 2009, 2011, and 2013 delivering supplies to the children in the sponsorship program, visiting schools, speaking at local churches, helping with medical care, and helping with construction projects.

Brad Coulson

Brad Coulson works in the Information Technology field in the Clarion area.
He got to know Alissa while attending high school with her and could easily see her devotion and faith in God.
As a proponent of finding ways to put your faith into action, Brad took advantage of the opportunity to travel with a mission team to Uganda for 2 weeks in 2013.
After having an incredible experience in Uganda and witnessing God at work there, he was eager to continue to support this mission.

Soon after traveling to Uganda, Brad graciously accepted the offer to become a member of the Heart for Uganda board to help and support in whatever way he is called.

Carol L’Insalata

Carol L’Insalata is a teacher who works with students in the Title I Reading and Math programs at Clarion Area Elementary School. Carol first met Alissa Cooper when they traveled to New York City on a mission trip to provide food and encouragement to people who were homeless. During the trip, Alissa shared a childhood dream that God inspired: Go to Africa and start an orphanage. Several years later, Alissa founded Heart for Uganda and followed where God was leading -to Kyenjojo, Uganda. Carol joined the board of directors at that time, finding her niche as the Fundraising Chairperson. Carol visited Kyenjojo in August, 2013 as a member of the Eye Team, providing glasses to the people from Kyenjojo and the near-by villages.  She also helped teach at the school.

Nancy Newbury

Nancy Newbury was the Mission Director at Alissa’ church when Heart for Uganda was born, and had the privilege of being one of the founding board members. She and her husband, Paul, have been involved in mission work for over thirty years.

They trained to be missionaries with Youth with a Mission when God revealed to them that he called them to be senders to support those who were called to go into the nations. In that capacity, they have worked in over ten countries and has been to Uganda three times. She serves on the Prayer Support and Sponsorship committees of HFU. Nancy is currently Mission Director at Transformation Church in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Renee Wagner

Renee Wagner currently holds the position of board president of Heart for Uganda.  She has traveled to Uganda three times.  She has spent approximately 20 years working in various capacities with people diagnosed with intellectual disabilities. Outside of work, she serves as a worship leader at Cranberry Community Church. The passion that drives all she does is love for her God. It is her great pleasure to join his work not only here in the U.S., but across the ocean in Uganda.