Meet the Staff

Our president, founder, director, and health director work on a volunteer basis. This helps to ensure 100 percent of every donation received goes directly into the Sumba Foundation projects.
Sean Downs

Sean Downs

President and Co-Founder

Sean Downs volunteers his services as president of the Sumba Foundation. Sean first visited Sumba in 2001 and was moved by the people and culture. Following this visit, Sean joined with Claude Graves to form the Sumba Foundation. 

Sean served as the CEO of Enclarity from the company’s inception in 2005 until its sale to LexisNexis in September 2013. Previously he was the division president of Fair Isaac and Company, a New York Stock Exchange Company specializing in analytical software solutions sold in the financial services and insurance markets. He has also served as the president of Assured Health Care, which operated a chain of primary and specialty care medical clinics. 

Sean has a bachelor’s degree in finance from San Diego State University and has served on the board of directors for the Mission Valley YMCA.

Claude Graves

Claude Graves

Creator, Co-Founder, Managing Director

Claude Graves has been living in Indonesia and Kenya since 1974. He moved to Sumba in 1989 where he co-founded, created, and managed both Nihiwatu and the Sumba Foundation, creating an internationally recognized and awarded model of sustainable tourism. 

In February 2013, Claude retired as the managing director of Nihiwatu to return his full focus and energies to the Sumba Foundation as its managing director.

Claus Bogh

Claus Bogh, PhD

Health Program Director

Dr. Claus Bogh joined in the Sumba Foundation in 2004. Serving as the health program director, he’s developed the malaria-reduction and health programs for the Sumba Foundation.

Dr. Bogh has an MSc and PhD in medical entomology and researched malaria in Kenya, The Gambia, and Mozambique for five years before moving to Indonesia in 2001. He served as senior malaria control advisor to the Indonesian Ministry of Health from 2001 to 2004 under the Asian Development Bank’s ICDC program. In this role, he regularly worked on the island of Sumba, and by random chance he came across the Sumba Foundation in 2003. The love for the island and its people and the very high occurrence of malaria were all factors that contributed to his longterm commitment to Sumba. 

Dr. Bogh serves or has served as senior advisor for the World Health Organization, the Asian Development Bank, S.C. Johnson, and the Indonesian Ministry of Health. For the past four years, Dr. Bogh has also been the senior advisor for a malaria research program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, establishing a comprehensive program to reduce and work towards eradicating malaria from the local communities.

Steven F. Bierman

Steven F. Bierman, MD

Director

Since its inception, Steve Bierman has served on the board of directors of the Sumba Foundation. 

He is currently the chief medical officer of Access Scientific. Previously, he practiced medicine as an emergency physician at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, California. Dr. Bierman’s interest in Sumba began in the mid-1980s on a surf trip.

Rainy Octora

Rainy Octora

Nutrition Program

Rainy Octora has been with the Sumba Foundation since July of 2007. Passionate about nutrition, she currently heads our nutrition projects (Infant Nutrition and School Lunch Program). She is also a key member in our accounting and office management team.

Rainy went to university in Jakarta at Atma Jaya Catholic University to become a medical doctor. Upon completion, she came back to Sumba to spend time with her family, and we were lucky enough to add her to the Sumba Foundation team. 

Kenny Knickerbocker

Kenny Knickerbocker

General Manager

Kenny Knickerbocker serves as the general manager. With a studio art and art history background, his passion for Sumba — the people and the culture — grows deeper as he aids the Sumba Foundation to continue expanding and developing new projects while creating awareness of the work being done by the team.

Kenny started his career in the hospitality industry when he moved to the Caribbean to work in water sports. Over the next 10 years, he moved from the Caribbean to Malaysia and then to Sumba in 2014. During that time, he worked in public relations, sales and marketing, and hotel operations. He was the resort manager at Nihiwatu (from 2014 to 2016) before joining the Sumba Foundation as the general manager.

Projects Update

From opening our Learning Development Center to renovating a water project and helping to restore people’s vision—there is a lot to report from Sumba!