ANNOUNCING THE WOMAN OF THE MONTH
Fort Worth women are making headlines daily as business owners, entrepreneurs, top management officers, and political leaders. So, here at Fort Worth Woman, we are selecting one of our city’s shining stars each month. These are the movers and shakers you need to know, and we are proud to honor their accomplishments as our WOMEN OF THE MONTH.
Executive Director of Arise Africa
This is when I felt a calling to do more than just chronicle the nation’s plight through my photos. I wanted to make a difference on a much deeper level.
Meet September’s Fort Worth Woman!
Alissa Rosebrough grew up in San Antonio, Texas and currently lives in Ridglea Hills with her husband Asher, young daughter, Annie, and their ‘furbaby’ who is a chocolate lab named Ella. Alissa graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Communications. Using her personal interests, natural skills, and acquired talents after persistently following her mentor, Alissa became a freelance photographer with the National Basketball Association as well as a large, industrial construction company.
During the NBA offseason, Alissa began taking photos for various aid organizations around the world, particularly in Africa, and this is when the passion for Arise Africa, a 501(c)(3), began to develop. Alissa states, “from 2007 to 2014, I photographed in America and traveled around Africa, documenting the progress being made – and not being made – in governmental and aid organizations. I spent an extended amount of time in Zambia in 2008 and 2009. This is when I felt a calling to do more than just chronicle the nation’s plight through my photos. I wanted to make a difference on a much deeper level.” Alissa then met fellow American John Rosacker on that trip to Zambia, and they hatched the idea of doing something particularly for Zambian children. Within the next year, Arise Africa was fully established and has been continually developing ever since.
What began as collecting and donating books to children in Zambia once a year has grown into a much larger mission. Alissa moved the organization’s office to Fort Worth in 2015 after meeting her husband, retired from her photography career, renovated a 3,500 square foot building in Fairmount to be used as the Arise Africa USA headquarters, and dedicated her full efforts to the developing organization.
“Our original idea when we started was to hold one annual fundraiser and buy books for children we knew in Zambia,” says Alissa. “As we invited friends to join us in supporting these children, many of them began committing $30, $50 and even more every month to educate them.” That initial group of 15 friends has grown to over 700 people with a monthly commitment to children we work with. One of Arise Africa’s annual fundraisers – the Crawfish Boil – took place last Spring at 809 at Vickery. The event attracted 250 attendees and raised more than $150,000 over a four-day period thanks to a donor match campaign. “Ten years later, clearly God had much bigger plans for the ministry than a book drive!” laughs Alissa.
Today, Arise Africa has generated some impressive metrics: 475 students are in a child sponsorship program where they are educated, given medical care, clothed and fed by the organization daily. Arise also operates two orphanages, the Arise Homes, where 18 children live in full-time care. The children in the homes were once abandoned, living on the streets or in the city dump, abused, and some were on the verge of death due to illnesses.
The organization has a paid staff of 45, including the teachers, administrators, cooks and support staff. Of this number, three are in Fort Worth and 42 are Zambian nationals. Alissa states, “we firmly believe in hiring local Zambians. They know what is best for their country and children. We just need to give them the resources, support, and love.” Arise Africa also has a central Zambia headquarters called ‘The Complex’. The Complex, which can sleep 30, is self-sustaining. When not housing Arise mission trippers, children, or staff organizations such as USAid rent the bedrooms to stay during their missionary trips.
Alissa was later approached by her friends Clayton and Ellen Kershaw, who wanted to help through their foundation, Kershaw’s Challenge. Clayton, the two-time Cy Young Award winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Ellen have both volunteered and have traveled to Africa multiple times with Arise. Alissa states, “The Kershaws have also announced that their foundation is going to provide the necessary funds to build a school where 700 Zambian students will learn to read, write, and develop critical thinking skills. The school will also provide evening classes to help educate the community’s adults in hopes of elevating the quality of life for the entire immediate area.” The Kershaw’s involvement has continued to add fuel to the fire that is Alissa’s passion for the people of Zambia. The opportunities are truly endless.
What Alissa loves about Fort Worth is how laid back our city is. “I love the trails and how many restaurants have great outdoor spaces. I have only lived here a little over three years but it feels like home.” She also describes Fort Worth as the perfect place to plant roots for her ministry. Having the office located in the heart of Fairmount has allowed the staff to “definitely gain weight being so close to Magnolia with so many great restaurants!”
Alissa’s word for her impact as a businesswoman on this city is “dynamic” which is characterized by constant change or progress. Alissa is not only continually expanding her footprint of service in our community, but she is changing real lives across the globe. You are dynamic Alissa and we appreciate your impact!
To get involved with Arise Africa, you can send an e-mail personally to Alissa at Alissa@ariseafrica.org or stop by their office at anytime. Their building is beautifully renovated, the staff is remarkably friendly, and their mission is worth every second to hear about!