Tamela (Tammy) Noboa

Tamela (Tammy) Graham Noboa '92
Managing Director
Discovery Learning Alliance

As far back as she can remember, Tammy wanted to help make life better for children in Africa. Her parents set that example when they were among the first Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia back in the 1960’s. Their relationships continued with the Ethiopian children they taught, and expanded into a beautiful web of friendships across the continent and the years. Tammy realized early on that when you empower one child, that child can change the lives of many. Tammy’s childhood fascination with Ethiopia and the continent grew over time into a vision of serving and uniting communities around the world. Today she is pursuing that vision by working at the intersection of international development, global education and media. 

Tammy joined Discovery Communications in 1999, bringing together her personal vision and that of the company’s to use the power of media to transform education and improve lives in underserved communities around the world.  Over the past 17 years Tammy has helped build the non-profit, Discovery Learning Alliance (DLA), into an organization that has transformed education and life opportunities for millions of marginalized children and their communities.  

Leveraging contributions and expertise from Discovery Communications with that of other public and private sector partners, Tammy manages an international team that together with local communities has launched dynamic media education initiatives across 16 countries. DLA’s approach begins with building local ownership and capacity, empowering individuals and communities to own project success and sustainability. The school-based results include improved teacher effectiveness and student learning, increased enrollment and attendance, and greater community engagement in education. Additionally, DLA’s film and TV broadcast initiatives use pop-culture to change attitudes and behavior around health, education and other social issues in the developing world.

Through Tammy’s experience at the intersection of business and nonprofit management, she is forging new opportunities to align and achieve business and social imperatives. Tammy created and is currently leading a unique $38MM public/private partnership between Discovery and the UK Department for International Development to improve learning and life outcomes for marginalized girls in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. She was instrumental in forming the Global Business Coalition for Education, a platform for deepening private sector engagement in global education efforts to reach the 58 million youth still Tamela with young student.without access to education. She serves on DLA’s board of directors, the board of Pact International (a leading global development organization), the Millions Learning International Advisory Panel chaired by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the newly formed Varkey Foundation Alliance on Girls’ Education. 

Tammy is enthusiastic about creating innovative partnerships that take initiatives to scale, business engagement in global development and using the power of media to advance education and development – especially for marginalized populations. Tammy’s passion for girls’ education, in particular, is deepened by her experience raising two daughters, Maya (13) and Karis (11).

Prior to Discovery, Tammy worked in Public Affairs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce, with a focus on sustainable development. Then in 1997 she pursued her interest in international development volunteering on a hospital ship in Benin, West Africa where she and her husband, Aric, led a community health education team. Returning to the US with a vision for using media in education and development, Tammy joined Discovery and then relocated to South Africa where she worked to build Discovery Learning Alliance in Sub-Saharan Africa and then globally.  

Tammy graduated summa cum laude in 1992 with a B.S. in Communications from James Madison University.  Among her favorite JMU memories are Student Ambassadors, a semester in London, Dukes’ basketball games, and spending time with friends on “the hill.” She and her husband, Aric (JMU ’93), still can’t quite figure out how they didn’t meet at JMU! They met on a backpacking trip in British Columbia the summer of 1993 and were married in 1995. They’ve worked together since their first trip to Africa in 1997, and while many can’t imagine working with their spouse, they can’t imagine not working together. 

Tammy currently lives in Maryland near Discovery Communication’s global headquarters. When not at swim meets or basketball games with her girls, you can reach Tammy at tamela_noboa@discovery.com and on LinkedIn. For more information about DLA visit discoverylearningalliance.org.

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